Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What to Expect When you Fly

TSA has been all over the news lately. As you have probably already heard, the agency has modified the screening procedures. The new process directly impacts the amputee traveler. As recommended, you want to arrive to the airport early. This is not a screening process that you can expect to be through within a minute or two.

As of today, is is the procedure you should expect.

1. The amputee is ushered away from the metal detector into a "holding area."

2. The prosthetic should then be wanded to test for explosives. This is supposed to be done by a screener of the same gender.

3. The pat down. The agency has initiated new "thorough" pat down procedures. This consists of feeling inside the shirt collar and the waist of the pants. The arms and legs are also patted down.

Be aware that "thorough" is an apt description. Ladies, your entire breasts will be felt by the back of the screeners hand. All amputees should be prepared to have the buttocks and genital region physically touched during the process. All passengers have the right to a private screening if the public pat down is embarrassing.

After the pat down, the screener runs the explosive detector wand across his or her gloves for a final test. When everything is clear, the amputee is free to pass through security and fly. Unless, of course you are flying through an airport with the Cast Scope.

4. The TSA is unveiling Cast Scope technology at airports across the country. As of today, in our area the only airport affected is BWI. The Cast Scope is a low radiation x-ray machine that allows the screeners to see inside the prosthetic.

If you are traveling through an airport with access to the technology, be prepared to have four to six x-rays taken. This procedure takes time. (I personally have never been through the Cast Scope process in less than 15 minutes.) After the x-ray images are taken and examined, the amputee is cleared for travel.

TSA screening procedures are constantly evolving. We at OPC will do our best to keep you up to date with the changes. Happy traveling!

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