A breastfeeding mom from Minnesota says TSA workers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) harassed her when she attempted to board a plane with breast milk. Katie Champ says she was repeatedly reprimanded by TSA workers, had her bags searched, and was put through a body search where she was forced to lift her shirt in public, according to an article on She Knows.
Katie broke the news on her Facebook page where she also asked for advice on filing a complaint. Katie said she had never had a problem flying with breast milk in the past.
“Birth and breastfeeding mom friends, I need your help. I am very familiar with the rules for TSA and flying with Breastmilk as I have done it many times with no issue. I just went through security at Phoenix airport and was harassed to no end. I forced to have all my bags torn apart and searched, I was body searched in great detail in public including being required to lift up part of my shirt (tank top) in public, they continued to tell me that the treatment I was getting was standard because I brought Breastmilk with me, told me they didn’t care how long it took or if I missed my flight because it was my fault that I choose to bring breastmilk on the plane.”
Katie says she was told that the TSA workers’ actions were according to policy and were the result of her decision to try to board the plane with breast milk, according to She Knows.
Champ says she was flying home to her family from a three-day work function in Phoenix when she was allegedly harassed by airport security. It was the longest she had ever been away from her son, and she had pumped breast milk regularly on her trip.
Champ says that she was familiar with TSA regulations prior to flying, so she declared the breast milk to TSA immediately when she reached the screening area. Within regulation, she requested that her milk be manually tested rather than having it X-rayed, due to radiation concerns.
“I was treated like a criminal,” Champ told She Knows. “I was reprimanded for asking that the milk not go through X-ray. I was told it was safe and to just ‘put it through the machine.’ I was told that I now needed to have a full pat-down and have all of my bags searched because I asked for a manual check.”
When a supervisor arrived, the supervisor informed her that TSA policy required a full search because she requested that her breast milk not be sent through the X-ray security. TSA policy does not require these steps, but allows them if the breast milk container can not be opened. Champ says that at one point during the body search, her shirt was lifted in full view of the public. Repeatedly, Champ, who was crying through the ordeal, was told that she should not have brought breast milk to the airport with her.
Previously, TSA officers at the same airport were supposed to be retrained after a similar incident in April resulted in a $75,000 settlement for the breastfeeding mother. Champ said on her Facebook that she is not interested in monetary gain, but as a DONA trained birth doula, easing stress on breastfeeding mothers is a cause that is important to her.
“I don’t know why someone would respond the way they did. My best guess is that they don’t get it. They don’t understand breastfeeding, they don’t understand the time, energy and emotion that goes into it — especially into pumping when away from your child,” Champ told She Knows.
The incident over breast milk happened on October 3, and Champ says she has since found how to file a report. Champ says she actually filed complaints stating that she was harassed over breast milk with both the airport and TSA.
[Photo via Facebook]