RDU passengers angered at TSA security methods

Posted December 15, 2010

— From concerns over pat-downs to issues with the body scan machine, some people traveling through Raleigh-Durham International Airport are complaining about new Transportation Security Administration security methods. 

RDU has received about 160 complaints about the TSA's methods since fall 2008. Twenty-six of the complaints dealt with pat-downs and body imaging machines.

Tracey Evers, of Raleigh, is an engineer who flies out of RDU weekly for her job. She said Wednesday that a TSA agent's pat-down went too far recently.

Evers was selected for random screening at RDU on Dec. 8. She said she refused to go through the full body scanner because she has no confidence that the images are being discarded.

"You're seeing every contour, every fold, every crease. Every crack of your body shows up on this image," Evers said.

Travelers who refuse the scan must undergo a pat-down by a TSA agent. 

"I said, 'That's fine as long as you don't touch my private parts,'" Evers said. 

Evers said the female TSA agent touched her entire body, including her genitals.

"I just said, 'Don't do it. I really have an issue with you doing that,'" Evers said. "She said, 'We are required to touch you in that way until we come up against flesh.'"

Evers said she feels the invasive pat-downs are a way of deterring passengers from refusing the body scan in the future. 

“I can’t expose myself to this every time I travel,” Evers said. “It’s just too invasive.”

Evers has filed a formal complaint.

Although she wants the plane to be secure, Evers said she isn't sure this is the way to do it. 

"TSA officers are trained to treat all passengers with dignity and respect, and to fully communicate with each passenger to ensure they understand the process throughout screening,” TSA spokesman Jonathan Allen said in a statement on Wednesday.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport; RDU logo RDU passengers angered at TSA security methods

Other travelers have said they won't be flying because they refuse to go through the body scans for fear of radiation and do not want to be subjected to an invasive pat-down. 

Another passenger said he was singled out for a body scan after the woman in front of him in the security line refused to go through the machine. In a letter to RDU, the man said the woman refused twice and then was allowed to go through the regular screening machine. As a result of her refusal, he was selected for the full body scan. He opted instead for a pat-down, which he said was too invasive. 

Some passengers undergoing body scans have raised concerns over being separated for a long time from their belongings. Travelers fear their bags, which are run through traditional X-ray machines, are not safe from theft.  

The full body scanners have also caused delays for passengers trying to catch their flights. 

"Customers are welcome to come and give us comments on anything that happens at the airport," RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said.

Hamlin said customers can lodge complaints online that are then passed on to the TSA.

Hamlin said the Airport Authority has a very good working relationship with the TSA.

"The TSA has done a very good job with us and for us over the years," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Mugu Dec 20, 2010

    Racial profiling works, why waste time patting down an old lady? They only do it to be politically correct.

  • superman Dec 16, 2010

    There are lots of people who fly. If you choose not to do so-- you are only hurting yourself. I remember when I was growing up and I was angry at my parents and refused to eat. Didnt take a rocket scientest to figure out who was getting the short end of that stick. Fried chicken, homemade biscuits, chocolate cake!! Get real people. The restrictions are important and protect you and others. Nothing is 100% but at least they are trying to make flying safer.

  • peplquitwhinin Dec 16, 2010

    hint: know who you are talking to. I have been to most of those places, as a long time veteran of government service as an anti-terrorism planner and security specialist for many of those years, I do have a unique perspective. Anti-terrorism planning and security was my job and life, both inside conus and outside, and I am still against what is happening in our nation right now. For all of those making it a political argument about left or right, it has nothing to do with that. It is about what we are willing to continue to give up while we still cant do what really needs to be done for fear of offending somebody. PROFILING WORKS ask any country that does it. And for those that think it is a bad word, then call it statistics, because that is what it really is.

    dlk13ster, know your adversary before you assume their ignorance.

  • Sherlock Dec 16, 2010

    If all these individuals believe that it will protet flyer, better read about the kid that got onto a plane, while it was parked filling with passengers and took, he fell out of the plane when it was taking off.. TSA did not protect those passengers, he could have had a bomb This one act puts all the security out the window. Another point: It is unreasonable search and seizure, Amendment IV, Bill of Rights. Plain and simple patting someone's genitals is unreasonable search. Not the case the courts have ruled this is not a violation of the 4th. This seach is to prevent and therfore not covered. JUST remember TSA rules and not the citizens..

  • dlk13ster Dec 16, 2010


    With respect, I sympathize with your experiences; I've known Saudi women as well, and it's an experience I would not wish on anyone. Moreover, I'm not saying that people don't have a right to protest these measures; they do, and I actually encourage them to do so.

    But people need to maintain perspective when protesting them, since histrionics and hyperbole can only undermine an otherwise rational and legitimate argument by making them sound extremist, if not ridiculous.

    Quite frankly, the scanners are a trivial issue; at least compared to the very real (and far more insidious) erosion of our freedoms incarnated in the PATRIOT Act:

    Warrantless wiretaps, black site prisons, arrests and detentions without charge or trial, "enhanced interrogations," and extraordinary rendition (to places like Saudi Arabia, no less); THESE are the trappings of tyranny.

    THESE are the things that should grab headlines, incite indignation, and outcry. Not a few fancy X-rays in an airport.

  • WXYZ Dec 16, 2010

    I refuse to surrender my civil rights and therefore I refuse to use the US air transportation industry. To do less is to insult our Constitution and dishonor all the people who have died to preserve, protect and defend it.

    When TSA goes, then I, my family and many friends will travel by air.

  • ochreluna13 Dec 16, 2010

    It is unreasonable search and seizure, Amendment IV, Bill of Rights. Plain and simple patting someone's genitals is unreasonable search.

    There is a reason the founders of our country included this clause in the Bill of Rights... History always seems to repeat itself. I wonder why no one has sued over this because it is clearly Unconstitutional (but I suppose I'm not a lawyer).

  • teddyspaghetti Dec 16, 2010

    dlk13ster - you've defied so-called "Don't tread on Me" conservatives to spend just one month as a political minority in a country that is ACTUALLY a police state. Does spending two years as a female in Saudi Arabia count?

    I had NO rights - none. I know what a police state looks like and I do NOT want it here. Every time we let the government take away one of our rights, it IS one step closer to a police state! If you do it slowly enough no one notices and before you know it - it's gone.

    Example - the Grand Canyon - it is a grand monument to erosion. No one stopped all those small grains of sand going down the we have a huge gaping hole! I for one will fight every grain of sand the government tries to take away from me!

  • aeroplanezero2004 Dec 16, 2010

    I wonder how much explosives or how many weapons someone could fit inside their body. I advocate for full cavity searches for every traveler who flies! Who is with me!? Anyone...? Bueller?

  • teddyspaghetti Dec 16, 2010

    "This is all security theater to make the GOP fans happy (the ones here saying "shut up and accept it because it makes us safer"), and to show that the government is "doing something" about stopping terrorists."

    Bendal1 - I am a conservative and I can't stand this! It does nothing to protect me, you or anyone from terrorism. If someone wants to blow up a plane - they will find a way. Infringing upon the rights of law abiding citizens will NOT make us safe.