Though the aviation security bill signed last year increased many aspects of airport security, some female travelers, as well as flight attendants, said screeners were instead taking them aside and groping them.
An Engineering junior, who requested to remain anonymous, complained of an airport security employee “inappropriately touching” her last summer on a trip to New York. After her belt was picked up by the metal detector, she was asked to pull up her shirt revealing her midriff and was groped in a way that did not make her feel very comfortable.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s vision is geared toward providing a “safe, secure and efficient global aerospace system that contributes to national security and the promotion of U.S. aerospace safety,” according to their mission policy. But many women are getting the wrong message as airports take measures to improve security.
Since President Bush signed the bill putting airport security under the jurisdiction of the federal government, Federal supervisors replaced private screeners in charge of airport screenings in order to tighten security.
LSA sophomore Lindsey Harrison said a friend of hers had some trouble with federal screeners at the airport.
“My friend from camp was frisked on her way to visit me. She said that she was searched on her backside in such a way that it seemed the screener had intentions beyond protection,” Harrison said.
USA Today reported last November that a pregnant flight attendant based in Portland, Ore. was “subjected to a search during which screeners pressed against her belly after the buttons of her blouse set off metal detectors.”
When the woman asked the screeners to refrain from doing this, they allegedly became angry and threatened her with a strip search. The policy allows female passengers to request female screeners, but no federal law requires airlines to provide same-sex employees to conduct searches.
Some improvements are being seen in airports to treat passengers with more respect. Dawn Deeks, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, said there have been fewer complaints about security misconduct despite increased measures to protect passengers.
“It seems things have really gotten better in the field,” she said of AFA, a union that represents 50,000 flight attendants at 26 airports. Officials at Detroit Metro Airport, which many students will use over the Thanksgiving holiday, said they do not feel inappropriate searches by employees is a problem.
“We’re just doing our job. There haven’t been any complaints about airport security thus far,” said an airport official.