MINT HILL, N.C. (WBTV) – Alanna Conrad is a frequent air traveler, but she said she has never experienced anything like what happened to her last week as she went through TSA security screening at the airport in Orlando.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Conrad said. “They wouldn’t answer any questions. I felt extremely violated, obviously. I felt like my son was violated.”
Conrad said she, her husband and young son spent a couple of days at Disney World with her son’s grandparents. Last Monday morning, they headed to the airport to come home to North Carolina.
She said because she was holding her son, she didn’t go through the body scan. Instead, TSA workers swabbed her hands. Conrad said workers told her she was cleared but then stopped her moments later.
According to Conrad, she was holding her son, but TSA workers told her she couldn’t. She said she waved over her husband, who went though a different line.
“They didn’t tell me what was going on,” she said. “I asked several times, ‘why are you holding me? Can I go?’ No, no, no.”
Conrad said after waiting around “doing nothing,” her son became upset. She said she started to pick him up.
“I was rushed, told – almost screamed out. I was yelled at to put him down,” Conrad said. “Without asking me, they patted him up and down, felt him, searched him. I asked them why. They wouldn’t answer me but they told me if I touched him again they would have to search him further.”
Conrad said, “As I was standing there with them, I said ‘if you’re going to search me or pat me down, can you please do it out in the open so I don’t have to leave my family?’ They told me no, because they didn’t want anyone asking questions.”
Conrad said the workers took her into a room and searched her.
“I was wearing a tank top and leggings. I couldn’t hide anything anywhere if I wanted to,” she said. “As part of their search, they decided to put their hands underneath my clothes. They went inside my pants – both in the back and front.”
Conrad explained, “They put their hands inside the waist band of my pants – both in the front and back. Like I said, I was wearing leggings. There wasn’t anything else to see… they put their hands inside so they could see inside my leggings and my underwear – both in the front and back – without explanation.”
WBTV reached out to TSA, who said that Conrad was told why she was being searched before and during the incident.
Conrad said the workers let her go, but never explained why they searched her in the manner they did.
“I respect what the TSA agents are doing. That’s their job. They have to do it according to their standard operating procedures. I totally get that,” she said. “But they were rude to me throughout the entire process. They kept me in the dark. I didn’t know what was going on.”
Conrad said despite asking why she had an extensive search, workers wouldn’t tell her. She said she remained quiet because she was in “shock.”
“I was hoping if I was quiet and I didn’t cause any trouble that it would soon be over and I can be with my family again.”
But when she returned home to Mint Hill, Conrad said she tried to contact the TSA to get answers.
A little over a week later, she said she received a response.
“They wouldn’t give me any specific reasons, but they said what I experienced is the protocol for when someone tests positive for explosives,” she told WBTV. “And they said everything went as their protocol said it should.”
Conrad said she asked the agent why she wasn’t informed, but the TSA employee told her “everything went to their protocol.”
A spokesperson for the TSA sent WBTV a statement saying, “The passenger’s hands alarmed for a chemical that is found in explosives. Further testing and a thorough pat down were essential to determine that she was not carrying explosives. Anyone flying today wants to know that the TSA has done a thorough job of assuring your plane is not going to drop from the sky because someone is harboring an improvised explosive device.”
Conrad said she didn’t have any explosives.
“We met with my son’s grandparents at Disney World for four days then we left the Disney Resort and came right back. I had no access to firearms, anything like that, not even a sparkler, firecracker – anything I can think of,” she said. “Unless there is something in diapers, there’s nothing that I handled that could have possibly tested positive. The only thing I handled before coming to the airport was my son’s diaper and breakfast.”
Conrad said she doesn’t have a problem with TSA workers checking for explosives, but she’s taking issue with the fact she said she wasn’t informed about what was happening.
“I would like an apology,” she said. “I would like an acknowledgment that the way they treated my son and I was not appropriate, and was not standard.”
Conrad said she is now hesitant to fly again.
“I can’t say I’m looking forward to it in the least,” she said, but added she has had positive experiences when traveling from Charlotte to Chicago to see family.
It’s the airport in Orlando, she said, she will try to avoid.
“Should we do Disney again? I do not think I will be flying back to Orlando.”
For more information on what happens if your hands alarm during an explosives trace detection test, click here.