TSA apologizes for mistake over breast-feeding mom’s ice pack

Despite security restrictions on flying with liquids, mother’s milk is as welcome on U.S. airliners as grandma’s apple pie.

A mistake by a security gate agent at a small Hawaiian airport has launched mother’s milk into the news.

As of midday Friday no presidential candidate had yet commented on the breast milk kerfuffle, but political analysts said there is little doubt about the side they will take.

Here’s what happened:

Amy Strand got stopped by a Transportation Security Administration officer when she went to board a flight at Lihu’e Airport on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. She was carrying a breast pump, empty baby bottles and an ice pack.

All of that has been allowed as carry-on since restrictions were placed on liquids in 2006.

The TSA guard made a mistake, telling Strand that since the bottles were empty she had nothing that needed to be kept cold. So, the guard said, she couldn’t carry on the ice pack.

Strand asked whether there was a private area nearby where she could quickly pump breast milk into a bottle so that she complied with the ruling. Told there was not, she did so in a restroom.

Strand, an elementary school vice principal and mother of four, told the “Today” show on Monday that the bathroom experience was humiliating. Afterward, she was cleared through security and made her flight home to Maui.

The TSA apologized for her embarrassment and for the mistake made at the security checkpoint.

“It was a result of a miscommunication on our end and those involved are going to undergo retraining and corrective actions,” the TSA said.

The agency said it wanted to make clear that she had not violated any regulation, and that breast milk, pumps and ice bags to keep bottles cool are welcome on flights.

The TSA maintains an application on its Web site that allows passengers to type in any item to see whether it’s permitted on aircraft. Apple pies, whether fresh or frozen, may be carried on board.

Ashley Halsey reports on national and local transportation.
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