An angry mother said today that she is owed an apology from the Transportation Security Administration after, she said, her 13-year-old son was patted down and held for what she said was more than an hour as her family prepared to board a flight in Texas.
On Sunday in a Facebook post, Jennifer Williamson described the "horrifying" experience at the Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport and included a video capturing a little more than two minutes of the incident. The video has gone viral, with more than 92,000 shares so far.
"We have been through hell this morning," she said. "They detained Aaron for well over an hour at DFW. (And deliberately kept us from our flight ... we are now on an alternate) We were treated like dogs because I requested they attempt to screen him in other ways per TSA rules. He has SPD [sensory processing disorder] and I didn't want my child given a pat down like this. Let me make something else crystal clear. He set off NO alarms. He physically did not alarm at all during screening, he passed through the detector just fine ... I am livid."
She added, "I wish I had taped the entire interchange ... Somehow these power-tripping TSA agents who are traumatizing children and doing whatever they feel like without any cause, need to be reined in."
In the post, Williamson said that hours after the incident, Aaron was still saying, "I don't know what I did. What did I do?"
Today the two spoke to ABC News about the incident.
"I have always been, like, really sensitive to people touching me, and whenever he touched me, I got — started having hives a little bit, and I had that for at least half of the plane ride," he said.
Williamson said Aaron was not aware that he had to remove his laptop from his backpack and did not remove it, which set off an alarm. She said that a TSA agent then removed the laptop, ran it through a scanner and cleared it. She maintained today that the entire situation was not handled appropriately.
"He [Aaron] hadn't done anything wrong. He had done everything they had told him ... We've flown frequently before and never had a problem," she said today, adding that she filed a complaint against the TSA and written to the agency on Twitter.
Williamson said she has not heard back.
In a statement Monday, the TSA said the family members were at the checkpoint for about 45 minutes.
"TSA allows for a pat-down of a teenage passenger, and in this case, all approved procedures were followed to resolve an alarm of a passenger's laptop," the TSA said in the statement. "The video shows a male TSA officer explaining the procedure to the passenger, who fully cooperates. Afterward, the TSA officer was instructed by his supervisor, who was observing, to complete the final step of the screening process. In total, the pat-down took approximately two minutes and was observed by the mother and two police officers who were called to mitigate the concerns of the mother. TSA officers were with the teenager for approximately 35 minutes, which included the time it took to discuss screening procedures with the mother and to screen three carry-on items that required further inspection."