I just happened to run across this "Dear Abby" correspondence a few moments ago. Ever had this problem or worried about having it? What do you think should be done in this case?
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Hair-loss sufferer dreads baring all to airport security

Published: Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009 5:32 p.m. MST

Dear Abby: I am a woman with alopecia (hair loss) who has gotten to the point where I now wear a hair-enhancement system that clips onto my real hair to stay in place. I am happy with it. My anxiety over the problem is gone.

However, the clips are metal, and now I'm wondering if I can ever fly on a plane again. I have seen little old ladies with hip replacements stopped by screeners. I know I would set off the alarm at the checkpoint.

Is there anything I can do to avoid this humiliation? Is there any provision for this sort of problem, or is it at the discretion of the airport security?

— Anonymous in Texas

Dear Anonymous: According to Greg Soule, the public affairs spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, even if the clips are small, they may set off the metal detector when you go through security. However, private screenings are available to anyone who requests them.

You should talk to a security officer in front of the checkpoint and ask to be screened privately. You will be taken from the public view and checked with a hand wand, among other screening techniques. If the clips are detected, a "pat down" and a visual inspection may have to be done to resolve the alarm.

You can bring a note from your physician explaining your condition, if having one helps your peace of mind. But they are not universally accepted because of concerns about fraudulent documents.

SOURCE: Deseret News

Tags: Dear Abby, airport security, clips, metal, travel, traveling, traveling with alopecia, wig

Views: 10334

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Replies to This Discussion

I've been through something similar, but I didn't have extensions, or a wig (yet), just a small cotton cap. My hair was in the rapidly falling out stage and I assumed you could wear a little cap and as long as you didn't beep it would be OK. Not so. I had to take my hat off before I went through the metal detector. I understand, it's a place to potentially hide something, but I was mortified and did it as quickly as possible. When they saw my head they motioned to put my hat back on.
With a wig it would be much easier, however, I'm not the type to keep a wig on for a 15 hour trip overseas. My desire to be comfortable overrides my desire to look "normal" in this case.
I think just being straight forward and asking the security people to be screened privately is a good idea, just don't be late for your flight. ;-)
I always wear a hat when I am travelling as people are more considerate. men help you get your bag off the carousel. When i am with my daughter she encourages me to wear my hat. I would not like to wear my wig for a long time as you all know they are not that comfortable. I buy the Betmar turbans from America and have many favourable comments about them.
I can honestly say that in 20 years of wearing a vacuum prosthesis which has metal tabs in the ear area, I've never been asked or set off a machine. I have also never seen anyone else stopped for this reason. I was a flight attendant for 10 years too and never saw anyone stopped for that reason then either. That being said, I suppose it is possible, but just tell the attendant that you request a private screening as you are wearing a wig and do not want to take it off in public. They wouldn't make you take it off anyway, they'd just wand you all over and no one else would have a clue as to why.
Debbi Fuller
I've been in a similar situation before and it's embarrasing! I can understand that the airport is just trying to maintain security but like everything else in this world, it has been taken too far. If I can drive somewhere I will but that doesn't always work, especially when you're going overseas. But it's all the little things like this that make me so relieved that I stopped wearing a wig. Even being asked for ID at a club or casino was a pain because my picture ID was that of me in a wig (which raises questions if you're wearing anything other than the wig in the picture). Now all my ID has been changed over to me without a wig and I don't wear it and I haven't had a problem since. As I'm reminded all the time, not everyone is ready for this step but it gives you something to think about. Hiding always causes more problems than it's worth!
I took a flight to Florida two years ago, and I was so worried that I would have to take my wig off during sercuirty check point. I was so nervous that I was shaking. My mom was trying to calm me down & told me to act normal. When I finally reached the checkpoint and went through nothing went off. I was so reliveved & happy. Now I am not afraid to fly while sporting my wig.
Security has never made me take off winter hats or scarfs. I've actually had some wonderful conversations with TSA because my passport has hair and I usually fly without any covering. TSA can be so considerate over my situation and before you know it we're sharing family stories.
This is only applies to women who don't mind being seeing bald in public, but I've flown several times since losing my hair and I thought I'd share my experiences.

The first time, I went through wearing a headscarf. My luggage was hand-searched in great detail. Could have just been a coincidence.

Now I purposefully go through security check-in bald. I stand in line bald, and stay that way through the whole process. I have found that the screening personnel are extra nice and quick.
I myself have flown half a dozen time in the last year and was pulled aside for a thorough check of my baggage and padded down and all that and was never once asked about my wig. Either they didn't notice or they were being polite. Different airlines rulings maybe??
I'm a college student and have lost probably 60% of my hair. I do a lot of traveling on planes (back home and to plenty of track meets all over the country since I run for the college team). I do have a wig, but I choose not to wear it and instead go for bandanas, scarves, or hats and I've never had a problem. I'm actually going to college to become a professional pilot and I spend lots of time at large airports studying and working, and I have never seen any security situation which required anyone to take off a wig. As long as you're sensible about hats and bandanas, that should go unquestioned as well.
Really depends on who you get at security! I am a frequent flyer who flies with wigs, hats & scarves.
If you're wearing a full wig with no metal pieces, you will have your best chance to get through unscathed (lol) but I have been asked once to remove it (i asked for privacy, and received it). Wearing a hat, I ALWAYS get asked to remove it & sometimes it's worth the embarrassed looks on the security person's face (see Alexandra's comments below)! No-one has ever asked me to remove a scarf.....I have also brought a doctor's note and no one has even looked at it, so there you have it.
I fly on the average of twice a month & nothing surprises me anymore! Asking to be screened privately always works, but the time I did that when they asked me to remove my wig, it took a REALLY long time and I was not treated as nicely as I could have been - also, I barely made my flight, so leave enough time, if that's your choice.
I have had some really light hearted & lovely moments with some great security folks, too - it's been a mixed experience, but overwhelmingly, it has been positive!
I'm pretty sure we would have to all be proactive in a situation like this... If someone can design a pamphlet, or at least the text, and everyone download a copy, they can be mailed to airport security advising them of alopecia and maybe even advising a "proper" mode of conduct - sort of like pre-educating them much as some of us have done at schools and hospitals. I'm sure the same pamphlet can be sent to local area authorities - they do have units who address these types of situations with their cops so they don't act in an unappropriate manner with us.
Not a bad idea, huh?
Hi have seen the opposite. About 10 or so years ago, my father was flying to mexico, or something like that. He had many spinal surgeries, so he wears a corset to help support his back and walks with a cane. Its made with steel rods. When the alarm sounded, my father just lifted his shirt a bit showing the corset. He was passed right on. This upset my father,as he felt that someone could potentially put a gun inside the corset. Security seeing that they were elderly, maybe didn't feel they were potential terrorists. My father felt the security was not thorough, and he did not feel the safest. He would have rather been taken in a private room, which would tell him that no one else passed either.

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