Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Woman in Wheelchair, Underwear, TSA: I am Not Making This Up

Don't get me wrong: I think that intelligent scrutiny of passengers and freight at air terminals is a good idea. Emphasis on intelligent.

Maybe it's just the way news services are handling it, but these 'isolated' incidents of TSA screeners going over the top seem to be coming closer together.

Today's weirdness:
"Woman in wheelchair and underwear misses flight at Will Rogers, blames TSA"
Michael Kimball, NewsOK (December 1, 2010)

"A woman who passed through security at Oklahoma City's Will Rogers World Airport in a wheelchair and her underwear missed her flight Tuesday, and she said TSA denied her boarding. A TSA spokeswoman wouldn't say if the woman was denied by TSA employees.

"A woman in a wheelchair wearing only her bra and panties in hopes of preventing an intrusive search by Transportation Security Administration employees missed her flight Tuesday at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City.

"She said TSA told her she couldn't board her flight after a lengthy search and questioning....

" 'If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault.'...

"...Oklahoma City-based TSA spokeswoman Kim Wagner said Banovac 'went through the screening process' and 'she did not catch her flight.'..."
She's 52, by the way, and says that she's usually hand-searched when she flies, because she uses a wheelchair.

In my opinion, the hand-search probably makes sense in this case. Security technology seems to be designed around people who don't have a lot of add-on equipment. Now that I've got artificial hips, I'd probably cause a ruckus at security checkpoints. Another reason why I probably won't fly again. I'll get back to that.

As for Manovac's report that she "felt violated" by the new-and-improved invasive searches at airports? I'm inclined to believe that she feels that way.

I might not: but I'm a man, and I've had people poking and prodding me since before I can remember. (The poking and prodding was partly because of a medical experiment that my parents didn't know about at the time - and that's another topic. (June 17, 2008))

As for "...'If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault.'..." - She's probably right about that. My opinion. The TSA should take a look at what happened to American law and culture since the sixties: with particular reference to changes in the 'boys will be boys' attitude toward sexual assault. My opinion, again.

Air Travel Options

I've discussed this before, in other posts: for folks in North America, air travel is an option, not always a necessity.

For example, my son-in-law travels a great deal. It's part of his job. He recently bought an RV: one of those houses-on-wheels. It's not a luxury. He can get all of his equipment in the thing, travel to any place that has a road nearby: and when he gets there, he's got his office and living accommodations on-site. We'd discussed his options before he made the purchase - and I think he made a good decision.

He also owns the company, so he didn't have as many hoops to jump through as someone in a corporate job. Yet another topic.

Not everybody travels enough to justify buying or renting an RV.

But if you're reading this: you're already at least halfway to being ready for webconferencing. I've suggested this before: it's nice to be there for the holidays, when it comes to getting together with family. But a pair of computers and webcams, plus a little software and an Internet connection, are a pretty good substitute.

My family did that recently, when another one of my in-laws was in the Middle East. Like I said, it's not quite like 'really' being there, but it's a pretty good substitute.
Clothing-Optional Air Travel?
I don't recommend this - there's about a half-foot of snow on the ground outside my window at the moment, so clothing isn't a luxury in Minnesota at the moment.

On the other hand, as TSA antics continue to be newsworthy, this idea is starting to almost make sense:
Image courtesy Fabio Feminò, via, used w/o permission"...The Mizarans live far above their world; never going to earth and always able to enjoy the spectacular views of their world and the great fleets of airships that are their sole means of transportation.

This idyllic form of habitation is so original, so picturesque that it is universally regarded as the stupidest idea ever hit upon. Yes, the view is very pretty, but the price is a major pain in the arse, as popping next door means a three-hour wait at airport security both ways. The average Mizaran has had his person searched so many times that they now travel stark naked and without baggage to save time and aggravation....
("Mizar," Tales of Future Past,
But, like I said, I don't recommend showing up at an air terminal wearing just your skin.

Related posts:In the news:


Brigid said...

I have a feeling that she got extra attention from security *because* she showed up in her underwear. Not sure it would be exactly suspicious in a 'possible terrorist' sort of way, but it sure would be unusual and if I were a security officer there I might want to have a few extra words with her just to be safe.

Also, I don't see anything indicating how much she weighed. Some people is wheelchairs can get pretty hefty due to the lack of physical activity and I've heard of some pretty strange things getting lost in the folds of a person's skin. Including things you normally associate with couch cushions.

Just playing devil's advocate here.

Brian H. Gill said...


I'm inclined to agree with you - showing up at the security checkpoint in my skivvies, for example, might be interpreted as a provocative act. I discussed that sort of thing in connection with a T-shirt, some time ago.

On the other hand - you'd think that the TSA's folks would be particularly careful to hustle an annoying-but-harmless passenger through the system: instead of getting more publicity as the 'grope or pay' agency.

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In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.