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TSA responds to case regarding disabled passenger at LAX

The TSA is being criticized for the way it handles passengers, including a nursing mother and a disabled traveler.
April 23, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Transportation Security Administration is being criticized for the way it handles passengers, including a nursing mother and a disabled traveler.

Traveling mom Stacey Armato is getting a tentative $75,000 settlement after clashing with agents who wanted to X-ray her bottled breast milk. The TSA has not commented on the case because the deal is not official yet.

In a separate case reported exclusively on Eyewitness News, the TSA is examining new information about its handling of disabled passenger Heidi Wright. Wright has been paralyzed from a stroke for the last 10 years. She is unable to write or talk. Wright's sister Chantel Bonet, of Phoenix, says that the TSA agent at LAX persisted and kept questioning her.

"He kept saying, 'Heidi, say your name. OK, since you can't say your name, write your name,'" said Bonet.

The TSA says Wright's copy of an old driver's license was too blurry and that she was a security risk until she could confirm who she was. Bonet says Wright knew that she needed to fly to Phoenix to be admitted to a new nursing home, so she tried to speak, but couldn't. They told her she couldn't board the plane.

Wright traveled by Greyhound bus instead, arriving in Phoenix in a soiled diaper after a seven-hour journey.

The TSA says the family should have contacted TSA Cares, a hotline and website to help disabled travelers.

Bonet says she has phone records to show she did reach out to TSA and heard a recorded message. We tried calling the hotline and heard the same recording.

The TSA says it has no record of Bonet's calls.

"We are hopeful that the next time this traveler travels, we can provide the support we provide to other travelers with disabilities and/or medical conditions each and every day," said TSA Press Secretary Ross Feinstein.

Wright's sister is calling for changes. She is has filed complaints with the ACLU and the Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA says travelers who need assistance should call (855) 787-2227 or send an email to TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov.

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