Working with the TSA

I got a note from a writer friend the other day sharing her most recent “security” experience. At the time of her trip she had a cast on her arm, and on her way back from Mexico she had to pass through security at LAX. That’s one of the 11 airports that now uses the CastScan machine on casts and prosthetic devices.

And I’ve had mixed reviews about Cast Scan.

The technology was reportedly developed with input from the Amputee Coalition of America, to be minimally intrusive, yet still be able to make sure that casts and prosthetic devices are not concealing any weapons or explosives. Apparently it sometimes takes several images, as the Cast Scan uses back scatter technology instead of standard x-rays.

My friend had several complaints:

  1. She had to wait, as only one employee could operate the machine.
  2. Several images were required
  3. She was separated from her possessions and children during the process.

Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about #2; as the back scatter technology requires several images; however you can be proactive about the other items.

If for whatever reason, you become separated from your belongings, stop and tell the TSA agent that you don’t want to leave your things, and ask if they can help you with them. By their own rules, they are suppose to help disabled passengers with their property.

Additionally you are entitled to a private screening and to have a companion or family member present at that screening.

Now granted, it’s hard to remember all of these things as you are being whisked through security; but if something just doesn’t feel right, stop, take a deep breath and ask a few questions. Sometimes this can make the difference between a good experience and a bad experience at the security checkpoint.

Good luck!