The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a bit of a reputation for going HAM on silly things like bottles full of milk or cupcakes, and yet another embarrassing incident has come to light in which the agency forced a humiliated woman to express breast milk before allowing her to board a flight.
This isn’t the first time the TSA has gotten into a breast milk flap, and in the past, a woman was forced to drink her own breast milk to prove it was not an explosive liquid. Then in 2010, the woman in the clip below was threatened with arrest for asking her breast milk not be passed through x-ray scanners, a provision that is allowed under law, as breast milk is classified as a “medical liquid.”
The latest TSA breast milk scandal is truly perplexing though, involving a Hawaiian mother of four and the agency’s bizarre demand she express milk so as not to board a plane with empty bottles. If you’ve ever owned a breast pump, you know that the pieces are not easily replaceable and don’t come cheap- basic long-term models start at $200 and parts are special order. But none of that mattered to the TSA, who traveler Amy Strand says forced her to stand over a public restroom sink and use the breast pump in full view of other travelers. Strand explains:
“He said I couldn’t go through because there was no milk in the bottles… But I was not going to leave a part of the breast pump behind- it cost over $200. He told me… my option was to leave it behind or to put milk into it.”
“There was a TSA agent in there using the restroom and I asked her if there was a private place to pump, and she said no… I had to stand at the sink in my heels and dress pumping as travelers came and went. I was humiliated and fighting back tears. It confuses me why an ice pack and breast pump were a threat to national security.”
TSA spokeswoman Lorie Dankers addressed the incident in a written statement, confirming that the agency acted in error handling Strand as she attempted to board:
“Our officer mistakenly told her that she could only bring the (pump) pack if it was medically necessary, (and) she informed him that she planned to use it later for the storage of breast milk. The passenger was escorted from the checkpoint and later returned with previously empty containers filled with breast milk. She was screened and allowed to proceed with all of her carry-on items. The passenger has contacted us with her concerns and we accept responsibility for the apparent misunderstanding and any inconvenience or embarrassment this incident may have caused her.”
Do you think breastfeeding moms are more likely to be denied basic rights in their attempts to simply feed their babies? Should the TSA do a better job in training security agents in the handling of breast milk?