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Mrs Weekly Flyer’s Run In With TSA In Kansas City

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Mrs Weekly flyer had TSA security nightmare flying from Kansas City, MO yesterday. She opted out of the x-ray machine as she always does and that is where things went south. I barely missed Mrs Weekly Flyer before she left for the trip, but I was right there when she returned to hear the full story.

The agent explained that she would be subject to an “enhanced” pat-down. The agent said “we will go up your thigh until we meet resistance.” This was to be expected since she opted-out.

During the bag screening, this new mother’s bags were pulled aside because she was transporting partially frozen breastmilk for Baby Weekly Flyer. The female screener asked Mrs Weekly Flyer to come to the screening area without her baggage. Mrs Weekly flyer quickly refused and asked to stay within eyes reach of her items.

So, the screener let her stay within eyes sight of her bags while a male agent took out the bags of breastmilk and placed an entire bag of 5 oz breast milk into some type of machine. It didn’t pass the test since it was over 3 oz, was about 4-5 oz. The supervisor was then called in for further inspection.

Hold on a minute. The TSA’s own website states that breast milk will be treated the same as liquid medication and can be transported in amounts OVER 3 oz.

When carrying breast milk through security checkpoints it is treated in the same manner as liquid medication. Parents flying with, and without, their child(ren) are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is presented for inspection at the security checkpoint. Additionally, empty bottles and ice packs are permitted under these conditions.

Furthermore the TSA’s website states:

Although formula, breast milk, and juice is inspected at the checkpoint, you, your infant or toddler will not be asked to test or taste the breast milk, formula, or juice. Our Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3 ounces) items for explosives. Officers may also ask you to open the container during the screening process.
When traveling with your infant or toddler, please keep these important tips in mind:

  1. Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.
  2. Let Officers at the security checkpoint know you have these items.
  3. Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray.

You are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on needed to reach your destination.

Then, a supervisor wanted to OPEN the milk and test it. Mrs Weekly Flyer refused. She told the screener that since this was sterile food for our infant and would prefer that it not be opened exposing it to contamination. After another minute or two, they were still handling the breast milk bag and Mrs Weekly flyer asked them to politely stop handling it so much. The more that the screener handled it, the less frozen it was going to get.

The supervisor finally agreed that if she passed the pat down, and all other screening of her bags, the screener wouldn’t open the breast milk. It took another 15 minutes for a very thorough pat-down where Mrs Weekly Flyer was again duly patted down. Then, all her bags were openned and tested. Overall, this was a nightmare for Mrs Weekly Flyer. It was at a small airport. The airport doesn’t have TSA Pre-Check which Mrs Weekly Flyer could have gone through if they did.

What do you think, did the screeners and TSA policy go over board asking to open the breast milk and test it? The TSA technically has the “open” clause in the verbiage on their website. But Mrs Weekly Flyer didn’t set off any alarms. I guess the inspection request to open the breast milk is completely random or based on gut feel that Mrs Weekly Flyer’s 4-5 oz of breast milk posed a threat.

This situation reminded me of when the TSA asked a mother to actually drink her breast milk on the spot. Have any other family’s out there had trouble transporting baby breast milk, formula or foods?

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About the Author

About the author: The Weekly Flyer is writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way. Feel free to reach me at theweeklyflyer@gmail.com

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Susan September 14, 2012, 12:05 pm

    Oh, I am so sorry to hear KCI hasn’t gotten their act together yet – in Jan. 2009 I traveled solo with my 6 week old and a supply of pumped milk. I had no problems clearing security in DEN with all sorts of baby paraphernalia but on the return, the MCI agents wanted me to unscrew a (very full) bottle of milk WHILE holding a floppy infant (they made me take off my Bjorn too, of course). They wouldn’t hold the bottle OR the baby… sorry, I AM superwoman but I don’t have three arms. I was so pissed.

    I no longer travel with milk or formula but I still print off the applicable TSA pages about traveling with milk and food in excess of 3 oz for children – no one wants to be on a plane with my hungry, cranky 3.5 year old and I will challenge any TSA agent who tries to tell me otherwise.

  • Scottrick September 14, 2012, 12:21 pm

    Pre-check doesn’t really make sense at MCI with the individual gate screening areas. Although it’s unfortunate your wife was inconvenienced, I think the actual harassment here was minimal. The TSA asked, and is allowed to ask, just like the police can ask to enter her home without a warrant. She had a right to refuse, and it was respected. When she asked them to stop handling the milk so much, that was also respected.

  • Bethany September 14, 2012, 1:11 pm

    Alot of TSA’s are on a power trip. Some of them are so rude..I just can’t believe they still have jobs. On the other hand. I have come in contact with a few friendly ones…in Atlanta and Philly. Some of the worst airport security I have exp. is was in Frankfurt. Everytime I go thru there I get randomly (YEAH RIGHT!) selected and treated like I am the worst criminal in the world. All because I have a few tattoos.
    I am sorry your wife had to go thru this but glad she stuck to her guns and spoke up.

  • humanoid94 September 14, 2012, 1:27 pm

    MCI is a screening partnership program airport, thus the screening is not directly performed by TSA but instead by contractors. Complain to TSA headquarters about the screeners failure to follow the policies set by TSA.

  • mommypoints September 14, 2012, 2:55 pm

    Sorry to hear she had a hard time. It is hard enough traveling and pumping without any extra hassle or questioning. My most recent solo trip with my daughter resulted in us in a private room for super additional screening. It was interesting to say the least. The TSA truly is part of the darkside of family travel.

  • Bill fisher September 14, 2012, 5:03 pm

    TSA is ludicrous. The videos from Libya show protestors brandishing rocket propelled grenades illustrating the utter folly of confiscating water and groping passengers. If these people want to take a plane down, they will do it from the ground and all the groping of children and strip searching of Iowa grandmothers won’t do a thing to prevent it.

    There were no hijackings between 2002 and 2009 without these punitive measures.

    Bureaucracies like TSA push the regulatory limits of their authorization to the limits that the public will tolerate as TSA has done in this case. They operate with immunity and there no consequences for abusing their authority.

    Their spokesman, Blogger Bob, delights in repeating that the “TSA screener acted appropriately” even when they strip search grandmothers in a back room and ridiculing people who report mistreatment.

    Since people have allowed these invasions of privacy and assaults on their rights legitimizes them in the public mindset and reinforced by taxpayer funded propaganda campaigns to reinforce the notion that the reprehensible behavior is somehow necessary or is now acceptable behavior.

    In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more disciplined for misconduct. There were 99 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months including 13 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, 12 for smuggling contraband through security and one for murder.

    A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed three months ago but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia with access to children. What kind of agency allows a known pedophile access to children?

    Another screener was arrested for child pornography this week that had been hired only two weeks ago while under investigation by the FBI.

    Many media outlets have been pandering to TSA, repeating their propaganda and excusing the agency despite repeated incidents of smuggling drugs and guns, nearly a hundred criminal arrests and exposing over a dozen pedophile TSA screeners.

    The media often reports these as if these failures are acceptable, slowing reform of this failed agency and making air travel less secure.

    TSA must be reformed or replaced before these buffoons get someone killed.

  • Oline Wright September 14, 2012, 7:23 pm

    I personally feel that it should be disbanded and all members from the top down should be investigated for possible fraud and other criminal activities including sexual assault and reckless endangerment of US citizens.
    When they reinforced the cockpit doors and granted the pilots a weapon in the cockpit that was likely adequate changes to prevent a similar instance than what happened on 9/11.
    Lets all face facts the government cannot protect us from terrorists, the police cannot protect us from criminals at least not all of the time. In order to fully protect us from anything they would have to imprison us and even that considering the murders and assaults that happen in prisons will not protect us.
    Thus security measures seem to me mainly for “show” or to infringe on citizens rights to make the name laughable.

  • The Weekly Flyer September 14, 2012, 8:43 pm

    Mrs Weekly Flyer here – thank you so much for the support. It makes me feel so much better that I am not alone in this experience. I’m all for catching the bad guys but this was pure theater.

  • Stephan September 15, 2012, 1:30 am

    It is amazing what has happened to the bastion of freedom and civil rights in the world. American citizens willingly relinquish their freedoms for this theater of the absurd, while the rest of the world just laughs at the ineptitude of the TSA.

  • Caroline in NH September 15, 2012, 4:55 am

    The issue here is not whether the TSA went too far, or whether the security theater is effective or not (it’s not). The issue is that the blue-shirt gestapo gave an order and Mrs Weekly Flyer didn’t jump. It’s a *training* procedure, pure & simple. Why else would they hire thugs, perverts & pedophiles to do this, or ask to test a drink you purchase after passing through security. It’s obedience training for the traveling public – that’s also why they’re expanding to rail & bus stations. Sorry she had to put up with these idiots.

  • PointsObsession September 15, 2012, 9:25 am

    I live in KC and think the contractor here is way over the top – the equivalent of a volunteer fireman driving 100 mph in city limits to get to a grass fire. I am really sorry for the way she was treated. The TSA needs a complete overhaul.

  • Jeff September 15, 2012, 11:36 am

    As pointed out, from 2002 to 2009 we were perfectly safe with liquids. Let me ADD that applies from 1942 through 2009. There was one attack in the 1960s or so where someone set their alcohlic drink on fire. But, alcohol doesn’t explode – it is just flammable and nothing bad happened as the fire extinguisher put out the fire.

    There have been no suicidal attacks by airline passengers with working non-metallic (liquid, plastic explosives which generally require metallic-based initiators) bombs that have killed anyone in the US since 1962. THERE IS NO MEASURABLE THREAT – in fact, with the TSA procedures, an article in the Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management calculated that the extra miles driven by avoiding flights (this is measurable in the flight segment statistics) probably results in 100+ deaths every year. Osama Bin Laden is winning, even while decomposing in the bottom of the ocean.

    The more egregious part is the unwanted sexual assault on the weekly flyer’s vulva. If I did this, I expect her husband/father/significant other might do something about it….and I know the police would arrest me.

    The GeTSApo must be stopped from their illegal and abusive procedures.

  • erp September 22, 2012, 6:13 am

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