Apparently, the TSA has a long way to go on that front, based on the experience of Charlene DeLoach, a Boston-based blogger who writes about parenting on her blog Charlene Chronicles.
While 7 months pregnant, the mother of two flew from Boston to Miami. Both times, she opted out of the full-body scanner upon her OB’s advice, and asked for an enhanced pat down.
At Logan International Airport, she was told by to step aside and wait for a female agent. A friend collected her belongings, including a laptop, which had already gone through the belt. And so she waited…and waited…and waited.
“After 5 minutes I was asked if someone was coming. The agent just glanced away. After 10 minutes, I asked again. I was told they’re busy. After 15 minutes, I asked for a chair. He said no, he couldn’t provide that”
Seeing her distress, other passengers tried to intervene on her behalf. “The agent wouldn’t respond to anyone. Finally, after 20 minutes, I started yelling that I’m 7 months pregnant, I’m going to miss my flight, and I’ll call the media if I have to. Then someone came over to pat me down.”
On the way back, DeLoach again opted out of the full-body scan. “The agent said to me, ‘I don’t understand why you need a pat down. The machine is perfectly safe.” There, she was left waiting for a full 30 minutes before an agent was available to search her.
“At least this time, they gave me a chair,” she says.
At first glance, the situations seem innocuous enough. After all, who doesn’t have to deal with long waits and hassles at the airport?
And yet, DeLoach was so shaken by the experience that she’s still loathe to even talk it. “I can’t even begin to tell you the complete lack of empathy, the complete disregard,” she says. “Standing there pregnant, crying because I was panicking that I would miss my flight, it was the total embarrassment. If their goal was to make me feel utterly berated, then they succeeded.”
Here’s the message to the TSA and anyone else involved in the travel process. We’re not asking for special treatment because we’re parents or parents-to-be. But we do want make it clear that traveling with an infant or small child is a stomach-knotting process—we are constantly anticipating the next challenges and warding off meltdowns from where there is no return. Knowing how to plan, prepare and respond to any situation in the travel process means we’ve won half the battle.
All we’re asking for is a consistent policy put in writing that we know we can rely on and follow. It also wouldn’t hurt for compassion, respect and common sense from the people who are tasked with protecting us and our children.
For more policies and missteps of the TSA don’t miss:
- The Worst Incidents of Theft at Security
- TSA Gone Wild: GAO Reports Lax Security and Misconduct
- TSA Pre-Check Expansion & All US Airports Offering Pre-Check
- TSA to Allow Golf Clubs & Small Knives
By Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com