Hairdresser Isis Brantley was stopped at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, after she had passed a scanning device.
As she traveled down an escalator, she claims she heard someone yell: 'Hey you, hey you, ma'am, stop. Stop - the lady with the hair, you.’
Two TSA agents told her she could not go any further until they checked her hair for explosives, said Miss Brantley, of Dallas, Texas.
Reluctantly she allowed them to do it and the TSA staff patted her hair down right there instead of asking to return to a private area for screening.
‘And so she started patting my hair, and I was in tears at that point,’ Miss Brantley told NBC News. ‘And she was digging in my scalp.’
I was outraged,’ Brantley said. ‘I was humiliated. I was confused.’
After the pat-down, Brantley complained to a TSA supervisor at Hartsfield-Jackson who then apologized to her.
‘She said, "Ma'am, please, I promise you, I'm going to take care of it. I'm so sorry that happened to you,"' Miss Brantley said. ‘And I'm like, "OK, that's weird."'
Miss Brantley, who frequently travels across the U.S. to see clients, said has worn her hair naturally for 20 years and has never had her hair checked until Monday's incident. She said she is scared she will be harassed again the next time she flies.
The TSA said: ‘Our screening procedures are designed to ensure the security of the traveling public,’ TSA said in a statement. Additional screening may be required for clothing, headwear or hair where prohibited items could be hidden.
‘This passenger left the checkpoint prior to the completion of the screening process. She was offered but refused private screening.’