According to the dying woman who was taking what was probably her last trip, she was forced to remove bandages holding her feeding tubes so a screener could search for weapons. Her request for a pat-down in private was denied.
Michelle Dunaj has leukemia and doctors have given the 34-year-old from Roseville, Michigan about four months to live. She will shortly enter a hospice.
On Oct. 2, she was at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac), waiting to board a plane to Hawaii for what she described as an end-of-life trip.
Dunaj had called Alaska Airlines in advance to request a wheelchair and to make sure she had everything in order concerning the drugs and medical supplies she needed to take with her. She was prepared, but did not envisage what would happen after she arrived at Sea-Tac.
Dunaj said she was subjected to a full pat-down. One of the five bags of saline she carried was opened so TSA agents could determine what the liquid inside was. Once the bag was opened it could not be used because of the possibility of contamination.
After the female screener felt the feeding tubes taped to her chest, Dunaj says she was asked to lift up her shirt. At that point the woman requested further screening be done in private but the agent refused. Dunaj was quoted in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as saying, "They just said that it was fine; the location we were at was fine."
The screener made her remove the bandages holding her feeding tubes in place so it could be determined if she had any weapons underneath. The embarrassed passenger complied. Dunaj was quoted in the Seattle Times as saying, "Everyone was looking at me like I was a criminal or like I was doing something wrong."
On top of all this, after the pat-down was completed Dunaj says she was told to move along as if she was responsible for holding up the line.
Lorrie Dankers, a spokeswoman for the TSA, is quoted in the Albany Times Union as saying, "We have determined that our screening procedures were followed." Dankers denies that a saline bag was opened or that Dunaj was told to remove her bandages. As to whether the dying woman asked for and was refused a private pat-down, Dankers replied, "The statement speaks for itself."
The policy of the TSA is that private pat-downs are required for anyone who requests it and the passenger can have a witness present.
There are no reports of any guns, knives, IEDs, rocket launchers, grenades, or any other weapons being found during Dunaj's pat-down.