85-year old disabled woman 'strip-searched' at airport

85-year old disabled woman claims she was strip-searched at airportJFK security/PA

An 85-year-old woman in a wheelchair says she was strip-searched after she asked to be patted down instead of going through a body scanner.

Lenore Zimmerman, who has a defibrillator for heart problems, was worried that airport scanners at JFK Airport, New York, would interfere with her life-saving device. After asking for an alternative security check, she says was taken to a private room and told to remove her clothes in a humiliating search that also left her injured.

Ms Zimmerman says she banged her shin during the process, and it bled so badly that an emergency medical technician had to patch her up. She also missed her flight and had to take a different one home, nearly three hours later.

Speaking in The Guardian, she said: "I'm hunched over. I'm in a wheelchair. I weigh under 110lb (50kg). Do I look like a terrorist?"

However, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has denied the incident took place, and said: "TSA screening procedures are conducted in a manner designed to treat all passengers with dignity, respect and courtesy and that occurred in this instance."

Ms Zimmerman said she had been travelling to Florida for at least a decade and had been given pat-downs without any problems until now. "I worry about my heart, so I don't want to go through those things," she told The Guardian, referring to the screening machines at the airport.

Last month, the introduction of controversial 'naked' body scanners, used in many US airports, was brought to a halt by the European Union over fears that the low doses of radiation emitted may cause cancer.

The worst airports in the world 2011
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85-year old disabled woman 'strip-searched' at airport

The NAIA in Manila has been voted as the 2011 world's worst airport by users of the online travel website The Guide to Sleeping in Airports (sleepinginairports.net), based on reader reviews and poll votes. The website listed reasons such as safety concerns, theft, poor facilities, bribery and lack of comfortable seating. One reader said: 'You will not want to even close your eyes here! Bribery and theft exists. Airport taxes are collected, but the money does not seem to go towards the betterment of the airport.' In terms of facilities, passengers may have better luck at the newer Terminal 3, where it is clean, spacious and offers an internet connection.

It might be the largest airport in France - and one of the busiest in the world - but Paris CDG, which opened in 1974, has since frequently been criticised for its confusing layout, rude staff and ugly buildings. What's more, the seating benches have been deemed uncomfortable and insufficient, and homeless people are said to frequently disturb sleeping travellers.

Frankfurt Hahn also made sleepinginairports.net's worst airports 2011 list. They said: 'Limited seating, bucket seats, and a lack of passenger facilities. A very basic airport for budget airlines.' In a 2010 World's Worst Travel Survey, passengers also complained of 'confusing signage' and 'unpleasant ground staff'.

In a Priority Pass survey in 2010, London Heathrow was voted the least favourite airport, owing to the fact that it is also one of the world's busiest. The problems of winter 2010, when the airport was ill-prepared for bad weather and snow grounded thousands of flights, further weakened its image. Long security queues and hours waiting at  the baggage line have also been cited.

According to Independent writer Peter Popham, Delhi airport's 'carpeting is a thin scarlet runner, and stains are splattered in corners. Creature comforts are negligible. Passport control takes an eternity. Half the trolleys are broken down. They force you to x-ray your luggage coming in to the country as well as going out.' And, according to a survey by Foreign Policy magazine, it also boasts 'aggressive beggars, syringes on the terminal floor, and filthy bathrooms'.

According to reports, 'the odour of faeces and urine abound in this airport, which no doubt attract the hoards of rats, cockroaches and other bugs that scurry around the departures and arrivals area.'  There's also been talk of overflowing toilets, and passengers escaping the airport chaos only to be mugged or beaten on the tarmac outside.

The San Francisco Chronicle describes LAX as 'eight terminals connected by a traffic jam'. And, according to sleepinginairports.net, seating is limited, rude security staff 'automatically assume you are a terrorist or that you will never leave their country', bathrooms are in poor condition, signage is poor, and there are no conveniences for people in transit.... 'not even a 24 hour coffee shop.' Ouch.

This small airport in the town of Lukla in eastern Nepal is popular as it is the gateway to the Mount Everest region in Nepal. But it will give you a nail-biting landing, involving a plummet onto an uphill airstrip cut into the side of a mountain. And on takeoff, the airstrip comes to an abrupt end at the edge of a mountain cliff.

At Dakar's airport 'there is only squalor, an unnerving sense of confinement, and to some extent danger,' said salon.com's Patrick Smith. Foreign Policy magzine's survey concurred, writing: 'Dakar has no seats and travellers are targeted by hawkers, porters and security guards who move them on. Immigration takes three hours.'

Don't miss our picture gallery: world's scariest airports!

Simón Bolívar International, known locally as ‘Maiquetia’, is the main international airport in the South American state of Venezuela. It is located around 29km from the centre of the capital, Caracas, and is described as being 'situated practically in the middle of the favelas'. Hundreds of travellers have been robbed or mugged as soon as they left the airport, while kidnapping, stabbings and shootings 'have all occurred before passengers have even reached the taxi line', according to the Matador Network. What's more, you'll be charged a $53 airport tax for the privilege.


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