Cathy Bossy, a flight attendant for U.S. Airways for the last 32 years, had to remove and show her prosthetic breast during a security pat-down by a TSA (Transport Security Administration) agent at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Bossy is a 3-year breast cancer survivor. The prospect of being exposed to radiation during a full-body scan frightened her, so she reluctantly agreed to a pat-down.

Apparently, Bossy was told by an agent to place her ID on her back, and because it was on her back she had to then go to a personal screening area. (Source: WBTV).

She was then subjected to what she described as an "aggressive" pat-down. When the search reached her right breast - the prosthetic breast - the examination stopped.

With a full hand on her breast the TSA agent asked what it was. When Bossy explained that it was a prosthesis because she had had breast cancer, the agent said she would need to see it.

The agent asked her to remove the prosthesis from her bra and show it. She was so shocked and distressed that it did not occur to her to register the agent's name or details. Bossy told a local TV station that she did not think to get the agents details "because it was just so horrific of an experience, I couldn't believe someone had done that to me. I'm a flight attendant. I was just trying to get to work."

There are over 3 million breast cancer survivors in the USA. A significant number of them have prostheses. There are hundreds of thousands of people more with other types of prostheses, and sometimes in intimate parts of the body. This incident has hit the media in a big way and may alarm those with prosthesis who have to get on a plane.

Pilots now exempt

Weeks of pressure from pilot unions regarding airport screenings have paid off. The TSA has announced it is exempting pilots from hull body scans and enhanced pat-downs.

Any US pilot who is in uniform and working for an American airline will go through the expedited screening after presenting two forms of ID.

Pilots had been complaining that the pat-downs were too intrusive. Pilots unions were concerned about their members' long-term exposure to radiation if they had to undergo a full body screen every time they went through an airport.

TSA administrator John Pistole, said:
    "Allowing these uniformed pilots, whose identity has been verified, to go through expedited screening at the checkpoint just makes smart security and an efficient use of our resources."
Captain Sam Mayer, communications chairman for the Allied Pilots Association
    "We want TSA to concentrate on the threat, and clearly the pilots are not the threat, we are the targets."
U.S. Travel Association has set up a website that encourages air passengers to voice their opinions with the Obama Administration.

The US Travel Association focuses on the following points in its website:
  • What's currently working in the air travel security screening process?
  • What's not working?
  • How can the current screening process be improved?
  • What are your personal experiences with the air travel security screening process?
Written by Christian Nordqvist