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Transportation Security Administration

TSA Travel Tips for Pregnant Passengers

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
https://youtu.be/EjtDWs4Qe7Q

Traveling at any time can be stressful, but it can be even more challenging when you’re pregnant. Here’s some information to help you prepare for the checkpoint process:

  • Consult your physician before your visit to the airport.
  • Make sure to give yourself plenty of time before your scheduled flight, especially if you plan on opting out.
  • Ask for help getting your bag on the belt if you need assistance.

Understandably, many expectant mothers are concerned about going through screening technology. Before deploying any technology, TSA conducts a variety of tests to ensure it’s safe for all passengers, including pregnant women. TSA’s Advanced Imaging Technology and walk through metal detector systems do not use X-rays to produce the image, but instead use non-ionizing electromagnetic waves that are reflected off the body. According to research conducted by the Center for Devices and radiological Health of the Food and Drug Administration, it is safe for everyone, including pregnant women, to go through these machines. If you would like to read more about the testing conducted by the FDA, please visit fda.gov.

If you are pregnant and still concerned, you can opt out of going through screening technology altogether and requesting a pat down. The pat-down will be conducted by a female Transportation Security Officer, who will advise you about the pat-down details. This isn’t done to punish anyone because they opt out; we just want to make sure every passenger is screened equally prior to getting on an airplane.

Click to view video on YouTube

Thanks!

Emily
TSA Guest Blogger

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If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous on

>> we just want to make sure every passenger is
>> screened equally prior to getting on an airplane.

Except for those under 12.
Or over 75.
Or who have been directed to the Pre line by the magic arrow tablet app.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If a pregnant woman, or anyone for that matter, opted out of AIT, why wouldn't having them walk through a metal detector be considered adequate screening?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I continue to wait for some justification for active duty military being included in pre-check, but not retired military or holders of current DoD or LE background investigations. military retirees have at least 20 years documented service to this Nation, pretty much proving their lack of risk. both DoD and LE background investigations should reveal any risk factors. active duty military do not, necessarily, have a background check or any significant length of service. neither citizenship nor a background investigation is required to enlist in the military, in fact there are likely illegal immigrants serving. if it is really about safety, then why are potentially unscreened non-citizens allowed through? sounds like it is just pandering to an admirable group to get PR, not adjusting the rules to ease screening on those who present a lower likelihood of threat.
Let me be clear: pre-911 screening should be the norm. it is all that is required, now that cockpit doors have been reinforced and locked, and flight crews and passengers know that the rules have changed and passivity=death. however, if we are going to continue this massive waste of tax dollars on security theatre, at least have _some_ of the rules make sense.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Why would a pregnant woman opt out of the AIT, but be ok with the metal detector?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Passengers directed to the Pre-check line still have to go through either technology; children still walk through the metal detector, so do those over 75.

Submitted by Anonymous on

What about post pregnancy? Can they expect to be held hostage like Stacey Amatto was by TSA screeners?

Were any TSA employees ever held accountable for those illegal acts?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I flew out of Orlando last week and had a pleasant experience with the TSA. It took me about 5 minutes to get through security and it was somewhat busy. I managed to get sent to the Pre Check line because an arrow on a tablet directed me there.

The screening I experienced should be the standard level. Unless you have some reason to suspect something is wrong or someone is randomly selected for more screening, everybody should be screened at the Pre Check level.

Submitted by Anonymous on

U must comply to fly..surrender of civil liberties for the appearance of security. Send the tza to the border. We already had real similar airport security.

Submitted by Peggy on

What about when the baby is born and parents are told they have to be subjected to aphysucally invasive patdown to "allowed" by the TSA to carry food or drink for their child?

Submitted by Anonymous on

I'm still waiting to hear anything about the TSA actually studying the exposure rates from the AIT machines - but not on the passengers going throught them, on the TSO's who stand on the "sterile side" directing the passengers. One scan a minute, 8 hrs a day, 5 days a week... How much IRD is that? I'm sure I would be arrested if I were to hand the TSOs at my local airports some personal dosimeters. The person sitting at the baggage scanner has to be picking up a few seiverts/month.

Submitted by Susan Richart on

Here's something for Bob to do when he comes back from vacation or wherever he's been:

Log on to your Blogger account and make the "leave page" pop-up window go away.

Are you tracking you tracking your bounce rate? If so, isn't it strange that the TSA would be tracking the bounce rate of its blog but won't track the false alarm rate of its nude body scanners.

Anyway, like the TSA, the pop-up is totally annoying.

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

Submitted by RB on

West, I have proven that the TSA "CAN I TAKE" tool does not state that medical nitroglycerin is an allowed item even giving examples of how that response differs from other medicines.

How long before you own up to the fact that the response returned does not answer the question and I reject the idea that a green bar is responsive without a key showing what the green bar means. A green bar has no more meaning than the fake cop badges TSA employees wear,

All that needs to be done is adding language that says medical nitro is allowed. Use the same wording as displayed for other mrdicines.

Why is this so difficult for TSA to address?

The CAPTCHA is still showing Ad Choice Photo Sphere.

Submitted by SSSS For Some Reason on

"...Anonymous said...
Why would a pregnant woman opt out of the AIT, but be ok with the metal detector?"

Because the WTMD does not emit ionizing radiation.

A WTMD creates a magnetic field (radio waves) and responds to changes in that field causes by metallic objects.

Submitted by Anonymous on

"TSA’s Advanced Imaging Technology and walk through metal detector systems do not use X-rays to produce the image..."

Until very recently, TSA also used X-ray technology to scan passengers. Are you admitting that the X-ray scanners were NOT, in fact, safe for pregnant women to be exposed to? If as you claim you conduct "a variety of tests to ensure it’s safe for all passengers, including pregnant women", why did you deploy the X-ray scanners in the first place?

Submitted by Anonymous on

Anonymous said...
"TSA’s Advanced Imaging Technology and walk through metal detector systems do not use X-rays to produce the image..."

Until very recently, TSA also used X-ray technology to scan passengers. Are you admitting that the X-ray scanners were NOT, in fact, safe for pregnant women to be exposed to? If as you claim you conduct "a variety of tests to ensure it’s safe for all passengers, including pregnant women", why did you deploy the X-ray scanners in the first place?

-------------------------

I think it was scary that they even thought that using x-rays was a good idea in the first place. I'm still concerned about the MMW scanners. All of the major insulin pump manufacturers tell their patients not to go through them. There have been incidents where the pump has malfunctioned after going through the scanner. If the scanner can mess with something as robust as an insulin pump, what is it doing to people?

Submitted by RB on

Anonymous said..."TSA’s Advanced Imaging Technology and walk through metal detector systems do not use X-rays to produce the image..."Until very recently, TSA also used X-ray technology to scan passengers. Are you admitting that the X-ray scanners were NOT, in fact, safe for pregnant women to be exposed to? If as you claim you conduct "a variety of tests to ensure it’s safe for all passengers, including pregnant women", why did you deploy the X-ray scanners in the first place?July 24, 2014 at 10:46 AM
-----------------------
TSA has left the door open for future use of Backscatter Xray Whole Body Strip Search Machines if the ATR problem is solved.

Don't think for a second that TSA gives a hoot about our health and safety when being violated at a TSA checkpoint.

Submitted by @skywaymanaz on

"This isn’t done to punish anyone because they opt out; we just want to make sure every passenger is screened equally prior to getting on an airplane."

What about the bullying of passengers who opt out? Every single time I politely and discreetly asked to opt out of the back scatter X-Ray or MMW AIT I was either yelled at by screeners or approached by several of them telling me it was the primary method of screening and I wasn't allowed to refuse screening. Technically the language is correct but I am allowed to opt out. I had to remind them of that repeatedly. Only when I stood my ground or politely asked to see they are wearing dosimeters did they relent and do the pat down. I'm sure Bob or West have an explanation for this that doesn't involve the word "punish" but it always comes across that way. It's less of an issue now for me now that my credit card company paid the bribe to get me Global Entry/TSA PreCheck. I'm sure it continues to affect others with legitimate health concerns daily.

Submitted by Steven Pointer on

Why is the font so small? Please enlarge, thank you.

Submitted by Ann Montes on

How quaint -- bringing in a female clerk to talk to female citizens. Why didn't you ask Assistant Administrator for Strategic Communications and Public Affairs LuAnn Canipe to write the article herself? That really would have connected with the female citizens of America.

Submitted by Peggy on

Blotter Emily (or West),

I commented on July 23:

" Peggy said...

What about when the baby is born and parents are told they have to be subjected to aphysucally invasive patdown to "allowed" by the TSA to carry food or drink for their child?

July 23, 2014 at 2:59 PM "\

Why haven't you responded? Parents want to know.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please train your agents better, b/c if you do opt out of the nudy scanners they do indeed punish you by making you wait, treating you with hostility, yelling at you, making you leave your valuables unattended during the screening.

I am pregnant and my doctor told me to opt out of the scanners as they have never been tested. I flew this weekend and I was treated very poorly at BWI when I opted out.

Submitted by Peggy on

Peggy said... Blotter Emily (or West),

I commented on July 23:

" Peggy said...

What about when the baby is born and parents are told they have to be subjected to aphysucally invasive patdown to "allowed" by the TSA to carry food or drink for their child?

July 23, 2014 at 2:59 PM "\

Why haven't you responded? Parents want to know.

August 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm

----

11 days later. Still waiting.

Submitted by Peggy on

10 days even later. Still waiting.

Submitted by Suzan Johnson on

Before leaving, a pregnant woman should make a checklist of all necessary things which will help her during journey.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was treated very poorly at BWI this past weekend for the very same reason.

Submitted by Anonymous on

The TSA agent this morning was rather rude and refused to allow an opt out. Only after several requests over a ten minute period did the TSA agent request for a female to do a pat down where breasts and crotch were a main focus. Awesome.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I just went through PHL and opted out of the scanner. The female agent that patted me down was super rude about it, telling me in a very nasty tone that I'd be exposed to a lot more radiation by being up in the airplane than going through the scanner.

After a pregnant lady opts out of the scanner, that's no time to educate them on the safety of scanners. You're not scientists, you're TSA screeners. We're pregnant and paranoid because after being told so many times that things are "definitely safe" they find out years later that they're actually not. So let us be paranoid and play it safe.

Submitted by Unknown on

I am 5 months pregnant and was advised to opt out of the body scanner when traveling by my doctor. When I tried to do so this past week in Boston, I was pressured and bullied against that decision. I was told the machines have been proven safe and that I would encounter extreme wait times for a pat down, to the point of missing our flight. I think I was then flagged for trying to opt out because when I asked another agent up near the machine, I was denied even as several others (including a small child and his parents) were allowed through the magnetic machine instead. I ended up going through but felt helpless and forced and literally cried about it to my husband, right there trying to put my shoes back on.

My husband was appalled at the rudeness and bullying and how badly they treated me at Logan. If we are legally able to opt out, and are recommended to do so by a medical professional, than TSA agents EVERYWHERE should be required to honor that request. Sounds like from the comments above this is a systemwide problem. Train your agents better and stop the harassment.

The agents and soldiers in Newark were nicer to me traveling post 911 than the ones in Logan were this week while pregnant and during no heightened terror threat. Makes a lot of sense.

Submitted by Michelle on

Yes. Flown several times while pregnant and was indeed "punished" when opting out with rude behavior, threats like "well you're just going to have to wait a really long time," and being separated from my belongings. When I asked them to do it in a timely fashion so I wouldn't be late for my gate (I arrived at airport 2hours early), was met with an eye roll and "well this is your fault because you opted out."

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was also treated very poorly by the TSA agent. When requesting for an opt-out, the agent asked me very rudely to stand behind the body scanner and then completely ignored me. After standing without my shoes on for a very long time, I asked if they were arranging a pat down. The TSA agent yelled, 'It is not my fault. IT IS YOUR FAULT.' Pardon me, pregnancy is a fault??

I was separated from my computer and belongings for a long time. People passing the security line looked at me seem thinking that I was carrying lots of weapons and was very dangerous and isolated by the TSA agent.

After a long wait, a female agent came. Not to say, she patted me down very rudely. This is the way TSA agents treat pregnant women and welcome them to the US.

It can be better if they asked pregnant women to wait in an area with their belongings and shoes on instead of shouting to a pregnant woman without her shoes that PREGNANCY IS YOUR OWN FAULT.

Submitted by Unknown on

The point is you can't choose your type of screening. Otherwise all the bad guys would choose to go through the metal detector. Most explosives arnt made with metal.

Submitted by Ray Buccelli on

Active duty are not automatically precheck. Only those in uniform get the private of leaving shoes on.

Submitted by Ray Buccelli on

Better question is why wouldn't you be ok with going through a metal detector? It's a magnet.

Submitted by Anonymous on

If you opt out...you're suppose to see your property but not have access to them as you have not been screened.
I understand Dr orders but alot of them don't even know what the machine does.
If people would actually do some research they'd know it's fine.

Submitted by To Know Me Is T... on

I just had a similar experience at Logan. My husband timed it, 15 minutes extra waiting. They treated me like a criminal. I repeatedly said "I'm really sorry for the inconvenience, but I'm concerned for my unborn child." All the guy would do is yell "female assist! 3/4" every few minutes. No one noticed or came. I kindly brontosaurused the crap out of that situation. He eventually went and found someone.

When I finally met with the woman who patted me down,it was very apparent that to them *I* was the problem.

Submitted by Anonymous on

It takes extremely long to wait for pat down in the setting of pregnancy and opt out from detector walk through. I believe metal detector should be offered to pregnant women and they should not be left waiting for an hour for pat down.

Submitted by Anon on

After having been treated so poorly at EWR for opting out of a body scan because I am pregnant, I am incredulous that this seems to be standard protocol. I certainly don't expect "to get special treatment" because I'm pregnant. Multiple agents were terribly rude, and one in particluar raised her voice to shame me. Other passengers were visibly somewhat mortified at the agents' behavior. Fortunately, the agent who did the pat down was actually quite kind. I don't mind the extra time to feel safe by way of opting out, but the maltreatment associated with exercising the option is simply unnecessary.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Different EM radiation

Submitted by Pregnant Passenger on

While flying over the holidays at 6 weeks pregnant, I hadn't had the chance to research the safety of TSA scanners before arriving at the airport in Philadelphia. When I asked an agent if it was safe for me to go through the scanner, he just said, "you can opt out." I asked again: "but is it safe?" He repeated: "you can opt out." I felt like I was in a "who's on first?" routine. If the official TSA stance is that the machines are indeed safe for pregnant women, the agents at security checkpoints should be equipped with this information and communicate it clearly to passengers. Why be so cryptic? Why treat pregnant women like annoyances or troublemakers when we are asking reasonable questions pertaining to our health and the safety of our fetuses?

Submitted by Ann on

I could have written this post myself. I went through the exact same experience today, except at SFO. I also requested a metal detector instead after several passengers were allowed through as I was waiting for a while for a pat down. The agent responded that I didn’t have a choice. I’d really love to know why the TSA thinks a metal detector is safer for children and people over the age of 75 but thinks unborn, developing babies should be exposed to radiation from full body scanners. Arguments that it is safe cannot be made as there isn’t a single long term effect study published. Pregnant women should have a choice among other available options of screening not just be limited to radiation exposure vs full body pat down. For the TSA to say that their intention is to screen everybody equally is farcical at best.

Submitted by Lea Niederhauser on

I was also treated horribly today at the TSA checkpoint at terminal 2 at the Salt Lake City International airport by TSA agents on 5/5/18 at 1400 when I opted out per my obgyns advice of the full body screener. They made me wait and wait and stand there crying until they finally let me get the patdown. It was humiliating being obviously pregnant, barefoot with my belonging completely unsecured and out of site with more than a dozen people being escorted past me. Two agents specifically making demeaning comments to me and telling me i just have to “wait” but making no attempt to get anyone to come. I had to plead with another agent in a different line to call a supervisor before they allowed me to pass through to get my patdown screening. It was completely discriminatory towards me and my unborn baby. This is my fourth pregnancy and I’ve appalled.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Its obvious that you have no idea what you talking about and pretty much is the one pandering. As a matter of fact, you are fear mongering and full of bias. What proof do you have to say that no background investigation is required to enlist into the military? Everyone who joins the military is screened to the fullest. I have an advice for you. Stop being cheap and go get yourself a TSA Pre-Check. If you have been refused a TSA Pre-Check, then stop blaming others for your own shortcomings and take responsibility for your own life shortcomings.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Appalled by the process of opting out. Opting out = hostility, long wait times, and your personal areas groped. ...cuz we all know that there are many crimes being committed by pregnant people. I have TSA pre-check but keep getting sent to the non-TSA precheck line. Today alone I was additionally screened twice for both my flights. TSA needs to evaluate their process for processing the pregnant.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Everyone has to be screened to the same level. If you say “well, she doesn’t look like she’d try to bring something prohibited onto a plane” then that would be profiling especially for those who do have to be pat down...

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was subjected to an inappropriate security person at EWR after I was told it to read the sign on the xray machine and it was made clear to me that they will not make any recommendations as to walk thru or not. The secuirty person started saying things like that I was lazy for going thru the machine instead of the opt out and other obnoxious comments to his other security coworker. If it’s safe then you should say so instead of making them feel like they made a mistake after the fact. The most unprofessional staff I have ever encountered at the airport. I was so disturbed by the remarks said right behind my back that I reported it to the supervisor. Who knows if she actually did anything about it.

Submitted by Anonymous on

I was disturbed by the harsh pat down I experienced at DTW North Terminal. The TSA official "chopped" at my gentials several times. I complained to the official, she called over her supervisor, I complained the supervisor, and he called over the police officer, who then threatened to arrest me if I continued "holding up the process". Aggressively hitting a citizen's genitals four times is assault, not national security.

Submitted by Anonymous on

Please explain why a pregnant woman is forced to bend over to remove shoes??? Not even shoes they were sandals. Real happy there’s someone out there to protect us from those preggers and their sandals