Refused To Board, Drove To Destination
Ava Kingsford was flying
from Denver International Airport to San Diego last month, along
with her fiance and her three-month old son. She says she stepped
up to the security checkpoint and was summarily chosen for a
pat-down search. Everything seemed to be going routinely until the
female TSA screener who was patting her down said, "I'm going to
feel your breasts now."
San Diego TV station KGTV quotes Kingsford as saying she was
appalled at the screener's comment. "I was stunned, and I said, 'I
beg your pardon?!'"
So she says she told the screener she wasn't comfortable with
that kind of physical search. That's when the trouble apparently
started. A police officer and more TSA employees showed up and told
her point-blank, she wasn't getting on the aircraft without having
her breasts patted down first.
"I was shaking, I was sobbing. I couldn't believe that this was
happening to me. It was surreal. It was like out of a movie, with
these guys yelling at me, telling me that, yes, she has to feel my
breasts or I'm not getting on my airplane," Kingsford told the
Kingsford says she was escorted to a private area where the
search was to continue. But she continued refusing to allow
screeners to touch her breasts. She tried to pull her shirt down to
show that there was nothing dangerous underneath, but the screeners
weren't buying it.
"And then they said,
'That's it. We're not going to complete the search and you're not
boarding your plane,'" Kingsford says in her interview with KGTV.
"They escorted us out and said they didn't care how we got home, it
wasn't their problem."
Rather than submit to the search, the trio rented a car and
drove 15 hours from Denver to San Diego.
Bob Knapp, who heads up the customer service effort for the
TSA's Denver contingent, says a thorough pat-down search of a
female "does require going beneath, between and above the breasts."
Yes, he admits, there have been some women who were unhappy with
the notion of having their breasts manipulated, but he says it's "a
sign of the times."
The TSA announced increased security measures -- including more
pat-down searches -- after two female suicide bombers with
explosive packs strapped to their torsoes downed a pair of Russian
jetliners last month.
"I was wearing a pretty form-fitting tank top," says Kingsford.
"There's nothing really to be hiding. You could see my figure. I
didn't have any packs. She had patted down my torso. She had
completed the torso pat down and wanded me with a security wand but
some reason she said she wanted to see my breasts."