Friday, May 13, 2011

Shame On You, TSA

This evening on the news they did a story on the TSA and how unprofessional some of the agents are. In my state specifically, they are looking to pass a law that punishes TSA agents for roughing people up unnecessarily and violating them physically beyond the requirements of their jobs.

Now, let me just say that I don't have a problem with TSA. The majority of times I have travelled, I have found them to be efficient and quick. Can't ask for much more than that. At Honolulu International Mr. Case and I were dismayed and concerned over two agents who were supposed to be monitoring the contents of the luggage ignoring the conveyor belt in favor of discussing how drunk they got over the weekend, but otherwise I have had nothing bad to say... Until this past week. Incidentally, the story on the news featured a former beauty queen travelling out of "my" airport who posted a YouTube video after a TSA agent allegedly touched her vagina during a pat down.

For medical reasons, my doctor instructed me to ask for a pat down instead of going through the full-body scanner. Prior to travelling I went on the TSA website to check on the most efficient way of getting this done, what the rules were, etc. In other words, I did my homework like I should be expected to. Through my research, I learned anyone can request a pat down, no reason needs to be given, and you simply need to inform the agents.

Here is how it all went down:

I arrive to the first agent and hand her my boarding pass. I ask for the pat down. She tells me, "OK, tell the agent in front of the scanner." I load all of my stuff onto the conveyor belt and proceed to the agent in front of the scanner. I state, 'On the advice of my doctor I would like to request a pat down instead of going through the scanner.'

No lie, the agent's face completely contorted with disgust and she proceeded to hold up the entire security line to give me a lecture on how I am ignorant and need to do the scanner.

When she was done with her tirade I calmly replied, 'I am not here to dispute any of your scientific facts. Now that I have listened to you may I exercise my right to the pat down?'

This infuriated her more. I am not sure why she took it so personal but she was not going to let me go without drama. She says to me, "Well if you're going to insist you're going to have to wait a long time." She then looks to the other agent and says, "Tell her she's going to have to wait a long time."

In an attempt to look unfazed I replied, 'Well, I did my homework and knew to come early enough to wait.' I then looked at the male agent (who by this time was squirming watching her mistreat me and hold up the 50 other people in line) and said, 'And if it is easier I will accept my pat down from a male agent if it makes your job easier.' In an attempt to bust my chops more she was stalling as long she could in using her walkie to summon a female agent to do my pat down.

I don't know what the heck the problem was. I know everyone has bad days but this agent was awful and treated me like I had insulted her personally by declining the scan for a medical reason. It isn't like I declined the scan due to some conspiracy theory, or to be a pain in the ass. There was no need for her to make a fuss, especially considering she was not even the one to perform the pat down!

I feel it is only fair to note that the agent who did my actual pat down was polite, courteous, efficient and quick. I have no complaints about her. Furthermore, she did in fact touch my genitalia, too, but she informed me of the need to do so before even beginning the pat down. There were no surprises, and there was absolutely nothing perverted, sexual or inappropriate by any means. The entire thing was over in seconds.

I know it won't do one bit of good, but I did fill out a complaint with the TSA so they can know what a bad name this woman is giving them (and her fellow agents!)


adriana said...

That's ridiculous. I'm so angry for you about that woman. It's not like you were trying to cause a problem, and COME ON - you're PREGNANT. It's not like you're going around with a broken nail or something! I'm glad you wrote to the TSA, I'd write to the airport too. And I'm glad that the one who did the actual pat down was more professional!

Liz said...

I'm flying next week & was going to ask you about this. Were you not supposed to go through the scanner because of your pregnancy, or other medical problems? I never even thought to ask my dr. about this and now I don't have an appt. for awhile.

It's just awful that it went down that way. I do not understand how any human can treat others that way. HUGS!