The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been under scrutiny many times in the past due to complications airline passengers with disabilities who use a wheelchair face while dealing with TSA screenings, but in this recent instance, they’ve provoked cries that no one would expect to hear, especially not from a 3-year-old girl: “I don’t want to go to Disney World.”
What brought on such trauma to little Lucy Forck to denounce her plans to see Mickey Mouse? It was likely the confusion and panic brought on by Lucy’s mother, Annie Schulte, who would not allow TSA agents at Missouri’s Lambert-St. Louis International Airport to touch her daughter without video recording the event. Although Annie Schulte was only making sure her daughter was protected by video evidence, the TSA agents in question stated that it is illegal to video-record the “pat down” of Annie’s young daughter.
It was a matter of following protocol for the sake of safety, so both parties were doing their best to protect their rights. However, Annie Schulte believes that TSA agents should be able to access information and make professional decisions when dealing with delicate situations, which this certainly was.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration later apologized publicly to the Missouri couple the night of the incident, but the damage was done.
The video taken by Annie Schulte was posted on YouTube soon after the incident, which immediately went viral and started an Internet uproar about the TSA, something with which the institution is all-too familiar.
“To me it was pretty offensive because I was really tuned in when she said that, immediately I’m like, ‘OK, hold on, something doesn’t seem right.’ So I did tell her I was going to wait because I was going to grab my phone,” Schulte told ABC News. “The problem is I don’t allow anyone to touch my little daughter without being able to record it,” she said.
Annie’s husband, Nathan Forck, said Lucy was treated unfairly. “It bothers me that my daughter was singled out specifically because she is in a wheelchair,” Forck said.
Lucy was further agitated when TSA agents refused to return Lamby, Lucy’s best friend and stuffed animal, even after scanning it thoroughly.
“TSA regrets inaccurate guidance was provided to this family during screening and offers its apology,” the agency said. “We are committed to maintaining the security of the traveling public and strive to treat all passengers with dignity and respect. While no pat-down was performed, we will address specific concerns with our workforce.”
Annie Schulte and Nathan Forck accepted the TSA’s apology, but hopes that screeners receive better training to prevent yet another expensive vacation from being stunted.
After the tears, Lucy did make it to her Disney destination in Florida with her Lamby at her side, and she got to meet Mickey Mouse.
How do these TSA wheelchair pat-down screenings make you feel? If you haven’t been through the experience yourself, here’s ABC News coverage of the story:
And here is the full video of little Lucy’s screening, recorded by Shulte, that went viral: