Airport Security Mistakes Prosthetic Breast for a Bomb

Maressa Brown

File this under terribly upsetting: An 82-year-old Canadian cancer survivor was recently humiliated while going through airport security in Calgary.

Remember back in 2006, when there was a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives on a transatlantic flight? In turn, the TSA was like, "I know! Let's give people a hard time about the amount of liquids and gels they have in their bags when they're going through security. That'll DEFINITELY prevent terrorism!" To this day, we are still running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to figure out how to travel with hand lotion, mascara, baby formula, or whatever.

Apparently, prosthetic breasts are also an issue.

Elizabeth Strecker, 82, was flying out of Calgary International Airport after Christmas when she was asked if she had any liquids or gels. She didn't, so she said, "No."

But after having had a mastectomy five years ago, she wears a prosthetic breast, which is made of ... you guessed it, gel!

At one point, she mentioned this to security officials, and they accused her of previously lying! They then subjected her to the full body scanner, where Strecker said she was told to raise her arms above her head, something that she simply cannot do anymore. 

"I told (the security officer) I cannot do that (with my left arm) and she said I had to, so I yanked it up with my right arm, and she said, 'You can't do that, you have to keep both arms up,'" Strecker reported to the Calgary Sun. Strecker's daughter-in-law attested that the security officials were practically laughing at her mother-in-law. It's no wonder Strecker was reduced to tears! 

In the end, I guess these Neanderthal officials got it through their thick skulls that her prosthetic breast is not part of some extravagant terrorist plot — it's a medical device. Strecker was allowed to board her flight, but after what she was put through, she felt completely humiliated. 

I've encountered quite a few officials on power trips who act like bullies at airport security, but this incident is totally sickening and reprehensible. As much as we'd like to believe that these security checks are actually preventing terrorist attacks, sometimes it seems like they're 98 percent window dressing anyway; I've gone through airport security forgetting to place a couple of liquids or gels in a separate baggie, and no one said anything at all. And when an elderly woman happens to forget that her prosthetic breast might put her over the 3 ounces allotment of "gel," watch out: It's a RED ALERT!

At the very least, Elizabeth Strecker deserves the apology she's asking for. An investigation is supposedly underway. I can't think of much good that can come of this nightmarish incident, but if there's one bit of silver lining, maybe it's that Calgary's — and hey, maybe even other airports' — security officials will be pressed to treat travelers more like human beings and less like potential terrorist robots with bags and bags of possibly explosive lube ... or something.

How do you feel about what happened to Elizabeth Strecker? Do you feel you've ever been victimized at airport security?


Image via David Lisbona/Flickr

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