Saturday, November 20, 2010

US Air, will you protect your pregnant customers?

Elliott McElroy wrote to US Air earlier this week about her upcoming Thanksgiving travel. She has not heard from them, yet, and has asked me to post her letter here:

November 15, 2010
US Airways
ATTN: Customer Relations
4000 E Sky Harbor Blvd
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Dear Sir or Madam:
I’m writing to express my concerns about the newly implemented security procedures at airports around the country, and how my family intends to respond to them.
I recently purchased roundtrip airplane tickets for myself and my husband to travel between Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and Philadelphia International Airport before and after the Thanksgiving holiday. My online check-in number is XXXXXX and the tickets were purchased through At the time of purchasing the tickets, I was not made aware that PHL would be using AIT scanners. 
My husband and I object to submitting ourselves through the scanning technology. I am not convinced of its safety, nor am I convinced that our privacy will be respected. Simply because the TSA website reports that the scanning technology will pose no threat to my health does not mean that I will blindly believe the information presented, especially in light of the fact that I will be 18 weeks pregnant at the time of planned travel.
I understand that my alternative to going through the scanner (as opposed to the traditional metal detectors), would be to “opt out” and submit myself to a full-body pat down. The TSA has acknowledged that they have “new pat down procedures,” yet they do not define them in detail on their website. Due to the wide range of reports of what this pat down might entail, I am not willing to submit myself to one.
These two options for making it onto an airplane are unacceptable to me. I am afforded the rights of the 4th Amendment, which I feel are breached by these TSA “security procedures.” I should not have my body observed in the nude by a stranger, nor should I have my body (including genitals, breasts and buttocks) touched with the front of the palm by a stranger without reasonable suspicion.
At the time I purchased these tickets, I was NOT informed that I would be subjected to this type of search. I would NOT have purchased these tickets had I been informed of this type of search. So I’m writing to request a full refund for these tickets.
As an air carrier, US Airways needs to be aware that these intrusive searches are a part of the customer experience. When you don’t give your customers an up-front disclosure of what they’re buying, you are engaging in a deceptive business practice.

In addition, I would expect that US Airways, and other carriers, would be open with their customers and let them know what they’re getting themselves into. If you feel that these security measures are proper, decent and effective then you should have no problem disclosing them to your customers.
But if you don’t find them proper, decent and effective, you should give potential customers advance warning, which would allow them to make informed decisions.
Either way, you need to let potential customers know how US Airways stands on these new measures, and you need to tell potential customers what they can expect when they become a US Airways customer.
My husband and I are choosing to make the 7.5 hour drive to see our families this holiday season. I have spoken with the US Airways reservations department on three separate occasions to discuss the possibility of a full refund.  At each call I was informed that I would be charged $150 per ticket in order to have $402.80 credited to my account for use by October 2nd, 2011. I find this unacceptable.
I look forward to hearing your response. Please be advised that this letter will be posted online if I have not received a response in a reasonable amount of time.


Elliott B. McElroy
So, how about it, US Air? Don't you think that your pregnant customers should be entitled to a refund, especially since the PHL scanners were installed after  Elliott bought her tickets? Do you really expect her to subject her early-term fetus to radiation?