Australian airports have been told to lift their game when it comes to the treatment of senior flyers and those with a disability at security checkpoints.
The plea comes after an elderly woman had her handbag stolen at Melbourne Airport while security staff were frisking her.
Helen Sweetnam, 84, was passing through airport security for a flight to Mt Gambier when her pacemaker set off an alarm.
According to ABC Radio Melbourne, Ms Sweetnam’s handbag was on the conveyor belt while she waited for a female worker to pat her down, and when she returned her bag had gone.
"I was feeling sick with shock," Ms Sweetnam told the ABC.
"I immediately said to them my bag was missing."
While airport security were able to recover the bag, the contents had already been taken. Inside was around $630 in cash, a mobile phone, wallet and medical records.
"If I'm forced to put my stuff on that [conveyor belt] and then I'm moved away from it then it has to be their [Melbourne Airport’s] responsibility to take care of my stuff," she said.
"I think it's bloody rude. There's been no response, and I feel that I'm just being treated like, 'if we don't respond she'll go away'."
Council on the Ageing Victoria CEO Ronda Held said this case wasn’t out of the ordinary, with complaints about “undignified” treatment at airports across Australia commonplace.
"Not all people who need assistance have somebody with them to keep an eye on them," she said.
"If you're in a wheelchair or if you're frail or if you've got a sight impairment then it's very hard to keep track of your luggage.
"It should be a basic protocol that people get to keep their luggage with them if they are going to be pulled aside for any period of time for a check."
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