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Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

Mount Dora, Florida
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for Istanbul
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Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

We recently flew from SEA to SLC. The following day we flew from SLC to SEA. On the first flight I was identified for TSA pre-check, but my husband was not. I just went with him in the regular line. When the TSA agent saw my boarding pass he told me I could leave my shoes on. I was not required to remove my lap top. I was not subjected to a pat down nor did I walk through the screening machine. Just before I picked up my luggage a TSA agent swabbed my hands and ran the swab through a machine and then let me go. This is the exact same experience I have had with TSA Pre-check since we started to fly with this designation. I was somewhat surprised when I received the same considerations even though I was not in the TSA Pre-check line. I invariably have a bottle of water tucked away, and I often forget to empty it before walking through security. In Seattle the TSA agent took the water in his hand and asked me why I had it. I explained that I often choke so I always carry water. He then smiled and said "Medical" and put the water back in my carry-on.

Next day we are both cleared for TSA Pre-Check. We get in line, and no TSA agent seems happy to see us or anyone else. When I reached the metal detector I explained that i would set it off because of artificial hips and knees. They had no scanning machine in that line. They told me to walk through the machine. It alarmed and they immediately grabbed me like I was attempting to leave the scene of a crime.

I was then required to go back with my suitcase, open it and remove my laptop. Then I was required to remove my shoes. Then I was subjected to the "TSA Pat Down", which I believe is a form of sexual attack that I would report to the police if I were not in the airport. I do not understand why anyone needs to stick their hands down the underwear of a 70 year old woman.

One of the agents started to paw through my carry-on looking for a "small knife" that he saw on the X-ray machine. This agent finally dumped the entire contents of both my purse and my carry-on into the bin and went through every item one-by-one. Then he felt the lining of the bags and put them back through the X-Ray machine. After about 35 minutes of him playing with my bag, he tossed the empty purse and carry-on to me, and let me put my belongings back in my bags.

I know one should never complain to a TSA agent, but when it took me ten minutes to locate my shoes following the pat-down, I mentioned that I had been through TSA Pre-Check line many times in the last 12 months, and had never experienced anything like this scrutiny. In fact, I have never experienced this level of scrutiny in years. He said that as soon as I set off the metal detector, I lost my TSA Pre-Check status, so I had to submit to the regular checks.

He also said that I would not be eligible for TSA Pre-Check in the future because I have metal knees and ceramic hips, and he acted as if I had committed a federal crime. Oddly, I have passed through SLC TSA Pre-Check at least five other times in the last 12 months, and my TSA Pre-Check has been exactly like it was in Seattle, except no one has ever let me keep my water.

So I am wondering if the staff on the Pre-Check line were just having a bad day, or if I will never be able to use the Pre-Check line again? I am not happy, and I my prescription sun glasses that were in my purse disappeared during the dumping and handling process and could not be located again. They also cut off the TSA approved lock on my checked luggage.

I just thought that the process was becoming more civilized and now I am back in this mess again.

Watford, United...
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21. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

I dó wonder what you mean by hands down your underwear.

-----------------------

I also wonder this. I can't imagine it anything other than an explore of the waistband unless the TSA agent happened to be an ex Radio 1 DJ.

If it was something more I do feel a hefty complaint should be filed as soon as possible.

Adelaide, Australia
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22. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

Yes I sympathise and I too have been outraged by the intimate pat downs I have received (and not just in the USA either) and also the rough handling of my personal effects BUT it is fairly common practice I'm afraid and I am surprised this is a first for you Busy Retired. My first time was in Phoenix Arizona in 2002.

London, United...
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23. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

Hang on, I have to say, although we are all strangers on here, busy retired is a regular and we all know she is very articulate.

There is a very big difference between a waistband check, which I think everyone gets on a pat down...to "hands down underwear" and "poking about" in someone's underwear.

Trust me on that one if anyone is a little unsure.

New Jersey
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24. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

"I genuinely don't think they can just do that."

Yes, they can. Numerous people have reported TSA doing exactly that. I have seen a photo on the internet of a TSA screener pulling back a person's pants and looking down them. Another photo on the net shows a man with his pants dropped down around his ankles and the TSA screener kneeling in front of him.

TSA can do anything they want to anybody they want. TSA is above the law. TSA is above Congress. There is absolutely no restriction. No matter what they do, there is no recourse. There is no punishment. There are no repercussions.

TSA has fondled thousands of breasts and genitals. TSA has strip searched elderly women. TSA has pulled off a young girl's blouse exposing her breasts to the entire airport. TSA has forced mastectomy patients to remove their prosthetic breasts. TSA has dumped cremated human remains onto the airport floor and laughed about it. TSA has terrorized children and separated them from their parents. TSA has forced a mother to pump breast milk in a dirty public restroom. TSA has stolen millions of dollars of cash and property from passengers.

What punishment has been exacted for these offenses? Zero. Absolutely nothing. These employees are protected by TSA and remain free to continue their reign of terror unchecked.

You don't think they can just put their hands down someone's pants? Of course they can. They can do anything they want.

Edited: 26 January 2014, 21:20
New Jersey
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25. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

Oh, I left this one out: A 90 year old woman dying of leukemia was forced to remove her adult diaper so that TSA could "complete the screening process." They did this in a private room and refused to allow her daughter to be present. You figure out what they were doing that they needed to remove the diaper for.

So yes, they CAN just do that.

New Jersey
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26. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

You hope it is an exaggeration?

You should go to tsa newsblog dot com and check out the master list of complaints. You will find that it is NOT an exaggeration and many people have had similar and far worse experiences.

Guildford, England
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27. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

Thank you desertwanderer for finally exposing the truth, If anybody has doubts youtube is a good source

Adelaide, Australia
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28. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

froggy my point is I HAVE had someone more than "poking about in my underwear". A security person in an African airport got so personal with my brassiere that I asked her if she would prefer me to take it off and actually began lifting my shirt to do so and this was right next to the X Ray machine in full view of dozens of people. And as for my experience in Phoenix in 2002 that also was much more than a waist band check and done by a big burly butch female who was VERY scary. - so yes these things DO happen to other people and perhaps more frequently than you realise!!

Phoenix, Arizona
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29. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

TSA PreCheck can mean totally different things, to different agents, in different airports. One never quite knows.

My wife and I are both PreCheck on UA and SW, in most airports. That usually means separate lines, and aspects, such as keeping one's shoes, coats, hats and belts ON - but not always.

At HNL, on UA PreCheck, I was told to remove my shoes, blazer, hat and belt, because the agent did not think that one should travel from Hawai`i in a jacket, with a Panama hat. That would have been fine, but there were no bins in the PreCheck line, and she wanted everything just placed onto the conveyor belt. When I pointed out that I was PreCheck, she commented that so were all the others in the line, but they were dressed appropriately for Hawai`i, in bathing suits and sleeveless t-shirts, not a blazer, and their hats were appropriate to the Islands, unlike mine. Well, my attire was basically the same, that I wore for the last 2 years, through SFO, LAX, PHX, IAD, IAH, ORD, LAS, TYS and to HNL. Still, one agent took direct offense to my attire, and held up the line, while I found a bin, and disrobed. It happens, and she pulled me aside for a full search, just to show me that she could.

Now, my wife, also a UA 1K flier, with PreCheck at every airport, with such, in the US, has two artificial hips. She mentions this, and usually goes through the full-body screener, at a regular line. She gets her right elbow patted down (?), but that is it. No other issues for her.

It all depends on the airport, and then the agent in charge. Whatever you do, do not attempt to fly OUT of HNL, in a doubled-breasted blazer, with a Panama hat!!!!

London, United...
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30. Re: Strange TSA Experience on Last Trip

It may happen, no one said it had never happened before in the history of time, that does not mean it's standard or acceptable for tsa to have their hands in someone's underwear publicly.

Yes, they can do what they want, but they do have rules as to how and where to do that and who has to be present. That's the point.