updated 10/28/2010 6:06:01 PM ET 2010-10-28T22:06:01

The Transportation Security Administration is changing the way it manually searches passengers.

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Starting Thursday, the manual search will involve a slide of the hand compared to the traditional pat down, NBC News has learned. TSA agents will use the front of their hands in searches, and the new process will include an agent running his or her hand up the inside of a passenger's leg.

Video: Airport security pat downs get personal (on this page)

TSA did not confirm details for security reasons, but did acknowledge a change in procedure.

"TSA is in the process of implementing an enhanced pat-down at security checkpoints as one of our many layers of security," said Luis Casanova, a TSA public affairs officer.

Vote: Do you prefer full-body scans or enhanced pat downs?

Pat downs are used on passengers who opt out of full-body scanner technology, as well as those that set off walk-through metal detectors or are selected for a random search.

"TSA constantly evaluates and updates screening procedures to stay ahead of evolving threats, and we have done so several times already this year," Casanova said.

Related: Necessary evil or violation of rights? Readers sound off

Meanwhile, airport screening continues to evolve with the rollout of full-body image scanners. TSA on Thursday rolled out high-tech body scanners at Newark International Airport. The machine creates a computerized image of a person's body and give screeners the ability to check for weapons.

The scanners debuted at Kennedy Airport last week. As of Oct. 22, there are 317 machines in 65 airports across the country, Casanova said. TSA hopes to have 450 installed by the end of the year.

Slideshow: Airport Body Searches (on this page)

TSA officials will be at Newark Liberty Airport on Thursday to demonstrate the machines and procedures.

TSA says the technology is optional for all passengers.

Msnbc.com, NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Airport security pat downs get personal

  1. Transcript of: Airport security pat downs get personal

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: I can tell you this next item is true after flying from Los Angeles the other night. The TSA is instituting a new pat down procedure for those who either choose not to go through the new full body scanners, for those who are randomly selected for it, and for those who somehow flunk the first round of tests. It's called enhanced pat down, and it is. And it's also more aggressive. Those scanner machines, by the way, are now moving into several new major airports.

Interactive: Full-body scanners

Photos: Airport Body Searches

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