Last week, 84-year-old Lenore Zimmerman claimed she was “strip searched” by the TSA when she went through security at JFK and subsequently missed her flight to Florida.
TSA Denies ‘Strip Search’
However, the closed-circuit TV tape tells a different story, at least according to the TSA’s Bob Burns, who also noted that “TSA does not include strip searches in its protocols and a strip search did not occur in this case.”
Passenger’s Timeline, According to TSA
Here’s what happened, according to the TSA’s timeline:
- 12:19 p.m.: Zimmerman approaches the ticket counter.
- Zimmerman opts out of the body scanner for alternative pat-down, telling officers she is wearing a back brace or support belt which requires private screening.
- A private screening is conducted by two female officers; [brace] is removed and rescreened.
- TSA reports “nothing unusual” on the tape as passenger enters/exits screening room.
Passenger Misses Flight, Which Left Early
At one point, Zimmerman said she banged her walker against her leg which began to bleed and medical attention was summoned. All this apparently took some time, and she did not make her flight. However, it is important to note that she reportedly arrived at the ticket counter at 12:19 p.m. for a 1 p.m. flight, which is less than the minimal airport arrival time requested by many airlines. Plus, the 1 p.m. flight actually left at 12:50 p.m. – 10 minutes early – which is an increasingly common phenomenon as airlines strive to meet “on time arrival” goals.
TSA Apologizes to Passenger
TSA contacted the passenger to “apologize that she feels she had an unpleasant screening experience,” but again, the agency claims that no strip search was involved. It remains unclear why the passenger’s story diverges so wildly from the security agency’s response to her claims.