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Airlines worry frustrations with security procedures contributing to decline in travel

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NY Times
November 22, 2011


The Air Transport Association expects 2 percent fewer people will fly this Thanksgiving week compared with last year, while AAA projects a 4 percent increase in automobile travel.

As the T.S.A. observes its 10th anniversary, it also faces lawsuits over the legality of its passenger searches, growing scrutiny of the cost-effectiveness of its screening measures, questions about security lapses and complaints that some agents continue to make travelers feel humiliated or harassed.

At a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing about the agency in early November, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, described her own discomfort with a particular agent at a St. Louis airport and expressed sympathy for passengers who complain.

“When you have the traveling public tell you that sometimes these pat-downs are unacceptable, trust me, they are not exaggerating,” Senator McCaskill said. “There are many times that women put hands on me in a way that if it was your daughter or your sister or your wife you would be upset.”

Based on her frequent travels, she also suggested that women who must submit to pat-downs have to wait longer than men, because there are fewer female agents to conduct searches.

Other senators who attended the hearing or a separate one convened by the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs voiced concerns about radiation emitted by the X-ray body scanners, security breaches at Atlanta and Newark airports, insensitive treatment of passengers with medical conditions and a child caught up in a watch list error.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 4:38 am

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