Traveler Humiliated by TSA

September 7, 2014

in Airport Stories

My line of work means I get involved with the US DOD fairly often. Unfortunately I also fit the “profile” of the type of chap the TSA likes to stop, being of a certain race with a certain surname. Being British-born and raised probably doesn’t help. Normally I just get the few odd second security screenings, nothing too serious. I remember being one of the first to use the new body scanner, and I had to go through it twice because the security guys didn’t know what position I had to stand in.

The worst experience I had was when I flew out of O’Hare to go home to Heathrow. I arrived quite early (my plane left at 1pm and I arrived at 8am). I checked in no problems and queued up to go through the bag screening. The guy scanning the bags was incredibly power-crazed, shouting at me to stop putting my belongings in a tray because he needed one to re-scan something else – telling me to “go and get another tray and empty your belongings as I need this one.” I’d have happily just got him another tray.

After this, I went through the scanner and got pulled to the side for a body search. Again, no biggie, I’m probably at the stage where more TSA employees have felt my junk than girlfriends. I passed this no problem, picked up my things and left. I accidentally deposited one of the trays in sideways, and the guy scanning the bags noticed and started berating the poor woman in front of me. I decided to move on quickly as the last thing I heard him shout at her was “I’m trying to run an international anti-terrorist operation here and you’re delaying…”

Prior to getting to the gate we had to go through another security screening. I didn’t get a body scan this time – but was asked if I’d like a screen or a room. I queried why – but was just asked the same question again. Figuring it wasn’t going to be anything fun, I opted for a room. I was led down a corridor and shown into a room, where I was asked to take my shirt and jeans off. I was expecting a cavity search, but thankfully they just wanted to humiliate me by making me strip. When they were content I wasn’t wearing any explosives, they told me to put my clothes back on and walked out of the other door, leaving it wide open – and letting all the other passengers who were walking through see me standing there in my boxers.

Finally as boarding was called and I started walking down the skygate, I was stopped again for a final SSSS bag check. This resulted in my belongings being scattered all over a table, once again in full view of my fellow passengers and the flight stewardesses as well. By the time my bag had been rifled through for the third time, everybody had boarded the plane and I was the last to board. The stewardesses were mortified when I handed them my boarding card – as I was travelling in first class, seat 1A, and they’d just seen me have to empty out my belongings in front of the entire plane.

The flight itself was fine and when I visited the lavatory, the chap sitting in front of it commented, “Those guys in security were giving you a hard time, weren’t they?” I agreed but understood it was necessary in this day and age; just wish I could have had some privacy. He sympathised, as did a flight attendant who was patiently waiting to get by.

A few months later my role was being transferred to the USA and I was asked if I’d like to travel there, all expenses paid, with the job, or take another contract working with European air forces.

I took the European contract.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

RedHead086 September 8, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Wow, that's ridiculous! I didn't even know there were areas to screen people that many times before a flight. And I think there sadly, are lots of TSA agents out there on power trips, and that one guy seemed really out of line. You're right, that's how things are in this day and age, but it's really sad that you and others have to go through that. Kudos for you for trying to stay upbeat about it!


Lin September 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

I understand the security intensity. I have never been checked more than a bag search and body scan which both were okay. But I have had to deal with "power trippers" on many occasions. I have been yelled at for not handing over my boarding pass quick enough. She was so belligerent that the people behind were telling her to stop. I have been questioned as to why I had only one bag (travelling from the US to Canada) and nothing to claim he sent me to security where I spent over two hours waiting for them to search my bag and the guy just opened it up looked at it without touching it and asked why I was there then slammed it shut and muttered to himself. They know they can get away with it as we have no choice but to grin and put up with it. But dealing with them is the worst part of flying.


J. Adams October 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

on 9/11 they were sitting in First Class also.


J.Adams October 9, 2014 at 9:08 am

Maybe you should blame your brethren for the troubles you went through…..its was their actions that started it.
We ALL have to deal with that nonsense now.


Elle Zed March 28, 2015 at 5:58 pm

His brethren? Are all white Christians responsible for the Ku Klux Klan? You’re an idiot. An absolute cretin.


Iloveflying February 19, 2016 at 7:05 am

Yeah I don't get what the heck he's talking about. Especially since the o.p said that he was British born and raised.


Tao Tao May 30, 2016 at 2:13 am

I usually always get stopped by the security people, 2012 stopped because I was wearing a hoodie, 2013 scissors in my pencil case, 2014, my camera was on by accident, 2015, imaginative drug hallucinated security guard spots invisible water in my bag, re checked, and opened my bag, no water. 2016 now, wondering wtf they're gonna stop me for. btw im only 14.


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