Airport security is a serious matter, no doubt. But did TSA agents go too far when they patted down a 10-year-old girl after finding a Capri Sun juice pouch in her carry-on bag?
The girl’s father, Kevin Payne, thinks so. And he’s even shared footage of the pat-down on YouTube to prove it.
When the forbidden juice pouch was found (liquids exceeding 3 ounces aren’t allowed on carry-ons,) and after a swab of her bag tested positive (falsely) for explosives, Vendela Payne was frisked by a female TSA agent at a North Carolina airport. A cell phone alarm also ended up going off from inside her bag, according to some reports.
The Dec. 30 pat-down took about two minutes, according to Fox News, but it left both daughter and father feeling angry and violated.
“I’m a very big proponent of security, and if they were patting me down, no problem,” Kevin told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “But this was a 10-year-old girl. The whole system seems to not work the way it should be working.”
“My dad was making funny faces, silly faces in the mirror and I felt like screaming the whole time,” Vendela told NBC7. “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.”
However, a TSA spokesperson explained the pat-down actually did follow agency guidelines. “TSA screening procedures allow for the pat down of a child under certain circumstances,” the spokesman said in a statement to The Washington Post. “The process by which the child was patted down followed approved procedures.”
I’m not an expert on TSA protocol, but it seems to me this whole incident might have been blown out of proportion. It’s odd to me that a juice pouch set the whole process into motion, but once a swab tested positive for explosives (even though it ended up being a false positive,) a pat-down seems like the logical next step. Even though she’s only 10, Vendela was patted down by a female agent in the presence of her father.
Sure, it probably felt awkward to be singled out. And yes, it was inconvenient. But I’m having a hard time understanding how this simple pat-down crossed any lines.