Airport Patdown Procedures Modified

WASHINGTON -- The Transportation Security Administration is slightly altering the way airport screeners conduct patdown searches by allowing passengers to put their arms down after their upper bodies are checked.

TSA spokesman Mark Hatfield called it "a small adjustment that we're hoping will lead to a large increase in comfort factor for people in secondary screening." The new procedure takes effect on Monday.

Allowing passengers to put their arms down will help them feel less conspicuous while they're being searched, Hatfield said.

"We're always looking for a better way to do what we do, both to increase security and increase customer service," he said.

Hundreds of people have complained about the searches, which began on Sept. 22 after two Chechen women were believed to have blown up two Russian airliners.

With the exception of test equipment at six airports, the TSA's screening machines cannot detect nonmetal explosives on passengers.