There is nothing more frustrating than being on the plane, looking down at your legs and saying “no.”
That’s what happened to me recently.
I was waiting for a flight to take off when the TSA noticed a small black suitcase on my lap.
The bag was not large enough to be of concern, but the TSA agent at the gate said it was a “probable cause” that it contained drugs.
I thought, Oh, well, the bags that are suspicious are obviously going to be searched, but I was not prepared to be subjected to a pat down.
I didn’t even know it was possible for an item to be considered a suspicious item until I was asked by a TSA agent to check it out.
A pat down?
What kind of check-in procedure would be used for such a small item?
It took me about five minutes to explain what had happened to the TSA employee.
I explained that I was a passenger and that the TSA was not allowed to search me.
I also said that the bag was only about six inches long and I had no idea what was in it.
Then, I was told that I had to go to the restroom.
I was confused.
What should I do?
Should I tell the TSA that I’m a passenger?
Should the TSA let me go, as it has done with other passengers?
The answers to these questions are not as simple as they seem.
What I did know was that the bags had been placed on my arm and were supposed to be inspected.
That is why I had been so anxious.
I am an active duty soldier.
So, it was obvious to me that I would be subjected and searched if I tried to leave the airport.
I had the best of intentions.
I had never been subjected to an invasive pat down before, but what I did not know was what the TSA agents would do if they saw my legs.
The TSA agent was not very polite when I told him that I needed to go and that I didn’t know what was inside the bag.
Instead, he asked me if I had any identification, like my passport or driver’s license.
He said that I should have it at the airport, so that the agent would not have to search it.
I then told the agent that I couldn’t wait.
I asked him to go ahead and take my luggage.
The agent then asked me what my bags were for, and I told them that they could search them, if they wanted.
I have a medical emergency, so I was also asked if I was carrying drugs or other contraband.
I didn and didn’t have any drugs.
When the agent finally asked me whether I had a prescription for a medicine or something else, I told the truth, because I have a prescription and I use it regularly.
I explained that, like everyone else, the bag I had was supposed to have a small size.
He asked me to put the items in my suitcase, but he didn’t ask me to look at the bag or to remove the items from my body.
That would have made him feel more comfortable, but not in a good way.
After the agent left, I asked if he would remove the bag from my hand so I could take it to the bathroom.
He told me to do what I wanted, which was to put it in my bag.
I then walked to the toilet and flushed the toilet.
That was when he asked if the bag could be put in the bin and searched.
I told it could be searched.
He then asked if there was anything else inside, and he said there was.
I said, I have nothing.
The agents were not satisfied, and they searched me again, this time without a patdown.
The next day, when I went to the airport to board the next flight, I went through the same ordeal.
I sat down at the terminal, and was asked to remove my shoes, underwear and socks from my bag, which I did.
They searched me too.
I asked if my luggage was not in the bag and the TSA asked me for my passport and other identification.
I gave them both and they left.
The TSA agents did not even ask if they could see my bag or my shoes.
I did ask the agents why I was being detained and they told me that there was nothing to detain me about.
I don’t know how they managed to make that mistake, but they could have easily handled it better.
If you or anyone you know needs help or support with any type of anxiety or anxiety-related issues, please contact a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).