America’s stringent airport screening process has become faster and easier for travellers aged 75 and older. They no longer have to remove shoes, belts and jackets as they pass through security checkpoints at New York’s three main airports: John F. Kennedy International, La Guardia, and Newark Liberty.
The new rules were introduced this weekend – the three-day Memorial Day holiday considered the start of the US summer vacation season. Grandparents taking their grandchildren to Disneyland will find the going easier. Elderly passengers are already speeding through airport checkpoints in Chicago, Denver, Orlando and Portland. The new rules are likely to be rolled out in the rest of the US soon.
The move follows a decision last September to let children 12 and under pass through screening without removing their shoes.
Good news on that front has been undermined, however, by revelations that a Catholic ex-priest, defrocked because of sex allegations, has managed to get a job working in security at a major US airport.
News about the priest renewed concerns over the notorious “pat down” searches conducted by Transport Security Administration (TSA) airport personnel. Critics condemn the process as groping – so the prospect of a defrocked priest and alleged molester working in the area sparked alarm. It comes after the recent arrest of several TSA agents accused of being part of a drug-smuggling ring.
Investigative reporters from CBS Philadelphia discovered that a priest who had been defrocked (stripped of ecclesiastical status) over sex abuse allegations had managed to obtain “a sensitive security post” at Philadelphia International Airport.
A church probe is said to have found that the priest sexually abused two young girls. Additionally, a woman claims the ex-priest molested her. When questioned at the airport, reporters said the ex-priest flashed his TSA badge and walked into a restricted area where cameras could not follow.
The TSA says the ex-priest deals mainly with luggage, but that has not satisfied critics – particularly those who shudder at any prospect of being patted down by a defrocked priest.
Written by Peter Needham