If you're a nursing mom, traveling can be very hectic. But for one St. Louis mom, a work trip was only made worse, she says, thanks to her treatment at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
Alicia Gregory took to Facebook to share what she calls a negative experience in a rapidly expanding post. She said thought she was completely prepared; she even paid extra to stay in a hotel room with a refrigerator.
Gregory said she carefully read TSA's regulations on traveling with breast milk. At security, she said she flagged an agent, the milk went through the x-ray, but another agent pulled her aside.
"He never changed his gloves, he had dirty, I don't know the last time he had changed his gloves," Gregory said. "He set the bag down and says, 'Can they be opened?' and I said, 'I guess if they need to be,' and he said, 'Well they do need to be.'"
She said that milk is crucial for her 8-month-old son since she often travels and freezes it for him.
"He takes this test strip and puts it, I don't know if he exactly touched the milk, I do know his gloves went past the seal where the breast milk was then going to slosh around," Gregory said.
After Alicia objected, she was told she'd have to get patted down.
The policy on TSA's website says if breast milk must be tested, the traveler should open the bag, and put a small sample in an empty container.
"Now I'm tossing out all of my milk because I don't know which bags he touched, so I lost about 70 ounces of milk," Gregory said. She said he already inspected her equipment with those gloves, so she couldn't pump at the airport as she had planned.
She said she took to Facebook so that no other mom would go through this.
"I just want TSA to address the situation, whether it's TSA or the airport, and I'll be honest with you, I don't have a desire to go back through that airport," Gregory said.
In a recent comment on Gregory's post, Sky Harbor staff said:Hi Alicia Gregory - would you mind direct messaging us your contact information or emailing email@example.com? We are sorry to hear about your recent experience and are sharing your feedback with our local TSA customer service staff so that they can address this. Thank you
A TSA spokesperson sent us a statement saying:I received your requests for information regarding the alleged incident on April 29. I’m looking into it. Typically we don’t handle passenger complaints through the media, but I am happy to share the breast milk policy below.It usually takes a day or so to research these alleged incidents, so I’ll get you what I can as soon as possible.Medically required liquids, such as baby formula and food, breast milk and medications are allowed in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight. It is not necessary to place medically required liquids in a zip-top bag. However, you must tell the Transportation Security Officer that you have medically necessary liquids at the beginning of the screening checkpoint process. Medically required liquids will be subjected to additional screening that could include being asked to open the container. We recommend, but do not require, that medication be labeled to facilitate the security process. Many airports have designated lanes for families and individuals with items requiring additional assistance with screening.
On Tuesday, the TSA told us proper procedure is to have the traveler open each bag, which they claim the agent did properly.
The agent is then supposed to swab the outside of each bag, and check vapor above each bag for explosive material, which they say the agent did.
They also allowed us to review closed-circuit TV footage of the alleged incident. While it's unclear whether the agent did, in fact, touch the inside of the breast milk bag, TSA said the agent followed proper procedure and never did.
They also said they are going to make their website more clear on what nursing moms can expect at security checkpoints."
You can read Gregory's full Facebook post by clicking here.
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