What Rights Do I Have in an Airport?

The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport is one of the busiest travel hubs in the city, and it attracts and serves travelers from the entire region. When many people think of air travel, they think of TSA security, long lines, and screaming children. And to top it all off, many of your typical rights to privacy seem to disappear as soon as you walk in. And this is partly true; the balance between your personal privacy and what most airports determine to be necessary security measures has been tilting further and further towards the latter. But even at the airport, you still have rights. The rights that you do have, however, are concerned mostly with your comfort and your ability to seek redress in the case of a suspected violation.

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

What Rights Do I Have in an Airport?If you have any specific concerns about what can or can’t happen at an airport, it is always best to consult the US Department of State’s website, or the TSA’s website first. Most of the information compiled here was gathered from the TSA website, and it will have the specific policies used by the TSA and the most up-to-date information. Another important thing to consider is that certain security policies or measures implemented will vary depending on what airport you use, so it would also be a good idea to call the specific airport you are flying through with any questions or concerns you might have.


While you are guaranteed the right to travel between states, this right does not inherently encompass air travel. And because you are not guaranteed the right to travel by air, there is no getting around the security measures that the airport or the TSA has deemed necessary. But you do have the right to a security procedure that is reasonably accommodating to your privacy or comfort.

  • Technology

Many airports have begun to implement more advanced technology like large, full-body imaging machines that can automatically scan you quicker than an agent might be able to pat you down. And when going through airport security, you will be required to go through one of these or a metal detector. But, whether for health or for comfort, you always maintain the right to opt-out of a technological screening and undergo a pat-down instead.

  • Pat-Down Procedure

You also maintain certain rights to be reasonably accommodated and for your privacy to be protected during the pat-down procedure. During the pat-down, you should never be asked to remove any clothing apart from outer layers like large coats or jackets. And you are allowed to keep on any religiously or culturally significant apparel like a headdress or a turban. You can also request an agent of your same gender perform the pat-down, for it to occur in a private area along with another agent, and/or for someone traveling with you to be present as well.

  • Physical Contact

You maintain the right to not be touched in a way that makes you uncomfortable. On that same token, if it is something necessary to ensure that you are a safe and compliant traveler, the TSA and the airline maintain the right to deny your entry onto the plane.

Seeking Redress

  • Right to Video

To help ensure that the rights you do have aren’t violated, or that you can seek redress if you believe they have been, you are allowed to video the entire security screening process as long as you follow 2 rules laid out by the TSA:

  1. “the screening process is not interfered with”

  • “Interference with screening includes but is not limited to holding a recording device up to the face of a TSA officer so that the officer is unable to see or move, refusing to assume the proper stance during screening, blocking the movement of others through the checkpoint or refusing to submit a recording device for screening.”

  1. “you may not film or take pictures of equipment monitors that are shielded from public view”

If you believe you have the grounds to claim a personal injury or violation of your rights, you should speak to an attorney or contact the TSA here.