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Despite new security measures, airline travel soars

February 11, 2011 |  2:01 pm

TSA searches at O'Hare (AP) During the first month that the Transportation Security Administration launched a more aggressive pat-down search technique, the nation's airlines saw the highest increase in passenger traffic in more than three years.

In response to terrorist threats, the TSA launched a new pat-down procedure in October 2010 that allowed TSA officers nationwide to more aggressively probe and pat around sensitive body parts, including the groin and chest.

The new procedure triggered cries of protest from privacy rights activists and passenger groups. But the latest airline statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that U.S. airlines carried 58.1 million passengers in November, up 6.1% compared with the same month in 2009.

The November increase was the largest year-to-year jump since August 2007, according to the federal agency. The passenger total for November was also 7.4% higher than the total for November 2008 but still 6.1% below the prerecession level of November 2007.

-- Hugo Martin

Photo: TSA officials search a passenger at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Credit: Associated Press