Woman Battling Breast Cancer Comes Into Contact With LAX TSA, Lives to Tell About It (Barely)

A woman battling breast cancer had a really unfortunate experience with the TSA in Los Angeles last night.

She says Sunday night at LAX, TSA agents aggressively tried to do a body cavity search – in public.

This all happened after she informed them of the metal port on her chest and the medical cream in her bag.

“Her hands were shoving up me, and she went around me and down my pants in the back. And then when she tried to put her hands in my shirt is when I said, ‘enough,'” Albert said.

She had to take off her shoes, but has open sores and rashes on her feet from cancer treatment. It’s why she has a medical cream that was apparently an issue leading to additional screening in the first place. She wasn’t wearing socks, so she was allowed to sit on a bench for her extra screening.

TSA procedures are not to let a passenger touch any of their belongings that have been given up until the enhanced screening has been completed. She had to take off her shoes, so she was expected to leave them off until the screening was complete. When she was finally offered private screening she was told she’d have to walk there barefoot, which with sores and rashes from her cancer treatment was inadvisable.

The TSA wanted to clear everything so she eventually took off her wig in public, something she never does, but she felt the need to protect it from possible damage.

She posted a video of a portion of the experience:

On the video you see the woman shove her hand up my crotch and then try to go down my shirt. That’s when I said (again) I have a medical port and had a lumpecomy. Many of you have remarked about how calm I was. I have to admit, after the video ends (though I do have it on video), I lifted up my shirt. Rather then have them touch my breasts and port “with pressure” as the TSA agent stated. That’s when they said they were calling law enforcement…

I do think it would have been advisable for her to wear socks (in fairness, with PreCheck she didn’t expect to take off her shoes), unless there was a medical reason she wasn’t doing so which isn’t mentioned in media coverage or her Facebook post.

She should have been offered a private screening at the outset, and have gone to a private room with a same sex screener. It seems someone finally took compassion on her and allowed her mid-screening to put her shoes back on and go to a private room where things were resolved.

[T]hey opened my bags, removed everything and another TSA agent joked about all of the eyelashes I had. I told her, it’s because I don’t have real ones from my cancer treatment.

Naturally the TSA in a statement says “We regret any discomfort the security screening process may have caused the passenger.” They can’t even bring themselves to say discomfort that the screening process did cause, they have to caveat it with ‘may’. That’s bureaucracy for you.

A few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Gary, we know you hate the TSA, with good reason. But you picked a bad example to prove poor performance. Here the passenger is much too outraged. She should have calmly explained her situation rather than rush to rage.

  2. Calmly? Really? My sister had breast cancer (Dead). With the drugs they give you, and the mental toll already in place, its difficult to remain calm in a normal situation, let alone something like this.

    My sister probably would have stripped down to nothing and done a jig….because she COULD.

  3. The TSA are disgusting, power-tripping failures at life. There’s a reason these low-life thugs work for the TSA and not a reputable organization. The TSA is a joke, they get off on this sort of embarassment, “for the sake of safety.” You can see the woman agent practically smirking while doing this. F***ing animal.

  4. Similar thing happened to me at LAX.
    I have pre-check, which at LAX is more like pre-check “lite”.
    It started with TSA agent looking at my drivers license and stating that it is not me. I have breast cancer and was wearing a short wig. My photo was with long hair. My husband assured them it was me, and agent called over two more agents to ask their opinion. It finally concluded with me taking off my wig and showing them my port and Cancer Card (for ER purposes).
    Too bad this has to happen. I am traveling again today from LAX, it will be interesting to see if we have a repeat of last month.

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