As tempers kept flaring at airports Monday over invasive security procedures, TSA officials implored flyers not to join a protest that could snarl lines and beleaguered agents shared their own horror stories.
With the busiest travel day of the year Wednesday, TSA chief John Pistole warned angry air travelers against partaking in National Opt-Out Day, saying that protesters refusing full-body scanners in favor of pat-downs would only “tie up people who want to go home and see their loved ones.”
He did not say whether he would ease the controversial procedures, but the Obama administration Monday said it was striving toward measures that would maximize security and minimize invasiveness.
Meanwhile, the TSA apologized to a Michigan bladder cancer survivor whose pat-down reportedly left him covered in urine.
Amid allegations of the mistreatment of air passengers, TSA screeners offered tales of how they’ve been berated and called slurs by outraged travelers.
“Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me, said in my presence as I patted passengers down,” an unidentified agent told flyingwithfish.com, a blog on aviation security.
Another officer said, “I was asked by some guy if I got excited touching scrotums at the airport and if it gave me a power thrill. I felt like vomiting when he asked that. This is not a turn on for me.”
Steven Frischling, author of the blog, said there’s growing dissent among TSA workers. “They’re not happy at all,” Frischling said. One official “has TSA polo shirts and sweatshirts that he stopped wearing anywhere but work. He said, ‘I’m proud of what I do, but I don’t want the public knowing I work for the TSA.’”