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Passengers With Disabilities Report ‘Degrading’ TSA Searches At Sky Harbor Airport

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The Arizona Republic reports that several passengers have complained that they were given poor treatment by Transportation Security Administration agents who asked a man with artificial legs to stand from his wheelchair, refused to conduct a pat-down of a prosthetic breast in private and medicine being seized. (Photo by Jeff Topping/Getty Images)

The Arizona Republic reports that several passengers have complained that they were given poor treatment by Transportation Security Administration agents who asked a man with artificial legs to stand from his wheelchair, refused to conduct a pat-down of a prosthetic breast in private and medicine being seized. (Photo by Jeff Topping/Getty Images)

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Phoenix, Ariz. (CBS LAS VEGAS) – Sky Harbor International Airport has received complaints of “degrading treatment” towards passengers with medical issues and disabilities during the screening process.

The Arizona Republic reports that several passengers have complained that they were given poor treatment by Transportation Security Administration agents who asked a man with artificial legs to stand from his wheelchair, refused to conduct a pat-down of a prosthetic breast in private and medicine being seized.

Documentation of one complaint told the story of an 82-year-old woman who opted out of reconstructive breast cancer surgery being ordered to take off her blouse, bra and prosthesis “with nothing to hide her scars” from the examiners, reports the Arizona Republic.

“At her age and physical capability, she posed absolutely no risk whatsoever to anyone’s safety and should not have been subjected to such invasive and (undignifed) treatment,” the woman’s grandchild wrote in a formal complaint. “This sort of degrading treatment is more appropriate for prisoners.”

“Passengers with prostheses can be screened without removing them,” the TSA writes on its website.

This was just one of the 26 complaints uncovered by the Republic using the Freedom of Information Act from passengers with disabilities. The complaints were filed against Sky Harbor checkpoints in 2012.

At Sky Harbor, complaints doubled between 2011 and 2012, with the 2012 data being about two-and-a-half times higher than the national average of complaints from passengers with disabilities.

In a 2012 national audit, congressional investigators found that the rate of complaints by people with disabilities was nearly 1.9 million passengers per complaint for the estimated 650 million U.S. air travelers who are screened each year.

Another incident involved a woman in a wheelchair with an oxygen tank, who had agents draw their guns and label her a terrorist. She stated that her prescribed pain pills were taken away and accused her of smuggling contraband.

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