There have been some reports that a nine-year-old child with a pacemaker was prevented from flying home because TSA thought his pacemaker was a bomb. Long story short, nobody thought his pacemaker was a bomb, and the boy and his mother made their scheduled flight home on time.
We conducted a thorough review to see what happened. Here’s what we learned:
Last Saturday, a mother and her nine-year old son presented themselves for screening at a Phoenix TSA checkpoint. The mother made our officers aware that her son had a pacemaker.
Our officers screen thousands of people with pacemakers daily. We use alternate screening procedures that allow the passenger to bypass the metal detector. When somebody is permitted to bypass a metal detector, it isn’t just a free pass. They still must undergo alternate screening so we can ensure they’re not in possession of any prohibited items.
As with all passengers with pacemakers, her son was permitted to bypass the metal detector and enter the checkpoint. Our manager explained to the family the screening that needed to occur and subsequently the boy’s mother consented to the appropriate screening.
After screening, the mother and her son were escorted to their gate by American Airlines personnel, where they boarded and completed their scheduled flight.
Our screening procedures are in place to keep the flying public safe, while accommodating the diverse needs of millions of passengers a day. If you or a loved one has a disability or medical condition, please feel free to contact our TSA Cares Helpline prior to traveling. TSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening process. Please call 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
Travelers requiring special accommodations or who are concerned about the security screening process at the airport may also ask a TSA officer or supervisor for a passenger support specialist who can provide on-the-spot assistance.
Bob Burns - TSA Social Media