Airport security: TSA endangers sick teen’s life

An ill Orlando teenager was thwarted in the screening line of Orlando International Airport a few weeks ago, when security workers for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) insisted on inspecting a back-up feeding tube he carries with him in a sealed, clear sterilized plastic bag.

James Hoyne, 14, has a feeding tube in his stomach and always has a second one in reserve, if he needs it. Orlando television station WFTV reports that a TSA officer opened the back-up tube to inspect it, over the teen’s objections, thus contaminating the feeding tube that Hoyne said he turned out to later need.

Hoyne recounted his conversation with the screener for WFTV: “I said, ‘Please don’t open it’ and she said, ‘I have to open it whether you like it or not. If I can’t open it, I can’t let you on the plane’.”

The television station reports that the TSA has apologized to the boy and is opening an investigation as to what could have been done to avoid the incident.

The gut answer, of course: use common sense. But in reality, the screener, no matter how nonsensical, was doing her job.

Still, it would seem that even if the screener had the most rudimentary understanding of the TSA’s list of prohibited items, it would have been easy for her to conclude that the boy’s spare feeding tube — sans liquid, mind you — certainly qualified for acceptance under the TSA’s allowed “special needs devices,” or, as the administration says, “Items used to augment the body for medical or cosmetic reasons.”

But security officers are, if nothing else, a very literal lot. Theirs is not the business of judgment calls. I’m guessing the TSA will now need to go in and specifically put ‘feeding tubes’ on the approved list to prevent such an incident from happening again.

Have you had any run-ins with the TSA lately? Let us know in the comments section below.


Even more TSA fun:

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