Having a TSA when having a disability

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May 9, 2018
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#1
I have my TSA but last flight they would not honor it, due to the hardware I have; new hip, pins in my pelvis along with seizures & a service dog (for seizures), even though I got the TSA after this was all done. They said I had to do the full pat down with no privacy, had to remove shoes also. So has anyone else had trouble with this? One of the reasons my husband I got the TSA was so it wouldn't be hard for me. My personal things were lost due to it was sent through another check area then me. I haven't traveled for a couple years due to it happened two other times at other airlines. Anyone have any suggestions? Not sure if I will fly again because of trouble at airport, so we will most likely have drive which takes couple days. Shouldn't have to do because of a disability.
 

Neil Maley

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Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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#3
My wife has Global Entry and TSA precheck and has bi-lateral hip and knee replacement and a shoulder replacement. She is loaded with metal and asks for the body scanners every time we fly.

Pre-check doesn’t eliminate setting off the metal detectors. We have it down to a science- I go through the metal detectors first and collect all our belongings while she gets scanned or patted down. You should have a plan like that and you’ll be fine.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#6
Unfortunately anytime the metal detector is set off there is a pat down. I am TSE pre Check and had a small metal hair clip (less than 2") set off the detector. It had about as much metal as the zipper in my pants.

Here is a blog post on the topic:

We've received many comments and questions from people who have had hip replacements and other metal implanted in their bodies for medical reasons. Many want to be able to present a letter from their doctor, some type of medical card, or even an x-ray to confirm that it's for an authentic medical reason that they're alarming the metal detector.

We understand that this is an inconvenience to travelers who repeatedly have to go through additional security measures because of a medical condition, but we just can't accept a letter, a card or an x-ray. I’ll explain some of the reasons.

This is a true story: a passenger told a security officer that he knew he was going to set the metal detector off because he had a pin in his hip. He hoped the officer would give him a pass on additional screening. Instead, the security officer followed TSA guidelines patted down the passenger. Guess what? He found a gun strapped to the passenger’s leg. So, if the security officer had just taken his word for it, a gun would have gotten on the plane—and maybe even been in the seat next to you. Things like this happen all the time, more than you would think.

We know those of you with genuine medical conditions are not the problem. And we realize the additional screening makes your checkpoint experience a frustrating one. But if a passenger alarms the metal detector, our security officers must resolve the alarm or the passenger can't get on the plane. We want to be thorough and protect the safety of everyone. No officer wants to be the one to let a gun, knife or bomb get through to an airplane.

If terrorists (or people who just HAVE to take their gun or knife with them on the flight) thought they could get by with a letter from a doctor or medical ID card, they'd quickly find out a way to make fake ones. How can we tell the difference in just a few seconds in a busy checkpoint line? It may make it a bit easier for you—but it makes it way too easy for them. Unfortunately, the pat down is currently the only way to resolve the situation.

https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/02/11...-additional-screening-people-hip-replacements
 
Feb 23, 2018
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#8
I've had both knees replaced plus have several metal pins in my lower leg. I immediately tell security that I will set off alarms and will require a pat down. I've found by being calm and polite to the officers, they in turn are calm and polite to me and go out of their way to make the additional screening as un-intrusive as possible.

Arguing and acting offended just makes things more difficult for everyone. This is the reality of post 9/11 travel, accept it and move on.
 
Dec 26, 2014
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#9
There was a woman 3 people in front of me the other day in the PreCheck line. As she neared the conveyor belt she told the TSA people that she needed to go through the body scanner. What I thought was very smart of her is that she was really prepared for it. She did not put her belongings (one zipped up large purse) on the conveyor belt until they were ready for her. (that way her things would not sit unseen by her as she waited for the screening and pat down) She also was wearing a ballet slipper type of slip on shoe. They were easy on and off for her and I thought they looked like a good shoe for wearing on an airplane. We both made thru to the other side of screening at the same time, due to how prepared she was.
 
Apr 10, 2017
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#10
I agree with Lori Ann. My husband and his mother recently flew together and both had TSA Pre Check. My mother-in-law has had multiple neck surgeries with all kinds of metal, a pain device implant, and a bunch of meds. She hadn't flown since much of this done and I explained everything beforehand. She got all necessary documentation from her doctors and my husband encouraged her to be extra pleasant. She said the agents were very nice and professional and it was no big deal.
 
Jul 27, 2016
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#11
Unfortunately anytime the metal detector is set off there is a pat down. I am TSE pre Check and had a small metal hair clip (less than 2") set off the detector. It had about as much metal as the zipper in my pants.

Here is a blog post on the topic:

We've received many comments and questions from people who have had hip replacements and other metal implanted in their bodies for medical reasons. Many want to be able to present a letter from their doctor, some type of medical card, or even an x-ray to confirm that it's for an authentic medical reason that they're alarming the metal detector.

We understand that this is an inconvenience to travelers who repeatedly have to go through additional security measures because of a medical condition, but we just can't accept a letter, a card or an x-ray. I’ll explain some of the reasons.

This is a true story: a passenger told a security officer that he knew he was going to set the metal detector off because he had a pin in his hip. He hoped the officer would give him a pass on additional screening. Instead, the security officer followed TSA guidelines patted down the passenger. Guess what? He found a gun strapped to the passenger’s leg. So, if the security officer had just taken his word for it, a gun would have gotten on the plane—and maybe even been in the seat next to you. Things like this happen all the time, more than you would think.

We know those of you with genuine medical conditions are not the problem. And we realize the additional screening makes your checkpoint experience a frustrating one. But if a passenger alarms the metal detector, our security officers must resolve the alarm or the passenger can't get on the plane. We want to be thorough and protect the safety of everyone. No officer wants to be the one to let a gun, knife or bomb get through to an airplane.

If terrorists (or people who just HAVE to take their gun or knife with them on the flight) thought they could get by with a letter from a doctor or medical ID card, they'd quickly find out a way to make fake ones. How can we tell the difference in just a few seconds in a busy checkpoint line? It may make it a bit easier for you—but it makes it way too easy for them. Unfortunately, the pat down is currently the only way to resolve the situation.

https://www.tsa.gov/blog/2008/02/11...-additional-screening-people-hip-replacements
I'm very skeptical about this post. It's well-written, coherent, thoughtful, and reasonable. It clearly can't have come from the TSA. :)
 
Likes: SKroot
Oct 10, 2016
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Huntley, IL
#12
I have my TSA but last flight they would not honor it, due to the hardware I have; new hip, pins in my pelvis along with seizures & a service dog (for seizures), even though I got the TSA after this was all done. They said I had to do the full pat down with no privacy, had to remove shoes also. So has anyone else had trouble with this? One of the reasons my husband I got the TSA was so it wouldn't be hard for me. My personal things were lost due to it was sent through another check area then me. I haven't traveled for a couple years due to it happened two other times at other airlines. Anyone have any suggestions? Not sure if I will fly again because of trouble at airport, so we will most likely have drive which takes couple days. Shouldn't have to do because of a disability.
I have flown many times & being a cancer survivor, I refuse the body scanners. I also have Global Entry and TSA Prechevt. If I set off the metal detector, I ask for a pat down. Some airports no longer have metal detectors , and you have a choice between a body scanner and a pat down. They have always been very professional. NEVER go into a private room for a pat down. You have no witnesses should you are patted down inappropriately.
 
Oct 10, 2016
111
83
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Huntley, IL
#13
I've had both knees replaced plus have several metal pins in my lower leg. I immediately tell security that I will set off alarms and will require a pat down. I've found by being calm and polite to the officers, they in turn are calm and polite to me and go out of their way to make the additional screening as un-intrusive as possible.

Arguing and acting offended just makes things more difficult for everyone. This is the reality of post 9/11 travel, accept it and move on.
I definitely agree with Lori Ann. Being polite comes back to you. Usually only knee and hip replacents set off the metal detector because they are more dense than titanium plates and screws in other places in your body. I speak from experience on that.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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San Francisco
#14
FWIW, I have acquired 2 knees and a hip and TSA precheck over the years. I get a little extra attention after going through the "magic machine" but nothing that takes more than a minute. I am always asked if I want a private screening. Once in 20 trips I'm asked to send my shoes through the conveyor; they are big clod-hopper things that have been custom made. I'm often am escorted "way over there" to use the correct scanner, but none of my items have ever disappeared. I am super friendly to the TSA agents, making sure that I establish rapport with each one I encounter. I'm afraid it might be your service dog, there has been so much chicanery with service animals that TSA may be over-reacting. Do you fly out of the same airport on your travels? If so, I'd make a little trip to the airport when you're not flying to see if you can discuss your issues with a TSA executive. Bring the dog, be non-confrontational and explain that you're just confused and need to know their rules.
 
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Jun 27, 2017
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#15
We've had TSA Pre-Check for the past 5 years, and the only time-saving feature is NOT having to remove our shoes - which my husband, who is 75, would not have to do anyway. We have taken 4 flights in the past month - out of 4 different airports. In EVERY airport, I had to remove my laptop, remove our tablets, pull out our baggie of liquids, and put ALL food in the gray bin - protein bars, candies, cough drops.

At least in all four airports, they had the walk-through metal detectors, which I prefer instead of the full body scanners, which can damage medical devices like insulin pumps. And yes, the TSA agent at all 4 airports asked if I had any joint replacements or other metal inside my body. I just go with the flow and try to be polite.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 6, 2015
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#16
If you set off the metal detectors, you'll get a patdown. They can't just say "well, he alarmed, oh well, just go ahead!"
Please don’t say “just get a pat down.” I have bilateral knee replacements as well as bilateral jaw replacements, not to mention several screws and plates throughout my face. When a person with implanted medical devices goes through the metal detector and sets it off, they are considered a “fail,” and get a level of pat down that most people would consider to be invasive at best, and that’s only if you get a decent agent. I’m trying to be delicate here but I had an agent with her hand so far up in my crotch I was glad I remembered to wear underwear. It is not a simple procedure for people with implanted joints or devices and there seems to be little or no training regarding travelers with disabilities and I’ve dealt with some pretty heartless TSA agents.
 
Sep 6, 2015
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#17
With bilateral knee and jaw joints, I have been through the process enough that I know what to expect and I try to prepare myself mentally for it. (On occasion it has required a few shots of hard liquor at 9 am to stop shaking over the invasion). It’s easiest when I’m traveling with my husband or a friend who can keep an eye on my carry luggage while I wait for the female TSA agent. I use the whole body scanner because the secondary clearance if something shows is fairly minimal, although I have had a few agents who didn’t ask about painful parts of my body and grabbed my knee like they were going to tackle me. I do have pre-check, which I feel helps in that there is less I have to worry about taking off or pulling out of my carryon bag. To make my life easier with this process, I always check my luggage through to my destination as it is simply too much for me to manage. My best advice to someone who needs a little extra time, as well as someone to gather their carryon bags, is to ask for wheelchair assistance before security and then you have an employee with you who has the responsibility of helping you. I tip them for their services but it really does make the whole process easier. And to others who have knee replacements in particular, and use the whole body scanner, do not wear the hiking pants that zip off into shorts. The zippers and fabric bulks makes it necessary for a closer look and a pat down of your knee, which in my case, is incredibly painful. As to the original poster, I imagine traveling with the dog on top of the medical issues is likely too much to ask of the pre-check Lane. Perhaps he would be better off to ask for a private screening with his dog in a separate room (we used it when we flew with our daughter’s cat to NY rather than risk losing a terrified cat at MSP. My husband handled it while I made my way through security with my issues but he said the agents were really good with the cat).
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,658
12,680
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#18
Please don’t say “just get a pat down.” I have bilateral knee replacements as well as bilateral jaw replacements, not to mention several screws and plates throughout my face. When a person with implanted medical devices goes through the metal detector and sets it off, they are considered a “fail,” and get a level of pat down that most people would consider to be invasive at best, and that’s only if you get a decent agent. I’m trying to be delicate here but I had an agent with her hand so far up in my crotch I was glad I remembered to wear underwear. It is not a simple procedure for people with implanted joints or devices and there seems to be little or no training regarding travelers with disabilities and I’ve dealt with some pretty heartless TSA agents.
He actually never said “just get a pat down” in what you quoted/, he simply said “you’ll get a pat down”. That doesn’t demean the process.

My wife has been going through these extensive pat downs for 22 years since her first hip replacement. We travel a lot and she just accepts it- it doesn’t bother her in the least.

I read your response to my wife to ask her thoughts. I am handing over my phone for her to type her thoughts her self:

Flying is a privilege, not a right. I will never see these people that do the pay down again. No one that is going through security is looking at me during the pat down. I couldn’t care less about anyone seeing my X-ray going through the scanner. If a terrorist has a bomb strapped to his or her leg and it was only caught by an extensive body search after setting off a metal detector- that’s the point of the extensive patdown.

I’ve been naked on an operating room table 28 times. I’m sure I have mumbled more embarrassing things under anesthesia or woke up drooling in a hospital with a bevy of medical students observing that is much more humiliating than going through an extensive pay down in an airport. I am still alive after being told 22 years ago I was in danger of dying. The fact that I have to undergo an extensive pat down when I still am here and healthy enough to fly is a blessing. Stop sweating the small stuff and be thankful you can travel- millions of others don’t have that ability.
 
May 22, 2018
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#19
Flying is a privilege, not a right. I will never see these people that do the pay down again. No one that is going through security is looking at me during the pat down. I couldn’t care less about anyone seeing my X-ray going through the scanner. If a terrorist has a bomb strapped to his or her leg and it was only caught by an extensive body search after setting off a metal detector- that’s the point of the extensive patdown.
Abuse, harassment and prejudice cannot be allowed.
That is very important.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,658
12,680
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#20
Abuse, harassment and prejudice cannot be allowed.
That is very important.
Undergoing a thorough pat down is not abuse, harassment or prejudice. It’s proper procedure and the procedure goes whether you are man or woman, regardless of your race or religion. If you set off a metal detector you get an extensive body pat down. If you don’t want that - go through the body scanner if you have no medical devices that cannot go through.

The more you make a fuss out of it the more the agents are looking to do a thorough search to make sure you aren’t hiding anything.