TSA to Test New Screening Protocols for Elderly

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By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — After years of criticism, the Transportation Security Administration is taking the initial steps to modify screening for people age 75 or older.

Beginning Monday, the TSA will test new procedures that will allow those passengers to leave their shoes on, as well as light outer wear, and to take multiple passes through scanning machines to address alarms before being subjected to a pat-down.

The tests will be conducted at four airports: Chicago’s O’Hare, Denver International, Portland International in Oregon, and Orlando International. Initially, only one checkpoint at each airport will use the new procedures.

The move closely parallels changes implemented nationwide last fall for passengers age 12 and under, and for the same reason — intelligence indicates that they are unlikely to be involved in a terrorist attack, the TSA said.

TSA spokesman Greg Soule said the agency is trying to “move away from the one-size-fits-all approach” to security screening.

At the selected checkpoints, passengers 75 and older will be allowed to leave their shoes and light outerwear on; however, individuals may be required to remove their shoes and could still undergo a pat-down if anomalies are detected during security screening that cannot be resolved through other means, Soule said.

The passengers may also be permitted an additional pass through the full-body scanner to clear alarms, or be swabbed for an explosive trace detection test, the TSA said. But the travelers could still be patted down if other methods fail.

The TSA said the new policy will allow officers to better focus on passengers who may be more likely to pose a risk to transportation while expediting the screening process.