Woman Says TSA Pat-Down Of Son Was “Horrifying”

Image courtesy of Inha Leex Hale

Last month, the Transportation Security Administration unveiled a new, more “comprehensive” pat-down procedure, but a Texas woman says that the physical security check she requested for her special needs son crossed the line. 

The woman, who shared her story along with a two-minute video of the incident on Facebook over the weekend, says she and her son missed their flight after TSA agents allegedly detained them for “well over an hour.”

“We have been through hell this morning,” the woman wrote, adding that she believes the agents deliberately kept them from their flight. “We were treated like dogs because I requested they attempt to screen him in other ways per TSA rules.”

Instead, the woman claims the agents conducted a pat-down of the boy, despite the fact he set off no alarms when walking through security detectors.

“I didn’t want my child given a pat down like this,” she said. “Let me make something else crystal clear. He set off NO alarms. He physically did not alarm at all during screening, he passed through the detector just fine.”

In the woman’s video, a TSA agent is seen talking to the boy, whose arms are in the air. The agent then pats down the boy’s arms, shirt, and sides before examining his waist band and shorts.

The woman also notes in the message that two DFW police officers were called to the area and flanked the boy on both sides. This is not seen in the video.

“I wish I had taped the entire interchange (sic) because it was horrifying,” the passenger wrote, adding that hours later her son was still confused, saying, “I don’t know what I did. What did I do?”

The TSA disputed the woman’s account, telling the Dallas Morning News in a statement that it followed procedures to “resolve an alarm on the passenger’s laptop” and that the entire incident took about 45 minutes.

According to the TSA, during the inspection agents involved took time to discuss the screening procedures with the teen’s mother, inspected three carry-on items, and conducted a pat-down that took about two minutes.

“The video shows a male TSA officer explaining the procedure to the passenger, who fully cooperates,” the agency’s statement reads. “Afterward, the TSA officer was instructed by his supervisor, who was observing, to complete the final step of the screening process.”