The TSA regularly reviews and updates its screening procedures, agency spokeswoman Kristin Lee said. And screeners will continue to use the pat-down method to help detect hidden and dangerous items like explosives or bomb parts.
Lee said the procedure will continue to be conducted by screeners who are the same gender as the passenger. The TSA, for security reasons, would not provide details about the differences in the new technique for pat-downs.
The law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the security procedure, said the new hand-sliding technique is already in use in some airports across the country.
Pat-downs are used when something on the passenger sets off the metal detector, when the imaging technology detects something suspicious on the passenger and when the passenger opts out of the electronic screening methods.
"Passengers should continue to expect an unpredictable mix of security layers that include explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, among others," Lee said.
Counterterrorism officials say commercial aviation continues to be an attractive target for terrorists and terror operatives are constantly trying to find ways to evade security.
ABC and NBC first reported the new policy on Thursday.