On Monday of this week I had an experience with TSA at DIA eerily similar to John Tyner’s experience in San Diego last weekend. I was one step from entering the metal detector when I was asked to go through the AIT scanners. I declined because such scanners have previously caused interference with my hearing aids, and I mentioned this to the TSA agents. I was asked to remove my hearing aids, which I also refused to do, and I successfully proceeded through the metal detector and was told I’d have to receive a pat-down.
TSA would not let me touch my bags until the pat-down was complete. The agent conducting the pat-down was courteous, but he put his hands inside my shirt and down my pants, in addition to feeling up the front and backs of both legs, making contact with my groin 4 times. To say that this was a humiliating and degrading experience is an understatement. The agent did not describe how he was going to conduct the search prior to starting it. During the search I asked a lot of questions and a TSA supervisor came over and tried to answer my questions. Again, he was willing to listen and was courteous, but he said I was under scrutiny because I “might be a terrorist.”
I went through 9/11, I was working in Chicago that week and we expected to be hit next. I remember downtown Chicago being evacuated and the eerie silence each day that week: no planes were flying overhead at all, and at night, very few people ventured out. I understand the need for increased security. But in my opinion, the level of security that is in place now, should have been in place following 9/11, not 9 years later.
As a frequent traveler, I’m allowed access to the premier passenger line at DIA (supposedly designed to move passengers to the screening lines faster), but every Monday morning I stand in that line for 45 minutes to just have my ID checked, and then screening usually takes another 15 minutes.
When the CLEAR Registered Traveler Program arrived at DIA 2 years ago I was one of the first to sign up. Both the TSA and the CLEAR program have a full set of my fingerprints and iris scans, and I have undergone 2 FBI background checks (once for CLEAR, the other 17 years ago during the interview process for a CIA job right after college.) My identity and background have been vetted as thoroughly as pilots. The Registered Traveler program can and should be used to expedite demonstrated frequent fliers through the screening processes.
I’ll share more of my experiences in a future post, but for now I have to go catch my flight home.