OK. Now this is crossing the line.
The 4-year-old son of a New Jersey police officer was told he could not pass through security at the airport unless he removed his metal leg braces. The family was on their way to Walt Disney World in Orlando to celebrate the boy's fourth birthday. His dad, Bob Thomas, says son Ryan is developmentally delayed and wears the braces because his ankles are malformed and his legs have low muscle tone -- effects of his premature birth sixteen weeks early. Ryan was just starting to walk when this happened.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Daniel Rubin, the Thomas family arrived several hours before their flight. Mr. Thomas pushed Ryan's stroller to the TSA checkpoint and put it on the conveyor belt. Thomas' wife, Leona, walked Ryan through the metal detector, setting off the alarm. Thomas then says the TSA worker told them to take off Ryan's plastic-and-metal braces. "I told them he can't walk without them on his own," Thomas said. "[The TSA agent] said, 'He'll need to take them off.' "
Leona asked if she could walk her son through the detector after the braces were removed. That request was denied. She was told the boy had to walk on his own.
The family followed instructions, and Ryan made it through the detector. But his parents were furious. Bob demanded to speak with a supervisor, telling the official, "This is overkill. He's 4 years old. I don't think he's a terrorist.' " The supervisor replied, "You know why we're doing this." A cop himself, Thomas complained to the airport manager -- and then went to the press. "This was just stupid," he said.
Now the TSA has apologized to the Thomas family. A TSA spokesperson said the little boy should not have had to remove his braces, and acknowledged that there are other ways to screen those with disabilities. TSA policy allows for those with special needs -- such as braces -- to be taken to a private area and be screened there.
Yes, the TSA is supposed to keep us -- and the skies -- safe, but this is ridiculous. Do you have any TSA horror stories?