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Head of Security Line When Using a Scooter?


mlbcruiser
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We have completed our recent trip which included a flight to Miami, several days in Fort Lauderdale, a cruise out of Miami, then drove from Miami to Tampa for a few days and flew from TPA back home.  This will be long so consider yourself warned if you decide to keep reading:

 

No problem inthe airport security lines except in Tampa, exactly one week ago today.   It isn’t that they didn’t have a special line for people with impaired mobility. It’s just that although there were plenty of TSA security agents, many seem to be walking around kind of like the Keystone Cops. Sort of milling around, looking confused as to what they should do, or socializing With others workers.  Of course some TSAs were actually working as people went through the scanners etc.

They were four or five people in wheelchairs lined up in front of a scanning/X-ray booth. Security lines on either side of them for people with no mobility issues. There was another line or two with another cray booth also open for non-mobility impaired people. Those in the line on either side of those in wheelchairs kept being directed to merge in front of the wheelchair line,  and on through that scanner while those I. Wheelchairs had to just sit there waiting. My husband was at the end of the wheelchair line on a scooter. I was next to him as I was directed to go with him by the person checking our boarding passes upon entry to the area. After just standing there for 10 to 15 minutes with not even one person in a wheelchair being assisted through security, I asked a security worker if anyone was going to assist those in our line. I was told yes, in a minute. After another five minutes or so went by with no assistance, I walked right into one of the lines being allowed to go In front of the wheelchair line and went through the scanner myself. When I got to the other side I asked the TSA agent there (who was assisting with pat downs or giving clearance)  if anyone was going to help those in wheelchairs. Again I was told yes, in a minute. I stood off to the side for a couple of minutes, not really looking at the wheelchair line. Finally I turned around and noticed my husband being spoken to by a security agent and driving behind him toward another line, but he and that agent immediately returned and my husband was put back into the same place he had been waiting. No one was assisting him. He was just sitting on the scooter, waiting. So I pointed this out to the “pat down” security agent and he mumbled something about a particular agent was supposed to have been the one assisting my husband. I asked if I could go have my husband walk through the scanner while I brought the scooter through and was told no. OK, I can understand this. He then went to the unsecure side and told someone to assist my husband. When my husband finally got through the scanner, the TSA agent who had found assistance for my husband to come through, gave him the most thorough patdown I have ever seen! My husband’s humerus  is broken and he is in a sling. I don’t think the agent was trying to be mean but it was difficult for my husband to get the sling off and empty his pockets without my assistance. The agent would not allow me to assist. My husband put all of things from my dh’s pockets on a folding chair. Dh pulled his wallet out to hand to me, but I was told to keep back as I was not allowed to take it. I was OK with that as well. Rules are rules. Meanwhile I noticed my husband’s shoes had come on the security scanner belt. I got his shoes and stood by. I was really amazed at just how long and how thorough my husband was being patted down! He’s a 71-year-ild man who even normally has difficulty holding his arms in the air due to a stroke several years ago. Near the end he asked me where his belt was and I went back to the conveyor belt and spotted his belt in a dish.  So, getting through the security line in a speedy manner didn’t occur in the Tampa airport. Having lived in Tampa at one time and appreciating their usually wonderful airport, I was very annoyed. As we were getting off the plane when we returned home, my husband realized he did not have the key to our car. It had quite a large key ring with no other keys attached. One way or the other, the key ended up never leaving security with him. Our car was parked at an off airport site the entire time we were gone but there was no way we could drive it home! It was getting late (flight detour due to weather took longer by almost an hr) So we ended up not only with our parking fee to pay the next day when we went back to the lot to get our car, we ended up having to pay $70 for an Uber ride home. It will cost $120 to get a regular, plain key made for the car. We are lucky enough to have another vehicle at home and also have  one spare key for the other car. As I have mentioned, normally I think Tampa airport is a great airport. I just don’t understand the very confused and bumbling, seemingly somewhat lazy, TSA staff on duty that day! Certainly Florida is extra used to mobility impaired people with all of the elderly people that visit and live in Florida. I am not complaining just for my husband. I felt very annoyed for all of the people sitting there so long in wheelchairs. A couple of them looked in pretty bad shape and should not have been kept waiting so long. I’ve seen much much heavier traffic at Florida airports in season with not as many TSA agents yet things went more smoothly. Keep in mind there wasn’t yet such a huge coronavirus response taking place or anything. Nor any word of heightened security. 
it any rate, no doubt this is not that common of an occurrence for a disabled person to have to wait so very long but I wanted to post it as a warning Because even if a disabled person expects to go to the front of the line, that doesn’t necessarily ensure you are going to get through it as quickly as you should be able to.

Edited by mlbcruiser
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I understand when the TSA has to screen wheel chair users, they need to get extra help.

There is a severe shortage of TSA agents especially now with the COVID 19.   Because of the rules about crowds it would make sense for the agents to get all lines moving as quickly as possible.   I am certain there were impaired folks in the other lines, they just didn’t have wheelchairs or scooters.   At least your husband was sitting down.   My 98 year old mom is not in a wheelchair but certainly doesn’t need to stand longer in line to let folks that are seated go first.

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Your 98-year-old mom probably is impaired enough that it is noticeable. In that case, she would be allowed in that line I am sure. It is not the TSA nor anyone else’s fault if she doesn’t enter that line. She does not need to be a martyr or hero and stand in a long line if it is difficult for her. The point to my story was they were TSA agents goofing around to a great extent who seemed like they just didn’t want to bother with helping those in the wheelchair or my husband in a scooter. Hopefully that doesn’t happen a lot but those impaired need to allow a little extra time at the airport even though they will likely go through a quicker line.

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She is able bodied and has a strong sense of right and wrong.   When she was recovering from hip replacement she used a handicapped tag but when she recovered she would no longer use it.   Looking at her you would guess she was 75 or 80.   She grew up on a farm during the depression so she is used to hard work and she actually irons everything because she enjoys the task.   She would never use a wheelchair just to get a better position in line.

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I don’t think most people in a wheelchair or using it for that reason. I’m glad your mom is tough but I had to force my husband to use a wheelchair. It was dangerous for him not to. I know others who have had to do the same thing with their mobility impaired loved ones. Having to deal with a wheelchair, or even a scooter for that matter, with the loading and unloading at such, does not make travel easier. Standing in line is better than having to do that.

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  • 4 weeks later...

In the past several years, I have flown out of Newark many times, ditto for West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale and last September out of Montreal. I've never had a problem with my scooter. I'm always directed to the front of the line. Since I set off the alarms with my artifical hip, I have to get patted down but I take it all in stride. They've always been very nice. They also wipe down my scooter looking for explosives I think. No problem for me. I also get wanded down on the ships and so does my scooter.

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  • 4 months later...

Ask for a TSA Passenger Support Specialist, they seem to be able to expedite everything, and on our last flight they took my wife all the way to the gate.  You should make request 72 hours in advance, but we hadn't, and they met us at the check in counter.

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