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Old Apr 24, 13, 9:53 am   #1
 
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TSA "choice" @SMF: open sealed baby formula or 1 parents gets grope

Traveling with my wife and 1-year-old through SMF, after my wife and I were both let through the WTMD and were re-packing our stuff, the female screener who grabbed our tray of formula and baby food off the x-ray had a new speech. She needed to do "tests" that would require opening the factory-sealed sterile pre-made formula bottles (which you are supposed to throw away an hour after opening), *or* one parent would get a patdown.

After a few seconds of incredulous-ness and pointing out that this had never been an issue before in many travels with the baby and that they have swabbed the sealed bottles and been done, I told her in no uncertain terms that she was not opening the bottles and asked her if she had any intention of patting down the baby. She said no, and then she let us choose which parent was being patted down.

Implementation of this "policy" was poor and amateurish beyond the absurd, making normal TSA behavior seem professional and making it obvious this was a made-up local routine. Since we were given this "choice" after going through the WTMD, we had already re-packed our stuff (except the ever-so-evil liquids) and I had put my shoes and belt back on. Needless to say that by letting us pick the pat-down-parent and letting us pack our stuff, anything nefarious could have been stashed.

So then I get sent over for a standard opt-out patdown, except I have to again remove my shoes and belt and wallet that I had already put back on. Male assist got a little snarky when I insisted on him pre-testing his gloves with the ETD, and he refused to re-use the paper swab he had pre-tested on the post patdown-ETD. (groper: "it is against policy to re-use them to prevent false alarms." Uh, yeah, that's why we already tested it.) But at least the second swab came from the same box.

After being released from this show, I decide to go have a few words with the 3-striper sitting at his little podium. I opened by saying I didn't appreciate a retaliatory patdown for not letting them open my formula bottles and that this had never occurred at other airports and it was obvious that SMF was making up their own rules. His response was textbook TSA. First he asked if my formula was over 3.4 oz. (Duh?) Then he said that if I went to the TSA website it would talk about policies for formula, and I responded that the website said nothing about patting down parents if you won't open your formula. Then he pulled the "I have 4 kids and understand formula" routine and that they understand you have to throw away opened formula which is why they give the "choice" of the patdown. Then I again mentioned how this had not been the case on 7 previous trips through TSA with this baby. And then he pulled the "on my watch, we pat down one of the parents in this case," which I took as a tacit admission that either he or his boss made up this silly and poorly-implemented rule. At that point I walked away (he was still rambling).

I can only imagine what they would have done if I was traveling alone with the baby and wouldn't let them open the bottles (probably nothing; they don't want youtube video of a screaming or worse running-away baby). As it was, my 12-month old got to sit in his stroller and watch me get a full on TSA grope while I made eye contact with him and told him to watch. He will be taught what to think of government goons in smurf-blue uniforms and to be suspicious of anyone with a badge; I have no problem with starting early. If he's going to have to live in this police-state we're creating, he needs to learn about it.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 11:04 am   #2
 
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Old Apr 24, 13, 11:28 am   #3
 
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If you are in this situation again, ask..no demand a LEO. The majority of police are decent (unlike the vast majority of TSOs) and may help bring this to a quick resolution. There's very little downside since asking for a LEO is not interering, obstructing, or anything else.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 11:56 am   #4
 
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Actually this is the procedure for medically necessary liquids over 3.4 oz this includes sealed baby formula.

Here is a quote from the TSA website under the Medically Necessary Liquids heading:

Liquids, gels, and aerosols are screened by X-ray and medically necessary items in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening A passenger could be asked to open the liquid or gel for additional screening. TSA will not touch the liquid or gel during this process. If the passenger does not want a liquid, gel, or aerosol X-rayed or opened for additional screening, he or she should inform the officer before screening begins. Additional screening of the passenger and his or her property may be required, which may include a patdown.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 12:18 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omascreener View Post
Actually this is the procedure for medically necessary liquids over 3.4 oz this includes sealed baby formula.

Here is a quote from the TSA website under the Medically Necessary Liquids heading:

Liquids, gels, and aerosols are screened by X-ray and medically necessary items in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening A passenger could be asked to open the liquid or gel for additional screening. TSA will not touch the liquid or gel during this process. If the passenger does not want a liquid, gel, or aerosol X-rayed or opened for additional screening, he or she should inform the officer before screening begins. Additional screening of the passenger and his or her property may be required, which may include a patdown.
No, you're wrong and have things garbled.

From this section: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-informat...-and-beverages comes:

Quote:
Beverages

Travelers may carry through security checkpoints travel-size toiletries (3 ounces or less) that fit comfortably in ONE, QUART-SIZE, clear plastic, zip-top bag.

After clearing security, travelers can bring beverages and other items purchased in the secure boarding area on-board aircraft.

There is no restriction on the amount of baby formula, breast milk, or medicines you can bring, but they must be declared and presented for inspection at the checkpoint.
...and, from the page you quoted: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-informat...essary-liquids, is this:

Quote:
Medically necessary liquids are allowed through a checkpoint in any amount once they have been screened. However, it is recommended that passengers limit the amount of liquid to what is reasonably necessary for his or her flight. Passengers should inform an officer if a liquid or gel is medically necessary and separate it from other belongings before screening begins.

Liquids, gels, and aerosols are screened by X-ray and medically necessary items in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening A passenger could be asked to open the liquid or gel for additional screening. TSA will not touch the liquid or gel during this process. If the passenger does not want a liquid, gel, or aerosol X-rayed or opened for additional screening, he or she should inform the officer before screening begins. Additional screening of the passenger and his or her property may be required, which may include a patdown.
From your own website, "baby food" ≠ "medically necessary liquids." Further, "medicines" ≠ "medically necessary liquids." So, at least three TSA clerks are making this up.

OP -- might want to consider contacting your local media, since it's clear by the TSA's own rules that you were retaliated against.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 12:23 pm   #6
 
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(bolding yours, color mine)
Quote:
Originally Posted by omascreener View Post
Actually this is the procedure for medically necessary liquids over 3.4 oz this includes sealed baby formula.

Here is a quote from the TSA website under the Medically Necessary Liquids heading:

Liquids, gels, and aerosols are screened by X-ray and medically necessary items in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening A passenger could be asked to open the liquid or gel for additional screening. TSA will not touch the liquid or gel during this process. If the passenger does not want a liquid, gel, or aerosol X-rayed or opened for additional screening, he or she should inform the officer before screening begins. Additional screening of the passenger and his or her property may be required, which may include a patdown.
I didn't request that the liquid not be x-rayed. I sent it right through the x-ray just like I have 7 other in the last 8 months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mulieri View Post
If you are in this situation again, ask..no demand a LEO.
This wasn't a LEO-worthy situation for me, just a bad police-state joke in the form of security theater. The TSA would have told the LEO it was TSA policy (policy which the LEO isn't allowed to see either), and the LEO would shrug his shoulders.

Groping my son would have been a LEO-worthy situation, hence my asking if they intended to touch the baby.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 12:28 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FliesWay2Much View Post
No, you're wrong and have things garbled.

From this section: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-informat...-and-beverages comes:



...and, from the page you quoted: http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-informat...essary-liquids, is this:



From your own website, "baby food" ≠ "medically necessary liquids." Further, "medicines" ≠ "medically necessary liquids." So, at least three TSA clerks are making this up.

OP -- might want to consider contacting your local media, since it's clear by the TSA's own rules that you were retaliated against.
While it does say that there is no restriction on the amount iof formula, breast milk or medicines that are allowed. If they are oversized they are subject to additional screening, that includes having the passenger open up the container and doing the test strip. If however the passenger does not want to open up the oversized containers then the passenger is subject to additional screening because we have no way of testing the oversized liquid.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 12:32 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studentff View Post
(bolding yours, color mine)


I didn't request that the liquid not be x-rayed. I sent it right through the x-ray just like I have 7 other in the last 8 months.



This wasn't a LEO-worthy situation for me, just a bad police-state joke in the form of security theater. The TSA would have told the LEO it was TSA policy (policy which the LEO isn't allowed to see either), and the LEO would shrug his shoulders.

Groping my son would have been a LEO-worthy situation, hence my asking if they intended to touch the baby.
I understand that, but if the containers are over the 3.4 oz limit which most formula or baby bottles are then they have to be tested with the test strips.
All I'm saying is they weren't making up policy on the spot that this is the way its supposed to work.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 12:40 pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omascreener View Post
While it does say that there is no restriction on the amount iof formula, breast milk or medicines that are allowed. If they are oversized they are subject to additional screening, that includes having the passenger open up the container and doing the test strip. If however the passenger does not want to open up the oversized containers then the passenger is subject to additional screening because we have no way of testing the oversized liquid.

Perhaps I am just not educated well enough to understand but how does groping the passenger validate what is in an oversized container?
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Old Apr 24, 13, 12:59 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by omascreener View Post
While it does say that there is no restriction on the amount iof formula, breast milk or medicines that are allowed. If they are oversized they are subject to additional screening, that includes having the passenger open up the container and doing the test strip. If however the passenger does not want to open up the oversized containers then the passenger is subject to additional screening because we have no way of testing the oversized liquid.
You're doing well. You didn't answer my specific questions.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 1:15 pm   #11
 
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Originally Posted by Boggie Dog View Post
Perhaps I am just not educated well enough to understand but how does groping the passenger validate what is in an oversized container?
Thank you. that was going to be my question. How does groping a passenger "prove" that the liquid in whatever oversize containers they have brought into the airport is safe?

What purpose does it serve?

It's ok if you don't have the answer right now - ask your superiors and see what the official line is. We'd love to know.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 1:18 pm   #12
 
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Originally Posted by FliesWay2Much View Post
You're doing well. You didn't answer my specific questions.
This highlights the impossibility of the situation. You have unclear if not outright contradictory policies published by TSA and interpreted by clerks who can barely read.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 1:24 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omascreener View Post
Actually this is the procedure for medically necessary liquids over 3.4 oz this includes sealed baby formula.

Here is a quote from the TSA website under the Medically Necessary Liquids heading:

Liquids, gels, and aerosols are screened by X-ray and medically necessary items in excess of 3.4 ounces will receive additional screening A passenger could be asked to open the liquid or gel for additional screening. TSA will not touch the liquid or gel during this process. If the passenger does not want a liquid, gel, or aerosol X-rayed or opened for additional screening, he or she should inform the officer before screening begins. Additional screening of the passenger and his or her property may be required, which may include a patdown.
Did you miss the part where the OP states that he and his wife had already been screened and were repacking and redressing when this happened?
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Old Apr 24, 13, 1:48 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omascreener View Post
if the containers are over the 3.4 oz limit which most formula or baby bottles are then they have to be tested with the test strips.
All I'm saying is they weren't making up policy on the spot that this is the way its supposed to work.
If 8 oz factory-sealed formula containers "have to be tested with the test strips," then I have a list of 5 TSA stations, including the same checkpoint at SMF several months ago, that have violated the SOP by not doing so. I suspect other parents with young kids here could list dozens more.

I've never even seen one of the magic test strips. What I have seen is ETD swabs and/or the "bottle scanner" that they set the bottle in and presumably uses some sort of IR or microwave type scan.
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Old Apr 24, 13, 2:26 pm   #15
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Originally Posted by JObeth66 View Post
Thank you. that was going to be my question. How does groping a passenger "prove" that the liquid in whatever oversize containers they have brought into the airport is safe?

What purpose does it serve?

It's ok if you don't have the answer right now - ask your superiors and see what the official line is. We'd love to know.
You can have the question. Perhaps you will get an answer, one that makes sense.
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