Antara Telang, a director at a startup company based in Mumbai, India, travels often for her job and is used to the security processes in place at airports.
But during an experience last weekend at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Telang was told to remove her prosthetic leg during security checks. She was told that she wouldn't be able to board her flight to Bangalore until she did so.
"I reached the security check at 5 a.m. and was asked to remove my prosthetic leg," she told BuzzFeed.
Telang, whose prosthetic extends up to her thigh, started using the artificial device when she was 18 after a tree fell on her, breaking one of her legs and completely crushing the other. She had never been asked to remove her prosthetic during any of her previous travels.
"I frequent Delhi and Bangalore airports. I have never been asked to take off my leg there," she said. "They use a handheld ETD machine (to detect explosives) as well as doing patdown checks (to detect any hidden items). Similarly, I have visited airports in the capital cities of Paris, Madrid, Budapest, etc. where I was never asked to take it off."
When she asked the crew to use an ETD machine or to do a patdown, they refused.
"They not only refused, but challenged me by saying things like, 'Can you tell us the full form of ETD first?' and 'Don’t tell us how to do our job,'" she said.
After 40 minutes of trying to convince the security team that removing the prosthetic wasn't necessary, Telang said she was led to a private room where she was asked to remove her pants and take off her leg. The door to enter the room was far away from the chair in which she was directed to sit.
"I literally had to hop on one leg holding my 6-kilogram (about 13 pounds) prosthetic in my hand to give it to them," she said. "After this, they didn’t even allow me to stand outside, saying, 'People will see you.’ This coming after they’ve made me strip and are passing my body part through a public scanner. Finally, it was given to me, and I was allowed to board my flight after the 45-minute ordeal."
Telang said she was crying by the time officials gave her her boarding pass.
A Mumbai airport helpline told BuzzFeed that all prosthetics are required to be scanned through a scanning machine before passengers are allowed to board flights.