Agents refused to let disabled woman fly because she couldn’t say her own name

Steve Watson
April 10, 2014

What kind of a security threat is a wheelchair bound stroke victim who is unable to talk or write? Apparently a big one, if TSA screeners at Los Angeles International Airport are to be believed.

Sherry Wright was attempting to fly with her sister to Phoenix recently, but was barred from doing so by TSA agents who set about forcing her mute sister to try to talk in order to clear security lines.

Heidi Wright, who suffered a stroke ten years ago and has been left disabled, is unable to talk to her family. This did not stop TSA screeners from demanding that she say her own name in order to board a flight. Screeners insisted on the proviso after stopping the sisters because of an expired driver’s license, ABC reports.

“I showed her ID, her social and her DMV (licence) papers,” Sherry told reporters.

“He just wanted me to make my sister talk, and I couldn’t believe it. I was just standing there, tears were coming out and I was like, ‘Are you serious? We can’t get her to talk’.”

Ms Wright described the TSA agents as rude and insensitive as they eventually forced the sisters to take an eight hour bus journey in order to reach their destination.

A third sister in Arizona had already contacted the TSA to alert them that Heidi was due to travel through LAX, and ask what she needed to do to ensure that the trip went smoothly.

A TSA spokesperson said that the agency has a program in place for disabled people, and admitted that the incident was regrettable, but couldn’t refrain from pinning some of the blame on the family.

“I think it could have been handled differently by the TSA and it probably could have been handled differently by the family, and hopefully moving forward the family won’t have this problem again, because they know about the programs that we have in place,” said Nico Melendez.

The explanation is not good enough for the family, who have filed an official complaint with The Department of Homeland Security.

The TSA has been routinely flagged up for harassing disabled travelers, even including veterans.

Back in March last year, a wounded Marine’s account of mistreatment at the hands of the TSA, led the agency to deny any wrong doing, with agents claiming that the wheelchair bound veteran made his own decision to attempt to get up and walk through a body scanner, and then to take off his prosthetic legs.

Eventually, following involvement from Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., the TSA announced that in response to the incident it had changed its rules to eliminate a requirement that injured troops remove their shoes, jackets or hats. However, in order to qualify for such treatment, the agency says that wounded veterans must forewarn officials before traveling.


Steve Watson is a London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’, He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.

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