Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you as one of the very few US citizens to be a constant target of profiling at the airports.
Yep, it is true. The WASP-y, 30-something white guy in a suit is clearly a threat to national security. I know because every single time I go through TSA security, I am profiled. Why you ask? Because I have sleep apnea and must use a CPAP machine in order to get a good nights sleep. I have to carry the CPAP machine onto the plane, and 9 times out of 10 the machine is pulled for “extra screening.”
I believe I did read in The 9/11 Commission Report the massive Islamic conspiracy to use CPAP machines in order to make sure the pilots weren’t snoring before they slit their throats.
Ah, but I digress. Last week I had perhaps the worst week of air travel I have ever had. Now granted, I did have to fly from Charlotte to Chicago to Dallas to Denver in two days for separate meetings. And I have accepted my profiling by TSA agents for almost a year now…. I accept it and I’m used to it. But I cannot accept degrading treatment by TSA screeners as happened to me in Denver last Thursday. The following email (which is self-explanatory) was sent to the TSA Customer Service Director for the Denver area.
From: Bruce Carroll
Subject: Incident at Denver TSA Checkpoint this morning
Date: Thu, 14 Sep 2006 11:56AM.
Mr. Kapp: I was given your contact information from TSA Supervisor Mike Torrez at the Denver South TSA checkpoint. I told Mr. Torrez that I would like to file a formal written complaint against one of the screeners who treated me extremely poorly this morning at Denver International Airport. Mr. Torrez refused to provide me with the name of the screener who had caused the incident and instead suggested I contact you, which I am now doing. I am also copying the relevant staff officials on the US House Committee on Homeland Security that oversees the Department of Homeland Securty. Additionally, I am copying my own US Congresswoman Sue Myrick.
I want to first make you understand that I completely support the efforts and hard work of the folks at TSA. I am a regular business traveler who flies at least twice every week and have for the past three years. I also have a unique perspective as one of my best friends was on American Flight 77 on 9/11/2001. So I have been known to remind my fellow travelers who are moaning about a mere 5 minute wait in line about what is at stake and the perspective they should have when my friend was killed.
However, I do expect to be treated like a human being and with respect as an American citizen by TSA agents especially when I am trying to do my part in our War on Terror. This morning I arrived a few minutes behind (but not too late) for my flight at Denver. The TSA lines were short and there weren’t many people in the airport at all, so I anticipated a relatively quick process. I have sleep apnea and carry a CPAP breathing machine with me and have come to expect it will be pulled for the swab test. This morning, things went from bad to worse very quickly.
The TSA screener at the X-ray machine pulled it and I identified myself as the owner. She said “It has to be tested separately and that may take a few minutes.” She then placed it on the ground next to her chair and never called for any assistance. After a couple of minutes had passed I asked when it would be swabbed. She said she didn’t know and *then* called someone to do a bag check. The TSA agent that picked up my CPAP machine began to wait for me to put on shoes, etc…. I said in a very nice and calm voice that I was running late and to please screen it while I was getting my shoes on and getting my briefcase together. It was at that point that her pace became noticeably slower. She sauntered from machine to machine and it appeared that either every machine was being used or they were broken.
After I had gathered my things, I began following behind her to the last two machines she tried out. I was standing behind one of those nylon-rope lines while she swabbed my CPAP machine. BEFORE the results were even complete, she turned to her TSA associate and in a very loud and obnoxious voice said, “I sure hope I don’t have to chase down that guy to give him this thing.” Since I was well within earshot, I calmly responded, “Don’t worry I was chasing after you so I’m right here. I am in a kind of hurry.”
She turned around and snapped at me in a very condescending and hostile voice , “Well, you should expect that the machine would be checked we check them everywhere so you should have gotten here earlier.”
She then lifted the machine next to her, but behind the nylon-rope line and made some statement to the effect of “Do you want this back or not.” It was at that point that I got angry. I said, “yes I do and I don’t expect to be treated like this. I am a taxpayer and frequent traveler and I pay your salary.” I admit that was a knee-jerk comment, but I would also point out that it is true. She laughed at me and said “you don’t pay my salary” and then she continued snapping at me inappropriately, dismissed me with her hand and the comment “whatever”, and called her first line supervisor over.
He had a lot of attitude from the start, told me it was all my fault for obviously being late and refused to enter into a dialogue with me when I asked to file a complaint. Instead, he passed me off to Supervisor Mike Torrez. Mr. Torrez was initially polite and I told him that I am tired of being treated like a second-class citizen because my breathing problems require me to carry a machine. I told him I am probably one of the FEW people in the entire nation that is overtly “profiled” due to the machine, but that I put up with it. But I further told him I will not put up with being treated with such disrespect and dismissiveness from a TSA agent who began the confrontation with her initial comment before the swab test had been completed.
He gave me his card and I ran to my gate in Concourse B. I missed my flight, so returned to the checkpoint to ask Mr. Torrez how I file a formal written complaint against the TSA agent who was so rude. He was quite curt this time, blamed me entirely for missing my flight and shoved your card in my hand.
I am completely disturbed by this incident and would like to file a formal complaint. I would also like to know how this TSA agent will be reprimanded and coached to work with the public better. I am a patient man and it takes a lot to make me this angry. But I expect to be treated with respect, especially when I am a big supporter of the mission of TSA and the Department of Homeland Security.
I look forward to a prompt reply of this inquiry.
To date, I have not yet received a reply…. I’ve waited long enough.