“TSA screeners are all idiots”

By | January 19th, 2009

You’d think that by now the Transportation Security Administration would have figured out a way of dealing with the infant formula issue. Then I got Kristi Grady’s e-mail with the provocative subject, “TSA screeners are all idiots,” and felt like someone had turned back the clock five years.

Grady’s account of her experience suggests TSA agents remain confused about how to deal with infant formula and related items.

Here’s what happened to Grady.

I recently flew from Amarillo to Orlando for a Disney World vacation with my family. We were given considerable grief about the water (Dasani and Nursery water, in original containers) we use to mix our daughter’s infant formula.

Apparently, they would like for me to mix it all at once, so they can test it, and then let me fly with it. When I told them that once mixed, it was unusable after one hour, they informed me that I should have read their policies on water, and formulas. I did. I also asked the man at the beginning of the security line if the water was appropriate to which he replied, “yes.”

Based on Grady’s reading of TSA policy, she concluded it would be acceptable to bring water bottles and powdered formula through the checkpoint. But that’s not how TSA saw it. At the Orlando checkpoint, a TSA agent told the family they couldn’t fly with formula, either.

Interestingly, the agents completely overlooked a three-inch long pocketknife that had been inadvertently packed in the Grady’s carry-on luggage. How’s that possible?

Frustration abounds. Baby formula = dangerous and lethal. Swiss army knives = safe.

What is the policy on formula, because last May in Houston, we were told at the beginning of the line that our gallon jug of nursery water was to be emptied into the bottles, and the jug surrendered, only to be asked at the end of the line “Where’s the ORIGINAL container?” by a rude agent.

Are these people misinformed, or just complete fools with considerable overinflated egos at their perceived power over the flying public?

I put that question to the TSA. Andrea McCauley, a spokeswoman for the organization, responded.

Infant formulas, powdered formulas, juices and breast milk are allowed through the checkpoint and are considered exempt by TSA.

We ask that the passenger declare the items prior to entering the checkpoint. Powdered formulas are always allowed through he checkpoint. If a passenger is traveling with special water for the formula (i.e. nursery water), that water must be declared as medically necessary for the child. Then it will be considered exempt and tested.

If the water is traditional water i.e. Dasani, then it is not allowed through the checkpoint and must be bought post security.

We want to make traveling with children as easy as possible for families and thus have exempted formulas, juices and breast milk. These items, however are still subject to testing. Passengers should never be asked to taste these items during the screening process.

Here are details on the TSA’s policy on formula, breast milk and juice.

Does anyone else think this is a little absurd?

I mean, here you have a mother with an infant returning from a Disney World vacation, and you’re harassing her about her baby water? Come on. Is it too much to ask for a little common sense here? The chances that these passengers represent any threat to the airline’s safety is infinitesimally small. No, nonexistent.

I’m getting a little tired of saying this: It’s time for the TSA to drop its senseless ban on liquids and gels.

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