How the Flawed TSA Procedures Affect the Disabled
If you like to fly, raise your hand. Go ahead. Think about it. Take your time. I’ll wait.
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Sure, if I’m invited to the Royal Wedding next summer, I’ll go. Or, if Sir Paul McCartney wants to invite me over to smoke pot with him and Dana Carvey while explaining how the Beatles were finally able to settle their differences with Apple and come to iTunes, of course I’ll accept the invitation. I mean, it’s Paul McCartney. Those exceptions aside, I hate flying.
Admittedly, as a wheelchair user I do get certain perks at the airport. I’m automatically moved to the front of check-in and security lines, I get to board the plane first to avoid being completely run over by frustrated travelers, who once I’m on the plane sitting comfortably in bulkhead, are pushing and shoving as if their seats will disappear completely, forcing them to stand for the duration of their flight.
Having the fast pass at the nation’s airports and prime seating on the plane is nice, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that I’ve got it made when I travel. Getting on the plane and through security is hardly a seamless process thanks to the agency now dubbed Transportation Sexual Assault by some travelers in light of new security measures.
Putting the privacy issues and the radiation concerns raised by the new TSA security measures aside, the full body X-ray machines and “enhanced” pat-downs that made Jon Tyner walk out of the airport in San Diego earlier this week in protest are not new to me or any other disabled passenger for that matter. Most disabled passengers know what they're in for when they travel. We undergo these enhanced pat-downs each and every time we fly. There is no “random selection” prior to our screenings, and that’s understandable.
After all, we come equipped with our own metal chairs, and because of their varying sizes, they provide lots of real estate to hide potential weapons and other forbidden items. All of these factors make the metal detectors at the airport ineffective and useless security measures, making the full body pat-down a indisputable reality. Unfortunately, despite how nice the TSA agents can be (and more often than not they are), they too are useless and ill-prepared to effectively screen disabled passengers. From my experiences with TSA, screeners don’t undergo nearly as much training as they should when it comes to screening disabled passengers and that doesn’t inspire confidence.Continued on the next page