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    Posted October 6, 2013 by
    North Carolina

    TSA versus Motherhood

    I wanted to share my terrible experience today while traveling with my family. I was returning from my younger sister’s wedding with my older sister, brother-in-law, my husband, and our two young children. Our son will turn three in January, and our daughter will be nine months old tomorrow. We began our journey this morning, driving from Vermont to the Albany International Airport. We were flying from Albany back to our home state of North Carolina.

    Our awful trip home began at the Albany International Airport. We flew both ways with US Airways. Unlike our experience at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Albany International was not accommodating to my family at all. I packed three carry-on bags for our three paid plane tickets. A rude lady who was working at the US Airways Check-In desk quickly addressed my bags and proceeded to tell us that they were too large to carry-on. Even though we explained that we flew into Albany from Charlotte with the same bags and same items inside the bags and did not have any issues, she said they were unacceptable. She made us check two of our bags, charging an additional fifty dollars. Fast forward, the two overhead compartments above our seats were completely empty on the flight home. Opposed to their statements of not having enough overhead space onboard, there was an abundance of unused space. You can only imagine my frustration.

    Just as I begin to lower my blood pressure from the baggage crisis, it was time to go through security. I was surprisingly calm about the process this time since I had already successfully gone through Charlotte’s security. It states on the TSA website “TSA will not ask travelers to do anything that will separate them from their child.” Even though we made it clear that we were all together, a TSA Officer told my brother-in-law and me to go to the other line. I had my daughter in a stroller, so I took her with me. Meanwhile, my husband and sister were left with my two year old son.

    From the time we checked out this morning, to the time we arrived back home, we traveled for a total of ten hours. Like any parent of an infant, I must provide necessary food, and in my daughter’s case, formula. Before we left for our trip, I read and studied what I could bring for my children on the flight. I read that I was able to bring in excess of the “3 ounce rule” when it came to formula. I made sure that I bought premixed bottles that were in eight ounce quantities. They were all sealed with aluminum and wrapped with plastic around the lids. I packed three of these prepackaged bottles in my personal bag. Like Charlotte, I informed the TSA Security Officer that I was carrying formula. He said to “just place all liquids in the bins.” I did as I was instructed. As I’m waiting in my socks on the other side of the X-ray machine, holding my infant daughter, another TSA Officer comes up to me explaining that I either have to discard all of my daughter’s formula, or I would have to go through a thorough pat-down and have all of my belongings inspected. Knowing that my daughter had to eat, I decided that I would do whatever it took to keep her formula. I was asked if I wanted a private room, but I replied “no.” If I, an upstanding member of society, a high school math teacher, and a mother to two, had to be patted down, I wanted everybody to watch. I found the whole thing disgraceful and demoralizing.

    I understand the importance of safety, and I appreciate many of the measures that are put into place to ensure our safety. However, when a mother has to undergo scrutiny to simply provide the necessary essentials for her children’s well-being, then that becomes a problem. I walked away from my inspection feeling violated, but I knew it was what I had to do for my helpless baby girl. After all, a mother’s love is truly sacrificial.
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