Pilot Ann Poe is a 37-year veteran of the skies. She also has an artificial hip that routinely sets off airport metal detectors. On November 4, she encountered the TSA's new enhanced pat down procedure, and refused to submit to it. "I and any other pilot should not have to submit to physical molestation to do our job," she writes in a post at FedUpFlyers.org. "Pilots are on the front line of security."
FedUpFlyers.org is a new site put together by Michael Roberts, the pilot who famously refused to submit to a body scanner or pat down last month. Roberts' stand against the TSA's new pat down procedure sparked backlash that led to widespread criticism of the agency and helped inspire a protest against the new policies.
Poe explains that, in her view, the new pat downs are not only an inconvenience for pilots, but also cause enough stress to affect their performance. "I made a decision on November 4th as a professional pilot that [flight] safety could be compromised as a result of being physically violated by TSA today, and as a result I would be overstressed and fatigued for my flight."
Ms. Poe was attempting to commute from Ft. Lauderdale to Newark, where she was scheduled to operate a flight to Mumbai, India. She is one of the first 100 female pilots to work in the U.S. Now, the TSA's new policies have brought her career to a crossroads: Her hip sets off the metal detectors, and enhanced pat downs are mandatory for individuals that trigger a metal alarm, meaning she is all but guaranteed a pat down every time she goes to work.
I've said it countless times already, but as absurd as it is for the TSA to subject law-abiding citizens to its invasive new security measures, it's beyond defensible to do the same to pilots. It's a waste of time and resources, and puts pilots through undue stress and strain, something I'm sure most travelers would consider a far graver threat to our safety than anything a pilot—who is flying the plane—might bring aboard an aircraft.