Pregnant Traveler: TSA Screeners Bullied Me Into Full-Body Scan

Pregnant Consumerist reader Mary was recently going through the security checkpoint at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. When she realized that she would be going through a full-body scanner, she told the screeners she wanted to exercise her right to a pat-down — even if it meant experiencing the TSA’s new, icky “enhanced” pat-down. But instead of the screeners doing as she requested, Mary claims they proceeded to bully her into the scanner.

Let’s hear it straight from Mary:

The two TSA agents asked me, “Why don’t you want to go through this?” I said, “I don’t trust it.” They said, “Why don’t you trust it?” I said, “I am pregnant and would rather be pat down.” And they said, “Oh but you get ultrasounds, don’t you?”

I answered yes and the TSA officer said, “Oh it is less than an ultrasound, and it’s really easy so just go through.”

The TSA officers are doctors now??

They repeated again for me to just go through the scanner and it would be done in 5 seconds. I was literally in tears because I wanted a pat-down instead of going through the machine, and I felt they declined me that option. No matter how much I pushed for a hand pat-down, they pushed harder for the machine.

Then, after I stood in the machine, the officer waiting on the other side of it patronized me by cooing, “There, that was easy, wasn’t it?”

I mentioned that I was forced to do it and went to the belt to take my possessions, while tears ran from my eyes.

I really felt the TSA agents were just being lazy since a pat down obviously takes more time for them, but I also feel like when I specifically ask for something that is an option for me, I should be able to get it.

A rep for the TSA confirms to Consumerist that TSA screeners are obligated to offer alternative screening, including a pat-down, for travelers who can’t or won’t go through the full-body scanners.

For Mary and other travelers experience problems with TSA screeners, the agency recommends using its “Talk to TSA” function available here. They claim that this allows travelers to file their grievances directly with TSA officials at the specific airport(s).

Travelers can also call (866) 289-9673 or e-mail the TSA at


Edit Your Comment

  1. taney71 says:

    God I hate the TSA. Wasn’t one of the reasons it was created so that “better” and more “professional” agents would be hired. I’ll take the private sector security guards over these government security guards any day.

    • magus_melchior says:

      There’s no difference between the two, as much as those who detest government anything want to believe that the government agents are inferior.

      Let me put it this way: Private security and TSA hire those who couldn’t cut it for law enforcement, but still want to have a holstered gun and not be seen as an open-carry wacko. They’re a cut below the police officers who are assigned to school security duty. If they really were “better and more professional”, they would be in the FBI. It’s that simple.

      • OmniZero says:

        So by that logic, airplane safety isn’t important enough for FBI-quality agents to handle? Last I checked, the current TSA agents have failed a lot of tests where people sneak fake bombs through security and things like that. I would want the government to get FBI-quality agents for security. They’d probably be friendlier, too…

        • NatalieErin says:

          We have (real) federal LEO agencies in my building, and they are very friendly. When you not the target, DEA agents are great guys.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            And most of the SS were “good guys,” if you weren’t jewish. The only people they need to be worrying about are criminals, but they can’t actually seem to do anything about them.

            Doesn’t take *NEARLY* as much work to harass the completely innocent.

            • PollyQ says:

              “And most of the SS were “good guys,” if you weren’t jewish. “

              … or gay, or Romany (Gypsy), or mentally ill/handicapped, or Russian, or Slavic, etc. I’m Jewish myself, but I HATE that people forget the OTHER 5 million victims of the Holocaust.

    • dbeahn says:

      T.S.A. = Thousands Standing Around (doing nothing)

    • aloria says:

      Either way, you end up getting a lot of “couldn’t hack it as a cop but still want authority” types. One just ends up getting paid slightly more.

    • Bkhuna says:

      The reason it was created was to ensure tens of thousands of dues paying Federal Union employees.

      Who created the TSA? The Democrat Senate.
      Who did the TSA hire? Below average, unskilled and the undereducated.
      Who siphons of union members dues moneys and sends them to the AFL-CIO which gives over 99% of what it collects to Democrat candidates? The American Federation of Government Employees.
      Who do Federal Unions members vote for like lemming? Democrats.

      You get the picture?

      • DH405 says:

        Wow. Really, that’s the theory you’re working with? TSA is a Democrat conspiracy? Tell me, what president signed that bill? I forget, what was his political affiliation?

      • grumpskeez says:

        Well, at the least, I get a picture of you drooling on yourself.

      • Talisker says:

        Um, the bill was passed by the House and the Senate. The House had a GOP majority and the Senate was pretty much evenly split between the GOP and the Democrats.

      • Gulliver says:

        Typical of a republican to lie. They always think if you tell a lie often enough it becomes true.

        1.”The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, passed by the 107th Congress on November 19, 2001, established our agency and gave it three major mandates:
        Here is the ACTUAL vote
        That is 50 dems, 49 republicans AND 1 independent. in the senate.
        The house of reps was 220 republican 211 democrats on the day the bill passed. The president who SIGNED the bill was a member of the republican party. This bill could NEVER have passed with republicans. Democrats could not do it on their own, so you are completely ill-informed and like most republicans a liar.

        2.The person hired to lead the TSA at the time was hired by a republican president. The hiring decision was his. The level of people they hired is solely on a republican appointee.

        Don’t let facts get int he way of your story Limbaugh, or are you Glen Beck?

        • operator207 says:

          “so you are completely ill-informed and like most republicans a liar.”

          You lose a lot of credibility towards your person when you act that way. Yes what you said was factually correct, however your commentary was below professionalism, and stunk of “12 year old, I got a question right, nah nah nah.”

          Please do correct someone when they are wrong, just don’t be a 12 year old brat when doing it.

      • NatalieErin says:

        Other people have corrected some of your idiocy already, but they missed this one: as an agency of Department of Homeland Security, TSA employees are not allowed to unionize. The AFGE is trying to organize TSA workers at the moment, but over the nearly 10 years the agency has existed none of the workers have been represented by a union.

        So, in summary, you have gotten three out of four incorrect.

        • fs2k2isfun says:

          It’s my understanding that the TSA can join a union, but they don’t have collective bargaining rights. I could be wrong however.

    • spamtasticus says:

      Just say NO. Every single time the answer is NO. Period. No. But it’s safe. Don’t care, NO. It does not give you cancer, Don’t care NO. It makes you younger, Don’t care NO. It gives you multiple orgasms… ummmmm….. No!

    • nbs2 says:

      You have to federalize to professionalize.

      When confronted with Smurfs like this, the most important letters you can say are:

      Until those four arrive, you refuse to do anything. Of course, I also don’t ever fly without a copy of the TSA complaint form on my person.

      • Merricat says:

        For anyone who doesn’t speak alphabet soup:

        STSO – Supervisory Transportation Security Officer
        FSD – Federal Security Director
        GSC – Ground Security Coordinator
        LEO – Law Enforcement Officer

        Essentially the advice is to refuse to cooperate till a supervisor is on scene.

    • Chaosium says:

      “God I hate the TSA. Wasn’t one of the reasons it was created so that “better” and more “professional” agents would be hired. I’ll take the private sector security guards over these government security guards any day. “

      Technically, they *are*, they’re just asked to do things that’re even further outside of their ability and qualifications. I can see the non-TSA doing worse, but they still shouldn’t be doing any of this shit.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    F— filing a grievance. They violated the law. Sue them. The TSA needs to die.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Sue them like when the TSA took some woman’s child away?

    • dg says:

      Pregnant women can get away with a lot (mainly because men don’t want to piss off a hormonal female), so if I were her – I’d have said “Now look damnit – I don’t know what you fucken don’t understand, but I’m not going in that damned box. My baby could be harmed, who knows what the hell’s going to happen. Now stop screwing around and pat me down.”

      If they didn’t do it at that point, I’d have punched one of the guards right in the mouth. Go ahead and arrest me. I’m protecting my fetus. Wanna bet that NO JURY anywhere in this country will convict her? Wanna bet that the pro-life people start marching? Wanna get the civil rights defenders in an uproar? This is the way to do it…

      I won’t climb in that damned thing and I’m not pregnant. Sorry, but I refuse to be scanned, it’s not going to do a thing to make us safer – it’s all security theater — and the effects on a fetus or plain ole walking-around adult is unknown, so ummm, no – I’d opt out.

      If I were her husband and traveling with her – I’d be in jail, the TSA schmucks would be on the way to hospital, and the whole thing would be on the news… I’d be damned if someone would endanger my unborn baby…

      Fuck TSA Not “Transportation Safety Administration” but rather “Those Stupid Assholes”

      • Chaosium says:

        “Pregnant women can get away with a lot (mainly because men don’t want to piss off a hormonal female), so if I were her – I’d have said “Now look damnit – I don’t know what you fucken don’t understand, but I’m not going in that damned box. My baby could be harmed, who knows what the hell’s going to happen. Now stop screwing around and pat me down.””

        Hahahaahahhahahaaha, you think that matters to a police state. They give no fuck.

  3. anime_runs_my_life says:

    “For Mary and other travelers experience problems with TSA screeners, the agency recommends using its “Talk to TSA” function available here. They claim that this allows travelers to file their grievances directly with TSA officials at the specific airport(s).”

    Still waiting for them to get back to me on some issues I had with a couple of TSA agents on my trip a few months back. Don’t hold your breath on complaining to this site. Unless they fully stripped and embarassed you and it was caught on video and put on YouTube, I doubt anything will happen.

    This is not to say that I don’t care about what happened to Mary; what they did was wrong and she’s owed an apology.

    • Span_Wolf says:

      Did they call you CHOPPIE and cuddle you crushingly to their chest?

    • FredKlein says:

      Don’t hold your breath on complaining to this site.

      Exactly. On the TSA blog (available from their front page), there have been numerous posts on various issues, all of which get ignored. Hell, Pistole himself posted on the supposed importance of the 3-1-1 rule. When posters pointed out the contradictions in his post, they were ignored. When posters pointed out the stupidity of the 3-1-1 rule itself, they were ignored. Posts are made saying that the new ‘enhanced’ patdowns are necessary, but outright refusing to say why, or even say what these ‘enhanced’ patdowns consist of.

      It’s pathetic, really.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      With these online complaint forms and systems, your complaint is read by the lowliest person in the system. There’s no follow-through. They can happily drop your letter in the round file. Always look for someone who actually has some clout in the organization and send them an EECB, or an old fashioned letter via CMRR. The CMRR method works because they know they’re wading into legal territory by ignoring certified mail.

  4. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    It doesn’t seem like they threatened her, so was it really bullying? It seems like a real hard upsell. I wonder if the pregnancy was messing with her hormones causing her to be a little too sensitive. I’m not saying she’s lying, just that her mood flavored her perception/memory of the event.

    • Warai says:

      The point is if a pregnant woman is uncomfortable going through a scanner she fears could have a negative impact on her unborn child there should be no resistance at all. She stated she would prefer a pat down which is completely within the regulations. Pushing at all is wrong, pushing to the point of tears regardless of her possible emotional fragility is downright despicable.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Not saying that. But it seems like she didn’t really put her foot down. From what I have read, causing a problem at screening usually results in the “punishment” of a full pat down.

        • Eric Jay says:

          Putting one’s foot down is easier said than done. My last unpleasant encounter with TSA, I had accidentally left my zip-top bag of

        • darklighter says:

          She shouldn’t have to put her foot down at all. She said, “I’d prefer a pat-down.” The proper response from the TSA agent should be, “Okay. Please step this way.”

        • Marshmelly says:

          Why should she have to “put her foot down” at all? It shouldn’t be a negotiation. She’s not on a sales call. She said she would rather have a pat-down (which is an option they offer), so they should give her the damn pat-down. When I walk into a store and buy something on the menu, I shouldn’t have to convince the person behind the counter to sell it to me.

        • redbess says:

          As a society we’re trained to obey those in authority to make situations run smoothly, and because those in authority are supposed to know more than us and be equipped to make decisions. Obviously, the TSA is a bunch of hired morons, but still, we’re trained to obey.

    • myCatCracksMeUp says:

      Just because you’re an extremely unsensitive person, that doesn’t mean that other people are overly sensitive. Mary was bullied and she should file a complaint.

    • CreekDog says:

      Yikes…but I’ve gotten used to your posts by now.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        I can see how that came off crass. I guess my point is that she was emotional, and that affected how she reacted. I went to the vet recently, and I let the doctor talk me into some tests which weren’t really necessary(because he’s a healthy dog who just didn’t eat for 72 hours or so earlier in the week, but started eating after I made the appt, of course), but it’s my puppeh, and I agreed to them. Same thing when I brought my one cat to the ER vet after she had an abscess rupture. They quoted me ~$1700 or more for treatment, I started crying, said that I couldn’t afford that, and that I would have to put her down. As soon as I said that, the ER vet told me that she wasn’t dying, and I should see my normal vet when they opened on Monday. But if I had had the money, I probably would have paid it. When you are emotional, you tend not to react rationally sometimes, and the standard upsell can seem like bullying.

        • goodfellow_puck says:

          She was emotional because she was concerned about her baby and being forced to do something she didn’t want to. That’s a pretty valid reason to be upset. Saying it as you did in your first post makes you sound sexist and reinforcing that “bitches is all hysterical” negative view of women’s opinions. As you say now, men have emotions too. Lets not make it about some hormones, because let me tell you, us wimmens we know how to deal with that by now.

        • ElizabethD says:

          Were you on the rag at the time?

    • Mike says:

      “I wonder if the pregnancy was messing with her hormones causing her to be a little too sensitive.”

      Ha! I would pay serious money to see a video tape of you saying this to a woman and the aftermath of her reaction. That’s like saying to a woman “Why are you so bitchy? Do you have PMS or something?” You’re likely to have your face rearranged for such an offense, even by the most mild-mannered of women. I look forward to all the response to your comment.

      • MostlyHarmless says:

        I’d chip in. With money, and with some genes, if needed.

      • katstermonster says:

        I’ll donate a uterus to the cause.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        So you’re saying if I said that to a pregnant woman, she would react in a way that would be worth video taping because it would be violent? And I’m the one who is being sexist? Yours is a very stereotypical comment. My comment wad only wondering if it played a role in this one case. You seem to think every pregnant woman can become violent if they take something the wrong way.

        As for the comments, I must admit it’s fun watching people act like the bullies they claim the TSA is.

      • tk427 says:

        I would heart you if it was possible on this site.

    • brianary says:

      It sounds more coercive than bullying, but that should still result in termination.

    • lettucefactory says:

      And? Doesn’t your mood impact how you react to events? Having “moods” is not strictly the domain of pregnant women. It’s sort of the human condition.

      She requested something that she was entirely within her rights to request, from someone acting on behalf of the U.S. government, and her request was ignored. I don’t think it matters if she’s the most sensitive person on the planet. She didn’t call it “bullying,” Consumerist did, but if it makes you feel better, I’m fine with saying it was a mere “upsell.” The point remains the same – they shouldn’t have been upselling. She had a right to request a pat-down. She has a right to request a pat-down if she is pregnant, if she is moody, or if she’s a guy who doesn’t want someone to make fun of her dick. Nobody should even be asking her why.

      And moody little woman though she may be, she has a point. This machine does emit a small amount of radiation, and pregnant women are advised to limit their exposure to radiation. She’s not pulling a concern out of thin air here.

      But even if she was? She would still have the right to ask for a pat-down, and get it.

      • hattrick says:

        Totally agree–it doesn’t matter what motivated her request. If she said “I’m afraid it will let the aliens track me,” it doesn’t matter. The law says if she requests this, she gets it–it most pointedly doesn’t have an exception saying: “oh, but if you think ladies are hormonal, you get to deny this request.”

        But I’m sorry, I have to comment on the legitimacy of that request, even though you’re right, it really IS immaterial.

        As a pregnant lady who has due to her pregnancy given up caffeinated coffee, tea and soda, all alcohol, sushi, deli sandwiches, pate, lox and other cold smoked fish, charcuterie, delicious unpasteurized cheeses, her much enjoyed occasional cigarette, not to mention cut back dramatically on all kinds of yummy junk food and delicious sugary snacks…seriously, I gave up all that to keep my fetus safe, and now you expect me to expose it to radiation just so you don’t have to do your dang job? Dude, screw you.

    • katstermonster says:

      You’re so right! OMG! You’re so right, it must be those Wacky Pregnant Lady Hormones making her want to protect her unborn child from possible use of x-rays, which can be harmful to a fetus!

      Are you a doctor, or do you just play one on the internet?

      • ktetch says:

        SteveDave plays expert on a wide array of subjects. He also gets in a ‘blame the OP’ when he can.

        • katstermonster says:

          I’m unfortunately all too aware. I used to be a regular ’round here, til a lot of the commenting (like this) went downhill after the format change. Now I haunt Gawker. :)

          • MMD says:

            Thank you. I agree, the commenting in general has gone *way* downhill, to the point where Consumerist should just stop pretending that there’s comment moderation.

            And because I am being critical of the Consumerist in the above statement, I am more likely to disemvoweled than are the misogynists and homophobes and who spew their bigoted bile here…

            • mmeetoilenoir lurktastique says:

              Don’t forget the racists. I shudder at the racefail that happens at the site. I wrote the eds about it and never heard a thing back.

          • ahleeeshah says:

            I did the same thing. I knew I knew your name from somewhere!

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            I can guess I can understand how you see Gawker as better. People telling 9/11 everyone to forget about 9/11 and get over it,someone telling a 9/11 widow that she is upset because she didn’t get “hush money”, people saying that it’s not right to have yearly memorials for tragedies like plane crashes/natural disasters/mass shootings/car accidents, etc…

            • katstermonster says:

              DUDE. You hang out at Gawker, too. Don’t pretend you’re too cool for it. I see you at least once a week.

      • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

        GESD wrote something that wasn’t exactly, errrr, P.C.- but still, a small ounce of truth. It’s something that probably could of gone unsaid, but I can remember countless times when I was pregnant (And I’ve been pregnant 5 times) that I overreacted to something, or felt so totally in despair that I would do just about anything to get out of the situation and felt everyone involved did me wrong.

        The point still stands. I just wish this woman held her stance and stuck up for herself. If she felt that strongly that she and her unborn shouldn’t be subjected to the machine, she should of asked for a supervisor. Honestly, when I was pregnant, I would of gone on a hormonal rage if I was being denied a perfectly acceptable request that was provided to me by LAW.

    • Snullbug says:

      Way to be a douche. Woman is trying to protect her unborn child from unwanted radiation and you think it’s hormonal. Insensitive much?

    • theycallmeGinger says:

      Everyone knows you do not argue with the TSA, for fear of getting banned from flying. If they told her repeatedly to go through the scanner and were not taking “no” for an answer, then she likely felt it would be personally damaging to argue back to the point of being a nuisance (aka terrorist).

      She may have been moody, but anyone can be, pregnant or not (her condition is just more obvious). It seems she was in the right — screening is the passenger’s choice and she wasn’t given one.

    • aloria says:

      Maybe she was hormonal, maybe she wasn’t. Why is it relevant? The TSA still should have honored her request for the pat-down on her first request.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Part of what I was saying is that if she was in tears, she might not have been getting the very clear point that she wanted a pat down that was in her head, across to the TSA people. So it might not have been clear to them she wanted a pat down, but was worried about stepping in the machine, like if she was somewhat claustrophobic.

    • pop top says:

      You know, I usually like your posting, but you’re being pretty sexist right here. That would be like asking if a woman was on her period if she was in a similar situation, because maybe her menstruation was “messing with her hormones causing her to be a little too sensitive”.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        I’m not saying that. I was just WONDERING if her being pregnant COULD have been a cause for why she was so sensitive. I mentioned below about my cat being hurt and how upset I got, but I know if it had been my car in a similar situation, I wouldn’t have been in tears and preparing to have it killed. In my case, me being a pet owner is why I reacted the way I did. Many non-pet owners can’t fathom why someone would spend tens of thousands of dollars to treat a cat they found on the side of the road.

        • pop top says:

          Yes, her being pregnant was why she was so sensitive about possibly being bombarded with needless x-rays because she has a fetus growing inside of her.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            No, sensitive to the point of tears. As some people have pointed out, it happens that being pregnant affects your mood. Sometimes you try to get a certain point across, and the other side doesn’t understand it, and it gets frustrating, which then starts you crying, which makes it even harder to get your point across.

            As for the bombarding, she would receive up to 400x the radiation exposure, if the machines in the airport used X-Rays, just flying in the plane for 6 hours.

        • deadbird says:

          Well I’m sure her condition COULD cause a lot of things the story she wrote seemed fairly well put together and she came across as a reasonable person. What you said seemed sexist, rude, ignorant, and just poorly informed. There was no reason for anyone to assume her hormones had taken her over. You chose to jump to this conclusion and come off as a jerk. Sorry but that’s the truth.

      • Gulliver says:

        Well if that is the case, why did the OP even mention her pregnancy? Another example of unimportant information to help gain sympathy, because everybody sees how if you don;t agree with a pregnant woman they get attacked. There is a huge problem in your life if you cry over something like this. If she had been “patted down” and they felt her breasts or vagina would she have written a letter about the TSA being kinky freaks?

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          I took as she mentioned the pregnancy as the reason she didn’t want a scan. I.e. the same reason pregnant women shouldn’t get x-rays, she doesn’t know what effect it has on her fetus. She wasn’t trying to get sympathy, just giving a valid medical reason for not wanting a scan.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      Four words: Under color of authority. After being rebuffed multiple times, she felt she had no choice. I’m not sure if blaming the victim here is the correct course of action.

    • theblackdog says:

      Wow, really? Whether or not you think she’s hormonal, she has the right to ask for the pat down instead of the scan.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Not saying that. Partly what I was trying to say is that she might not have been as clear as she came off in the re-telling. If they thought she was questioning the technology and it’s safety, and not trying to ask for a hand pat down, it’s understandable why they would say it was like a ultrasound and other things.

        • ben says:

          Does it matter why she didn’t want it? If she said she didn’t want to use the scanner because she was afraid it would cause unicorns to attack her, they still should have given her the pat-down. It’s not the screeners’ job to “upsell.” If she said she wanted the pat-down, she’s entitled to get it, and they should’ve done it without further questioning.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Your points are valid, and I agree that that could have been the case, but I also agree with ben. If she requested the pat-down, there was no need for them to do this. She asked for it more than once and they should have respected that.

          The screener / pat-down separate lines is a good idea, if they have the space. Most security setups I’ve seen are crammed into a small area and the line is already hard to manage.

          • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

            My point is that she might not have asked clearly to be patted down, at least in a way that the TSA people understood. She may have remembered asking that way, but we have seen that people’s memory of an event is sometimes wrong. I mean, how often do you think they get people who are hesitant to step through a scanner? Probably about the same as MRI techs who get people hesitant to get in a MRI machine. Is explaining the machine being a bully? Again, not saying the OP was wrong, just that she might not have been clear to the TSA people, and they might not have been paying proper attention to pick up what she is saying.

            As for a separate line, I was just thinking a little velvet rope that leads off to the side with a clear sign stating it’s for patdowns. A soft velvet rope.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Hell, I’ve been pregnant TOO MANY TIMES, and I can say unequivocably, that if hormones were tossed into the mix the TSA staff would of been hurt. I would say, she could of taken this more personally than it was meant by the staff.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I was going to say the same thing – but then realized everyone would probably get really pissed at me. So I’ll let you take the comments.

      but really. Crying because they said it would be okay?
      Why not just say, “No.” or “I want to speak with a supervisor”?

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        I thank you for letting me get all this “love”. I just hope people will take the time to read my rambling explanation of my initial comment above and see where I have been coming from. Sometimes I can come across more blunt than I mean to be, and it’s become worse since Twitter and it’s 140 character limit. Stupid bird.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      OK, I have been a little aphasic today, so I think I might not have gotten the point across clearly. After lengthy convo’s with a few people, I think I found what points I didn’t accurately convey.

      To me mentioning that she was pregnant: the story led off with her being pregnant. I was wondering if that caused her(and just her) to get flustered more quickly than normal, and have the same problem I have been having today: conveying the ideas in your head to the other party in a way they understand. Whats gets you even more flustered is when people don’t seem to understand, and you trying to explain it further gets more confusing. In your head it makes sense, but you can’t understand why the other person doesn’t get it.

      This leads to the bullying thing. If the TSA agents didn’t understand what she was trying to say, it could be why they didn’t give her the pat down. I hate needles. Sometimes the new Dr. will be giving me a shot, and I will get visibly upset and ask “Do you have to give that to me?”. Now, in my head, it’s because I hate the needle. But to the Dr., she may take it as I have a question/concern about the medication in the needle. So usually she will start telling me about the medication, what it’s used for, etc… Sometimes people have a an irrational fear of something because they don’t know about it. So when you let them know, it calms them and they will feel better. Look at MRI’s. Many people don’t like them b/c they are enclosed, and the techs will tell people it will only be a few minutes, explain all the noises it makes, and how quickly they can get them out of the machine if something goes wrong. Are they “bullying” them? No. They are trying to assuage their fears and be helpful. From reading the responses from the TSA agents, it seems they took her to have a concern about either the technology or the scanner itself(Seeing some scanners, they are partly enclosed, which can lead to some claustrophobia). Their comments to her were of a explanatory nature. “It’s like a ultrasound” “It only takes 5 seconds” and when it was done, the “That was easy” comment. It seems that in this case, the mother didn’t convey clearly at the time what she wanted/her concerns were, and also the TSA agents didn’t understand what she wanted, or ask her she wanted another option. Perhaps if there was a separate line for people to stand in to indicate that they want a pat down, this would eliminate the confusion on both sides, and avoid situations like above.

      Now if we combine the two points above, we get to the third: her memory of the event. As we have seen in countless other stories here, what the people remember and what happened are sometimes two very different things. Remember the mother who said the TSA took her baby? She wasn’t lying, per se. I’m sure if you hooked her up to a polygraph, her retelling would show she wasn’t lying. But when the video tape(s) were released, it turns out that her memory didn’t agree with what happened. The human memory is VERY bad, honestly, but people hate to admit that. I have seen experiments on TV where they put cameras on the subjects helmets, so they could see/hear exactly what they did, and walked them through a situation where there was crime scene/police tape surrounding some “wreckage” and a armed military police officer just standing there in the distance. They then interviewed them a month later. After that short month, there were more guards, more wreckage, there were guards pointing weapons at them screaming/ordering them to leave, people using other people as human shields, etc… The mystery of the event made their mind remember it more and more elaborately as they rethought about it. We also like to take sides, sometimes subconsciously, and our decision on which side we are with will affect how we tell someone else/remember it ourselves. As the mother above was in tears, she was very emotional. Those same emotions can also cloud our judgment/memory of the event.

      I’m sure after she calmed down from being upset(her own admission) and got to remembering/thinking about it, she remembers telling the TSA agents something very clear, because in her mind, that is what she did. They failed to understand what she was trying to say and bullied/patronized her because of her concerns and because they were “lazy”. And it’s understandable how hurt someone can feel because they were misunderstood and other people seem to think they are an idiot for it, and proceed to bully/patronize them without asking for clarification. I think if all the parties could get a chance to sit around a table and have a few beers(after Mary delivers/stops breastfeeding, of course) and talk about what happened, a lot of the confusion would be cleared up, and maybe even a few long friendships could be born.

      • SolidSquid says:

        While you might have a point that she didn’t make it clear she didn’t want a pat down, if the TSA were arguing with her to get her to go through the machine they must have realised she didn’t want to use it, and so offered the pat down instead. It also wouldn’t excuse the blatantly false claim that the scanners would be less likely to harm her baby than an ultrasound (x-ray /= ultrasonic) in an attempt to persuade her to go through

      • ames says:

        She shouldn’t have had to get flustered to begin with, though. When she said “I want a pat-down”, they should have given it to her, period.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      Yeah, let’s blame her. Why the hell was she flying when she was pregnant in the first place? She should have known better.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      Even assuming your devil’s advocate comments were on target (e.g. the hormones have made her more sensitive), if she was clearly pregnant and communicated it to them, which she did, all the more reason for them not to pressure her to do what they wanted her to do, but to be respectful of her body, and her nervousness about the situation. She was clear that she did not trust the impact of the scanner on her baby.

      As you can see from the other comments, she is not the only person who feels concerned about being scanned, x-rayed, what have you during pregnancy or what have you. I had a high school teacher who, during her pregnancy, refused to be in the room when a microwave was being used. Maybe she was wrong, but I have to respect that she was doing best by her unborn child as she saw it – which is also the reason we have stickers up about alcohol and pregnancy in every women’s bathroom at bars and restaurants.

      These people were pigs. What they do by definition is invasive, and their attitude goes a long way towards making the American public comfortable. They were putting their preference for doing the job quickly above the needs of the people they were hired to protect. I am so glad that the woman who gave me a full-body patdown the last time I flew, treated me with more deference and respect than Mary got.

    • Conformist138 says:

      It really doesn’t matter at all, though. The fact that she got to the tears indicates that she was showing resistance to the machine. TSA should have just offered to pat her down in this case rather than coaxing her inside the machine while aggitated. We all have a right to avoid the scanner, regardless of how safe it is. The fact is, we just don’t have to do it. Trying to talk her into it while crying is just mean.

      I agree that she was probably sensitive, that is very common when your body is undergoing extreme changes that keep a foreign living organism alive and growing inside your abdomen, but to suggest that this made her incapable of “Don’t wanna go there!” levels of communication is sort of silly.

      This is different from your fear of needles since there is an obvious and mandatory second option. Imagine if you kept trying to tell your doc you hate needles and they refused to give you the grape-flavored chewable tablet that you *knew* was the exact same stuff as in the syringe.

      Fact is, if TSA asks you to get in the scanner, and you reply with hysterical tears, it’s not the time or the place for them to play psychiatrist. If the person wants to overcome their fears later, that’s their own business.

  5. ktetch says:

    This is getting disgusting. Complain to your congressmen, and make it clear that these sorts of theatrical tactics, playing at security, are no longer tolerable. (or, slight plug, join your local pirate party, or support the EFF/ACLU)

  6. JonStewartMill says:

    “the TSA officer said, “Oh it is less than an ultrasound,”

    Less? Less what? Less radiation? That’s odd, since ultrasound doesn’t use radiation at all.

    How much longer will Americans yield up their freedoms in the name of ‘security’?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:
      • katstermonster says:

        Lying by omission is still lying, GESD. Some full body scanners use x-rays:

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          From the article I linked to:
          A millimeter wave scanner is a whole body imaging device used for airport security screening. It is one of two common technologies of Full body scanner used for body imaging; the other is the backscatter X-ray.

          The 2nd sentence of the article states it is one of TWO technologies, so I don’t see how I “lied by omission”. I would hope people did what you did, which is click on the article and read it. Since the link you used is the same one from the 2nd sentence, it shows that you did what I hoped others would do. I do note YOU failed to disclose that the amount of radiation released by the machine in a scan is 2-400x the radiation a person would receive just by being in a plane flying for 6 hours. So the flying is actually more dangerous than the scan would be.

          • katstermonster says:

            You, in your comment, made no mention of x-rays being used, and by not doing so, you implied that both the OP and JonStewartMill were wrong for being concerned about the use of radiation. I never accused Wikipedia of lying by omission, and it also follows that the Wikimedia Foundation is in no way responsible for making your comments complete or factually correct. Any reasonable person would read your comment and think, “Oh, radiation must not be used, because he just said ‘Less sound waves?’ ” No reasonable person should have to click on the link to discover that what JonStewartMill implied (that radiation IS used) might actually be true.

            I did not omit anything because the AMOUNT of radiation was not the topic at hand; the USE of radiation was. Go point your fingers at someone else.

            Basic discourse: you failed it.

            • Big Mama Pain says:

              Actually, the amount of radiation was the original topic. The TSA screener claimed that whatever danger this woman perceived the scanner to be was “LESS than an ultrasound”.

    • brianary says:

      Less work for the TSA.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      >How much longer will Americans yield up their freedoms in the name of ‘security’?

      Don’t hold your breath.

    • AndroidHumanoid says:

      Radiation that penetrates the body and produces an image is ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation= harmful to fetus! Ultrasound does NOT use any ionizing radiation. Backscatter radiation is simply radiation that was not strong enough to penetrate parts of the body, and “bounces” off. In the x-ray field, backscatter is not favorable on images, as it shows up as a grainy mess on films. Yes, I am a registered radiologic technologist. And I am NOT in favor of body scanners at airports!

  7. freelunch says:

    They might give you hell for it, but I would suggest directly asking the TSA rep “are you denying me the right to alternative screening?” If they say yes, then ask for their supervisor.

    Thanks for the TSA contact info Chris – I added it to my address book in case I have a need in the future.

  8. Talisker says:

    X-raying a fetus is a really bad idea. I’d be talking to an attorney.

    • lettucefactory says:

      Seriously, every dentist office I’ve ever been in has signs all over the place, PLEASE TELL US IF YOU MAY BE PREGNANT. Even though they just zap the face and use those lead aprons.

      I don’t know how similar this technology is to my dentist’s x-rays, but I still totally understand the OP’s concerns.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Well, it’s a good thing they probably didn’t use X-Rays!

      • brianary says:

        I don’t know that T-rays have been shown to be any safer than X-rays.

        • katstermonster says:

          Agreed. Per Wikipedia: “Thomas S. Tenforde, president of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, said that more research needs to be done into the safety of millimeter wave scanners.”

      • katstermonster says:

        Again, some scanners do use x-rays:

        • ktetch says:

          Shhh, don’t go quoting facts, Stevedave’s an “expert”, remember!

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          I know that. That’s why I used the word “probably”. Since the TSA people said it was “like a Ultrasound”, it seems that had knowledge of how those types of scanners work that many people seem to not normally know about, i.e. thinking they are all X-Ray based. I know when I ran an X-Ray scanner/machine, I went through training/a course about the machine and a basic overview of how it works. So by preponderance of evidence, it would seem that the machine is more than likely a non-X-ray unit.

          • katstermonster says:

            You’re really using “TSA workers are smart” as your argument? FAIL.

          • katstermonster says:

            Also, if you bothered to read the article you keep linking to, you’d find that expectant mothers (and others) may still have reason to be concerned:

          • ktetch says:

            Oh dear, you were one of this lot of useless cretins? now it all makes sense.

            • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

              Actually, no. I scanned packages/mail at a corporation for threats to/against the employees. Part of this involved running them through an x-ray machine and then hand inspecting them to see if there was anything harmful in them. If I had found anything, the procedure was to activate an alarm that would seal me into the room, and cut off all the ventilation fans, and then wait with the threat less than 15 feet away from me. In hindsight, that might not have worked out well.

              • AndroidHumanoid says:

                X-rays are IONIZING radiation, no matter how small of a dose. The larger a person is, the more radiation it will take to produce an image. X-raying packages and x-ray flesh are two totally different things. Registered radiologic technologist speaking here. Ionizing radiation is extremely harmful to the developing fetus. Full body scanners are a terrible idea. You never know ones cumulative dose.

      • milrtime83 says:

        But it appears that they do…

        “The TSA has purchased 150 body scanners using federal stimulus funds. The agency has identified 11 airports, including O’Hare, to receive the first round of scanners that use low-dose backscatter radiation to produce the images. “

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          From the same article you linked to:
          In addition, a different imaging technology that uses millimeter waves to produce body scans has been in operation for more than a year at 19 airports, officials said.

          So it appears that the initial machines used the millimeter waves, and some new ones that use the back scatter radiation, which expose the person in them to radiation magnitudes of order lower than they would receive flying in a plane, will be installed in some airports.

          • dg says:

            Even if the exposure is lower than that which one would receive from simply flying at a high altitude, it’s not just a “bzzzz…. next… done” thing – the effects are cumulative. You get the “low dose” + the flying dose + the next dose when you take your return flight + the return flying dose.

            I try to avoid those types of situations myself. I also try to avoid medical xrays of any kind for a few months after flying just to keep my overall exposure as low as possible.

            Chances are this crap was rushed into production, given the “fast track” approvals, and the testing will happen later. We needz it now bubba! Gotta prutect against dem terroristz! History is full of this kind of “whoops”. DDT, Agent Orange, Microwaves, Gamma Ray machines for treating cancer, etc…

            A machine is generally controlled by a computer, which operates according to codes programmed into it by over- or under-caffeinated programmers who sometimes mess up a “mundane” detail. So they don’t always work as expected. I’d prefer that the bug not arise while I’m being zapped. Just having some half-wit paw at me is deplorable, but a lot less risky from a physical injury standpoint (civil rights injuries are a different discussion altogether).

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      Well, the millimeter waves of these scanners don’t penetrate the body… That is the point, to reflect off the skin or any other objects..

      Still, the OP should have been allowed her privacy and concerns, and the TSA shouldn’t have done this. And the technology isn’t even remotely similar to an ultrasound like the goons told her.

      • fs2k2isfun says:

        We really don’t know they don’t penetrate. Even if they don’t, it could still expose you to radiation which could lead to skin cancer. The TSA refuses to publish data on the scanners safety, other than saying “they’re safe”. is a great resource on the TSA’s nude-o-scope fetish.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      Eh. Depends on how many rads, and as others have pointed out, this machine may have not used x-rays, or at least nothing that would be absorbed by the body. They want to see explosives, not organs.

      Fun fact: A commercial flight will give you about half the radiation a diagnostic chest x-ray would.

  9. dulcinea47 says:

    So don’t let them bully you! Say that you’re not comfortable with that and ask for a supervisor! Peoples’ rights would get trampled a lot less if they stood up for them more.

  10. Mike says:

    Meanwhile in a cave somewhere, terrorists take all of 10 seconds to come up with a new way to attack while we continue to freak out here and give up all our freedom and comfort in the name of security. This is BS, if a terrorist wants to attack us they will, this is faux security at best.

    • grumpskeez says:

      but but at least the following companies can take our taxes to create and install these ‘security’ devices: Smiths Detection, L-3 Communications, Brijot Imaging Systems, Farran Technologies, Intellifit, System, Thruvision,Tek84 LLC. They might be bad for us and circumventable but won’t someone at least link of the jobs.

      Pat down for me please.

      • Mike says:

        That was my exact line of thinking. Why do we have these machines? Because some company was able to make serious money by pretending that they actually make us safer, and some politician will take credit for making us “safe” and all the while normal people like us will have to either have naked pictures of us a computer somewhere, or have some TSA officer give us bad touch.

  11. FishtownYo says:

    TSA = THUGS without badges

  12. shepd says:

    It’s weird. I just travelled to the US from Canada and back by plane, and I was waiting to say “pat-down”, but they didn’t have these crazy scanners anywhere. Perhaps DCA doesn’t have them? Neither did YKF.

  13. Bernardo says:

    Sooner or later people are going to start beating these people up in the terminals. Time after time it seems the go out of their way to be huge asses to the people they should be working to protect. They insult and treat everyone badly even those who cannot defend themselves. Mark my words soo there are going to be pissed off husbands and dads and friends who are going to break some noses. Sure they will be treated as terroists afterward but for those moments when that cocky bastard is on the ground bleeding he is going to know as his twelve college dropout coworkers tackle the guy that him, that he deserved it and brought it on himself. Maybe next time he will act a little nicer.

    Im honestly sick of reading these stories and just knowing that there is no follow up and there will not be any real charges agaisnt these people. Its not fair or right and sooner or later these bastards are really going to have to be held accountable.

    I wonder if the airlines themselves are getting sick of this. I mean it has to bother some of them that the passangers are being treated like crap even before they get to the plan and have to deal with the staff. I bet this makes passangers even more hard to deal with. I mean Wouldnt you want your customers happier as they enter the planes and interact with your astaff instead of feeling like the airlines condone this horrid behaivior?

    • One-Eyed Jack says:

      The TSA is one reason why I don’t fly anymore. I travel to Wisconsin at least twice a year from my home in Tennessee and I *always* drive. I won’t even consider flying. It’s my form of protest.

      • grumpskeez says:

        Hear hear! We’ve replaced 5-6 flights recently with driving and trains to not have to deal with this. Whenever possible we protest with our wallets. Seems like the airline industry would push back against these practices with customers like me in mind but until they do I’ll be taking alternative travel whenever possible.

        • Bernardo says:

          I get the feeling that this movment needs some media attention. Like seriously, people should know that they arent the only ones doing this and the Airlines and government need to understand that this wacked out agency is only making things worse as is.

    • brianary says:

      These guys, like all bullies, relish a fight. Punching them would never make them think twice in the future, since they would really enjoy the beat-down that followed.

      The airlines don’t care if their customers are happy–there’s no market differentiator there, and it makes passengers more compliant.

  14. c!tizen says:

    So I’m curious here, when does the TSA cross over to the “terrorist” realm in terms of definition?

  15. blinky says:

    If you don’t want it, don’t get into a discussion of why. You don’t want it. Period.

    • coconutmellie says:

      They do try to discuss it with you. I flew this past week and I declined to be body scan, requesting pleasantly that I’d like “to be alternatively screened in private.” While one TSA agent touched my genitals and breasts looking for any contraband, a Supervising Officer said in a “what’s-the-big-deal” tone, “So, did you just not want to go into the AI, is that what’s this is about?!”

      With a calm smile, I stated “I just prefer the alternative.”, thinking that the woman was already on the defensive and that a lecture on the violation of the sovereignty of the human body by a government agent and the erosion of the constitution was a bad idea.

      So when a VERY young Marine asked me on the plane why I declined to be scanned, I gave him the lecture.

  16. brianary says:

    Why doesn’t anyone else ever help? “The lady said no!”

    • qbubbles says:

      And that person then gets pulled aside for “extra screening”. Not saying that’s a deterrent (it wouldnt be for me to speak up) but you can see why others would shut up.

      • Orv says:

        If you start to act in any way they see as “difficult,” in my experience, the TSA agent will threaten to call the cops. Once you get to that stage you’re not making your flight, so most people back down.

  17. rbb says:

    You are more likely to get more millirems of exposure from the cosmic radiation encountered during the flight than that from a full body scan.

    • Zowzers says:

      Are you a doctor? Perhaps a Physicist? And it doesn’t matter what the thing exposes you to, she oped out as the law allows and was bullied in to the thing any way. That alone is worthy of a lawsuit.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        The Health Physics Society (HPS) reports that a person undergoing a backscatter scan receives approximately 0.05 μSv (or 0.005 mrems) of radiation; American Science and Engineering Inc. reports 0.09 μSv (0.009 mrems). The dose for a six hour flight is 200 to 400 times larger at 20 μSv (2 mrems).

        And that is IF the scanner actually used x-ray detection, and not sound waves(like an ultrasound, only not as intense):

        • Zowzers says:

          Irrelevant; she choose the pat down and they effectively refused to allow her the option, contrary to what the law requires them to do.

        • NotATool says:

          Clarification: millimeter waves are NOT sound waves. Nothing like an ultrasound at all. They are electromagnetic radiation.

          Read the Possible Health Effects section of the article you linked. Unzipping your DNA? Ugh. I’ll take the pat-down.

        • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

          Unfortunately radiation is a cumulative effect.
          So, any additional dose will increase the total amount of radiation received.

          It’s not that they “replace” the larger dose received during the flight with the smaller one…

          • phobos512 says:

            IONIZING radiation is a cumulative effect, NON-IONIZING radiation (RF – which these scanners are) does not. Personnel exposure limits for average (i.e. non-RF workers) folks are addressed in IEEE C95.1 under the uncontrolled environment table (though as these scanners become more common place the average traveller will know about them thus moving to the higher environments in the controlled environment – the difference being personnel in the area being aware of the hazard (controlled) or not (uncontrolled)).

            That said, having been an RF worker for 6 and half years before joining my current group, I am none too keen on going through them and took a different line the last time I went through BWI last week (two weeks ago I was “selected” to try the new scanner and for whatever reason didn’t feel all that great afterward, though I noticed none of the telltale body heating typical of RF over exposure).

            • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

              You mean that standing in an RF field for two hours is NOT twice as harmful as standing in it for one hour?
              I’d be surprised if it was so.

    • hattrick says:

      Because, hey, once you’re going to be exposed to some radiation, a little MORE radiation can’t hurt, right?

  18. TeeDub says:

    Why didn’t the lady stick to her guns? It’s real easy. You just say “No.”

    • One-Eyed Jack says:

      Hormones. The intimidation factors of being bullied into something you don’t want to do. The embarrassment of holding up the line behind you. The possibility of hassle for not obeying the directions of the TSA. I could go on …

    • aloria says:

      She asked several times for the alternative, and kept getting met with resistance. It’s real easy to pass judgment and say “she should have done this or that,” after the fact, but not everyone thinks quickly in the spur of the moment when an unexpected situation is sprung on them. Also, most people don’t want to kick up a fuss when dealing with people like the TSA, who have gotten a reputation for being staffed by power-hungry goons.

    • GrayMatter says:

      “Why didn’t the lady stick to her guns? It’s real easy. You just say “No.”

      You obviously never lived with a pregnant woman!

      I have, I still love her, but when she was pregnant, her analytical abilities were sucked from her brain by the baby. Normally she is able to make intelligent decisions; she was SO frustrated during her pregnancies because she couldn’t think straight.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Be careful saying that around here. I tried(not very articulately at the time, sadly) to say that maybe she didn’t state what she was thinking clearly enough for the TSA to understand, because she was frustrated to the point of tears, but remembers it as if she said it very clearly, and look at all the names I got called.

        • ShadowFalls says:

          Well, it is hard to say for certain without actually being in that kind of position or being there to see it. Some people back down easier when met with a lot of resistance. Might have something to do with their past.

          Rather than just be nice and comply with her request, they ridiculed and harassed her. I’d have no issue firing employees who ever did that to someone. Even if she did eventually comply, it may have very well been under duress, each person has a different level and hormones don’t exactly help in the matter.

  19. Dutchess says:

    ” was literally in tears because I wanted a pat-down instead of going through the machine, and I felt they declined me that option”

    Hormonal much?

    • katstermonster says:

      Asshole much?

      • Mike says:


      • goodfellow_puck says:

        Thank you.

      • BomanTheBear says:

        Quit being obnoxious. This is the third time on the front page you’ve deflected a legitimate (if boorish and poorly articulated) point with a personal attack. If you break down to tears because you’re incapable of sticking to your guns on an issue like this, EVEN AGAINST COLOR OF AUTHORITY, you’re an emotional infant as well as a coward. Or alternatively, she could have been out of balance in some way. I’d prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt and say it was temporary irrationality instead. People who cede their rights when it gets uncomfortable are almost as bad as the ones trying to take them away. But go ahead, ignore the point in favor of drawing the insult card.

        • Mike says:

          “deflected a legitimate point”

          Could you please tell me how implying that the woman was hormonal is a legitimate point?

          • Sheogorath says:

            Well, she WAS hormonal. She was PREGNANT. It’s like puberty x10 only without the good bits.

          • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

            It is, in certain situations… now, I know this is far from the current situation but if women can use the hormonal excuse to justify murder, there IS some grain of truth to hormones causing a womens altered mental status.

            • Mike says:

              So, just because someone is more prone to crying, whether it is because of hormones, or maybe some other reason like the death of a relative, it is perfectly OK to belittle their emotions by saying: “Hormonal much?”

              By that logic if your mate says you’re being a bitch only because you have PMS that’s cool if you really do have PMS. I was lead to believe that even if it really is PMS it’s still not cool to point it out. If my wife is having a bad day and I know for a fact that it is about that time of month I STILL have no right to say something as snarky as “hormonal much?”

              Just because you and I don’t lose it in this situation and cry doesn’t mean we should belittle her for having her reaction, it’s her reaction and not ours to judge. She has every right to cry, just as she had every right to ask for a pat down. There is no legitimate point here regarding her emotions.

              The only legitimate point is that the TSA officers should not have questioned her when she asked for the pat down, they should have just felt her up and let her go.

              • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

                No, they shouldn’t of pushed for the machine, I 100% agree. And even without it being “that time of the month” or pregnant, people (including men) can get emotional. But I’ve seen women that are about as hard headed, stick up for their rights, not let anyone push them around become sobbing, uncontrollable women who can’t understand right from left when pregnant. I’m not saying it’s excusable what TSA did, absolutely NOT… but lines tend to blend when you are upset and TSA thinks it’s because you are afraid of a machine that they believe you shouldn’t be, when in general, it might not be that at all. They should of given her a pat down the minute she requested it, but maybe they mistook her fears and believed they were truly just showing her it was alright.

                • Mike says:

                  You just eloquently pointed out how a mis-communication could have occurred on the scene and how hormones may have played a role, I appreciate that, thank you. But as eloquent as your explanation was, it is only a guess at what happened, since neither of us were there we can’t be sure.

                  Commentors who say things like “hormonal much?” and claim such comments are legitimate, are NOT cool. Only self-righteous a-holes point at other peoples emotions like that and make snap judgments. I will call anyone out on that every time. We don’t know this woman’s story, and blaming hormones is lame and immature at best. I like your explanation, but that is not what these other people were saying at all, they were making snap judgments with no basis on fact.

                  • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

                    NOOOOOO, the guy who wrote “Hormonal much” should be disemvoweled. He’s a douche nozzle. That was unnecessary. It’s crass and downright wrong. But, given the chance, some people who touch on hormones don’t mean to imply women are crazy… just that it can, sometimes happen.

                  • BomanTheBear says:


                    Sorry, didn’t see anyone had responded. You’re absolutely right that we can’t understand what the lady was going through, and in no way am I arguing that the TSA agents were right here (they weren’t). I’m not even sticking up for Dutchess (who totally acted like a cock in saying that). I’m just saying that katstermonster (who I generally like as a commenter) has totally pounced on anyone who’s even mentioned hormones in this thread without regard for that possibly being the case here.

                    Hell, if anything, I can speak from experience about how emotions can totally fuck up your decisions and blow things out of proportion. I’m not blaming the OP here. But I think something else was at play, and from being around several of my pregnant friends, I don’t think it’s a far step to blame an imbalance. My mistake in my original post was in not saying that I can empathize with OP.

      • Pax says:


    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      yeah really.
      She’s got a rough ride ahead of her if she’s crying over something like this.
      I’m guessing she’s just sensitive and scared all the time, though.

  20. qbubbles says:

    As a token pregnant woman, I believe I speak for alot of us when I say that I agree that this lady was bullied.

    I can totally put myself in her shoes and say that I, too, would feel like I was being bullied. I may be (ha!) a bit of a bitch on here, but in real life I honestly try to make people happy. And try to avoid conflict in all aspects of life. If I was being coerced, I’d probably give in and sob about it, too. Just so that it would be over.

    In fact, I started sobbing over whether the cows on the milk jug this morning had sad puppy eyes or not! Irrational? Abso-fucking-lutely! But if I’m that emotional, what do you think would have been my reaction to someone persisting in telling me to go through a full body scan? I would have done it, and felt absolutely depressed about.

    I mean, shit, I’m feeling weepy about the damn cows, again! And this lady! And the fact that I’m eleventy billion months pregnant and all I want to do is sleep for 3 hours without having to get up and pee!!!!

    What was I saying? Oh yeah. This lady was bullied.

    • mk says:

      qbubbles – I’m with you. As a recently pregnant woman who traveled with her 3 month old last month through O’Hare, i saw the scanner and thought “no way I’m putting my baby through that” We didn’t end up in the line for the scanner so it was a non issue, but yeah, I was pretty nervous about having to ask for a pat down or to go through the metal detectors.

  21. lawgirl502 says:

    She can be so easily bullied instead of protecting the health of her unborn baby? Hey lady-NO means NO, so stand up for yourself

    • katstermonster says:

      Queen of Pie should answer your question. TSA doesn’t deal well with people who attempt to stand up for themselves.

  22. evnmorlo says:

    Some people are really into looking at naked pregnant ladies. Patting them down is rarely as satisfying

  23. Pastry Minion says:

    I’m guessing some of the blame the OP commenters have never had to have an argument with a TSA screener. I had a pretty rough time with one of them trying to confiscate a liquid prescription drug because it wasn’t in a 1 quart bag, even though prescription medications are not required to be in a ziptop bag.

    Kicker- when I protested when they attempted to confiscate it, they said “it’s just toothpaste, it’s not a prescription”. Um, prescription fluoride is a prescription, even if it comes in a toothpaste tube, and the prescription label on the box means you don’t get to argue with me about it. I got a pretty aggressive pat-down and full search for daring to argue, and I almost missed my flight. And I’m 100% certain they were trying to make me miss my flight. I got away with it because it was delayed due to weather.

    Even if you don’t think so, the TSA almost always wins. I filed a complaint and never heard a thing about it.

  24. NORMLgirl says:

    I will be traveling through that airport next week and I am also pregnant. I had already planned on choosing a pat-down should the situation happen.
    Thanks for sharing the story. I now know that it may not be as simple as requesting a pat-down. I am prepared to demand a pat-down regardless of what these jerks say to me.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      You have the absolute right not to go through the full-body nude-o-scope. Period. Just say “I’m opting out, and will take the patdown.” If they ask why, just say “I’m opting out, I’ll take the patdown.” If they ask why again, just say “are you saying I don’t have a right to opt out? It says I do on the sign right there.” If there isn’t a sign, there should be. At that point, get a supervisor.

  25. Bkhuna says:

    We’re from the government and we’re here to help.

    In the mindless hysteria following the attack of 9/11 then-Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), who went on to become Senate majority leader, insisted on federalizing air screeners, famously declaring that you can’t “professionalize unless you federalize”.

  26. Dallas_shopper says:

    You should be able to get a pat-down if you ask for it, but I don’t see why you should get special treatment for being pregnant. Everyone has the right to a pat-down, not just pregnant women.

  27. FoxCMK says:

    Easy solution: Use a competing security agency when heading to your flight.

    Oh, wait…

    The TSA, as much as they’d like you to think the opposite, is NOT beholden to the whims and needs of their “customers” (I’d just as soon say victims). Nothing will come of this travesty.

  28. salviati says:

    This weekend I had the ‘pleasure’ of both a full-body scanner AND a pat down because I forgot to remove my money clip. I had heard about the recent change to ‘enhanced’ pat downs, but they should really change the name to enhanced groping. I’m not an overly-sensitive person, but geez.

  29. danbartlett says:

    Jackbooted thugs.

  30. PhilFR says:

    Hey, all it takes is for one terrorist fetus to get through security.

    Thank you TSA for protecting me from the unborn.

    • Mike says:

      I would laugh at your comment, but it was way too close to reality”

      “Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle, R-Tomball, was on CNN last night talking about a plot involving pregnant women from other countries traveling to America as tourists to give birth, and then raising the babies as terrorists.”

      Yeah, we have people in this country scared of terrorist babies.

  31. Pax says:

    I think the woman’s concerns are completely reasonable, seeing as there are (to my knowledge) zero studies on the possible impact of exposure to that scanner, for an unborn foetus.

    And further, the TSA agents in question (assuming that Mary related their words nad tone accurately, and presently I have no reason to doubt the veracity of her version of events) acted in an inexcusably unprofessional manner.

    Fire them. Fire them right now … I’m sure there are PLENTY of people out there willing to do the job, and be more professional about it, right now!

  32. giax says:

    “If you don’t want to go thru the naked scanner, don’t fly”, pregnant or not.
    That’s what I’ve heard as an argument pro those scanners since they were first lobbied.
    Travel isn’t a right. If you don’t want to have your naked pictures be seen by the scanners, don’t fly…

    Why should a reproductive status make any difference for the security theater?

  33. Marshmelly says:

    Wow. So many ignorant comments about her being “too hormonal” or “not putting her foot down/sticking to her guns/being aggressive enough”.

    Why should people HAVE to be aggressive about something they were already promised in the first place? I’m not a confrontational person. At all. And perhaps this woman isn’t either (in addition to being pregnant). It the TSA says “you have the option of choosing a pat-down”, then we HAVE the option of choosing a pat-down. End of story. Not all of us are lawyers or salesmen that can put our foot down and negotiate…nor should we have to be. If they did that to me (a non-pregnant woman), I’d probably end up being scared and crying too…or, more likely scenario, I would just give in and go through the scanner to avoid conflict.

    What SHOULD be the issue here is that the TSA is violating their own policies, not doing their jobs well, and pressuring someone to do something that they are not comfortable with. It doesn’t matter if she is pregnant or not. It doesn’t matter if she is “hormonal” or “overly-sensitive”. It doesn’t matter if the scanner would actually harm the baby, or whether its an x-ray, or the exact chemical make-up of the stupid thing in comparison to ultrasound machines. What matters is that they gave her a hard time about choosing an option that was well within her rights to chose. There should have been no discussion about it, and the fact that so many people here are being so brash as to actually blame the OP for being “hormonal” is ridiculous and disgusting.

    • j_rose says:

      “If they did that to me (a non-pregnant woman), I’d probably end up being scared and crying too…or, more likely scenario, I would just give in and go through the scanner to avoid conflict.”

      Agreed. I have a REALLY hard time with confrontations, especially with authority figures. I cry at the drop of a hat in arguments. Being able to control crying doesn’t make you less emotional, it makes you more controlled at not displaying those emotions. You still have them, you’re just better at stopping the expression of them.

      I recently booked a flight and I’m getting really nervous about this scanner and pat-down stuff. The last time I flew was years ago and it was a one-way, so we got to go through security really quickly because they moved us to special screening, but I don’t remember anyone even physically touching me. They just did the wand. Now I’m envisioning all sorts of trouble.

      I’m curious how they handle the scanner/pat down issue for people in wheelchairs, or using other mobility aids like arm braces.

  34. Jennlee says:

    The minute she said she opted out, they should have taken her through the other procedure. You shouldn’t have to fight with the TSA on this. Lots of people are having trouble opting out and they shouldn’t (see the thread about it on the Flyer Talk forums, and those are generally people who know their rights and exercise them and even they are having troubles). The TSA is just on a power trip, as usual.

  35. The Lone Gunman says:

    ‘I answered yes and the TSA officer said, “Oh it is less than an ultrasound, and it’s really easy so just go through.” ‘

    …and just what medical school did you graduate from, officer? May I speak with your superior so that he/she can verify your bonafides to make such a statement?

    This stuff has got to be stopped–and it will start when people start making the TSA follow their own rules on the spot, NOT complaining about it after the fact.

  36. RxDude says:

    What’s the big deal, just hand over your ID with your credit card, go through the scanner, and show your receipt on the other side. She has nothing to hide, right?

  37. Kitten Mittens says:

    Stick to your guns….letting some lame employee bully you in this situation seems awfully weak. Geez, way to cower to the most minuscule authority.

  38. Puddy Tat says:

    Thank you for calling the TSA complaint line where your grievance will be immediatly ignored after you leave it.

    Thank you for calling,

  39. d67f8g9uno says:

    I’d like to know what legal rights I have to refuse to answer any questions including recompense for missing my flight while being detained without probable cause. Can someone answer that?

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      You don’t have to answer any questions. Unfortunately, the TSA has refused to publish what is required to access the secure area. The Travel Safety/Security subforum at has a lot of info on this (and very knowledgeable people if you can’t find what you are looking for) and has great info on the nude-o-scope.

  40. ckspores says:

    She had every LEGAL right to ask for a pat down. She was denied that by TSA and if I were in her position I’d be mad as hell too. Granted, I wouldn’t have allowed them to “bully” me into doing it, probably favoring asking to see the supervisor instead, but that isn’t the point. The point is she was denied her right to a pat down.

    This proves, again, that TSA hires the dumbest and laziest people on the planet. And, these people are charged with protecting us and helping to locate possible dangers? Ha!

  41. Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

    Make your stand against TSA security theater at the airport.

    Because the TSA is already trying to take their act to the railways, subways, buses, and even roadways.

  42. majortom1981 says:

    So you would rather have somebody feel you up then go into a full body scanner? wow

    • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

      “Getting felt-up” or “exposing your unborn baby to radiation” are the two choices travelers are given here in the Land of the Free.

      And it’s all purely security theater. Because the real-world rule is “you can carry whatever you want onto the plane, as long as it fits in your rectum.”

      • Mike says:

        “you can carry whatever you want onto the plane, as long as it fits in your rectum.”

        I was watching MSNBC the other day and saw on Lockup x-rays of things prisoners stick in their ass. It amazes me what people can fit up there. Explosives? That would be a breeze to be honest.

        I have to admit, the “war on terror” and anything connected with supposed “security” seems like BS to me. Honestly have any of these policies really made us more safe? I think not.

        All this security is a sham, and people accept it like it means something.

      • Dallas_shopper says:

        I think the minute radiation emitted by the scanner pales in comparison to the parade of toxins in the air around us, and probably the poisons she’s willingly putting into her own body and also emitting into the air for the rest of us to breathe. So that argument doesn’t fly with me.

  43. MarkSweat says:

    Lots of people need jobs these days. Fire those jerks and hire the next able bodied candidates.

  44. SilverBlade2k says:

    Solution: Sue for 15 million for potential harm to the baby. I sure as hell would.

  45. Intheknow says:

    Get some backbone! I mean, really, they bullied her into it? I would have kicked up so much dust………

  46. lvlass says:

    This happened to me at the airport in salt lake. TSA screener said that only one station was open, and it was the one with the scanner, so I had no choice.

  47. sopmodm14 says:

    so she’s complaining about something less invasive and more effective ?

    in today’s world, one’s privacy doesn’t trump general public’s safety i guess

  48. oldwiz65 says:

    Wonder if it’s really safe for a fetus to go through the full body scanner?

    Lots of luck filing a grievance; it’s probably a good way to wind up on the “Do Not Fly” list cause they will suspect you are a terrorist. The TSA is virtually immune to any laws. They steal your jewelry, fondle you inappropriately, and whatever else they feel like doing. It’s a great job opportunity for a pervert; you get to feel up all the women you want, even underage.

  49. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    That sucks, Mary – don’t let them get away with this crap! Don’t just use the function, but send a note CMRR to a higher-up in the organization. Write a letter to and call your congressional folks too!

  50. kobresia says:

    This is the United States of Paranoia, how is this at all unexpected?

    Maybe they should just stop coddling passengers– you want to get on the flight, you go through the damn machine. If the person monitoring the machine sees something, then we pat you down. No exceptions.

    See how easy that is?

    I think folks must be extremely masochist to fly, I have no intention of ever doing so. Let’s face it, the golden age of air travel ended a long time ago, and it’s not coming back. You can only have two of the following when you travel, fast, pleasant, or cheap.

  51. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    By the way … people who keep arguing about hormones. You folks do realize that men are regulated by hormones too, right?

    That men also have cyclical periods of ups and downs, running approximately 30 days?

    So, women AND men are capable of having monthly “moods”.

  52. Eli the Ice Man says:

    Seriously how paranoid can some people be? Her and her baby will take far more radiation from the flight itself than the machine will ever put out, and yet she’s afraid of the machine? some folks really need to open a book one day and get a basic understanding of things.

    Having said that, the TSA is still in the wrong and should have given her the pat down as per their own policy.

  53. haymoose says:

    I’m no doctor but what are the health considerations to an unborn in the case of these scanners and exposure levels? How much study has gone into researching the exposure to the equipment? As for me, I do not care to be the lab rat in this experiment. I’m already participating in the National Voluntary Mobile Phone Industry’s RF Exposure Experiment with the rest of you. You automatically sign up with each ‘new every two.’

  54. magus_melchior says:

    This is tongue-in-cheek, for those of you who are missing their humor today:

    She wanted the gender of her baby to be a surprise.

  55. sayahh says:

    Since being naked is considered indecent exposure, I should wear the “man-kini” (or 1-piece man swimwear) that Borat wears–AND THEN REQUEST A PATDOWN :)

  56. dush says:

    Well when her baby comes out with a third leg she’ll be able to lay claim against the TSA.

  57. SunanditaIshcabibble says:

    At Philly Airport, I informed the TSA humps that I have a titanium plate in my head from brain tumor surgeries. I was concerned that I would be fried going thru the scanner. The TSA humps said they didn’t know what would happen and kept asking me if it was a Pacemaker.

  58. aaanewbie says:

    Hi. My husband is a TSO. He ALWAYS gives the option of a pat down. We are not in O’hare, but I would assume that she was given the option as well. If not by the TSO then by a supervisor. You ALWAYS have to option to ask for a supervisor. Many interactions with passengers are video taped and if there was ANY mistreatment of the passenger, it will be handled quickly. They are VERY strict about their correction of employee behavior.

    The training the TSOs receive is extensive and ongoing. They have a fantastic training program.

    And I for one wouldn’t want to get on a plane where everyone wasn’t thoroughly checked. You and I are not privy to the number of people that are stopped from getting on a plane with explosives or weapons. You should all be thanking the TSOs just like you thank the military for protecting YOU and YOUR FAMILY.

    The behavior of some of the PASSENGERS is truly appalling. Many mothers would be ashamed if they knew the behavior and language from some passengers. Act like an adult, be grateful for the protection you are getting and get to the airport early. If you can not behave that way, then please choose to drive, because I don’t want to sit that close to you on a plane anyhow.

    Have a nice day.

  59. beaudog says:

    The concern for your fetus is valid. The agent who mentioned ultrasound is ignorant of the fact that ultrasound does not emit radiation and is safe to mother and baby. The same cannot be said for radiation emitting equipment. Radiation is cumulative and is not safe in certain circumstances.