I don’t think anyone likes going through airport security. In fact, everyone I know pretty much loathes it, including me, because it takes time, especially if there are a lot of travelers ahead of you and not a lot of staff … which seems to be the norm these days. Or if the officer likes to give passengers attitude. I’ve had that happen to me a couple times, including once in Chicago where I saw the agent actually touch his watch to the machine as I passed through so it would go off. But that’s a whole other story and normally not the case as most officers I come across are friendly if you’re friendly to them.
However, going through security is even worse if you or your bag set off the alarm since you have to wait for someone to go through your belongings or give you a secondary pat down. The latter recently happened to traveler Dan Jarvis at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and his pat down was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
First of all, Dan is from Melbourne, Australia and wears a cochlear implant. According to KRON4, the Bay Area’s local news station, he “was traveling to Salt Lake City after vacationing in San Francisco with friends. Jarvis wears a cochlear implant which can be damaged by the scanning devices at security checkpoints. To protect the technology of his implant, Jarvis volunteers for pat downs at security checkpoints.”
My dad wears a cochlear implant so I’m familiar with them. However, I didn’t realize they shouldn’t be passed through the x-ray machine — not sure my dad knows this either. However, I do know that he always beeps when going through the metal detector and always gets a secondary security check and pat down.
Unfortunately, my dad can’t hear a word, or even an explosion, without his cochlear implant, which makes the pat down even more nerve racking. On a related note: These surgically implanted devices are truly miraculous and if you’ve never seen any Youtube videos of people hearing for the first time thanks to them, take a few minutes to watch the video below. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
Back to Dan. Thankfully his travel companion filmed his pat down because if he had told you what happened, you never would have believed it. Dan posted the 15-second video to TikTok (see below) and to give you an idea how crazy the pat down was, it received over 34 MILLION views and has over 58,000 comments.
@danjarvis021 This is next level ?? #sanfraniscoairport #usa #fypシ #feelthejunk #whoshorseisthat ♬ My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme from “Titanic”) – Céline Dion
Dan’s caption was: “This is next level ?? #sanfraniscoairport #usa #fypシ #feelthejunk #whoshorseisthat” As you can see, Dan wasn’t kidding.
He told KRON4: “Unfortunately when you are in a situation where someone, particularly a person of authority, invades your space… In this situation it is out of my control.” He also says it’s always his intention to be respectful of the security process, but this time he worries it went too far. “When he rubbed over my genitals I was awkwardly laughing because I didn’t know how to respond to it. You can see him touch my penis.” Dan also was quoted saying: “He went over four or five times; how many times do you need to determine if that’s a penis or not?”
There is no doubt the agent went too far. In fact, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), “A pat-down may include inspection of the head, neck, arms, torso, legs, and feet. This includes head coverings and sensitive areas such as breasts, groin, and the buttocks. You may be required to adjust clothing during the pat-down. The officer will advise you of the procedure to help you anticipate any actions before you feel them. Pat-downs require sufficient pressure to ensure detection, and areas may undergo a pat-down more than once for the TSA officer to confirm no threat items are detected. TSA officers use the back of the hands for pat-downs over sensitive areas of the body. In limited cases, additional screening involving a sensitive area pat-down with the front of the hand may be needed to determine that a threat does not exist.”
What’s interesting to note is … the TSA doesn’t technically work at SFO. It’s one of the few airports in the United States where they farm out the job to a private security company to handle the checkpoints. In fact, at SFO, it’s Chicago based, Covenant Aviation Security (CAS), which used to cover multiple airports but now only has the one.
According to the Washington Post: “Private contractors are required to follow the same rules and procedures as their TSA counterparts but are given some leeway to determine how they staff checkpoints. The workers wear different uniforms, but their training, salary and benefits are about the same.”
An important takeaway from this unfortunate incident comes from Dan, who says: “I never go in a private room because there are no witnesses. For me I always do it in the open. You don’t know what they intend to do with you.”
Do you think the officer in the video above went too far? Has an airport security officer ever violated you while giving you a pat down? If yes, please leave a comment below so others can see. If not, what would you have done if you were Dan?