Do Airports Need Passenger Advocates?

by  Lindsay Neff | Dec 13, 2011
TSA security checkpoint
TSA security checkpoint / PhonlamaiPhoto/iStock

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There seems to be no shortage of TSA mishap stories these days, from spilled urostomy bags to abandoned body scanner radiation tests. (There are 540 scanners at over 100 airports. Check here to see if you’re traveling to one of them.) Although the TSA is moving toward shoes-on-security-lines, fewer pat-downs, and has even made scanner images less invasive, horror stories still abound.

Most recently, 84-year-old Lenore Zimmerman claims to have been strip searched after avoiding a body scanner she feared would interfere with her defibrillator. The TSA denies the claims, as strip searches are not part of TSA protocol, but the incident has compelled New York lawmakers Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Michael Gianaris to release a proposal that calls for a passenger advocate at every airport. This advocate would be available in person whenever a passenger feels that he or she is being inappropriately searched.

The TSA’s advocacy solution: a forthcoming (in January) hotline that passengers with disabilities or medical conditions can call before their flights for information and guidance.

Tell us what you think. Are passenger advocates necessary? Do you have any TSA horror stories? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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