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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Public "Pat Down" in Phoenix

I usually write of my "adventures" on me-ander, but this one is more news-worthy than my usual daily ramblings and mutterings.

As many of my regular readers know, I've been traveling around quite  a bit, even flying, no not that sort of flying.  I'm amazed at the different security checks.  Some places shoes and sweaters stay on, and other airports demand stripping removal.  Why?  I don't know. 

Israeli security checks include an element I've seen no place else.  Israeli security agents interview every traveller.  I consider that the most important thing to do.  And yes, it's related to "profiling."  Some people are inspected (and that includes their baggage) more thoroughly than others.

I'm a middle-aged grandmother who already receives some senior discounts.  I'm also a Torah-observant Jew who follows the more stringent laws of Tzniyut, modesty.  I don't wear slacks, meaning that I wear a skirt or dress longer than my knees.  This didn't bother  Israeli security in Ben-Gurion Airport, nor did it cause any alarm to the security in JFK Airport.  So I was rather surprised when the Phoenix, AZ security told me to stand and wait for a "pat down."  The guy shouted something like "lady pat-down," and within  a few minutes a woman wearing heavy rubber gloves appeared.  She told me that she had to do it since my skirt was hiding my legs.  I had to open them while standing while she checked front and back.  Granted that she was polite, but this was in public view.  Actually, considering that my possessions were unprotected and I even know someone whose computer had been stolen, I felt safer with my eys on my bags.

Now I wonder what type of security I'll experience tomorrow...


Jennifer in MamaLand said...

There is nothing like Israeli security - and "security" everywhere else is utterly ridiculous. Patting YOU down while actual criminals smuggle goodness-knows-what, you-don't-want-to-know-where - is pure political correctness. They have to assault fifty "bubbies" for every person who is likely to be doing something suspicious - otherwise, it's profiling.

Leah said...

......I have not traveled in 10 years and when I did in October of last year, I too received the wand and pat down. Why? I was wearing a skirt and it was considered "extra clothing".???? Extra clothing? Uhhhhh.... what? As opposed to minimal clothing like a tank top or something?
I was afraid my sheitel clips would make the security scanner beep.

Susan B said...

For future reference, it is my understanding that in the United States you can always request that your pat down take place in a private room.

Akiva said...

If I'm going to be felt up in the name of security, I prefer it to be in public - perhaps that will reduce the chance of abuse or at least provide possible witnesses. (Not that that's helped the abuse situations that keep turning up on Youtube.)

Batya said...

Akiva, that's a very good point. Especially when traveling alone, I felt safer with my eyes on my bags. The woman was polite and business-like.

And about the interview, that would require multilingual staff, impossible in the states.

nunu said...

Remember: she did this for YOUR security.

Airport security is always for your own good.

By the way: I find El Al security quite gruesome. They ask you questions that have nothing to do with you or the flight or the luggage (did your grand-parents learn hebrew at school?). I think this should be forbidden.

nunu said...

"There is nothing like Israeli security - and "security" everywhere else is utterly ridiculous. Patting YOU down while actual criminals smuggle goodness-knows-what"

That's exactely what Israeli security does.

They give you an elaborate (quite none-sensical) questionnary and then select people to be checked "thoroughly" and in 99,9999% of cases they do not find anything.

It is particularly mind-boggling that they do it AFTER regular airport security and regular airport security has much better equipment.

All this was perhaps justified in a pre 9/11-world where regular airport security was less stringent. Now, it is utterly ridiculous.

Robertcw72 said...

You are in Phoenix, AZ??? Seriously! If you have some time it would be a pleasure to met you, since I reside here in Phoenix. Hope the heat is not too oppressive.

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

"Airport security is always for your own good."
So is computer virus protection - but like airport security, virus programs can only protect against KNOWN viruses. It is very good at doing that, so perhaps I shouldn't have said ridiculous.
We can all be quite confident knowing security won't let 9/11 happen again, or anything involving liquids. Sadly, most travellers were quite confident even BEFORE those things happened, not knowing they could.
Israeli security, like certain "heuristic" virus programs, attempts to intelligently root out what, in the computer world, are called "zero day viruses" - previously-unknown threats.
Threats the rest of us cannot imagine - unless we happen to be terrorists.
They may have offended you - and many others - with their line of questioning, but their strategy will protect you better against that 0.00001%, I guarantee it.

nunu said...

Well, actually it will, because it keeps me from flying Elal or coming to Israel...

So they made sure I have 0,0000% risk of being attacked in an Elal plane...

Batya said...

nunu, I wore the same skirt for all four flights. JFK didn't consider it a security risk.

Robert, too bad I had no idea you're there. I'm back home in Shiloh now.

Jennifer, the different policies keep it "interesting."

Keli Ata said...

Batya, did you hear about the 61-year old woman who was arrested for groping a TSA at an airport in Phoenix?

It seems she refused to go through the passenger screening:


Leah, Maaleh Adumim said...

"she did this for your security" - that's a joke. the "security" screenings in the US have nothing to do with actual security, and everything to do with making it *look like* they are doing something. I am sure of this because I travel frequently and I see who is getting the "secondary screenings" (little kids, ladies in wheelchairs, etc) and who is not. if they would actually do it randomly (like, every 20th person or something like that) it would be understandable. instead, they do a quite-invasive "secondary screening" to the people who are easiest to harass but are least likely to be terrorists.

as for El Al - I have found that their checks are pertinent. e.g. they will ask you the purpose of your visit, then ask you additional questions to see whether you are telling them the truth. so if you say you are going for a family visit, they will ask about your family. I am guessing that they are not only looking at the answer to the questions, but also at the person's behavior and body language.

in the suitcase checks, TSA will not let you even look at them when they are tearing apart the contents of your suitcase. but in El Al, after they x-ray your suitcase, they will *ask* you about things that look suspicious, and let you show them what the item is. this has been especially helpful when I am bringing carefully-wrapped food items or aluminum foil (often for Pesach), and don't want it to be handled by strangers.

Batya said...

keli, I think there was a sign offering private "pat downs," but then I'd be deserting my bags and losing witnesses if needed.

Leah, I did observe the inspectors opening my bag one of the times. They knew I was watching.