There have been some recent news reports discussing TSA forcing women through body scanners (nude-o-scopes) due to their looks. One woman claimed she was asked to submit to scanning 3 times before the TSA agent let her go.
According to CBS 11 in Dallas:
The female agent asked her to enter the machine three times in the incident several months ago. But the agent eventually lost patience with the requests coming from the other room, she told CBS 11.
"She's talking into her microphone and she says 'it is not blurry, letting her go' and she says 'come on out,'" Terrell told the station.
photo credit here
This situation has apparently drawn the attention of Senator Charles Schumer of New York who is proposing to mandate customer advocates at TSA checkpoints. Press release here. Senator Schumer is proposing the RIGHTS act. This stands for "Restoring Integrity and Good-Heartedness in Traveler Screening".
· Require the TSA establish an “Office for Passenger Support” within the agency that would solicit and record complaints from the general public regarding screening practices at TSA.
· Require every airport where TSA operates to have at least one TSA Passenger Advocate on-duty at all times.
· Mandate every airport where TSA operates have clearly visible signage at each gate explaining that a TSA passenger advocate can be summoned if a passenger believes that a TSA employee has mistreated them on the basis of a medical condition, disability, age, race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
· Establish best practices to resolve frequent public complaints and conduct training of TSA officers to resolve frequently occurring passenger complaints.
· Resolve passenger complaints in real-time at airports.
· And field advance notification calls from individuals with medical conditions or disabilities to pre-arrange for a screening process at the airport that ensures the safety of the flight without causing undue hardship for the disabled passenger.
While I think the acronym is terrible, the idea is not so bad. I do have concerns about who would perform this role. TSA agents are generally not known for their people skills, so I don't know where this Passenger Advocate would come from.
Please remember, the body scanners are optional. Travelers have the right to opt-out of this type of screening, but the alternative is an enhanced pat down. This pat down is performed by a TSA agent of the same gender, and includes them moving their hands up your legs until they meet resistance. Yes, its as bad is it sounds. In my experience, the agents are relatively professional, and I get the sense they they aren't enjoying it any more than I am.
Some people refuse to submit to these scanners. I'm certainly no fan, but given my inability to get places very early, I often don't have the extra time to opt out and go through the pat down. Of course my preference is to get to a lane with a metal detector, but if get stuck with a scanner, and have time, I will often opt for a pat down, particularly if the machine is a backscatter X-ray. I've found that the less interactions with TSA agents, the better.
I consider my fellow bloggers Matthew and Daniel very knowledgeable on the latest with TSA. In addition, Fish always has interesting thoughts on the TSA, and this post discusses some unofficial easing of patdowns that may be occurring. I hope these TSA agents are in airports I travel through!
I have not personally witnessed blatant harassment at checkpoints based on a travelers gender, rather found everyone treated equally poorly. What has been your recent experience dealing with the TSA?