Make us your home page
Instagram

Security screening a headache for special-needs fliers

How many times have you heard someone with metal inside their body — like a plate or pins that help mend broken bones — laugh about setting off alarms at the airport?

It's no joke to Randall Wingert. The 73-year-old retiree from Sun City Center has an implanted cardioverter-defribillator (ICD) that delivers a life-saving jolt if his heart muscles beat out of rhythm.

The device also is a sure bet to make metal detectors at Tampa International Airport squeal. So before walking through the portal, Wingert tells the security officer about his ICD. Then the waiting game begins.

"Every time I go to Tampa International, it seems there is confusion and unnecessary delays," he writes in an e-mail.

"I'm taken out of line, told to wait until they find another agent to let me pass into the next area, where I must always do a complete check, taking my belt off, my shoes off and then a body search with hand-held electro-meter" or a pat-down from an officer. The process often takes 15 to 20 minutes.

There's no way travelers with hardware inside them can bypass screening, even with a manufacturer's medical device ID card, says Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration. It would be too easy for bad guys to forge a copy.

Travelers should ask for a supervisor. Anyone concerned that the magnet inside a hand-held metal detector could affect their implanted device should request a pat-down search, she says.

"We apologize if there is a wait because everyone's working with other passengers," Koshetz says. "But we can't have dedicated people to do this. It's not a good use of taxpayer dollars."

A new screening system might help speed things up. The TSA's "self-select" lanes — scheduled to start in Tampa by Thanksgiving — include lines for families and travelers with special needs.

The stroller and wheelchair lines will move slowly. But they're staffed with extra officers to help people like Wingert navigate screening more smoothly.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

Security screening a headache for special-needs fliers 09/16/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 19, 2008 5:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Clearwater-based USAmeriBanc acquired by New Jersey bank in $816 million deal

    Banking

    CLEARWATER — USAmeriBancorp, Inc., based in Clearwater, is being acquired by New Jersey's Valley National Bancorp in an $816 million deal, it was announced today.

    Joe Chillura, CEO of USAmeribank, shown inside a branch in Ybor City in this file photo.
[KATHLEEN FLYNN l Times]
  2. Outback Steakhouse sees growth in U.S. and Brazil markets in second quarter

    Retail

    TAMPA — Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands.

    The Outback Steakhouse, on 4088 Park St. N, is showin on July 26, 2017. Restaurant sales were up at Outback Steakhouse  and Carrabba's Italian Grill during the second quarter of 2017, but Bonefish Grill continues to lag at Tampa-based Bloomin' Brands. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. Controversial landfill site could be rechristened as industrial recruiting land in Pasco

    Economic Development

    The east Pasco property of Angelo's Aggregate Materials, which failed to obtain a state environmental permit to be developed as a garbage landfill, is being studied as a potential 1,000-acre mega site for industrial recruitment.

  4. Marriott opening new hotel on Clearwater Beach

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER BEACH — A dual-branded Marriott hotel with a tongue-twister name is opening on Clearwater Beach in August. The Residence Inn Tampa Clearwater Beach and SpringHill Suites Tampa Clearwater Beach will have 255 suites total, connected by a lobby.

    A dual-branded Marriott hotel called the Residence Inn Tampa Clearwater Beach and SpringHill Suites Tampa Clearwater Beach will open in August in Clearwater Beach. Pictured is a rendering.
[Courtesy of Hayworth PR]
  5. Irish 31 brings flair, flavor to Wiregrass

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — Irish 31 Pub House & Eatery opened its fifth location at The Shops at Wiregrass earlier this month.

    hillsevbiz072117: Irish 31 has opened at the Shops at Wiregrass with a warm, wood decor. Photo courtesy of Irish 31.