Medical ID cards exist for a reason. So instances like this don't happen.
Lori Dorn, wife of Laughing Squid blogger Scott Beale, found herself humiliated before boarding her Virgin America flight to San Francisco from New York's JFK airport on Friday, after a TSA agent refused to look at her ID card. Dorn, a breast cancer survivor, currently has an implanted tissue expander that is known to be a problem for airport scanners.
But the identification card is intended to prevent situations like what happened. Dorn detailed the experience on her blog:
I told her that I was not comfortable with having my breasts touched and that I had a card in my wallet that explains the type of expanders, serial numbers and my doctor’s information (pictured) and asked to retrieve it. This request was denied. Instead, she called over a female supervisor who told me the exam had to take place. I was again told that I could not retrieve the card and needed to submit to a physical exam in order to be cleared. She then said, “And if we don’t clear you, you don’t fly” loud enough for other passengers to hear. And they did. And they stared at the bald woman being yelled at by a TSA Supervisor.
With her possessions out of sight the agent proceeded to pat her down, obviously finding nothing suspicious. Prior to the incident Dorn had been subjected to a full body scan, which evidently prompted the pat down.
Lori Dorn's Tweet following the incident:
Lori Dorn An @TSABlogTeam agent didn't believe I had implants due to breast cancer and insisted on feeling me up. Insensitive and power hungry, fab.
The TSA did respond via Twitter, saying that if she sent more information, they would look into it. Despite a prompt response from the TSA after the fact, the incident has prompted renewed conversation about the methods of airport security agents.
This is far from the first time something like this has happened. In late August, Thomas Sawyer, another cancer survivor was soaked in his own urine after TSA agents gave him an equally invasive pat down. In June, an elderly cancer patient was humiliated when an agent forced her to remove her adult diaper before boarding a flight.