“Is it because I’m black?”: female passenger says security made her strip down at airport checkpoint

Frankfurt, Germany - June 18, 2015: people at security check at Frankfurt international airport in Frankfurt, Germany. In 2012, Frankfurt handled 57.5 million passengers.

A woman in Ogden, Utah said she was “degraded” by a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent while departing Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.

Speaking to ABC 4 in the United States, the woman said that she was asked to remove a jacket while only wearing a sports bra beneath it, while going through a security checkpoint for Delta Airlines on 28 February.

“I was in yoga pants and a jogger zip-up jacket and nothing but a sports bra underneath,” the woman told ABC 4.

“I get ready to go through the scanner where we stand to put our hands up, and there is a middle-aged white gentleman on the other end and he says are you wearing something underneath that? And, I said ‘what?’ And he goes ‘are you wearing something underneath that?’ So, I zip halfway so he could see I’m in nothing but a sports bra, and he says you have to take that off.”

She said that she was left “standing there in nothing, but tights like half-naked. I put my hands up and follow suit, and I look around and no one else is stripping down. At this point, I’m shaking I can’t even look him in the eye.”

The woman said she is exploring taking legal action, and told the outlet that she wants a few questions answered.

“I can’t figure out is it because I’m Black? Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m a Black woman?”

The TSA later responded to ABC 4, in a statement regarding the alleged incident.

“The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) goal is to provide the highest level of security in the most respectful and efficient way possible.

“TSA’s procedures do not require travellers to remove clothing during the security screening process. TSA regrets the miscommunication that led to this traveller’s discomfort.”

It added: “Knowing that the zipper would likely alarm the security screening technology and then require the traveller to receive a pat down, the TSA officer asked the traveller if she felt comfortable removing the sweatshirt.

“The TSA officer’s intent was to offer a more comfortable screening experience and was not told by the traveller that she did not have another shirt under the outer layer.”

The TSA also told ABC 4 that “in any uncomfortable situation, a traveller can request a private screening and can be accompanied by a traveling companion.”

Featured image source: iStock/David Tran

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