TSA continues to harass passengers with medical conditions

As we’ve reported
numerous times, the TSA, despite its claims in public and on its website, routinely harasses passengers who have medical conditions and/or who are carrying prescription medicines.

In yet another story, a woman was traveling with her husband and children this week and had called ahead to both the airlines and the TSA to double-check the regulations governing travel with liquid medication, syringes, and the cooler in which they must be stored. She was told no problem.

But when she got to the checkpoint, surprise, surprise, there was a problem. As she had been instructed by the TSA over the phone before she left, she told the screeners at the checkpoint what she was carrying and requested that the medication not go through the x-ray machine. They told her to send it through.

(For those who are interested, the medication was Enbrel, which is prescribed for the often painful auto-immune disorder rheumatoid arthritis.)

Because she questioned this incorrect instruction and didn’t blindly acquiesce to the screeners’ authority, she was punished with a full-body pat-down. And they put the Enbrel through the x-ray anyway.

Then another TSA agent chastised her for letting the medication go through the x-ray.

Clearly, the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.

As we’ve seen over and over again, the screeners at the checkpoint don’t know or don’t follow their own regulations. They mis-identify medical equipment, they wreck medical equipment, they abuse disabled passengers.

But people are still flying, and they’re still flying with their children. So I guess the abuse isn’t bad enough, because they’re still willing to put up with it.

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Shannon Yeh)

  • [email protected]

    Stop fu@&ing flying once no one is flying this shit will stop in a matter of a week. We need a national no for week!!!!!!!!!!

  • rosemerry

    How can you put up with this constant assumption that all of you are dangerous criminals? I live in France, and would not dream of visiting the USA, which I remember from 1967 as full of military men and junk food. Now it is worse.

    • rosemerry, you’re right. I’ve been urging my friends and relatives who live abroad not to come here anymore. But they don’t believe me. They don’t believe the TSA is doing what it’s doing.

      Oh, well. If they or their children get groped, then maybe they’ll believe it.

      Other than that, the U.S. is losing tourist money. While tourism is up all over the world, it’s down in the U.S. Domestic air travel in this country is also down. In survey after survey, the No. 1 reason foreign travelers give for not coming to the U.S. is that they’re treated so badly by Customs & Immigration and the TSA. They’re afraid of being abused. And rightly so.

      See my comment here for links to the relevant articles about foreign tourism in this country:


      • rosemerry

        Thanks Lisa. I agree about the boycott. I was just thinking abut the fact that here we have about 7 million Muslims, mainly citizens of France, and 75 million visitors a year, without needing draconian “security measures”.
        US paranoia just adds to the unnecessary divisions in the world.

    • Rosemerry, you hit the nail on the head. There are no credible active terrorist threats. As you point out, France has challenges with high Muslim immigration which results in something akin to “barrios” – neighborhoods of unemployed Muslim youth, a high percentage which are resentful of their treatment by the police.

      Of course, we have those issues in the US, but it is usually poor neighborhoods in large cities. It is more of a rich/poor issue than a specific religion or culture.

      Unfortunately, many in Congress are spineless and ironically are helping a dead, rotting corpse at the bottom of the ocean continue to terrorize gutless Americans.

  • ang.

    I suppose the problem, too, is that there’s often little alternative. When I visit my parents, I can fly (90 minutes, about $400), take the bus (14 hours, about $100), or take a train (2 days, $500). Whichever I take, I cross the US-Canada border, so I still have to go through the rapiscan business… and even on the bus, on the completely domestic leg (the full route runs NYC to Chicago), armed CBP guys get on the bus in Erie, PA and question people about their citizenship and such. If you travel without a private car you get harassed. Period. Sometimes, I take a deep breath and fly because at least it’s got the smallest window of stress and anxiety for harassment.

    • ang., what I’ve been trying to get across to people for two years is that a boycott would bring the airlines to their knees. Then things would change.

      Money talks in this country. It’s the only thing that talks. If the airlines were losing money, they’d go screaming to Uncle Sam, and things would change.

      That’s why we now bring on those idiotic little plastic baggies for our 3 oz. limits of liquids. After the (supposed) liquid bomb threat, which was hyped to within an inch of its life, the U.S. banned ALL liquids in carry-ons. Then the predictable happened: everyone started checking their bags. That bolluxed up the works. The airlines couldn’t handle it. So they went to the government and said, ‘we’re drowning here; you have to do something’.

      That’s when our overlords came up with the 3 oz. rule.

      It had nothing to do with security. It had to do with money.

      The same thing would happen if people were only willing to go through the temporary inconvenience and minor sacrifice of not flying. Two months max, we’d bring the airlines to their knees.

      But people aren’t willing to do this. And so the abuse will continue. And get worse.

      • ang.

        I wish it would work, but I just wanted to say that it’s just not always practical to boycott. I can’t just give up visiting my aging parents to make the airlines suffer, and it isn’t always possible to spend 14 hours on a bus (where, as I was saying, you still get the lines, the scans, and the harassment *anyway*).

        I have flown the only twice in the last ten years when I used fly three times a year at minimum. Despite that, and the insane inconvenience of alternative transportation in that decade, it is getting worse out there, not better.

        Sadly, I think that air travel is a modern necessity for many people (who must travel for work and who have no practical alternative to flying). The flight I was on last month was jam-packed with people on business, not casual travelers, and I think the airlines know they have a reliable base in business travellers. Because of this, I am doubtful of any effective boycott taking place.

        • ang., I understand. Not everyone has to boycott. Not everyone can boycott. People who are forced to fly for work or for medical reasons are between a rock and a hard place, and I sympathize with them. But they’re not the majority of people.

          The people like me — who can choose not to fly — number in the tens of millions. If those people would do what I have done and stop flying, the airlines would feel it. Again, it would take only a couple of months for them to feel it. Hell, it would probably happen faster than that. Look at how quickly they suffered after 9/11 when lots of people stopped flying.

          I don’t think two months (or even six if it came to that, which it wouldn’t) is too much to ask. The bus boycotts of the civil rights movement lasted over a year. Think about that. Over a year. Those people had almost nothing. They depended on the bus. They had no other transportation. They were poor. They didn’t have cars. Yet they made do. The principle for which they were fighting was more important.

          The civil rights movement wouldn’t have succeeded without economic boycotts. Gandhi’s social justice movement wouldn’t have succeeded without economic boycotts. Marches and protests and demonstrations alone couldn’t do it. Didn’t do it.

          In any case, there are many ways to resist, not just one. I think an economic boycott is the most powerful way, but there are others. Don’t acquiesce. Don’t go quietly. Slow down the line. Bollux up the works. Don’t step into the scanner. Refuse. Opt-out. Force them to work. Force them to do a pat-down. In public. Force the go-along-to-get-along types to watch, to witness. Cry out if they touch you inappropriately. Demand to see a cop. Etc. I’m sure other people can come up with other creative ways.

          But simply acquiescing like sheep is saying to the authorities: “Whatever you say, whatever you tell me to do, no matter how degrading, no matter how humiliating, no matter how pointless, I will obey. Just get me to my flight on time.”

          • Daizymae

            My resistance is to stop flying and tell everybody I know about it. I have considered continuing to fly and trying all the resistance measures you described, but the risk of physical and emotional injury is too great.

            First of all, I can not face the fear of it. Just imagining standing naked in that horrible position while some nameless faceless creature is observing me makes me start to sob. I cannot and will not do it. And I certainly am not going to allow a stranger to molest me while a stream of people pass by me and pretend they don’t see what is happening. Been there, done that when I was ten years old
            (although in that case there were no observers). I will NEVER allow anyone to do that to me again…certainly not am employee of the federal government whose salary is paid by my taxes.

            Second, my husband has MS. He uses a scooter and he carries liquid medication in syringes. We see what happened to the lady with the Embrel. And we know how TSA treats people in wheelchairs. Plus, he has skin cancer and cannot go in the scanners. He’s not even capable of standing still for the scan. He was bullied and endangered once by a screener in Phoenix and that was before the scanners and gropedowns. There’s no way we’re going to take that chance again.

            So we cannot be as courageous as the civil rights resistors of the sixties. We will do our part by not flying and by not voting for any politician who will not stand against TSA. Even if it means not voting at all since neither Obama nor Romney will do a thing to prevent TSA’s tyranny. I will not support either of them. I will not give my seal of approval or my widow’s mite of assistance to traitors who terrorize innocent Americans.

      • cjr001

        At this point, Lisa, I’d expect that if the airlines went screaming to Uncle Sam, they’d get a nice little bailout and then nothing would change. After all, it works for the auto industry and the banks.

      • [email protected]

        Lisa I agree completely. I stopped flying a few years ago.

  • Daizymae

    The abuse is far beyond bad enough in my opinion. We will not risk it. We will not fly.

  • cjr001

    Regardless of how many times they lie and say otherwise, TSA still harasses everybody: children, elderly, those with medical conditions.

    Not a damn thing has changed.

  • Granny

    I’ll be flying later this summer with a child. I’d rather not have to deal with TSA, but I don’t have 5 days to drive her to the opposite coast to return her to her parents and then drive 5 days back. And please don’t tell me not to see her at her place; I do. However, all of her cousins are here. (I did consider Amtrak, but it would cost significantly more than driving.)

    • [email protected]

      The reason this continues is exactly because of people like you. You would still be riding in the BACK of the bus!