Disease Transmission 101 – Keeping You Safe From TSA
I could be upping my chances that this post will get me pulled out for “random” screening, but it’s a life safety issue.
I fly quite a bit and participate in the U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) Global Entry program. Most times this allows me to move through security quite easily but I fly enough that I go through random screening multiple times a year. It just so happened I was pulled out recently as we approach cold and flu season. No big deal and typically they always need to pat down my left calve (no idea why that one calve is so special). This time my leg was not under suspicion but the scanner found my glasses in my coat pocket which I had to pull out and show the screener. They then said my coat collar needed to be inspected. In the course of their inspection I felt the gloved fingers moving along my neck line. Pat down done I was released to collect my possessions.
The wise person would just have moved on at this point but those gloved hands touching my skin bugged me. I stopped and told the screener that was a very unsanitary procedure they just conducted. Touching my skin without changing gloves is a great way to transmit disease this time of year. The screener just looked at me like I had two heads and walked through the scanner to the non-sterile side of the line. I set about collecting my belongs I had pulled out of my pockets and happened to glance back and see this same screener talking to their colleague. They were showing the other person how they had touched my neck and then they both laughed.
I wandered down to my gate, logged onto my computer and went to the TSA site to log a complaint. To TSA’s credit they got back to me within 24 hours. Not to my surprise, the response confirmed they had no idea how disease is transmitted. What I did learn is that the traveling public can request the screener change gloves before touching you. Maybe they do know how disease is transmitted but are trying to save tax dollars and cut down on glove use?
I’m curious your thoughts on their practice of not changing gloves unless asked. Personally I don’t want to know what communicable diseases my fellow travelers may have, but I sure don’t want TSA hands sharing them with me. I’m OK with them just touching my clothes, but skin raises my stakes in the game. Every day, TSA interacts with nearly two million travelers across the United States. Supposedly their single goal is ensuring the safety of the traveling public. I guess that means only from threats we’ve already encountered and can see. Diseases excluded apparently.