Aug 19, 2013 1:00 AM by Kristi Tedesco
Tucson - An Air Force mom is extremely upset. She says her plans to say goodbye to her daughter were cut short at Tucson International Airport.
Southern Arizona is home to thousands of military families and when service members deploy for duty or leave on assignment it's emotional.
To make it easier, the Transportation Safety Administration has a policy allowing family members to go through security and wait with their service member at the gate.
They can also be at the gate for the homecoming.
The policy can be found on the TSA website:
Military Family Member Gate Passes
Family members who want to accompany a military service member being deployed to the boarding gate or greet them returning from deployment at the arrival gate may receive passes to enter the secure area of the airport.
Interested military family members should contact their air carrier representative at the departure/arrival airport for proper local procedures.
Gate Passes are issued by the airline at the ticket counter with proper identification.
But that was not granted to the Cruz family.
Amanda-Jade Cruz earned her E.M.T. certification by the time she was 19.
"And she realized she had to be 21 in order to get on any type of an ambulance company," says Michelle Cruz, Amanda's Mom.
Amanda didn't want to waste time so she followed her father's boot steps and joined the Air National Guard.
Amanda left Tucson for basic training in Texas last week. Military families consider this their first deployment.
"Well the anticipation was all weekend. And we spent all weekend with her. She wanted her special last meal," says Michelle.
She learned from other Air Force moms about the gate pass.
Amanda would say goodbye to her family after checking in and mom would go to the gate with her, their last chance for a mother-daughter, heart-to-heart.
"And her and I planned on this last minute, "you got this you know" and just kind of a meditation and this is going to be ok. Because her and I are, I mean, we're best friends."
Then they asked for a gate pass. Michelle says the ticket agent wanted to know if Amanda was deploying to Afghanistan.
"I said she's going to San Antonio to basic training and she says, ‘well then you need to say good bye to her before she goes through the security.'"
Upset they asked a T.S.A. agent.
"And his attitude was, "Absolutely! What you do is just go to the ticket counter and they will give you a pass," Michelle explains.
They went back to the ticket counter and were denied again.
"I had maybe...10 minutes after that whole fiasco with, ‘no you can't go up there' and Amanda thinking I don't want to be late," Michelle recalls. "I stood there until I couldn't see her anymore."
The next day Michelle was in contact with American Airlines. She says she was told it wasn't supposed to happen that way.
Kristi's kids obtained this statement from American Airlines:
American Airlines has a long history of supporting U.S. troops, veterans and their families. American allows certain non-traveling individuals, including the family of military members, to accompany customers through security and to the gate area for departing flights. The airman's mother should have been allowed to escort her daughter to her departure gate, and we are very sorry she was not given that opportunity. We are making arrangements for the airman's family to visit her in San Antonio later this year.
Manager - Media Relations | Communications
Michelle does feel the American Airlines is trying to make things right and will use those arrangements for Amanda's graduation.
In the meantime, what matters most to the Cruz family is that it does not happen to another family.