TSA New Screening—My Opinion

We flew home from Maui on Nov. 21st, (a 45th Wedding Anniversary trip) and there was no scanner in the departing airport. Many airports will not have these available for up to one year–so it is back to the PAT-DOWN. My two replaced knees always set off the metal detector, sooo I was introduced to the “new” body pat/rub-down. Wow, in 2 weeks, since we left Denver, what a difference. The pat-down was definitely more aggressive and would make anyone a little uncomfortable when the hands rolled and poked several times over places you would not expect to be touched. The TSA screener, in this case, was very nice and only doing her job, but we have seen ones that have tried to intimidate and some who were verbally aggressive. Why does it seem that it is now only the “older” generation who have things such as knee, hip & shoulder replacements, pacemakers and surgically implanted devices that contain metal or ones that have medical appartus attached to the outside of the body to collect waste; are the ones getting the complete “works’.  Also those in wheel chairs or those with other physical issues (not necessary seen) are asked to lift legs, arms or worse yet, their buttocks to be checked, when it is physically impossible for them to do so? Dah–Wheel-chair. If it is politically incorrect to profile those who “may” be a threat, but those with these problems are the majority checked–just how is that going to be beneficial to our security? It seems that “random” checks are not being done as often for the fear of profiling.

My husband has a pacemaker and cannot go through the metal detector but goes through the scanner, if it is available. Some airports don’t allow those with pacemakers to go through the scanner, so it is back to the pat down, since the metal detector is the primary screening device. We must allow ourselves 1 hr. extra to do all of this and make it to our concourse when departing from DIA. As we are going through all of this we are watching people who look like they might or should be checked, but they are run right through as they have no metal in or on them and no-one wants to look like they are “profiling.”

We either stop traveling by air, which is our only practical method, or we subject ourselves to radiation or humiliation. Another option is to just not travel, which means not seeing family or taking those trips you have dreamed about all of the years you have worked.

We watch people that are using canes or walkers who are asked to put them aside to walk through the metal detector. We watched one lady almost fall when her cane was taken away. My 89 yr. old mother, who has hip and knee replacements, went through the pat down and then all of the contents of her carefully packed carry on dumped out and left for her to repack, as there was nothing unusual in it. She called us later almost in tears. That was when she was 86. She is in a Nursing Home now, so will no longer have to endure the “new” procedures. How humiliating for those elderly seniors. My husband’s C-Pap is completely handled by gloved TSA people who have had their gloves on everyone else’s things & doing body searches. I asked one TSA if they changed gloves–he said, “No, they are for OUR (meaning the TSA people) protection.”

We also saw a lovely lady with darling twin girls (about 4 months old) having to remove them both from a double stroller, fold up all of the things necessary to take for young babies and then be asked by the TSA screener to remove the bottles out of the babys’ mouths and hand them to a “gloved” TSA fellow who handled the bottles and then opened each bottle and stuck a dip stick of sorts into each bottle and then handed it back to the mother. Now the mother was left with handled, contaminated bottles to feed her babies and she was probably late to her concourse to get on her plane. I was appalled at the insensitivity! This was BEFORE the new screening rules were in effect. 

These types of situations are where common sense should be employed. If you are looking for a particular type of flier, then profile! Most of us would never mind being pulled as a random check every now and then, but to have to go through this every time you wish to fly because you are in a wheel chair, have a baby stroller or have surgical implants it is just plain ridiculous. How safe does this make us feel?

I am not pointing fingers at the TSA employees (although some would deserve a little finger pointing) but more at the entire system. When suitcases are not scanned or screened, any person can board a plane and use a cell phone to trigger something inside of their suitcase. Also a “real” pat-down to find hidden objects requires MUCH more than can ever be done in an airport. Flying has become difficullt enough, do we need to be subjected to all of this before we even board the airplane. From now on, I am making sure the screener has on fresh gloves.

The screeners are forced to employ these methods to keep their jobs.

Let’s bring back some respect for human dignity!