CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) – As COVID continues to complicate air travel, the stress of getting on a plane can be unbearable to a group of people who have an intense fear of flying. Their anxiety comes from having to deal with the security screening process, not getting on a plane.
“I survived sibling sexual abuse. It’s more prevalent than society realizes. That makes up 35 to 40 percent of child sexual abuse. It’s just not talked about,” survivor Jane Epstein said.
Epstein told FOX 46 her journey from curbside to gate is already filled with obstacles.
“It’s a mad rush to get there — it’s stressful to get packed — it’s stressful to get the family there and then you get to the TSA checkpoint,” Epstein said.
Epstein is speaking out for other abuse survivors to know it’s OK to ask for help or accommodations at the airport security checkpoint. Help, before situations get out of hand for screeners and passengers.
“They can have an anxiety attack, they may react aggressively. Let’s say the TSA officer reminds them of their abuser…they can have a panic attack and that can be misunderstood,” Epstein said.
Passengers entering a TSA checkpoint have the option to request the following accommodations:
- Present a ‘TSA Notification Card’ that alerts the officer to be sensitive to areas on the body.
- Ask for a private screening with or without a traveling partner present in a room away from other passengers.
- Request help from a Passenger Support Specialist, an officer who is dedicated to helping passengers with special needs navigate the checkpoint.
“Anything that needs assisting through the screening process. Passenger Support Specialists are requested for many reasons. Sometimes traveling with a child by yourself. Sometimes the security of having someone walking you through,” Epstein said.
Invaluable tools to sexual abuse survivors that help millions navigate the airport in an ever-changing landscape of travel.