My Experience with TSA

If you look around the internet, you’ll find all sorts of horror stories about the TSA, the Transportation Security Administration. Last month, there was an interesting turn of events as the TSA didn’t believe the Macbook Air was a real laptop and caused the owner to miss his flight. But then, in a a very non-governmental way, they X-rayed the Macbook Air and posted the video so that the TSA field agents could understand it. This is nice to see.

So, this week, when passing through Bradley International Airport, I was stopped by a TSA agent who said to me, about my baby’s formula: “You’ll have to mix that formula here now.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but mixed formula is only good for 60 minutes, and the flight is over 3 hours, and it doesn’t leave for over an hour. I checked the website, I’m allowed to bring the formula.”

She said to me, “That’s true, but you can’t bring this water, even though it’s sealed.

So I calmy replied, “Are you sure? That’s sealed nursery water. It’s distilled and fluoridated. I can’t get that in the airport.”

This is a gray area. The TSA has fairly broad requirements for traveling with children.

In most cases, I would’ve expected the agent to be harsh and deliver something like “I’m sorry, you’ll have to dispose of the water.” But instead, she summed us up, examined the liquid, and allowed us to pass, not just with the sealed nursery water (two 4 oz containers), but also with 2 oz of water in the baby’s bottle.

The TSA agent – I am presuming – made a judgment call about what she thought was safe and in the best interest of the passengers, including me. I wish more agents would remember that they work for us and it doesn’t take much to be smart and safe. I’m not suggesting that they should permit everyone to flex rules, but rather, that they ought to use their own judgment and not cause unnecessary complication. I flew twice in the last few days, and both experiences, despite insane crowds at the airport, were fairly easy when it came to security.

So I have to hand it to them, the last few weeks have exposed me to a few positive experiences about the way the TSA is changing.