Mother denied access through TSA because of items she needed to pump breast milk

Travelers wait in line at the TSA security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport in...
Travelers wait in line at the TSA security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport in Imperial, Pa., Monday, Dec. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)(Gene J. Puskar | AP)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 1:15 PM PDT
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LOS ANGELES (KCAL, KCBS) -- A mother in LAX was denied access through TSA for items she needed to pump breast milk for her 10-week-old infant boy.

“I was crying,” said mother Emily Calandrelli. “It was embarrassing. I was humiliated. I had to explain how breastfeeding works to three grown men at TSA.”

On Monday morning in LAX’s Terminal 7, Calandrelli attempted to board her flight to Washington D.C. but was stopped by TSA because her gel freezer packs, which she needs to keep the milk fresh, were not completely frozen.

“He said if my child was with me it would not be a problem he asked me multiple times ‘Where is the baby? Where is the child?’” said Calandrelli. “I explained to him the child was at home.”

While “ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories” needed to keep breast milk cool are allowed on flights if fully frozen, they are subject to similar screening that other liquids, gels and aerosols above 3.4 ounces go through. Calandrelli originally planned to pump before she boarded her plane to D.C. but because of the hour-plus drive from her home in Orange County, the packs began to melt.

“It made me feel like I was being a criminal,” she said. “I’m just trying to be a mom and work at the same time.”

The new mother decided to place everything including the items she needed to pump breast milk, into her checked luggage. She sat in agony for over seven hours as she had no way to pump out the breast milk.

“Every ounce is precious, every ounce is precious,” said Calandrelli. “I did not want to pump and throw it out so I waited until I landed in Dulles.”

The seven-hour wait put her at risk for Mastitis, which could cause breast pain, inflammation and may involve infection. It typically happens within the first three months of breastfeeding.

After enduring that harrowing experience, Calandrelli hopes to educate people to ensure it more women are encouraged to do what is best for their children.

“I think education needs to happen, retraining needs to happen,” said Calandrelli. “We need to scream and shout to have our voices be heard.”

TSA has yet to respond to CBSLA with a comment.

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