I am a disabled but frequent flyer who uses a cane in large crowds, during travel and on uneven/sloping terrain. I flew home from PBI earlier this year and experienced an intrusive and inappropriate "enhanced" pat-down at the PBI TSA checkpoint. Due to health and balance issues, I must use my cane and cannot use the scanners, which require positional changes such as arm raising. I fly >100,000 miles per year in my job and have had the pat-downs elsewhere, as well as been redirected through the metal detectors. None of the other TSA experiences approached the level of intrusiveness experienced at PBI.
At PBI, I was denied access to the metal detector and experienced the most humiliating and degrading treatment at the hands of a female agent. I was groped inappropriately in all strategic areas, hands placed down my pants in a manner I never imagined possible for a middle aged woman with a cane. The point was very clear; to punish and retaliate against me because I opted out of the non-metal scanner.
In addition, the punitive response was extended to my husband who also received an "enhanced" patdown AFTER going through the scanner!
We've traveled together and separately and never had this happen elsewhere. I've never experienced anything 1/10th as invasive and inappropriate as the treatment experienced at PBI and I've flown > 100k miles per year for 10 years. Note this has all been since 9/11 so I have a pretty good idea of what TSA screening procedures should be in the post-9/11 traveling world.
The ACLU has addressed these issues, and an Alaskan legislator described her ordeal in detail within the past year. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/24/nation/la-na-tsa-screening-20110...The most recent citation I could find was in the Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/2012/0124/Rand-Paul-s-TSA-moment-airport-...
I understand the need for security and to modify the security procedures as needed. But there should be standardized and respectful treatment of those unable to use the back-scanners and the traveling public should not be held hostage to unilateral and inappropriate application of the pat-down procedure for arbitrary reasons.
I would like to speak with the senior TSA manager at PBI to get an understanding of why this checkpoint screening occurred the way it did. I would like this issue to be escalated to TSA management at Homeland Security in D.C. as well to see if there are better and uniform ways to screen disabled passengers. This would improve the traveling public's perception of TSA and hopefully abolish the inappropriate actions by poorly trained agents.
I hope Gripevine.com will explore this issue and make a difference in our traveling experience.
This is something I'll bet Dave Carroll could appreciate!