Travelers gripe about no-fly errors

Sure, airport security checkpoints can be arduous--the emptying of pockets, the tying and untying of shoes, the eyeing of plastic-gloved employees as they root through bags suspected to contain contraband.

But what if you were denied a boarding pass right up front because a government database thinks you're a threat to America?

That's the most common gripe from nearly 100 passengers who filed complaints with the Transportation Security Administration between November 2003 and May 2004, according to documents obtained recently by the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

It's a testament to the government's failure to figure out how to keep airline passengers from being wrongly labeled as watch list matches, EPIC said, adding that "innocent individuals still have a hard time clearing their names."

The complaints spanned a variety of alleged incidents, ranging from a woman who objected to secondary screening caused by her "magnetic breast implants" to a family of four that found their trip to the Caribbean complicated when all of their names showed up on the no-fly list.

Another passenger, after apparently making repeated attempts to remove his name from the list, laid his frustration bare: "the whole rigmarole (sic) happened yet again this past Thursday: can't check in at a kiosk, gate agent goes into a frenzy, confiscates my passport, disappears and finally comes back to issue me a boarding pass....I have never done one thing to deserve this treatment. Whomever is the person they want - it's NOT ME!!!!!!!!!"

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    Anne Broache
    covers Capitol Hill goings-on and technology policy from Washington, D.C.
     

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