By Stephenie Brooks
Faced with the prospects of an eight-hour total travel time—including flight time and layover—what passenger wouldn’t welcome a free massage? But who would expect if from TSA? That’s right. You read it correctly: TSA!
While traveling over the weekend from an airport in the Mountain States, I was the recipient of this unexpected treatment. After going through the AIT, I stepped aside while my gumby image cleared. I was then asked if a female TSA agent could check my hair. I was surprised, but didn’t make a fuss. At six-feet, the agent had to stand on her tippy toes to check my hair. Luckily for her, I was not wearing my customary 3-inch (minimum) heels. After three quick kneads to my scalp it was over. “Free head massage,” she commented smilingly as I grabbed my bags and headed to the gate.
Sitting in the departure lounge thinking about the incident, I smiled. At least I hadn’t been kneaded south of my neck nor did I have to warn her not to “touch the junk in my trunk.” However, I did wonder if in this part of the U.S. whether or not people were used to seeing dreadlocks. (In case you don’t what they are or look like, here’s an image). In a more cosmopolitan city, my dreadlocks don’t even warrant a second glance. But then again, neither would I have received a free head massage . . . compliments of TSA.
After doing some research and talking with a security expert, I learned that in certain cases a travelers’ hair or headwear could potentially conceal items, and may need to be screened by TSA Transportation Security Officers. The TSA Blog and public Web site provided some useful information about the reason I received a free massage.