TSA urged to provide passenger advocate at US airports

11 December 2011 (Last Updated December 11th, 2011 18:30)

Two lawmakers in New York have urged the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the US to provide a passenger advocate at the country's airports to act on complaints by passengers over security screenings.

TSA

Two lawmakers in New York have urged the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the US to provide a passenger advocate at the country's airports to act on complaints by passengers over security screenings.

The proposal by Senator Charles E. Schumer and state Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens was prompted by complaints of four elderly people against intrusive searches by security agents.

The senators believe the proposal of passenger advocate at the airports is needed to help strike the right balance between security and protecting vulnerable travellers.

As per the new Schumer-Gianaris proposal, passengers will be able to summon the advocate in person if they feel they are inappropriately searched.

In an official statement posted by TSA blogger Bob Burns, however, the agency has denied the alleged strip search and claims that the agency does not and has never conducted strip searches.

The agency said they have programmes in place to screen people with all types of disabilities and medical conditions and their associated equipment.

TSA claims they regularly train its workforce on how to screen passengers with disabilities and medical conditions and has customer service managers at most airports.

In addition, the authority has said they are planning to launch a toll-free hotline service in January for passengers who may require assistance during screening.

The whole issue started and got serious when an elderly woman complained that she was strip searched and embarrassed by the security agents, as she opted out of going through a scanner since she was medically fitted with a heart defibrillator.

The woman claimed she was taken to a private room and was strip searched by security agents, forcing her to miss her flight, reports Reuters.

Caption: US lawmakers urged the TSA to provide a passenger advocate at the country's airports to deal with personal screening issues. Courtesy US Department of Homeland Security.