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Bulky clothes target of TSA pat-downs

LOS ANGELES — It was no crime of fashion, but Wendy Gigliotti’s bulky sweater and ankle-length skirt made her a target of airport screeners.

A female Transportation Security Administration officer at Sacramento International Airport told her, “We can’t tell if there’s something under your skirt.” She was then frisked in a way she said felt more intrusive than a physical exam.

“I felt not only like a criminal, I felt absolutely violated,” said Gigliotti.

Gigliotti is among the travelers feeling mortified or even outraged by the more thorough security pat-downs the TSA began using this month as the holiday travel season begins.

Travel experts say the new scrutiny underscores the need for better airport fashion choices that can help people breeze through screenings with their dignity intact.

Clothes loaded with metal studs are suddenly a no-no, as are bras with underwires. Slacks instead of skirts are preferred. Any baggy clothing can require extra inspection.

Melissa Wood of Marina Del Rey said she prepared for a possible pat-down at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday by wearing tight jeans, a snug sweater and slip-on sheepskin boots.

Opponents argue the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

Federal officials insist the procedures are necessary to ward off terror attacks like the attempted bombing of a Chicago-bound plane last Christmas by a Nigerian man who stashed explosives in his underwear.


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