I am frequent traveler both within the US and outside the US. Due to my job, most weeks I fly out of BHM and into ORD and then back home so I go through security at least twice a week. And until this last week, I was one of those people that considered the security screenings, metal detectors, full body scans, pat downs and baggage checks as just a necessary evil. I even laughed at the casual travelers who interrupted my daily commute by not knowing the security procedures or by complaining about them.
I entered the security area and removed my coat and shoes, and then pulled out my laptop and generally made my objects on the belt as easy to scan as possible. Then I stepped through the metal detector wearing just my dress and hose. I cleared the detector with no issues but then was pulled from the line to go through a pat down. Since I was wearing a dress, the pat down went up the inside of my thighs and the agent had her hand in my groin and my dress pulled up to the tops of my thighs in full view of everyone else. She also had me spread my legs when doing the pat down across my back and then, without me having moved, when she proceeded to pat down my front insisted I spread them even further. I felt violated and still feel violated about this experience 4 days after it occurred. It has taken me days to get calmed down enough to complain about the incident. I have been over and over this and I can in no way justify what happened. This was clearly a violation of my personal rights. I would like to reiterate that I am an experienced flier that routinely goes through the full body scanners, additional pat downs and belonging searches with no complaints but I can not accept this level of abuse. I was offered a private screening room but had no idea how invasive the pat down was going to be nor was I given information about how invasive it was.
As a regular traveler throughout the world including hot spots like the Middle East, I am very familiar with “enhanced” security procedures but I have never felt as violated in any other country as I have been in my own. If I am pulled for this pat down again, I will opt to leave the line and not travel.
This is very difficult for me since my job as a consultant to a major airline requires that I fly out each week. I would like this abuse stopped before others are subjected this treatment.
But mostly I wanted to say “Thank you” for standing up to them, and for giving me incentive to stand up to them next time. I only wish I had been more aware before I let this happen to me.