America gives up rights to occupy an airplane seat

It’s no secret in my family that I’ve had it with the TSA. Oh, sure, sometimes I sail through the checkpoints. I fly a lot. I know what they want. Getting through unscathed requires more in the way of street smarts than anything else. Anyone who will whip a peri-menopausal lady into a corner and perform an aggressive two-handed palm-down body search complete with squeezes in all the wrong places has a problem. I do not want to tangle with these people

I never, ever make eye contact with anyone wearing a TSA uniform. I look at my phone, I look at my boarding pass, I check to see if there’s gum on my shoe.

Sadly, there are hundreds of people who fly everyday that are abused by the TSA. It has nothing to do with safety, and everything to do with an abuse of assumed power. Take a minute and watch this:

The “drop your pants” routine happened the other day to my girlfriend’s mother. This octogenarian with early Alzheimer disease was whisked into a separate room and made to remove her pants when her hip replacement set off the metal detector. Of course, my friend had mentioned her mother, using a wheelchair through security, would set off the alarm. It didn’t matter to the TSA at all. Nor was she allowed to accompany her mother for the strip search.

When the TSA made her mother stand to walk through the machine, K grabbed her mom’s elbow to steady her when she stumbled on the rubber mat near the machine. That’s when the “authority” yelled at K not to touch her mother and then subjected K to a full search as well.

Something is very wrong. I’ve had agents tell me I’ll be pulled from my flight if I don’t do exactly what they say. I’ve had them take the youngest away at my protest because even though she looks older, she’s a minor and does not need to be manhandled alone. I’ve had men pat me down because the “woman too busy” to do it. I’ve had every tampon pulled out of a handbag and dangled for all to see.

I dare you to ask for a supervisor. I dare you to ask to see documentation as to your rights, or what to expect, of if they are really allowed to squeeze there.

How can this happen in America? More importantly, what can be done?


  1. Boy did you hit the nail on the head. My pet peeve is the TSA “security” practices. Last time we flew was January, mostly because I can’t bear the thought of going through airport security any longer. Taxpayers spend tons of money on this without any payback. I just had a long discussion with my hairdresser, a petite, well spoken, middle aged British lady who says she’s constantly pulled aside for extra searches. She pointed out, and I agree based on my personal experiences, that the airport security in Europe is so much less intrusive and less unpleasant, because they “profile” passengers rather than performing random searches. All our system does in make some people here feel better, at great cost. The system has become so unpleasant that people are actively avoiding air travel. I have looked at private charters and alternative options to commercial airline flights, and others may want to consider that as well.

  2. It’s our whole conception of what security is. It’s a “feeling” not a state of being.

  3. Hey, they can stand their with machine guns if they’d like. As long as I can keep my pants on.

  4. Tinkerbell says:

    Dear Lorax,
    Evidently it’s a “feeling” alright… and a squeezing, and a patting, and a peeking, and a poking… a whole lot of “feeling”!

  5. Nick, quite rightly, calls it Security Theater. More show than effect, it’s there to make the rubes feel as if they’re getting their money’s worth. The worst of it is that it’s mainly aimed at the last attack instead of the next.

    With a little luck and Napolitano in charge at DHS maybe we can get a big old reality biscuit and some procedures that make sense and make us safer all at once.

  6. It doesn’t even make sense for the last attack. Who among us would sit passively when threatened with a box cutter ever again?

  7. Hey Cindy-

    I set off the detectors because I have an artificial hip, but I have never been subjected to a “drop your pants” search, and I fly fairly often. How awful for your friend’s mother.

    Air travel and security is what it is unfortunately. People who have artificial joint replacements will always be subjected to pat downs, at the very least. It doesn’t matter if you tell security in advance, and it doesn’t matter if you have a note from your doctor. (As my ortho doc said, security can’t tell a real note from a fake note.)

    I’ve also never had to have a male security person pat me down, but I had to wait, sometimes for awhile, for a female security person. This is why I always arrive at least 2 or 2 1/2 hours before my flight, and I go through security as soon as we check our bags and get our boarding passes. If we need food or something else, I send the spouse back as he has all his original joints intact.

    Also, I have never had a problem in Milwaukee. In fact, I’ve found that our airport has some of the politest and most efficient security around.

  8. I’m just surprised that people put up with it. It would change if people decided it should.

    Me, I am looking at a business trip to the twin cities in July and I know for sure I won’t fly. Airports are terrible places to be and i’d rather spend 5 hours driving up the Mississippi than go to a single one of them for a single hour.


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