Friday, November 26, 2010

Young Mother Forced To Miss Flight After Refusing To Have Her Breast Milk Irradiated

The incident happened back in February, but is relevant to the current discussion because it points up yet again  how arbitrary TSA rules are and how capriciously they are followed.

Stacey Armato did everything right. She did not want her breast milk irradiated or x-rayed, so she packed it in TSA approved containers and separated them for inspection. She printed out the TSA rules (which clearly states that breast milk can be considered "medical liquids" and not subjected to x-rays or irradiation) to help answer any questions.

None of it helped. The TSA agents, who had dealt with Stacey the week before on her incoming flight, were waiting for her. And they wanted to teach her a lesson.

I almost never had a problem…until the week before this screening. I was held for 30 minutes that week while the TSA manager called to find out the rules. I was told to “pump and dump,” and asked why the milk wasn’t clear, also asked where my baby was and if it was really milk (uh traveling, working mom pumping doesn’t usually have the baby with her).
After begging him to figure it out, they finally let me through. I called and complained to TSA and was instructed to travel with the TSA breast milk rules printed out and present them whenever there is a problem.
As my items come through security this time, I notice immediately that I was dealing with the same people from the week before. The woman tells me right away that my milk might have to go through the x-ray, and then I tell her I printed the rules. I go to grab the rules on top of my bag and she freaks out and pushes my arm away. Another guy comes over and calls for “back up” and they put in me back in the glass cage. Standing 50 ft away are the same manager and supervisor I had dealt with the previous week.

They will stall for 20 minutes before coming over to me.

Meanwhile, one of the guys comes over to me and tells me “to be quiet if I know what’s good for me.” At the end of this portion I have been locked up for just under 10 minutes. The whole ordeal takes just under 1 hour.

Stacey only had 40 minutes to catch her flight. After being made to wait in a glass cage for about 10 minutes, she starts to become upset.

My patience wears thin and I start crying. It is hard to see on this video, but real tears wouldn’t stop streaming down my face. About 10 minutes into all this, a Phoenix PD comes to calm me down. I explain to him that there is no reason I should be treated this way and I have every right to be upset.
He then says “they” (aka TSA) saw me coming, have it out for me (from my complaint against TSA the week before when they didn’t know the breast milk rules then either), and I should travel out of a different gate in future weeks.
He said TSA wants me to play along with their horse and pony show and if I don’t then TSA can have the Phoenix PD arrest me! Well, I wanted to get home to my baby and my flight was 30 minutes from departure so I ‘played along.’ Three Phoenix PD watched in the background…I could tell they all knew this was a waste of their time but I was happy to have them standing by in case TSA continued to act out of line.

In the end, Stacey missed her flight. You can read more about the incident here.

Remember, it's all about making you feel safe, not about actually keeping you safe.

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