A rant on airport security

Jul 19th, 2005, 03:14 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 240
A rant on airport security

I am totally fed up with airport security. There has to be a better system than we have now. What has me so upset is the way my folks (and a lot of other older people) are being treated.

My folks are in their 80s and don't travel much. My dad can't walk very far and has to use a wheelchair. Doesn't matter to airport security, he still has to take off his shoes and walk through the metal detector. They won't even let him use his cane.

Despite taking off her shoes and jewelry, my mother kept setting off the detector, so she had to submit to an embarrassing pat down search.

My folks were born and raised in the United States. Both have led productive lives and have never committed a criminal offense of any kind. Is searching these kinds of people really necessary. I mean how many people in their 80s, who were born and raised in the U.S. without ever getting into trouble, are likely to be terrorists.

Another couple I know are also in their 80s. His situation is worse. He has an artificial leg (he lost his leg in WWII). Whenever he goes through airport security, they make him go behind a screen, undress, and take off his leg so they can examine it. He says he's so fed up with the whole process, he's not going to travel anymore.

There has got to be a better way to handle these kinds of situations. It seems to me that profiling based on age, race, criminal record, and/or national origin, etc. would make more sense than the system we have now. How about some kind of registration process so you wouldn't have to go through security screening every time. Anyway, just wanted to vent.
NotMe is offline  
Jul 19th, 2005, 05:42 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 555
What a bad situation. I know before 9/11, they had special sensors for people in wheelchairs (I used to be one of those airport chair pushers). It's a bummer they don't do that anymore.

The thing I dislike is that after you take your shoes off and walk across the disgusting carpet, they keep yelling at you to move on as you're trying to put your shoes on. That's not as bad as the situations you described, but that's my rant on security.

I'm not really sure what the answer is. We all pay a price for a more secure life. The national origin suggestion is interesting, especially after the London bombings - weren't they UK nationals?

At any rate, I keep waiting for the kinks to work out as well. I hope things are better for your parents if they do choose to travel again.
jbee is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 03:51 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 3,122
They actually have this now, but it just started testing-

"Beginning June 21, 2005, the Orlando airport will let travelers pay $80 a year for a card that gives them a dedicated security line and the promise of no random secondary pat-down.The passengers must agree to be fingerprinted, have their eyes scanned and submit to background checks first. ''It's counterintuitive,'' Schneier said. ''Everyone complains: 'Why are you frisking grandmas?' But if you don't frisk grandmas, that's who (terrorists) are going to pick to carry bombs.''


Wednesday is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 376

I sympathise with what you are saying, but, unfortunately, nowadays, I don't think the TSA can, or should take chances with anyone. Case in point: in 2003, a 10-year-old boy was stopped in Orlando because he had a teddy bear with a loaded gun stuffed inside. The family claimed that the boy was given the bear as a gift by a stranger, but my point is that a terrorist could just as easily have used this child as a "mule" to smuggle dangerous items onboard an aircraft. It's truly sad that things have sunk to this level, but the hard reality is that these despicable people will use anything/anyone to further their evil goals.

I also don't envy TSA's job. We're essentially in uncharted waters here, and mistakes are inevitable. One thing you mentioned that got me thinking is that when your parents go to the airport, there are some things they can do to help speed things along, like not wearing jewelry, etc.

They are starting the registered traveller program in a handful of airports, but I don't think your parents would want to go through the cost/hassle of doing this, since I'd imagine they don't do alot of travelling.

I would imagine that since your parents and friends survived WWII, they are no strangers to sacrifice. I'd just tell them that these terrorists are today's Nazis, and we have to make sacrifices to ensure that they do not succeed, just as even bigger sacrifices had to be made in WWII. Someday, hopefully, God willing, terrorism will be just a painful, distant memory, and these sacrifices will no longer be necessary.
LT is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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<sarcasm>Yes, the TSA should go after "other people" ... not fair complexioned nor older people.</sarcasm>

The first name that comes to mind is Timothy McVeigh, veteran and "Patriot".

Yes, it seems like they could have been a bit more understanding, but on the other hand, one reads of terrorists focusing recruitment on less "foreign" looking prospects.

While I'm sure your folks would never go along, couldn't terrorists find some older people, maybe even with a long-lasting terminal condition, that have nothing to lose but would like to leave a large "jackpot" for survivors?

Even going thru the steps of procuring "trusted traveler" status doesn't mean a person couldn't have a "change of heart" and decide to accept "an offer that couldn't be refused". And there's even the possibility of the taking of an older persons loved one as hostage to coerce the octogenerian to undertake terrorist activity.

It's not a perfect system, but then there's always Greyhnound. I guess we have to decided which imperfections are the best.
rb_travelerxATyahoo is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 19,419
Let me tell you about one trip with my father. It took him maybe 15 minutes to go through security - 4 times he dig into his pockets to finally empty them to go through!!!! I lost my patience completely, and I couldn't even pretend I am not with him as I had all travel documentation!!

Now imagine being on the other side, have you ever worked with people? I appreciate my job so much working mostly with papers! You have to be polite with everyone, not to show any impatience, or some nervous person like you will talk to the manager. You can't rush people, and it doesn't matter how slow they are and how many people are behind this slow person in line. Even eye contact can be misinterpreted.

On the other hand, they are responsible for everyone's safety, and they know the older people are more vulnerable to agree to take a package through, or they can be easily distracted and something slipped in the carry-on or pocket.

Yes, there must be a better system, but it's not up to the airport security to decide, not those employees who have to follow instructions. And unless there is a better scanning system let's let them do their job. Because if they don't do what they're supposed to do, you will be the first one to complain.

I don't know about people in wheelchairs, but older people do get help to take their shoes off and put them back on if needed, seen that at least twice.
FainaAgain is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 12:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,437
The TSA has guidelines that require screeners to assist people with mobility difficulties, not make people walk if they can't, etc., as long as the passengers make their needs known.

On my trips to Florida, I've seen plenty of elderly people remain in wheelchairs if they can't walk, get assistance, etc. The screeners are at fault if they're violating the guidelines. The problem is, you can't exactly argue with them. On the other hand, you can report them, since these types of problems are not with the system per se but with individual violators.

I once travelled with a cane because of a broken bone, and the screeners did ask me if I needed assistance (which I didn't) getting through the metal detector without it. I've also had my mother wanded while in a wheelchair.

As for the gentleman with a prosthetic device, what you report directly violates TSA guidelines. This is from their website:
"Screeners will not ask nor require you to remove your prosthetic device(s), cast, or support brace.
During the screening process, please do not remove or offer to remove your prosthetic device(s)."

There is detailed information for people with all types of disabilities at www.tsa.gov.
KT is offline  
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