Monday, November 29, 2010

Airport security checkpoint nightmare

Updated: Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010, 9:02 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010, 9:02 PM CST

KXAN (AUSTIN) - As travelers wait in long lines at security checkpoints this holiday week, one air traveler feels violated for getting singled out for the TSA 's "enhanced" patdown procedure.

“I felt like a criminal. I felt like I was doing something wrong and all I was doing was walking through airport security,” said Alyssa.

Alyssa was flying back to her home in Austin from Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.

“I went through the body scan first," she said. "And after I went through the body scan, a bunch of officers came over, took my bags and basically put me in a private room and I had no idea what was going on.”

Alyssa is diabetic and wears a small wireless insulin pump, which was noticed in the body scan.

“I had a sweat suit on and had to lift parts of my sweat suit up and parts of my sweat suit down for them to check,” she said. “They basically patted me down in my private parts from head to toe."

“I was so upset. I tried to remain as calm as I could through this process. I was treated like a criminal and I was afraid anything I would have said or done maybe would not have allowed me to get back to Austin.”

She continued, "And after I was finally cleared to go to the gate, I just started crying. In my whole life I’ve never felt like such a victim before.”

Alyssa's young daughter has a similar insulin pump, but was not traveling with her mom Tuesday.

“And the first thing I thought about, is, had my daughter been here and had to experience this, I don’t know what I would have done,” Alyssa said.

Austin Bergstrom-International Airport in Austin does not have the full body scanners and patdowns are a last resort.

"The enhanced patdown is not an immediate next step at this airport," said ABIA spokeman Jim Halbrook.

Only a handful of air travelers have gone through the enhanced patdowns at ABIA since the TSA started the procedure on October 29th. And those patdowns are mainly for those who have medical devices.

"Hip replacements and stuff like that, some of those passengers have had to have that," said Halbrook.

Alyssa feels she was singled out at the Los Angeles airport because of her insulin pump. But, she won't let it stop her from flying in the future.

“I just feel my rights were violated and it’s pretty scary,” she said. “I think in the back of my head it will always be a concern. I will not let this stop me from living my life.”

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