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TSA issues clarification on shoe screening

From Beth Lewandowski

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal airport screeners are being told to back off on asking passengers to take their shoes off to be X-rayed at the nation's airports.

The Transportation Security Administration said Thursday screeners should not require passengers to take their shoes off before going through metal detectors. But the agency did say that screeners would "encourage" passengers to do so.

The TSA said the announcement does not represent a change in policy, but was necessary so that procedures on shoe screening are implemented consistently from coast to coast.

"Our screeners have always worked hard to make sure a 'shoe bomb' does not get on an aircraft. ... Now we must make sure our security process is consistent so air travelers know what to expect at every airport in the country," TSA Administrator James Loy said in a written statement.

Loy also said that passengers who do not take off their shoes increase their chances of being selected for "a more thorough secondary screening."

Passengers wearing thick-soled shoes and those with metal shanks or steel toes are encouraged to take off their shoes for X-ray screening.

The TSA said it found that checkpoint lines moved more quickly at most airports when passengers voluntarily remove their shoes before being screened.

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