New and Nervous

Old Dec 26, 10, 9:13 pm
  #46  
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Your first concern is your health. I would avoid ionizing radiation and while you can opt out of whole body imaging, if you come across CastScope, you cannot opt out (which is to me completely unacceptable).

If you're asked to do CastScope, I'd request 1) private screening and 2) allow them to scan your device but take it off first --don't let someone point an xray device at your body and take, on average, 10 images (TSA says four to six, Popular Mechanics says 10 actually, often more).

And raise hell with the Amputee Coalition of America, they don't seem to have any concern with the radiation but only with your ability to be screened without removing the device and in so doing, they have made millions vulnerable to these devices which are mandatory.

So first thing is don't let them use them on your body, only your stuff.

The CastScopes are not everywhere, but they are in many airports. Prepare to deal with them, but have a plan to not be exposed to their radiation. I've explained my plan, hopefully it's useful to you as well.

Good luck being subject to more security screening and resources than almost any other category of travelers in America --and that should make you think, shouldn't it?

Originally Posted by iowakatie1981 View Post
Hi, and Happy Holidays, to all you friendly people! I've been lurking around here for a little while, ever since the news of "enhanced" "pat-downs" started to hit the media.

I don't fly super-often, and when I do, it's almost always personal rather than business. I'm getting ready to fly 12/27 (MSP to AUS), returning 12/31. However, I'm starting to get really anxious already.

I am an amputee - my leg was amputated when I was 12, due to bone cancer. The amputation was done right at the knee, but my prosthesis goes ALL the way up - right up to my hip/crotch - as it provides better stability (or so they tell me!).

There's no point in going near the nudey-scanner, since I know they're going to "pat" me "down" (feel me up) anyway. And besides, I've been exposed to enough radiation in my life. I'm just wondering - how bad is the sexual assault going to be? And what is the best way to handle it (pre, during, and post)?

I want to be as compliant as possible, and try to be kind and charitable towards the TSOs, and I'm working hard to suppress my passive aggressive tendencies. But I also don't want to allow myself to be groped, I don't want anyone's hands down my pants, etc...I don't do well with being touched there, especially by a stranger, for a variety of reasons.

I'm traveling alone, and I know that my natural tendency (no matter how much I psych myself up ahead of time) will be to do exactly what they want - I am the epitome of that "let's pick the women traveling alone b/c they won't fight" persona.

My plan right now is to have the complaint form in hand (pre-filled out with all the "known" info), the TSA complaint number is already saved in my phone. I'm trying to decide what to wear - Minneapolis in December rather limits my options, but I'm considering a one-piece swimsuit/body suit under my clothes. I also will refuse for any screening to be done in private. I'd rather a bunch of strangers in Minneapolis see my ugly body than to risk whatever might happen in private where no one else can see. I hope and pray that I can keep my mind functioning well enough in the moment to remember to ask for name and badge number of the screener, and for her to change gloves.

Does anyone have any other advice, or are there any amputees out there with experience with the "new" procedure?

Finally, I will be visiting family in Texas, and bringing along lots of Christmas presents. Can I have them wrapped, either in carry-on or checked luggage?

Thanks for the help and advice! I'm going to try to enjoy the Christmas season, rather than spend the next three weeks with high blood pressure in anticipation of this?

Merry Christmas, all!

~Katie
This is completely wrong.

I can assure you that wearing an artificial limb will net you a significant amount of security attention, including the usual extra screening and the bonus groping.

Yes, even during the holiday periods...I've just traveled and I can assure you each time they tried to get me into the machine and each time they scanned me thoroughly with other means.

So the security this time was more intense (the pat-down/grope is more invasive than even a couple of months ago --when I realized a TSA guy's hand was in my pants). However, TSA agents were slightly nicer this time, yay! I mean...whatever.

And don't listen to anybody who thinks that as an amputee you won't face any usuual or significant scrutiny. An actual amputee knows better from experience.

Originally Posted by jfunk138 View Post
Based on experience during the Thanksgiving holiday, I expect TSA will once again be on their best behavior during your travel period. If you were planning to travel say January 4 or so, it would be a different story. But based on your travel dates you will probably breeze right by the roped off nude-o-scope and the TSA will ignore you in general.
I would love someone to do this while the media is present. Though it might be humiliating, the coverage would actually be a huge fiasco to TSA especially if a veteran amputee did it.

I should mention I spoke to TSA about hopping through as you did (my backup not primary plan) and mentioned that if the media saw me do it --they might face a PR disaster of sorts. Did they take me seriously?

Well, I got a very nice call from my local airport's head of security where we talked about what an amputee should do.

Anyway, my other response I think is a better idea.

TSA being who they are, I think because something won't look right, they'll subject you to all kinds of screening anyway.

Originally Posted by eyecue View Post
That is the best thing for you to avoid being patted down

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Dec 27, 10 at 3:56 am Reason: merge consecutive posts
davidinnorcal is offline  
Old Dec 26, 10, 10:04 pm
  #47  
 
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I am a recently retired police officer and a law and order type guy, but I just wanted to throw my 2 cents in here. What is happening in our country and what the TSA is doing is absolutely disgusting.
YAY.

It always cheers me right up to read these things. Not every law enforcement person has hopped on the crazy train.

Good luck, Katie! Oh, and - just saw an article about screening processes for folks with disabilities...of course TSA is trying to put a happy face on it all, but looks like some folks are really bugging them about making things easier.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/l...,3183749.story

In other cases, "the TSA thinks [people with limited mobility] are able to move more than they are able to," said Amber Smock, advocacy director for Access Living.

Smock, who wears a hearing aid, traveled over Thanksgiving and noticed that the TSA agents tend to rely heavily on visual direction, waving their hands to show people where to go....Typically, upon check-in, "I will say, 'I don't hear well and I need you to be really clear in how you talk to me,'" said Smock, who lives in Chicago. "One issue I have is when they do bag searches. If I have a liquid in my suitcase, they don't always communicate well on why they are taking my bag."

Travelers with autism or other hidden disabilities face different challenges.

Experts advise families to arrive at the airport early and inform the TSA agents about a disability. Parents can prepare a child by showing them pictures of the terminal in advance and by bringing along comforting foods or activities.
divemistressofthedark is offline  
Old Dec 27, 10, 7:52 am
  #48  
 
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Thinking of you today, katie.
WindOfFreedom is offline  
Old Dec 27, 10, 2:27 pm
  #49  
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Originally Posted by eskachig View Post
A redditor did just that with no issues, or pat downs - so it would work. Makes a really effective statement too, showing just how absurd the situation has gotten. Especially with how many recent amputees are veterans of our war on terrorism - I bet they have a few choice words for TSA's claim of being on the front lines.
From those that do the amputation, there are probably 10x the number of vets in those who lost it drunk driving
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Old Dec 28, 10, 11:03 am
  #50  
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Ok, I tried to type this up last night, got it totally done, and then the darn thing died. So here’s another shot, probably in less detail.

So I got to MSP (Humphrey) just after 4am for a 6:00 flight. Got checked in with Southwest fairly quickly, and proceeded to security. Line was short (probably because it was 4 am!), and the ID checker was a nice old man, could have been your grandpa. Spent an inordinate amount of time with the blacklight though, like some bouncer at a club checking to make sure I really was 21…whatever… I put ID and boarding pass back in my bag and was not asked for it again.

Since there are no NoS at Humphrey, and besides, I knew I was getting groped anyway, I just picked the first line. There were 3 or 4 open, and everything was moving quickly. I took my sweet time getting my stuff ready – put shoes, purse, and coat in first bin, laptop in 2nd, and backpack in a third. I waited to push them through the xray until the lady in front of my cleared the mag, and then I stepped up and said to the worker, “I have a prosthesis.” It was pretty loud in the area, for there being so few passengers, so I was surprised she heard me, but she waved me through the mag into the penalty box and called for a female assist, who came immediately. (I decided not to take my leg off and hop through, since someone pointed out to me offline that I might still get groped anyway but then I would be separated from leg while they did it, which would be a nightmare.)

“Female assist,” who I later found out was named Sarah, was very nice. She asked me about my carryons, picked up all three bins, and had me follow her to the patdown area. She was about (I’d guess) 8 months pregnant. Then we got over to the area, some other lady came over to start actually doing the patdown. (Not sure why – there seemed to be some miscommunication about whose “turn” it was). Anyhow, she asked me if I’d ever been through this before, and I said no. Then she wanted to know if this was my first time flying, and I said no, but I hadn’t been through this new security procedure yet. She said, “Oh, you’ve been watching the news.” I told her, well, yeah, but that I also have friends who travel frequently and have heard from them about what goes on. She said sarcastically, “Horror stories, I’m sure.” I replied that these are people I trust, and I believe their stories. She told me that “stuff like that” doesn’t happen at this airport. Ok, lady, whatever you say.

So she explained the patdown, telling me that when she got to the breast, buttock, and inner thigh area that she would tell me first, and that after the patdown was over, we would have to go over to “that room over there” (she pointed) to finish the scan of my prosthesis. (Dangit, I hadn’t been on here that day, and so had forgotten about the cast-scan thing.) I told her no, I wanted everything done in public. She insisted that the machine was back there, so I was going to have to go over there to have it done. I pushed back a little more, but clearly wasn’t getting anywhere so I dropped it, but let her know that I was not comfortable. Then she asked if I had questions, and I said no, but asked her to change her gloves, which she did immediately (I watched them come out of the box). She asked if I had any sensitive areas, and I said, “Well, my vaginal area, so if you could not touch that…”. She laughed at me (these things don’t happen at this airport, remember?), and said, “Obviously, that why we don’t touch there.”

Overall, the patdown itself was ok. When she did my legs, she started at the top and worked down, and while her hands definitely brushed against “my junk”, there was no defined, explicit gropeage, so I was grateful for that. When she did the waistband, her hand stayed right at the waist – there was no untoward dipping. The breast part was worse than the crotch part, I thought. She had explained the “scooping” motion that she would use underneath them, and then also put her hands flat on them and kept running her hands down over them. (Hint, lady: They feel the same the 3rd time as the 1st.) Thankfully, though, she did not try to run her hands between them. Then she swabbed the gloves, and I must have passed, because she told me we had to go over to the other room for the xray. During the patdown, I asked her if it was hard having to do this all day, and she went off on some thing about “of course it’s hard, customers all complain, but think about what we have to do all day, blah blah blah.” I rolled my eyes, and said that I didn’t think I’d be able to do it.

It’s not so much a room as it is a little alcove off the main screening area, blocked off with pipe and drape. From where I was sitting, I could see all the screening going on. When we got there, it turned out that the pregnant lady had come over earlier to turn the machine on (does it need time to warm up or something?), but then had disappeared. I remarked that if I was pregnant, I wouldn’t want to be near it either. She launched into the thing about “less radiation than 20 mins of flight time,” and I told her straight out, “Well, I don’t really believe you. But ok, whatever.” She didn’t really know how to respond. Then she called another woman over to help with the process, who came and pulled the curtain shut. I said, “No, I want it open.” She was surprisingly fine with that, and opened it right away. Then they started explaining the xray process to me, and I kept asking them if I could have a lead drape to protect my ovaries. They clearly thought I was crazy, and patdown lady kept reassuring me that “her friend the radiologist” told her that he is exposed to more radiation at his job than she is at hers. Whatever, lady.

(I didn’t mention that most radiologists I know sit in the back room with the light board and read the films, and it’s the radiology techs responsible for actually running the machines. I didn’t think that would be helpful at the moment.)

Throughout the whole process, I just kept saying over and over again that I have been exposed to plenty of radiation in my life, I’ve always been shielded, those operating the machinery have always left the room, and that I hope I’m able to have kids in the future.

That earned me a smart--- “Sarah’s been working here 6 years and she got pregnant.” I responded that I knew she hadn’t been working around these specific machines for 6 years, and they didn’t really have an answer for that. So they took about 8-10 pics of my leg, and at one point I was literally straddling the machine because they felt they needed to xray the medial side of the leg. I could practically feel my ovaries shriveling up and dying. They did let me see the pictures – not much detail, but still more than I’m comfortable with – and I saw them (supposedly) delete them in prep for the next passenger. My leg does not have the fancy computer components that some do, but it was clear from the training/education/overall competency level of these two women that they would have no idea how to tell the difference between electronic prosthetic components and electronic bomb components.

As I was putting my shoes back on and getting my stuff back together, patdown lady tried to engage me along the lines of “that wasn’t so bad, was it?” I didn’t take the bait, and she kept going on how her job’s not so bad, everybody just needs to come with the right attitude, etc…I said that, all the same, if it was me, I think I’d have to find a new job. She didn’t like that very much, and went back to her thing about “her friend the radiologist” before I finally just left.

Ridiculous.

Total time was about 20 mins.

Assessment: I actually hated the xray part more than the patdown. When I leave Austin, I will be asking to take the leg off and have it xrayed without me “in it.” We’ll see what happens. Maybe it’s just the idea of all these TSO pizza box employees operating medical equipment on me. Ick.

Thanks for all the help and support, I’ll let you know how Austin goes.
iowakatie1981 is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 11:16 am
  #51  
 
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THANKS KATIE! Sounds like you did your patriotic duty by speaking up and letting them know you're not going to take all the manhandling sitting down. Appreciate your detailed update. (I think my favorite part was all of your "They didn't really have an answer for that.") Keep it up, folks!! ^
divemistressofthedark is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 11:22 am
  #52  
 
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Originally Posted by iowakatie1981 View Post
Spent an inordinate amount of time with the blacklight though, like some bouncer at a club checking to make sure I really was 21…whatever… I put ID and boarding pass back in my bag and was not asked for it again.
I don't get that, either. I think perhaps it's the least invasive of the security-for-show things, but it wastes time and has little to do with proving it's a real ID (pardon the pun). If you can't tell an ID is valid by sight, something's wrong.

and I kept asking them if I could have a lead drape to protect my ovaries. They clearly thought I was crazy, and patdown lady kept reassuring me that “her friend the radiologist” told her that he is exposed to more radiation at his job than she is at hers. Whatever, lady.

(I didn’t mention that most radiologists I know sit in the back room with the light board and read the films, and it’s the radiology techs responsible for actually running the machines. I didn’t think that would be helpful at the moment.)

Throughout the whole process, I just kept saying over and over again that I have been exposed to plenty of radiation in my life, I’ve always been shielded, those operating the machinery have always left the room, and that I hope I’m able to have kids in the future.
Funny, my husband mentioned that the dude who groped him within an inch of his life also had a "radiologist friend." TSA must have some befriend-a-radiologist program.

That earned me a smart--- “Sarah’s been working here 6 years and she got pregnant.” I responded that I knew she hadn’t been working around these specific machines for 6 years, and they didn’t really have an answer for that. So they took about 8-10 pics of my leg, and at one point I was literally straddling the machine because they felt they needed to xray the medial side of the leg. I could practically feel my ovaries shriveling up and dying. They did let me see the pictures – not much detail, but still more than I’m comfortable with – and I saw them (supposedly) delete them in prep for the next passenger. My leg does not have the fancy computer components that some do, but it was clear from the training/education/overall competency level of these two women that they would have no idea how to tell the difference between electronic prosthetic components and electronic bomb components.

As I was putting my shoes back on and getting my stuff back together, patdown lady tried to engage me along the lines of “that wasn’t so bad, was it?” I didn’t take the bait, and she kept going on how her job’s not so bad, everybody just needs to come with the right attitude, etc…I said that, all the same, if it was me, I think I’d have to find a new job. She didn’t like that very much, and went back to her thing about “her friend the radiologist” before I finally just left.

Ridiculous.

Total time was about 20 mins.

Assessment: I actually hated the xray part more than the patdown. When I leave Austin, I will be asking to take the leg off and have it xrayed without me “in it.” We’ll see what happens. Maybe it’s just the idea of all these TSO pizza box employees operating medical equipment on me. Ick.

Thanks for all the help and support, I’ll let you know how Austin goes.
Oh, my, I'm so sorry. This is patently awful, and the whole straddling-the-xray thing is absolutely terrifying. It also proves that the TSA claim that people aren't being singled out for being disabled is a crock of fertilizer, but we knew that.

I hope Austin goes better. Much better...and that they nuke you a bit less.
Chellian is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 11:24 am
  #53  
 
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Thanks for the update. Ignorance really irks me, especially when people are ignorant about their own job function.

“her friend the radiologist” told her that he is exposed to more radiation at his job than she is at hers.
I would have replied that MY friend the radiologist (who actually flies out of AUS) does not agree with her information or the information from her employer, and that I trust MY friend the radiologist far more than her friend the radiologist.

Did they offer or tell you about a witness? The challenge is when one travels alone, and has no witness. I can however assure you that if you had asked me, I would have volunteered to be your witness, and I am certain that I am not the only person who would have agreed.
exbayern is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 11:29 am
  #54  
 
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it is heartbreaking to read your account katie. no one should have to go through that.

Since TSA wants to get so intimate with us, have you heard about their new "search" procedure for newlyweds out on their honeymoon? They call it primae noctis....
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Old Dec 28, 10, 11:47 am
  #55  
 
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Sending best wishes your way, Katie. A dozen fulminating responses to your mistreatment have been composed and deleted. When I can control my fury at your having been x-rayed, I'll be back to tell you yet again, "You are one wonderful woman, and you deserve to be treated like one." Hang in there and keep us posted. We care.
WindOfFreedom is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 12:36 pm
  #56  
 
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A dozen fulminating responses to your mistreatment have been composed and deleted.
(Ha! Glad to know I'm not the only one who does this...I realize obscenities won't get us anywhere but believe me, I'm moved to them often. I just don't type them and then hit 'Submit'. )
divemistressofthedark is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 2:05 pm
  #57  
 
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Thanks, exbayern!

Katie...I do hope it goes better in AUS. I've really not had any bad TSA experience here (knock on wood). I do not know if they have that cast-scope here. I can try to ask when I fly out again soon. If you do want someone as a "witness" when you fly out, PM me with dates and I'll see if I'm available.

And seriously...if they are only xraying your leg, why NOT provide lead shielding for the rest of you?? Heck, even the more focused dental xrays do that. Just go have them pull the lead drapes off of one of the carry on luggage xray machines.

And, some radiologists are in the room with xrays...either doing procedures such as fluoroscopy or interventional procedures. But they have on lead aprons (or the more protective wrap around vest and kilt combo), and thyroid shields, and at times, lead lined glasses or goggles to help prevent against early cataract formation. (and then the rest of the time, we're in the reading room, away from the radiation...with lead walls and doors between us and the xray rooms).

Originally Posted by Chellian View Post


Funny, my husband mentioned that the dude who groped him within an inch of his life also had a "radiologist friend." TSA must have some befriend-a-radiologist program.
Oh, I won't be signing up for that one!

Chellian...hope your holiday wasn't too lonely without the trip!

Last edited by Kiwi Flyer; Dec 29, 10 at 11:26 am Reason: merge consecutive posts
AUS2008 is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 3:29 pm
  #58  
 
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I don't know what to say...I think it's horrible..

And so, so, so incredibly stupid.

And I don't buy the "radiologist friend" story either...
littlesheep is offline  
Old Dec 28, 10, 4:24 pm
  #59  
 
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I will say one positive thing about your experience iowakatie1981. You at least got to see the images of your x-ray images with the cast scope. If only they would do that same thing with the body scanner images.
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Old Dec 28, 10, 4:41 pm
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Katie --

I'm so angry at what you had to endure, but I'm totally impressed with the way you handled it. Should I be forced to break my flying boycott, I hope that I would handle it with such poise, at the same time challenging the good sense of the TSO's involved. It sounds like, at the very least, you made them feel uncomfortable.

I can't believe they don't have a lead apron on hand. Boggles the mind. I'm like others, sitting here trying to compose an intelligent response and coming up seething profanity. So I'll leave it at that.
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