Travelers complaining about RDU security measures

A volunteer undergoes a full body airport scan

December 15, 2010 6:47:21 AM PST
New e-mails are revealing some disturbing complaints about security measures at RDU involving pat downs.It's become the new normal and frequent fliers know getting a pat down at the airport, may seem more like getting felt up.

"They go all the way up the inseam as far as they can go," frequent traveler David Swerdlick said. "They put their fingers inside the waistband of your pants.

About six weeks ago the rules changed. The TSA began doing what it calls "enhanced pat downs" for people who either refuse a full body scan or go through it and register something out of the ordinary.

"They asked me if they could pat down your right upper leg, which I thought was kind of interesting," traveler Karl Kramer said.

Kramer says he got a pat down after a body scan found a multi-vitamin in his pocket.

"I will say it was a little close to home so to speak," Kramer said.

But a handful of travelers at RDU say the pat down actually hit home.

The couple of dozen complaints filed on the airport's website since late October read like a trashy novel with statements like; "they put their ... hands down my underwear," ... "feeling all up his legs including the testicles," ... "hitting up wards in my groin area."

But a TSA spokesperson told ABC11 Eyewitness News that, "officers are trained to treat all passengers with dignity and respect."

Airports don't have to go with the TSA. They can contract out with private companies to do the same job.

Seventeen airports around the country have done that, but RDU isn't one of them and doesn't plan to be.

"We don't see any reason to opt out," says RDU spokesperson Mindy Hamlin.

She says a private company would still work under the TSA and offer exactly the same screening.

She also says compared to the total number of travelers, there haven't been that many complaints.

"Overall the feedback we've received from our passengers is they're very happy with the TSA," Hamlin said.

But where there are complaints, there's a common theme.

As long as the TSA is screening at RDU, they won't be flying out of RDU.

According to the TSA, in the first three weeks of enhanced pat downs, there were about 2,300 complaints nationwide compared to about 40 million passengers screened at TSA checkpoints.

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