About

101 Pat-Downs is an exploration of all things airport security from a passenger, crew and security officer point of view. Learn why security lines feel so stressful, plus travel tips to make going through security easier.

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Airport Security History

Did you know airport security didn’t start until 1973? In 101 Pat-Downs, you’ll learn about the evolution of airport security since the start of the TSA in 2001 including how infamous policies like the shoes-off rule and limitations on liquids and gels got started.

Complex Technology

What started as a quick stroll through a metal detector eventually evolved into a complex, technology-driven system with major implications for personal privacy. In 101 Pat-Downs, you’ll be asked to question why your choices to fly are limited to getting scanned through your clothes or having a stranger touch your private parts.

A now taken-for-granted response to terror

The TSA was created just months after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Now, nearly 20 years later, the TSA is a taken-for-granted part of U.S. culture, especially for younger people, many of whom were in diapers or not yet born when the attacks occurred.

"As a road warrior myself, I appreciated Shawna Malvini Redden's lively 101 Pat-Downs and its keen observations about our current form of security theatre and how people on either side of that power dynamic react to and evolve because of it. I appreciated Malvini Redden's focus on the fact that we have rights when we fly, and we can take actions to protect and report violations of them."
Elisa Camahort Page
Coauthor, Road Map for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Activism, and Advocacy for All

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"Airport!" Review from Inside Higher Ed

"The book amounts to another, more challenging suggestion. Suppose, instead, we held both the customer service script and the trauma-induced security fetishism of the TSA up for questioning and reconsideration? Forget about a return to normal. Can’t we do better than that?"

#BookReview: 101 Pat Downs by Shawna Malvini Redden

"Enlightening. As someone who had their first flight literally weeks before 9/11 (ATL to MCO in late July 2001) and who has experienced TSA quite frequently in *cruise* terminals (rather than airline terminals, which are the focus here), I can truly say that I absolutely enjoyed this book and that the author’s general observations tend to ring true with my own."

Editorial Review

“An exemplar of in-depth organizational research and a must-read for all frequent travelers, this book provides a behind-the-scenes picture of one of America’s most despised government agencies—the Transportation Security Administration.”—Dr. Sarah J. Tracy, author of Qualitative Research Methods: Collecting Evidence, Crafting Analysis, Communicating Impact