Horror stories are pouring in nationwide as travelers hit the airports to head home for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Now that the busiest air travel season upon us, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been under scrutiny following complaints that the federal government has taken airport security too far, from new intrusive body scans to intensified pat-downs.
In response, The U.S. Travel Association has launched a site where consumers can air their complaints, share their stories and provide feedback about the TSA screening process.
But not all stories are being shared so quietly. Perhaps one of the most recent buzzed-about airport nightmare stories involves a bladder cancer survivor who attests he was "absolutely humiliated" after a TSA employee pat down left him covered in his own urine.
Thomas Sawyer said TSA agents removed his urostomy bag, which was used to collect his urine from an opening in his abdomen. Sawyer told the employees that the pat down process could break his bag, but they continued the search. The removal of the bag left him covered in his own urine.
In another instance, a Charlotte, N.C.-based U.S. Airways flight attendant and breast cancer survivor Cathy Bossi was mortified after a TSA agent demanded she show her prosthetic breast during the screening.
According to reports, the agent put their hand on her breast and asked her to promptly remove the prosthetic.
"As a cancer survivor, it was my worst nightmare, to have people know I had breast cancer," Bossi told WSOCTV, a news station in Charlotte.
Meanwhile, a YouTube video of an eight-year-old boy being screened at the Salt Lake City International Airport has made its way onto the Internet, collecting over 1.6 million views in just three days.
The shy child was screened shirtless as his angry father watched nearby. The father told The New York Post that the TSA agent patted his son using the backs of his hands to check his genital area.
"I didn't think it was going to be as horrible as [the agent] was describing," the father said. "We spend my child's whole life telling him that only Mom, Dad and a doctor can touch you in your private area, and now we have to add TSA agent, and that's just wrong."
Many organizations are trying to fight the TSA's scanning procedures, including one called “National Opt-Out Day.” The online group is asking people to protest the use of the body-image scanners on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days of the year.
"It's the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an 'enhanced pat-down' that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner," according to a statement on OptOutDay.com.
"You should never have to explain to your children, 'Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK.'"
The goal of National Opt-Out Day is to send a message to lawmakers that people demand change: "We have a right to privacy and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we're guilty until proven innocent. This day is needed."
To share a story with The U.S. Travel Association, visit its TSA feedback site here.
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