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TSA plans phone line for disabled, assisted travelers

December 12, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • A TSA security area reflected in a mirror at Los Angeles International Airport.
A TSA security area reflected in a mirror at Los Angeles International Airport. (Mark Boster/Los Angeles…)

After elderly passengers at JFK Airport complained about how they were treated by the Transportation Security Administration, the agency said Sunday it would establish an information line that travelers who are disabled or need assistance can call before flying.

The TSA blog post written by blogger Bob Burns said in part:

"[W]e're in the process of establishing an 800 number dedicated to travelers with disabilities, medical conditions, or those who may require assistance during screening. Passengers will be able to call this number prior to flying to get guidance and information about screening, based on their needs." The agency also said TSA agents are regularly trained in how to screen such travelers.

The actions come after Lenore Zimmerman, 85, of Long Beach, N.Y., says she was "strip searched" by the TSA in late November. The agency says it never conducts strip searches. Her son Bruce Zimmerman told the N.Y. Daily News that his mother had to remove her blouse and underwear in front of a TSA agent.

During the screening, Zimmerman's back brace was removed and X-rayed, an action the agency now says went against its own policy and resulted from a misunderstanding. The brace was mistaken for a money belt, the TSA says.

Ruth Sherman, 88, of Sunrise, Fla., says TSA agents pulled down her pants after seeing something concealed in the waistband, according to the N.Y. Daily News. Sherman has a colostomy bag and was "crying and very upset" when agents handled it, her son Ralph Sherman told the paper. 

The complaints prompted Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and New York state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Queens) on Sunday to ask the TSA to create "passenger advocates" who know the rules but would be sensitive to the needs of passengers.

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