Last updated: 02:07 PM ET, Thu August 25 2016

Child with Pacemaker Denied Alternative Screening at Phoenix Airport

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | August 25, 2016

Child with Pacemaker Denied Alternative Screening at Phoenix Airport

Photo Credit: ThinkStock

A child with a pacemaker, traveling with his family, ran afoul of the Transportation Security Administration with attempting to get through security at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix over the weekend.

According to, Ali Bergstron of Wyoming, Minnesota, was coming back from vacation with her nine-year-old son Chille Saturday when they attempted to go through security at Sky Harbor Airport.

Chille was born with Golden Hars Syndrome and depends on a pacemaker. As a result, the Bergstron family must request alternative screening since the metal detectors could have adverse effects on the child’s pacemaker.

Despite having the proper documentation the TSA requires for the additional screening, TSA officials in Phoenix claimed the boy was not allowed to be screened alternatively and the family would need an exemption.

“[I was] shocked beyond belief. In walks the head of the Department of Homeland Security for the entire airport, followed by other supervisors, and managers with ten other people from TSA,” Bergstron said. “One of the TSA agents told me they’d prevented terrorist attacks using 9-year-old boys with pacemakers and children before, so I laughed and said, ‘Oh when?’ At that point, the TSA agent became very quiet and said, ‘Oh we’re not at liberty to discuss this.’”

Instead of taking just a few extra minutes as it does at most other airports, Bergstron said the whole ordeal took more than an hour as multiple officers and officials arrived at the security area to complete the screening.

During the process, Chille asked a TSA agent what was happening, and was told that he would not be able to fly that day. The boy said the incident was very scary and that he thought the ordeal was his fault.

“TSA is committed to ensuring all travelers are treated with respect and courtesy. TSA is reviewing Saturday’s incident and working to contact the family,” TSA spokesman Nico Melendez told FOX

“TSA has not contacted me. No one has apologized. No one has reached out,” Bergstrom said.


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