Underwire bra dispute causes woman to miss her flight

First it was loose change in your pockets, then it was jewelry, and then it was shoes. For Jet Blue passenger Nancy Kates, it seems like bras might be the next thing to go in the airport security line. A big-busted woman, Kates was wearing a large underwire bra as she went through the security check at Oakland International Airport but when it set off the metal detector she was pulled aside by a TSA agent.

Kates accuses the agent of getting a little too personal. “The woman touched my breast. I said, ‘You can’t do that,’ ” Kates said. “She said, ‘We have to pat you down.’ I said, ‘You can’t treat me as a criminal for wearing a bra.’ “

Refusing to be fondled, Kates asked to see a supervisor and then the supervisor’s surpervisor. Kates reminded the TSA agents that the Constitution bars unreasonable searches and that “scrutinizing a woman’s brassiere is surely unreasonable.” She was offered a private room to have her pat-down, but Kates refused. Instead she asked if she could simply remove her bra, to which the TSA agent agreed. This isn’t the first breast related TSA incident, but the whole escapade took 40 minutes and caused Kates to miss her flight. Jet Blue was nice enough to put her on another one.

Being a woman, I myself have had the bra pat-down several times, and I’m sure there are other fellow females on the Gadling team that have gone through the same experience. Normally such pat-downs are off limits to fingers; TSA agents only use the side of their hands. But all the same it’s still a little unnerving. As Kates said, “If I was carrying nail clippers and forgot about them, I wouldn’t have gotten so upset. But here I was just wearing my underwear.”

What are your thoughts? Is it humiliating to get a pat-down to make sure the underwire in your bra is what’s setting off the metal detector?

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