A mother says that airport security officers forced her to check ice packs for breast milk she intended to take on a flight so she could pump before the flight.
Emily Calandrelli, a television host and engineer, said the incident happened Tuesday at Los Angeles International Airport.
In a Twitter thread, she says she’s traveled for the first time since having a baby 10 weeks ago and brought two ice packs with her. She says she didn’t have breast milk during security, but pumped before the flight. Calandrelli noted that it’s important for breastfeeding women to express when they have milk to avoid mastitis, an infection caused by blocked milk ducts.
Calandrelli says three male Transportation Security Administration agents said they couldn’t take the ice packs on the flight because they weren’t “frozen in place.” She says her request to speak to a TSA agent was denied.
“They escorted me out of line and made me check my ice packs,” Calandrelli said tweeted. “That means I couldn’t pump before my flight for fear it would spoil.”
In her tweets, Calandrelli references the TSA’s gel ice pack policy on her website, which states that “medically necessary gel ice packs are permitted in reasonable quantities, regardless of their physical state (e.g., melted or squishy).” TSA states that the final decision on whether to “let gel ice packs through the checkpoint” should be made by individual TSA officers, and that gel ice packs that are not fully frozen may be subject to additional screening.
“Voicing my breasts regularly and feeding my child IS medically necessary,” says Calandrelli tweeted.
Calandrelli called her interaction with the TSA humiliating, embarrassing and annoying.
“There’s so much pressure to breastfeed, but @TSA makes it impossible,” Calandrelli tweeted. “It’s another system that makes it harder for women to return to work after starting a family.”
As of Wednesday, Calandrelli’s original tweet had nearly 17,000 likes on Twitter and nearly 3,000 retweets. The Daily Dot reached out to Calendrelli via Twitter direct message.
But they make too many moms feel that way, so I’m going to talk about it because this needs to stop 🧵 pic.twitter.com/MIZchi8M6k
— Emily Calandrelli (@TheSpaceGal) May 10, 2022
Shortly after sharing her experience with TSA, Calandrelli tweeted that other women had texted her saying they had similar stories about being at the airport while breastfeeding.
“We all just cry in the bathroom, dry our tears and move on,” Calandrelli said wrote. She says she wants a response from TSA.
In a statement to the Daily Dot, a TSA spokeswoman said the TSA “will review and appropriately address all circumstances of this situation.”
“We take any concerns travelers have about our security checks seriously and are committed to ensuring that every traveler is treated with respect and courtesy,” the spokeswoman told the Daily Dot.
Frozen packs of any kind should only be carried in a solid frozen state, the spokeswoman said. Partially frozen or unfrozen packages must meet 3-1-1 carrying liquid requirements (3.4 oz or small liquid containers are acceptable).
Many Twitter users in response to Calandrelli’s thread sided with her and shared their experiences with TSA and children.
“When I was first pregnant, TSA agents contradicted their own website about which scanner I should safely go through during pregnancy,” @stephonee tweeted. “And then treated me like an idiot for asking and worrying.”
“When I was breastfeeding, I drove everywhere because I was worried about not being able to get things through security. I am concerned that my privacy will be violated”, @ours_keep answered. “Seems my fears are not unfounded.”
“Once during pregnancy I went through a TSA security line – with TSA pre-check and global entry – to the @AustinAirportand an agent asked me what was under my shirt,” @monicamaytweet tweeted. She said she informed the agent there was a baby under her shirt as she was pregnant.
Calandrelli has continued to tweet about her experience with TSA, referencing the leaked draft of the Supreme Court’s possible overturning decision Roe v. calf as further proof that people who can get pregnant cannot work if they have children.
“I experienced this in connection with the recent SCOTUS news in a country that does not YET have government-mandated paid leave,” says Calandrelli tweeted. “We are treated as if our only worth in this country is the birth of a baby.”
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*Initial publication: May 11, 2022 3:53 pm CDT
Tricia Crimmins is the IRL Editor at the Daily Dot. She is also a New York-based comedian studying at Columbia Journalism School. She has previously written for Mashable, Complex Networks and Moment magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @TriciaCrimmins.
https://www.dailydot.com/irl/mom-tsa-breast-milk/ Mom says TSA won’t let ice packs for breast milk through security