I travel a lot and I’ve never had much hassle from the TSA. I’ve even managed to unintentionally slide “prohibited items” like exacto knives and un-ziplocked toothpaste past the scanners. That was before I went to Toronto. I was flying last Valentines day to see my boyfriend and had a layover in Toronto. I was a small 25-year-old girl in a pink frilly dress. Apparantly this is cause for great suspicion.
Now I said I travel a lot, and that includes international. Layovers in different countries are par for the course but what I’d never seen before was having to go through a security checkpoint twice in one trip. So I was completely baffeled when I realized there was no way to get to my gate without going through customs, exiting the terminal, and going back in through the security checkpoint. Panic set in as I realized I might miss my connecting flight.
When I got toward the front of the line I noticed something strange. They had good old metal detectors and many people weren’t taking their shoes off. Two full-body scanners lurked ominously in the background, unused. I asked the agent if I needed to take my shoes off (I had flats, nowhere to hide anything) and the agent glanced at my feet and told me no. “Hooray, what a low-hassle airport!” I thought. I stepped forward…BEEP BEEP BEEP!! Suddenly I realized I had small metal buckles on the sides of my shoes that probably set it off. Feeling like an idiot, I stepped back to take off my shoes…but too late. The security lady called me forward and had me stand to the side and take off my shoes. An agent was by now rifling through my backpack. He pulled out a bottle of water I’d forgotten, not expecting the checkpoint, and threw it away. The woman patted me down and waved one of those small metal detectors over my body. People in line were staring. The metal detector beeped near my chest and the woman poked at my bra. “Do you have an underwire bra?” she asked. “Yes” I muttered, certain my face was bright red. “That’ll set it off,” she explained.
Thinking that was the end of it, I moved to reclaim by carry-on when she told me to wait. She spoke breifly to her coworkers then told me “you just need to go through the body scanner now.” I froze. I had been through 2 metal detectors, a pat down, and now I had to do THAT? Mind, I’m not one of those people that fears the radiation or invasion of privacy, they have rows and rows of these things at my home airport, hell I’d been through one just that morning. But by this time I was really concerned about missing my flight and I just wanted to get on the freaking plane to see my freaking boyfriend.
And then something awful happened. I started to cry. The agent stared at me in horror. People in the security lines were awkwardly trying not to stare. The woman pulled over a coworker “I think she’s crying” she said quietly. To be fair their attitude changed then, they actually tried to be nice to me. They asked me if I was concerened about missing my flight and when I told them when it left they assured me I’d make it. She led me to the scanner, arms above my head, hold still, and that was it. I was trying to wipe my running mascera off my cheeks. I was mostly just super embarrased, but also upset at the ridiculousness of going through metal detector, pat down, and a full-body scanner right in a row, when I’d already sailed through secuirty at my home airport only hours ago. When I picked up my bag an agent asked me why I was so upset. “I’ve just never been hassled by the TSA before, I guess it freaked me out,” I explained. “Oh, we didn’t mean to hassle you ma’am” he assured me.
On the return trip I actually had even more hassle, permanantly sealing my vendetta with the Toronto airport, but that tiff was with the airport itself as well as customs, so another post for another blog I suppose.