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Welcome back to Alaska, Rep. Sharon Cissna

Scott McMurren

Whoa. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

Anchorage Rep. Sharon Cissna harnessed an intermodal posse of resources to work around the TSA in Seattle. This, after she was turned away for refusing to be “felt up” by agents at SEA-TAC.

According to Rep. Cissna, speaking from her office in Juneau, the TSA officers said “You need to let us feel you up in order to keep the public safe.”

Well, she didn’t agree -- and she left the airport and her plane to Juneau on Alaska Airlines left without her.

So, there she was in Seattle without a way home. She decided to rent a car and drive north across the border. That’s because the Alaska Marine Highway only sails north from Bellingham once each week, on Fridays.

In order to catch the ferry, then, she had to get to Prince Rupert, which is a 1,000-mile drive from Seattle.

At the border, she realized she didn’t have her passport. “It was about 4 a.m. when I got to the border. I told the border guard my story. He asked me all kinds of serious questions. In the meantime, cars kept piling up in back of me. I think he just got tired of listening to me and so he just waved me through,” she said.

Still, there was the issue of getting to Prince Rupert–and the rental car had to be dropped in Vancouver. So she went to the airport, where they said she had to hurry to get the last bus for a 24-hour ride to Prince Rupert. But she missed it.

Instead, she booked the last seat on Hawk Air’s flight to Prince Rupert. From there, she had a lengthy layover before getting on the m/v Malaspina for the journey back to Juneau via Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake and Sitka.

“On the ferry, I spoke with lots of other people who had stories of being violated by the TSA. Many of them vow never to fly again,” she said.

In her discussions with other Alaskans, Rep. Cissna kept recalling the intrusive pat-down she received several months ago, as well as the stand-off with the TSA at SEA-TAC.

“Does feeling someone up save people?” she asked herself. “Does it keep people safe? I am a frequent flyer on Alaska Airlines. Am I supposed to be felt up every time I fly?” she said. “I don’t think so.”

“While the TSA says they are watching out for people–I think they really are breaking the will of the people,” she said. “That way, we will be easier to manipulate. We are being broken by the TSA,” she said.

During her journey north from Prince Rupert, Rep. Cissna’s colleagues in the Alaska State Legislature passed a “Sense of the House Resolution” stating that no one should have to sacrifice their dignity to travel.  ”For many Alaskans, air travel is the only option for getting to medical care, to see family or just to get home,” said Rep. Chris Tuck of Anchorage, sponsor of the resolution. “The TSA has to find a better way to keep our flights safe without treading on the rights of innocent people,” he said.

Rep. Cissna is encouraged by a number of citizens who came forward indicating their desire to see the TSA change their tactics.
“Alaskans need to tell the TSA they need to change. We must activate citizens to demand change,” she said.

Online resources:

Rep. Sharon Cissna
Hawk Air. Providing flights from Vancouver, BC to Prince Rupert.
Alaska Marine Highway. Offering service from Bellingham and Prince Rupert up to Ketchikan and points north in Alaska.

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based travel marketing consultant who has lived in Alaska for three decades, spending much of that time traveling the far-flung corners of the state. This post originally appeared on his website, www.alaskatravelgram.com. It has been republished with permission.