Female Screeners Home, So Pat-Down Couldn't Be Done
An odd case in Rock Springs, Wyoming suggests we may need to
plan further ahead when flying out of small commercial airports. A
woman says the TSA did not allow her to board her flight from Rock
Springs to Denver because all the female screeners had been sent
home for the day by TSA, leaving nobody who could legally perform a
pat-down at the checkpoint.
KDVR-TV in Denver reports that on January 29, Jennifer Winning
arrived at the security checkpoint 35 minutes before the scheduled
departure on a SkyWest flight. Winning says when she got to the
checkpoint, "They asked if I was on the flight to Denver, I said
yes, they said that they couldn't screen me because they sent all
the female TSA agents home.
"I said, 'Would you be willing to let me sign a waiver and I
would approve for a man to pat me down if necessary?' and they said
Winning says she makes that flight often. TSA has publicly
promoted the idea that frequent fliers will soon enjoy expedited
screening programs. But on this day, Winning had to rent a car at a
cost of $165, and drive the 350 miles back to Denver. She tells the
station she's getting over the anger, but asks of TSA, "If you
can’t clear it without a female, why would you send them
The TSA responded with an official statement to the station
which says, in part, "In this instance, SkyWest made final boarding
announcements and notified TSA that no additional passengers would
be accepted. In addition, a TSA officer also made two public
announcements asking any remaining passengers to report to the
security checkpoint for screening."
The Sweetwater County Airport in Rock Springs promotes its small
size as an advantage, telling passengers to "avoid the hassles of a
big airport. Rock Springs is hassle-free with short lines, free
parking and direct service to Salt Lake City, Denver and Gillette."
If you still have to arrive far in advance of your flight to ensure
boarding, "hassle-free" may be overselling.
On its official blog, TSA spokesman Bob Burns reiterates, "This
is why it is so important to arrive early, at least an hour before
your departure when possible at smaller airports and two at larger
ones to ensure you make your flight."