We've heard plenty of TSA horror stories, but it's just not American airport screeners who traumatize travelers! The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority has apologized for reducing an 82-year-old women to tears after she forgot to mention her breast prosthesis.
Earlier this month, Elizabeth Strecker was flying from the Calgary International Airport to her home in Vancouver. She has a prosthetic breast, which she got after beating breast cancer five years ago. Her daughter-in-law Karin Strecker told CBC News:
She said to me that she was asked if she had any liquid or gel, and she had said no, not thinking that the prosthesis is gel ... They said she was lying. And she didn't mean to. She said, 'I'm not lying.' She didn't think about that you have to say you have the prosthesis.
Elizabeth was patted down by two female screening agents, then was asked to walk through a full-body scanner with both arms up. Karin says:
She has trouble lifting her one arm up, because of the muscle tissue and the surgery and everything, so she was trying to use her other arm to lift her other arm. They said, 'You can't do that, you have to lift your arms up.' And it's very painful.
Eventually she was allowed to board her flight. Her daughter-in-law reported the incident after Elizabeth called her crying and said, "I don't think I'm ever going to travel again."
CATSA is still investigating, but a spokesman said:
We regret that the passenger didn't have a pleasant experience, and we'll apologize for that. If there are things we can learn and we can apply to our procedures, that's what the investigation will tell us.
The airport authority's director of communications added that the security process shouldn't come before respect for passengers. The question is, why isn't this obvious to all security agents? Yes, everyone needs to be screened, and theoretically a terrorist could hide a weapon in a prosthesis. That's still doesn't explain why security agents would jump to the conclusion that Elizabeth was purposely lying or harass an octogenarian. Travelers are asked to respect the airport security policies, but it's hard to do that when we keep hearing stories about agents who lack basic human decency.
Image via CTV.