On my way home from SEA-TAC, I spied a lady placing her pump in style bag in the overhead cabin, and then squeeze past into the seat next to me. I was so excited and ask her immediately if she was a breastfeeding mom.
When she replied in the affirmative, I was quick to share the B.A.T.Moms initiative with her, and then, she herself had a story to tell.
This BATMom was traveling home, and had been stopped by TSA at SEA-TAC because her cooler pack for her milk was not completely frozen. They asked her to throw it away or check it in. Thank goodness, she had already shipped her milk home! (Yay to employers who are forward thinking like that and allow discounts on first class Fed-Ex!)
Throwing it away would have cost her some good money, as well as the loss of a good piece of equipment, so she chose to check it in, but was thus delayed by 2 hours. Plus, how else was she expected to keep her milk cool without the cooler pack?
I experienced something similar going through security there. My cooler pack was frozen (thank god), but they still swiped my bag through and through, using a different swab for every single component of it. Let's just say that if you have OCD, do not attempt to travel through SEA-TAC. Your bag will not be in the same state as it was when you <carefully> packed it.
I've passed through many airports with my semi-frozen cooler packs, unfrozen breast milk, etc, and mostly, have been treated with respect and consistency throughout. I get a pat down, they run a little swab on my milk bag and am good to go. I've never had them swab my entire bag inside and out, and definitely not the contents within just for carrying my semi-frozen pack. Most TSA agents I've encountered are extremely sensitive to the breastfeeding issue. More likely, this incident was a result of thoughtlessness, rather than intent.
I get it, security and all, everyone wants safe travel.
But shouldn't we have a right to know? A right for standardization across the board? A right for reasonable assumptions to keep our milk safe?
I'd love to see the travel industry as a whole start asking Moms what they need, instead of giving them impossible-to-follow guidelines based on "what they think". B.A.T.Moms aims to be a part of this change, and asks for your help too. Remember, baby steps make a marathon.
Update 8.29.14 - Spoke with a TSA Supervisor at SEA-Tac, and she advised me that any time someone opts out of the standard security procedure, they will always do a pat down, AND a swab, so this is what I can expect next time as well. However, they should have no need to ask me to empty the contents of my cooler pack into a bin, as they did on this second occation.
BATMoms, take note, if you're asked to do anything you're uncomfortable with, alaways ask to speak to a supervisor.