95-yr-old has to go through pat down at US airport
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Last Updated: Monday, June 27, 2011, 18:10
  
Washington: A 95-year-old cancer-stricken woman was forced to undergo 45 minutes of intrusive pat-down at a US airport, triggering an outrage on the treatment meted out to her.

Lena Reppert was to say her final goodbyes to her daughter before she made what would most likely be her last flight to her native Michigan.

But when Reppert made it to the check-in line at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport on June 18, Transportation Security Association (TSA) agents singled her out because she was in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs require other security measures to be employed since they don't go through metal detectors.

"So they brought my mom to the side, and two agents just started patting her," Jean Weber, her daughter was quoted as saying by FoxNews.com. "Eventually they found something that appeared to be hard they said could be a concealed weapon."

She said two female agents wheeled her mom into a private room where they performed a more thorough inspection, and found that Reppert was wearing a Depend adult diaper.

After 45 minutes, the mother and daughter were given two options: either don't fly, or lose the Depend. The women chose the latter.

Weber said she burst into tears during the ordeal. "I ran with her to the bathroom and stripped her down," Weber recalled. "I got back to the line and just started bawling."

This is not the first time that the TSA's pat-downs of passengers have come under fire. Recently, outrage erupted over a video-recorded pat-down of a six-year-old passenger last April at New Orleans' airport.

Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar, who was clad in a sari, was pulled out from an airport security line and patted down by a TSA agent in Mississippi last year.

Reports of the incident of pat-down of Reppert by TSA agents took hold in social media, with scores of comments on the topic and reposts appearing hourly on Twitter yesterday.

Meanwhile, reacting to the reports, the TSA said it stood by its security officials, CNN reported.

"While every person and item must be screened before entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive manner," it said, defending its agents' actions.

Last year, the US announced it was ramping up the use of full-body scanning and pat-downs to stop nonmetallic threats, including explosives, from getting on planes.

The goal is to head off attacks such as the one allegedly attempted in Christmas 2009 by Nigerian Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, who allegedly had a bomb sewn into his underwear on a flight from the Netherlands to Michigan.

PTI


First Published: Monday, June 27, 2011, 18:10


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