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News & Advice

Before the pat-down comes the 'chat-down,' TSA announces

Some travelers in the US are going to have to learn to get friendly with security staff, after the introduction of a new 'chat-down' scheme to improve security.

The new process, introduced this week, will see every flyer at Boston Logan International Airport questioned by officials before departure.

Flyers will be forced to exchange a few words with specially-trained officials, a conversation which the TSA has described as a 'casual greeting.'

Based on the behavior observed during the exchange, officers may identify and mark "potentially high-risk travelers" for further screening, the TSA said, although it declined to suggest what behavior would warrant further investigation.

The program, which is based on techniques that are regularly used in Israel, is being trialled at Logan for 60 days and may be rolled out further if it is deemed a success.

The TSA has faced significant criticism from travelers and stinging headlines in the media for its 'enhanced pat-down' program, which some travelers have compared to a sexual assault.

However, it insists that the process enhances the safety of the traveling public and points out that a very small percentage of passengers are selected for the additional screening.

It will be hoping that some casual conversation ahead of the physical encounter can better target potential risks and make the experience more pleasant and safe for everybody - but it remains to be seen whether passengers will agree.