Airline passengers and civil liberty groups have slammed TSA's new pat-down procedure, likening it to 'foreplay'.
Earlier, TSA officers used to pat down passengers with the backs of their hands, but now they'll use the fronts of their hands to search more than ever before, in some cases touching body parts that once were off limits.
AdvertisementTrailed at Logan International Airport in New York, the search involves security staff sliding their hand over passengers, if they object to going through full-body imaging scanners.
"The new searches amount to a foreplay pat-down that for many people is going to 'feel like a moral issue,'" News.com.au quoted Kate Hinni, founder of the non-profit FlyersRights.org consumer group, as telling the UK's Mail Online.
Rosemary Fitzpatrick, a reporter was left in tears after she was subjected to the new pat-down when the underwire in her bra set off metal detecting scanners in Orlando, Florida.
Fitzpatrick said she felt "helpless and violated" as she was felt around her breasts and buttocks by a female security officer.
"As an experienced traveller for work who was in tears for most of the search process, I have never experienced a more traumatic and invasive travel event," she said.
Passengers who refuse to walk through the full-body image scanners are subjected to manual searches, and the TSA can also pick random passengers for the searches.
Chris Ott, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said: "We question the effectiveness of the methods that are being presented and the choice that travellers are being given."
"Travellers are being asked to choose between being scanned 'naked' and exposed to radiation, or getting what people are describing as just a highly invasive search by hands of their entire bodies," he added.