DFW AIRPORT (CBSDFW.COM) – So far, there have been government hearings, statements from Texas Congress members and outrage from some travelers on the airport security issue of screenings and pat-downs.
The latest concern involves children and if they’re being required to undergo the physical searches that many deem too intrusive, even for adults.
Parents at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport offered their own perspective on the body issue for kids.
Currently, children will be searched if they don’t pass metal detection screening.
A full body security-imaging scan awaited Patti Whynot, her husband Steve, and their six-year-old daughter Maddie at DFW Airport.
If the Collin County family had declined to go through the scanners they would’ve faced the now controversial physical pat down; a manual body search that include the frisking of discreet parts of the anatomy.
The Whynot’s feel that either search would have been fine for them and their child. “We’re comfortable with anything for safety,” said Patti Whynot. “We want a safe flight and we’re willing to do our part.”
Steve Whynot said, “I agree with my wife. It’s all about a safe and secure flight.”
But that sentiment isn’t universal.
Lucy Khalife’s daughter, Sandra, experienced a pat down. The three- year-old didn’t pass a metal detector test, so screeners, according to mom, put the child through the hands-on physical search.
“That’s too much,” Khalife said frustrated. “For kids, that’s too much. For adults, we understand you know.”
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) authorities point to passenger safety and security as the primary purpose for the image screening, and the alternative passenger pat down.
Policy says children under 12 years of age will have a modified search. “The child will be submitted to an alternate screening with the parent present, where it will be a modified version of the pat down,” explained TSA Spokesperson Luis Casanova.
The body scan images are seen by a single agent in a closed room who cannot see the face of the person in the machine and who cannot bring any cell phones or cameras into the image viewing room.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is joining those calling on the TSA to make some changes in its new airport security measures.
Senator Hutchison called the pat-downs “invasive”, and describes the screening procedures as “aggressive.” She told the head of the TSA Wednesday that passengers’ privacy concerns are legitimate, and wants federal agencies to direct more focus on gathering intelligence – to make sure would-be terrorists don’t make it to the airport in the first place.
The Senator also says she does not think the TSA should fine passengers who opt-out of the screening and choose to leave the airport.