Are you flying the friendly skies this holiday season? Oh, how grateful we are to be home base for our family Thanksgiving and not fighting the Atlanta airport’s holiday rush this year! I feel for you travelers! So glad you get to visit family, but I wish it were under less congested circumstances.
When we fly it is an adventure with a wheelchair and service dog and, of course, my battery charger, travel shower chair, etc. Sure, travel is complicated by disability – maybe not as much as traveling with babies and toddlers though!. There are, however, a few perks…one is that we go to the front of the dreaded security line and I am escorted around the body scanners…ahhh, I miss the body scan and the line! Now the fun begins…
As my personal items are shoved into the gray plastic tub and pulled through the X-ray machine like groceries through a checkout line, I am escorted to the wide gate like a princess…but wait, the blue (or are they purple?) latex gloves are coming toward me. Will they tear off my belt this time? Are my feet safe from shoe removal? Well that depends on the agent, TSA security agent that is. Always female for female as we engage in the ‘PAT’ down. With raised arms I watch the agent as she never fails to ask me to stand up! Joke’s on her because that’s not happening. The golden rule of polite gestures is applied as she feels my breasts with the back of her hands. She grasps my bottom and legs as she continues to feel. Could she be a cute guy instead, please? Just kidding! Fortunately, I’ve only had to remove my shoes and belt occasionally and normally clear security after merely a few checks for explosives with small papers rubbed against different areas of my chair and body. With my personal items returned by the agent our trek to the plane begins.
Periodically, an ‘over-zealous’ or ‘new’ security gal puts me through the ringer and removes my shoes, jewelry and belt and feels a bit too much of my body. She searches behind every movable part of my power wheelchair. On more than one excursion the wheelchair batteries were dis-assembled and removed from their case. Good thing we weren’t in a hurry.
The last time we traveled with Tahoe, he didn’t go through the scanner or get a pat down, and he loves a pat down. They didn’t even take off his vest. Go figure. He could be a terrorist with a weapon in his vest pocket!
For the most part, the security experience is a nuisance of air travel particularly for those of us who get the thrill of the pat down. Pack a little humor, a lot of patience, and an attitude of gratitude to conquer the hassles of Thanksgiving’s travel rush. Give yourself some extra time this week, and be thankful if you evade the latex gloves! Leave a comment and share your funny or challenging stories and we will gratefully enjoy our no-fly zone!