A California father is outraged after his 10-year-old daughter was subjected to a nearly two-minute long pat down by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent at a North Carolina airport over the holidays. Kevin Payne shot video of the incident and told reporters he felt the pat down was uncomfortable and inappropriate.
Payne's daughter Vendela was subjected to the pat down after mistakenly leaving a Capri Sun juice concentrate in her bag as she went through the security line at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the family said. The 10-year-old was flagged for extra screening and then patted down for almost two minutes, NBC San Diego reported.
The man said that despite supporting airport security, he felt that the agent's actions were invasive. "It was an uncomfortable situation." Vendela added, "My dad was making funny faces and silly faces in the mirror and I felt like screaming the whole time."
According to the TSA website, screening is conducted to determine whether travellers are concealing prohibited items under their clothing. However, the agency notes that screening procedures have been modified for children 12 years old and under to reduce the likelihood of a pat-down screening.
The TSA told NBC News, "TSA screening procedures allow for the pat-down of a child under certain circumstances. The process by which the child was patted down followed approved procedures." The agency added that the procedure was observed by the girl's parent and that a cell phone alarm going off in her bag required additional checks.
"My goal was just to clear security as quickly as possible so we could make our flight even though I knew that in my mind they shouldn't be doing what they were doing," Payne told NBC San Diego. "I didn't want to make an issue of it there or then because it wasn't the time of place and I didn't want to further traumatise my daughter."
Vendela said she was able to keep herself together because she did not want to "throw a tantrum like a one-year-old." She added, "I know it's to keep everybody on the plane safe, but she kept patting me down. Pat down, pat down. It was like, over and over." Payne said that the pat-down and extra screenings took about an hour. The family was able to make their plane only because it was delayed.
Payne told reporters he had contacted his congressman and plans to file a formal complaint against the TSA. "Maybe they need retraining. Maybe they did everything by the book. I don't really know, but it was an uncomfortable situation," he said.