One woman is comparing her experience at Lambert Airport to a sexual assault.
Business traveler, Penny Moroney, was flying home from St. Louis to Chicago. Like all other airline passengers, she had to go through security first. When the metal in her artificial knees set off the detectors, she had to undergo more screening. When Moroney asked if she could go through a body scanner, she was told none were available.
A pat down was the only alternative.
Moroney explains “Her gloved hands touched my breasts...went between them. Then she went into the top of my slacks, inserted her hands between my underwear and my skin... then put her hands up on outside of slacks, and patted my genitals.”“I was shaking and crying when I left that room” Moroney says. “Under any other circumstance, if a person touched me like that without my permission, it would be considered criminal sexual assault.”
When I got on the plane all I wanted to do was sob," says traveler Ella Swift.
Swift was one of an increasing number of passengers Transportation Security Administration officers are thoroughly searching by hand. They call it an "enhanced pat-down."
Swift says they told her she was singled out because she was wearing a skirt. She says the search earlier this month was very rough and left her in tears.
"The female officer ran her hand up the inside of my leg to my groin and she did it so hard and so rough she lifted me off my heels," she says. "I think I yelped. I was in pain for about an hour afterwards. It just felt excessive and unnecessary."
Special recommendations for Muslim women who wear hijab:
- If you are selected for secondary screening after you go through the metal detector and it does not go off, and "sss" is not written on your boarding pass, ask the TSA officer if the reason you are being selected is because of your head scarf.
- In this situation, you may be asked to submit to a pat-down or to go through a full body scanner. If you are selected for the scanner, you may ask to go through a pat-down instead.
- Before you are patted down, you should remind the TSA officer that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck. They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.
- You may ask to be taken to a private room for the pat-down procedure.
- Instead of the pat-down, you can always request to pat down your own scarf, including head and neck area, and have the officers perform a chemical swipe of your hands.
- If you encounter any issues, ask to speak to a supervisor immediately. They are there to assist you.
If you fly out of town for Thanksgiving vacation next week, be sure to let us know at And Sometimes Tea if you encounter any of the aggressive/invasive screening procedures.