By Juli McDonald

BOSTON (CBS) – A pregnant woman was flying to surprise family with her two-year-old on his first flight, but she was stressed and upset before they even took off – after she says she was denied a simple request.

“I don’t think it should ever happen,” Sara Handler said. “It’s easy. It’s so easy. It’s not a big deal.”

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The Harwich mother says it became a big deal when she requested a TSA pat-down instead of stepping through the screening equipment.

“It’s on their website, says you can ask,” she said. “I’ve done it before.”

What’s called “a female assist” never came. Handler, holding her two-year-old, says she faced repeated questioning from multiple employees.

Sara Handler (WBZ-TV)

“’Do you know the difference between a metal detector and scanner? We’re going to have to pat-down your son, we don’t like to pat-down children,'” Handler said the TSA agent told her. “Round and round we went until I’m uncomfortable. So I went through the metal detector.”

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She became even more upset when the return trip went so much smoother.

“I was told by the TSA agents in Pittsburgh that what had happened to me in Boston was inappropriate,” Handler said.

Handler says she contacted TSA on December 22nd, but never heard back.

“Everyone is different. I think that that’s the point. What’s OK for someone might not be OK for someone else and you have to be respectful of the efforts that person is taking to protect their child,” Handler said.

WBZ obtained a statement which reads: “TSA takes passenger complaints seriously and we hold our officers to the highest standards. TSA is currently looking into this matter and will communicate directly with the passenger to address their concerns.”

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The TSA also confirmed passengers are allowed to opt out of equipment and instead be pat-down. Children who can walk on their own are allowed to go through the metal detector’s by themselves.

Juli McDonald