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

Views: 25794

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Hi Sophia,
I'm not sure what your experience will be when you travel, but I know that if you were to wear a tight fitting bandanna and the security requested that you take it off, all you have to do is request a private screening. They will take you somewhere close by that is private and then you can take off your bandanna and replace it with only that one screener seeing you. The other day I was going through security with my laser scanner that I use for my work. (I work for Freedom Hair and the scanner is necessary for me to measure heads). Usually, I just explain what it is and take it apart and send it through in a separate bin and all is well. This time, they wanted to know what I did with it. Rather than go into a long explanation about what vacuum wigs are, I just took off my hair right there in line and said "I use it to make these" and handed my hair to the startled screener! That took care of the whole thing very quickly and I was on my way. One of the screeners, a very outgoing and pleasant African-American lady, said something like, "girl, I just lOVE that hair!" Anyway, it was actually sort of fun and I was able to tell her that I had alopecia, which she knew all about anyway. You can't help what happens at the security check point, but you CAN request privacy. Just do it calmly and with dignity and they will accomodate you. They will probably assume that you are going through chemo, but that will still work for you in that situation. Enjoy your trip and try not to worry.
Hi everyone, so I know I'm a bit late on seeing this post and responding...but thought i'd bring it back alive because I'm travelling to vegas this december. I guess I haven't travelled anywhere too far the past 2 years, but I read an article about the new body scanners and this raised some concerns in me.

I remember the last time I flew, my hair was very thin with some noticable bald spots so I wore a hat. When I went through security, they asked me to remove my hat and I was mortified and walked through the scanner quickly and put my hat back on.

I don't want to have to take off my wig in front of everyone, there are metal clips in my wig so I'm sure they will be detected in a full body scan. I can't believe how much anxiety this is causing me. I guess worse comes to worse I can request a private search? That just means I have to go earlier just in case...
Hi LIz,
There are metal stays in my Freedom wig too but I have NEVER been asked to remove my hair. I don't know if the metal is just so thin that it doesn't register or what but I travel about 4 times a month and so far it has never, ever happened in over 20 years of wearing 'hair'. Lightweight earrings don't seem to set if off either and I've never had to remove those.
Thank Debbi, I've been through metal detectors and it doesnt set them off... but not sure if that's always the case. Also, have you been through those body scanners yet? Do they make everyone go through them or just select people?
Hi Liz

My experience with the Freedom Wig is the same. I travel around the world (a heap - Australia, New Zealand,UK, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Spain, Italy, Germany, Sweden,Switzeland,Denmark and USA International/Domestic) and the lady I travel with wears Freedom hairpieces. We have never had a problem.

Rosy
Hi Liz,
I've been through them all, never a problem. Rosy travels even more than I do and through many other countries. I think your safe. Good Luck! Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi Everyone

I wrote about this problem in August after going to Mexico. I wear a wig and have for the last 2 1/2 years. I traveled with it and didn't beep until this past August. I use bobby pins to pin curl the hair I have so the wig clips stay put and it turns out the bobby pins are what set it off. I had to step to the side to have a woman wand me and I simply I told her I had a wig on and I thought it was the clips. I didn't have to take it off and she even complimented it. I don't think the clips have enough strength to make the machine beep but I do believe they treat it differently than a hat.

Jocelyn
Thank you ladies, this is much more reassuring! I will avoid wearing bobby pins :)

Thank you. I see this is not a new problem. I've just recently been "pat down" on my head. In the future I will proactively ask for private screening. I'm not ready for the scarves or the hat. Now I know what to do. . . so I'll be a little less apprehensive. Thanks everyone. 2013.

Also, I'll be sure to take off the bobby pins. . . I did not think of that before.

I know I commented before on this topic but since it still seems to be an issue for some people and we are talking about it, I fly all the time and I wear a Freedom vacuum.  It has aluminum stays at the eartabs.  They have never, ever been picked up by the scanner.  Maybe it is because they are aluminum and not some other metal?  It's been a non-issue for me - but for those of you who know me, it wouldn't be one anyway.  Short story - I have to travel with my laser scanner (for fitting our wigs).  The wand has a vaguely weapon-like shape so I often have to take it out when I go through security.  The TSA will ask me what it's used for.  When I say "I design and import vacuum-fitted scalp prostheses for people with alopecia", I get blank looks.  So a few times, I've just taken off my vacuum, handed it to the agent and said, "I make these".  If the agent is a woman, they ALWAYS say," WOW, can I have your card?"  The other people in line gawk but once, I had a guy follow me to my gate and ask about it for his daughter!  I'm not embarassed by having alopecia, it's a conversation starter for sure!

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