It’s never happened to me, mostly because I don’t fly that often, but it’s happened to women I know — maybe it’s happened to you, or someone you know, too.
Supposedly, it’s been on the books for quite a while that breast milk is an allowed fluid to have in carry-on bags. But apparently, most Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners don’t know this.
They really should read their policy manuals. While I’m sure their policy manual is just as boring as any other policy manual, there’s a reason they exist.
But, just in case they don’t, the House went ahead and passed a bill in September that attempts to emphasize existing TSA rules — insisting that TSA agents to allow breast milk, bottles, and other breastfeeding-related items through airport security and onto planes.
The new law, called the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act, or BABES Act, should better prevent instances of breast milk being forcibly tossed out, equipment being broken, and flights missed due to a lack of knowledge by TSA staff about their own rules.
At least, let’s hope so.
Here’s how the BABES Act would work: The TSA would have 90 days to notify all airlines, screeners, and other staff about the existing exemption that allows parents to transport breastmilk, pumps, bottles, and other breastfeeding-related equipment — and to train TSA screeners so they will allow these items through security checkpoints.
Here’s the catch, though: the BABES Act isn’t law yet, it still has to get through the Senate.
Whatever the outcome, it’s important to highlight this fact: even without the BABES Act in place, breastmilk, bottles, pumps, etc., are (have been and will continue to be) lawfully allowed in airports and on planes.
However, that’s not to say there won’t still be some embarrassing — and yes, enraging — moments while TSA officials get the issue sorted out.
Really, TSA staff are the ones who should be embarrassed that it had to come to this. We can only hope that this new development will help the TSA realize that what they’re doing to breastfeeding mothers is not just discrimination — but against their own on-the-books policies and against existing law.