I recently put the suggestions from my last blog about navigating airport security screenings with kids into practice and can now tell you what worked and what else may be helpful to families traveling by air, especially for nursing moms traveling with breast milk.
Tip #1: Give yourself enough time to go through security. My family and I arrived at JFK airport at with what seemed like a lot of luggage in tow but thankfully some of it had to be checked. I realized that the guideline of showing up two hours before a domestic flight may not be enough time if your screening includes both checking bags and having breast milk hand screened. Add 10 – 15 minutes to allot time for checking bags even if you have already printed your boarding pass as there may be a line simply to drop off your baggage.
Tip #2: Plan for yourself and your family. We headed to the Family and Medical Liquids line, well prepared and even rehearsed for what would go on the belt in what order, and started to proceed through screening. It was really easy to feel rushed because there were so many people behind us, and I had to fight the temptation to rush through everything. Everyone has the responsibility to plan for themselves and their own family but remember that your only job is to get your family through the line with all of your belongings. Do not let the man behind you with one bag who keeps looking at his watch and rolling his eyes at you fluster you to rush. It’s a basic premise we all learn back in kindergarten – everyone needs to wait their turn.
Tip #3: Bring your backup information and don’t be afraid to stand your ground. When I stepped up to the metal detector and declared the breast milk to be screened, I was holding the information I had printed from the TSA website, along with the note from my doctor and the milk itself. The first agent I encountered claimed not to know anything about it, so I asked for a supervisor immediately. The agent had us stand to the side and when the supervisor arrived, he was well informed and walked us through the entire hand screening procedure step by step, from testing the liquid milk to opening one of our carry-ons for additional screening. However, on our way back, we had an issue with the screening at Orlando International (note to nursing mothers: be aware that TSA agents are frequently uninformed from airport to airport, so be armed with all of the information that you can get and know your rights to request a supervisor at any time).
My husband came through screening with no issues and we sat on one of the benches provided making sure we had all of our belongings. We put our shoes and sweatshirts back on and strapped our daughter back into her car seat, heading to the gate as quickly as we could because our flight was already being opened for boarding.
One final note, on the way home we stowed our chargers for our electronics and our stroller lock in our checked baggage, as they seemed to be the items that needed re-screening at JFK.
Erin Sforza is an Independent Travel Coordinator affiliated with MouseEarVacations.com® and CruisingCo.com® and lives on Long Island with her husband and daughter. Contact her by email at ErinS@CruisingCo.com to book your family’s next adventure!