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The Sippy Cup Tale

It all started on June 11, when Monica Emmerson posted her tale of traveling through security at Reagan National Airport on DC Urban Moms, a widely distributed listserv. Emmerson's story, posted online by blogger Bill Adler after he received her permission, details mistreatment by security screeners who wouldn't allow her to pass through with a sippy cup of water. The details get fuzzy from there. Emmerson said the ensuing tiff resulted in her accidentally spilling water and authorities threatening her arrest. Video posted by the TSA seems to indicate that Emmerson intentionally spilled the water. The entire story was written up in Saturday's Washington Post.

Whatever you believe about this particular incident, traveling through airport security with young children is never easy. Shoes need to come off. Foods can get through, but water is not allowed. In trolling parent listservs, I often see questions and confusion about what's allowed. For instance, in the past couple of weeks, posters to DC Urban Moms and DC Working Moms have asked about apple juice and about rice milk for a child allergic to other milks.

Here's what TSA spokesperson Amy Kudwa says about parents traveling with liquids: Any kind of milk or juice are permitted. Parents are encouraged to travel with only as much liquid as is needed to reach the destination and it can be in any type of container. Parents simply need to declare the drinks to the officer at the checkpoint, much like medicine. The drinks will be subject to an inspection, which could consist of a conversation and a look at the item.

TSA also allows liquid-filled teethers and canned, jarred or processed baby food, according to the agency's regularly updated Web site, which features a page particularly for parents traveling with children.

Unlike Emmerson's experiences this month, my interactions with TSA officers in January were impressive. I forgot to empty a sippy cup of water and they gave me a place to pour it out. They also showed me where I could refill the cup right after passing through the checkpoint. As I was gathering our bags and moving the kids out of the way, one particularly kind officer helped my three-year-old put his shoes back on. Maybe it's because we had an early flight and there were few passengers, but on that day, I expected a nightmare and instead was pleasantly surprised.

How have your travel experiences through airport security been? Easy? Troubled? What do you think of the sippy cup story?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  June 19, 2007; 6:25 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Preschoolers
Previous: Father's Day Revisited | Next: When The Kids Turn Independent

Comments


Emmerson first said the rules didn't apply to her (she works as a Secret Service Agent). Then she made a mess for someone else to clean up. When given the choice of cleaning it up or arrest, she cleaned up the mess she made. Then she retaliated in the media. I have little sympathy for the TSA, but none at all for Emmerson.

Posted by: Kacoo | June 19, 2007 7:21 AM | Report abuse

At least the TSA did not steal the sippy cup. :)

Google on "TSA theft" and read about the TSA government employees.

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=266573

"More than 60 TSA screeners have been arrested for theft at 30 different airports, both large and small. Some have been caught going through bags in full view of airport security cameras -- one is even seen on tape pocketing a gold bracelet."

"ABC News has learned that at New York's three major airports -- John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia -- 400 of the first 2,000 screeners hired had criminal records. In some cases, it seemed that the TSA hired screeners without first completing background checks. In others, screeners were apparently subjected to basic background checks, without detailed follow-up investigations."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/09/13/eveningnews/main643165.shtml
"(CBS) He's supposed to be protecting the public from terrorists. But investigators say a federal baggage screener was lining his pockets with jewelry."

Posted by: stewart | June 19, 2007 7:27 AM | Report abuse

Our experiences traveling with my 18-month0old have been fairly good. Most of the confusion has stemmed from either my own forgetfulness or lack of knowledge of the rules. At my home airport (RDU), we were surprised by the pre-screening line where everything even partially liquid or viscous needed to be removed from our carry-ons, shown to security and packed in a separate quart-sized ziploc bag we were supposed to have brought from home. I did't have such a bag, so I was forced to throw away my hand sanitizer, but they did allow me to keep DD's food (ravioli packed in liquid) and diaper cream. I knew beforehand that I couldn't go through with DD's sippy cup, so I emptied it before we got in line.

At one point in our trip, I forgot about the sippy cup, but they made announcements in the security line reminding us about the no-liquids rule, giving me plenty of time to drink the contents before my turn came.

As annoying as the regulations are (and as random as enforcement sometimes seems), there's no call at all for a passenger to throw a hissy fit because they're being asked to comply with the rules. Everyone who hasn't been living in a cave for the last year knows darn well that water can't go through security, no matter what kind of cup it's in. Sounds like this mom thought she was special, and shouldn't have to follow the rules like everyone else. She's totally at fault.

Posted by: NewSAHM | June 19, 2007 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Emmerson was clearly in the wrong. Yes TSA could have initially been more helpful but that is no longer the issue. The issue was this woman didn't follow the water instructions, was told what to do and then instead of just accepting it and doing it, she decided to throw the water on the floor and claim she was a victim of manhandling. Guess she forgot about all the cameras in airports.

Posted by: Centreville Mom | June 19, 2007 7:35 AM | Report abuse

I've actually had pretty good experiences with our extensive in-country and international travel.

We were traveling back to Texas from Oregon two days after the liquids rule went into effect. There were absolutely no liquids allowed in those few days - didn't matter if you had kids with you.

When we got to the security line, we hadn't realized that applied to diaper cream as well. So they said they had to confiscate our diaper cream. Okay, fine, but I asked if I could put some cream on my 1-year-old first to get us through the plane trip. They agreed, and when I pulled down her diaper to reveal a red and scratchy bottom (she doesn't do well with disposable diapers, but I can't travel with cloth), they were horrified. Another TSA agent who'd been watching took the one we were talking with to task, and let us take the cream through. She said if we were willing to rub it on our baby's red *ss, they should figure it was safe.

It's a one-time incident, but it's emblematic of all of our experiences flying extensively with one to two children over the last six years.

Posted by: Karen from Austin | June 19, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Emmerson, especially as someone with a security background, should have known better and acted differently.

Posted by: JBK111 | June 19, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

RDU is my home airport as well, and my wife has flown through there several times recently in dealing with her mom's estate issues.

She says that the TSA inspectors tend to be helpful, but don't enforce the rules consistantly. She's seen people go through with drinks and not have to throw them out, while others have to discard them at the checkpoint. She always takes her laptop with her and has it out of its carrier and ready to boot up at the inspection.

As for health care items that may or may not be allowed, she just makes sure to purchase them when she gets to her destination, and purchases drinks in the waiting area once she gets through the checkpoint.

The woman with the sippy cup should have known the rules and been prepared for them. While I disagree with the way the rules are enforced without regard for the situations, it's not like travellers haven't been told about them already.

Posted by: John L | June 19, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

The war against moisture is a huge waste of time and resources. Do you really feel safer when TSA confiscates your toothpaste and moisturizer? Isn't it telling that the government then donates these dangerous liquids to homeless shelters?

We need a sensible policy for screening air passengers. This is a huge overreaction that just wastes everyone's time. Make people drink from their drinks and wave them through.

Posted by: truth | June 19, 2007 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Emmerson acted like a child by dumping the water and then trying to go back into the gate area. She tried to use her status as a harried mother and former secret service employee to get through and she was called on it.

She's been quoted as being "traumatized" and that caused the water to spill. Traumatized? For being denied entry due to water? Is this a reaction one would expect from a secret service employee?

TSA has significant warts, but in this case they got it right, and this "busy mommy" was exposed for lying.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Traveling with young children is difficult; we've done it on a number of occasions. The TSA website is actually pretty informative, and I'd recommend people look over it carefully a day or two before traveling.

Even so, in the chaos of family travel, my wife and I on one occasion regrettably forgot that we still had a sippy cup with water in it that we'd not declared. The TSA official was sympathetic, there was no confrontation ... we merely suggested they confiscate it and moved on with our trip (sans one cup).

My concern is with re-assembly after security. Most airports have not yet adjusted their process to these new procedures, and the process of pulling all of your gear together, putting shoes and jackets back on toddlers, etc. can be grueling and annoying.

Reagan is better than Dulles in this respect, but all the airports I've been to still have little more than an insufficient number of chairs strewn about. I think the whole post-security area needs to be serious redesigned in light of the stricter modern requirements.

Posted by: RPWiegand | June 19, 2007 8:18 AM | Report abuse

TSA does an extremely important job and it is OUR responsibility as travelers to follow their rules and cooperate. I have no sympathy for Ms. Emerson. Traveling with children is a hassle, but if you're prepared and do research beforehand to see what's allowed, it shouldn't be such a problem.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | June 19, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

This shows that there are 2 sides to every story. The video does show her pouring out the water, seemingly on purpose, but we still don't know what exactly was said to her. But I really have 3 basic thoughts on the incident...

1) If she attempted to use her secret service credentials in any way, other than as basic ID, she should have them taken away permanently.

2) I could see this big of a fuss over breast milk, you can't just go to a water fountain and get more, but why over water? We all know you can buy water in any terminal after going throuugh security or you can get it at a water fountain.

3) Why doesn't TSA consider creating family only security lines at major airports. Families have different security issues, strollers, sippy cups, diaper creams, breast milk etc. and then you will have specific agents trained to deal with that. We already let families board first because they have kids, i would have no problem with getting them through security quicker too!

Posted by: HappyDad | June 19, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I haven't read the story, but would it not have been easier to just dump out the water, stick the sippy cup in a bag, and then refill it beyond security? They do sell water.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I'm with the mother on this one. The TSA people are a-holes.

Posted by: John Paul | June 19, 2007 8:58 AM | Report abuse

i first read this on DCUM and at the time felt sympathy for her. But now I don't. We travel with a toddler regularly, and follow the rules. We don't give her a sippy cup before going through security - that way we aren't forced to take it away from her. We also wait until we go through, then buy a bottle of apple juice and a bottle of water. On travel days, she gets a lot more juice than usual because we don't want to deal with explaining that her milk isn't readily available (lactose free). I bring foods that aren't liquid - chicken, crackers, whole fruit - and don't expect rules to be bent for me. Oh, and diaper cream goes in the checked luggage. I'm not sure why this woman thought it was ok to bring water through security, even in a sippy cup. But I'm also not sure why the event required so many TSA and police officers.

Posted by: lrp | June 19, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

"Why doesn't TSA consider creating family only security lines at major airports."

How about family only flights? Enough already with the kids!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

With family in DC and WI, we travel back and forth a lot with our children. Most times it is fairly easy, but this past Christmas we traveled and DD was just finishing up a 2 week dose of antibiotics that needed to remain cold. I packed it in a small cooler with two icepacks. Our 6am flight was cancelled, we were driven by cab to our connection 2 hours away, our 10am flight was cancelled and we ended up leaving at noon. This is when security decided *two* ice packs was excessive.

With two cranky children (and two cranky adults), a crowded airport, and a long line - I asked the security officer if he could guarantee we would reach our destination before that one ice pack melted, since we had already been traveling for over 6 hours of delays. After consultation with his supervisor, a woman with an understanding smile, we were let through. Luckily we had that extra ice pack, we didn't make it to DCA until 7pm that evening.

Another time, 4 years ago when DD was an infant, I thought I was being smart by having her nurse in a sling as we walked through the airport - until we got to security - the one officer wanted to pull me aside for a body search, until another saw that DD was nursing and stopped the search. That would have been a scene: me with my shirt up, DD screaming, and my husband and 5 yo wondering what was going on!

Posted by: MidwestMom | June 19, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I travel through security at Reagan National Airport regularly for business, at least a couple of times a month. And because I have also done so with two kids under the age of 2, I am very aware of generally how the TSA personnel behave towards those traveling with young kids. All of my observations have been very positive, including my trip with my two kids. I did bring an unopened bottled water with me to mix with powdered baby formula, and I had packaged it in a separate Ziploc bag along with the baby food. I explained this to the TSA personnel, and they said OK. They were polite and assisted me with pushing my bags to the end of the conveyor after I got through the Xray machine, since I had a baby in my arms and a toddler at my side.

I understand how stressful it can be to get through security with young kids (especially when one is panicking that his sippy cup is taken away or emptied), but the video clip of this incident certainly makes it appear that she dumped the water intentionally. While I might not agree with the necessity of the sippy cup/water rule, it's a rule, and the TSA has the right to enforce it. Selfishly, I hope this incident doesn't make my future trips with kids through security at Reagan National worse.

Posted by: Jen | June 19, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

While I have sympathy for both sides, parent traveling with child, not easy, TSA agents trying to hold back terrorists, a very serious issue. But I have found TSA agents level of helpfulness and implementation of common sense to vary significantly. I stood in line at Dulles for 10 minutes, at the HEAD of an extremely long line, because the TSA agents simply were too busy to hand over a stack of the grey tubs used to run my shoes, carryons and other items through the x-ray. After repeatedly asking, and being told to 'hold on' I finally asked an adjacent line, and got a number of tubs to get our line moving again, while the 6 foot tall stacks of grey tubs on the other side of the checkpoint kept growing. This as two TSA agents sat looking very bored at the front of our non-moving line (I want to think there was some policy at play regarding their not being helpful, but how am I supposed to know). We also found scissors in our bag as we were waiting in line (smallish 4" blades) and asked what we should do, we were told no problem, just advise the screener, and it should be ok. They got through. On our return from Orlando? Confiscated, and we were scolded for trying to 'sneak' them through -after- telling the screener about them.

Consistency is the key folks, and it is sorely lacking in the TSA. As it is in this woman's story, deliberately spilling water is a silly thing to do to make a point, especially when they have water fountains on just the other side of the checkpoint.

Posted by: Fred Evil | June 19, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I take RP Wiegand's advice -- read the TSA Web site thoroughly before traveling -- a step further and print out the regulations. We traveled last summer immediately after the new liquids rules went into effect and ran across an official who didn't know the rules regarding medication. Since the medicine was about to expire, was nearing the end anyway and it was time to take it, I took a dose and tossed the container in the trash when the officer told me I couldn't take it on board. If it had been my child's medication, I would have whipped out my written regs and fought it.

Posted by: Capitol Hill Mom | June 19, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

"Traumatized? For being denied entry due to water? "

Well, any reasonable person would feel traumatized over not being allowed to bring WATER onto an airline flight, but the American people have turned into such authority-cowed sheep over the past five years, that I suppose it's considered belligerent of me to say so.

What pathetic levels we have sunk to.

Posted by: Donna | June 19, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The problem is not so much that there are a bunch of silly rules in place (yes, confiscating toothpaste and soda is silly and doesn't protect anyone), the problem is that they are not consistently enforced. Sometimes they let you take your kid's juice through, sometimes they don't. How are passengers supposed to know what to expect when every time they travel the rules are different?

Also- of course the woman in the story was wrong to spill the water deliberately. But, from what I've heard, they didn't offer her a chance to pour out the cup and proceed through the checkpoint- they told her that she had to dump it somewhere else and then get in the back of the line again. If someone told me to do that while I was traveling with a little kid, I'd probably get so mad I'd dump the water on the officer's head. :)

Posted by: randdommom | June 19, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I can totally understand how Emerson lost it. Who hasn't? Traveling is extremely stressful - add a small child to the mix and your patience is going to have to be in over-drive.

Just over a year ago we had an awful experience with TSA racial profiling my husband. He was pulled aside twice because the screeners didn't do their job right the first time. TSA will not get any sympathy from me. And we haven't flown since. Air travel is worse than taking the Greyhound these days.

Posted by: coulkatnj | June 19, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what's worse -- traveling frequently and seeing firsthand the inconsistency (not to say capriciousness) of TSA practice, or imagining working as one of the screeners and having to deal with members of the public who apparently haven't traveled since Lyndon Johnson was majority leader of the Senate.

How can you not have luggage tags?

Posted by: Two sides | June 19, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

She steps up to the security place, she realizes she can't take the sippy cup through with the water in it. Why didn't she just drink the water out of the sippy cup and hand it back to the kid to keep him from screaming? That way everyone would be happy: kid's got his cup so he's not screaming, no liquids in it so TSA is satisfied, mom makes her flight on time.

Posted by: fear the govt | June 19, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

The security restrictions are pretty fierce, but speaking as an international traveler they could be worse. My first trip to the Middle East was very enlightening in that way. There are places I can think of she might have been dragged away at gunpoint for that. I'm not saying that this is ideal, just trying to provide some perspective.

Experienced travelers have developed strategies to navigate security more quickly (the TSA site I thought was pretty good for highlighting those). It's the little things like wearing slip on shoes and putting your metal coins and keys in a jacket or purse to put through the X-ray machine that makes things easier.

And it may sound crazy, but if your child is old enough (and you are or you know someone who is an experienced traveler) try to play/practice at going through security together.

Posted by: David S | June 19, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"Why doesn't TSA consider creating family only security lines at major airports."

How about family only flights? Enough already with the kids!

Posted by: | June 19, 2007 09:03 AM


Hwy Anonymous...I guess you were just born as an adult and were never a kid!! And an airline that offered family only flights might be on to something!!

Posted by: HappyDad | June 19, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"Why doesn't TSA consider creating family only security lines at major airports."

How about family only flights? Enough already with the kids!

Posted by: | June 19, 2007 09:03 AM


Hey Anonymous...I guess you were just born as an adult and were never a kid!! And an airline that offered family only flights might be on to something!!

Posted by: HappyDad | June 19, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I would think that the idea of a "family" screening line would be good for everyone -- the screeners would know what to look for and how to deal with issues regarding children and babies. Those passengers who are not travelling with kids and all of their equipment and specific would not have to be stuck behind a family (the screening of whom would obviously take far longer than the same number of individuals) It isnt a question of special treatment as much as particular questions/issues. I think its a great idea!

Posted by: NE Mom | June 19, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I see why they posted that video, because it shows that she just dumped that water out on the floor, which is pretty miserable. Those floors are slick anyway, it created a mess and a hazard.

One of the first things I've found about security lines is that evasive behavior flags you. She was clearly being evasive. My guess is that she was in a hurry.

I can see why she's "ex" SS.

I have encountered some snippy TSA agents, but none who seemed to take as cold and unemotional as the Swiss or Germans. Give me an American any day!

Posted by: TravelMom | June 19, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Emmerson is obviously in the wrong on this one. Watch the video.

I mean, really, Emmerson. You "accidentally" spilled the contents of a sippy cup? Look, the whole !@#$ing point of a sippy cup is to prevent accidental spillage.

And what did you expect when you tried to make a dash through the security checkpoint without being checked? You're lucky that you're not giving interviews from jail, which is where you belong for that stunt.

The bottom line, Emmerson, is that you expected special treatment, and when you didn't get it, you threw a fit, just like your child. TSA cut you a mountain of slack, and now you owe them an apology.

Posted by: Bob | June 19, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I've flown with my son (19 months at the time, 21 months now) once. The TSA were extremely helpful. They helped me fold the stroller and put it in the Xray machine. I had only milk and snack food for him. I told them about the milk and there was no problem at all. This was in LAX and San Francisco -- two big-city airports. No problem at all.

Posted by: Deanna | June 19, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I have traveled with our daughter multiple times, even overseas when she was 14 months. We've never had any problem getting any milk/water/food for her through security. We just pulled out the containers and placed them with our bag of liquids. Even times we forgot to mention something to the screener, we didn't get hasseled. My thought is if you give them attitude, they will give it right back.

Posted by: Curlyem | June 19, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Experiences have been varied. I agree with those who say consistent enforcement of the rules is what is important, rather than the rules themselves.

This weekend we took prepackaged unopened soymilk because we know that wholemilk doesn't exist in airports/planes, and prepackaged, unopened applesauce, declared them both at O'Hare and Newark, and had no problems, although at Newark they tested them for explosives and at O'Hare they didn't bother. We drank the water in the sippy cup whilst waiting in the security line, and bought a bottle once we passed through. The trick is to be super-organized and plan, plan, plan. TSA staff is also variable, but if you demonstrate you want to follow the rules calmly they are usually helpful.

Posted by: Dopey | June 19, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"I can see why she's "ex" SS."

Aren't the SS required to turn in their badges, etc. when they leave the job?

Posted by: Jake | June 19, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I travel constantly with my job. There are good and bad TSA agents at every airport, some seem worse than others (Phoenix), but they can surprise you. Mothers with babies on the other hand are consistently obnoxious and full of themselves. I don't think babies in strollers belong on planes at all. Take the minivan.

Posted by: TimIn Scottsdale | June 19, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Mothers with babies on the other hand are consistently obnoxious and full of themselves. I don't think babies in strollers belong on planes at all. Take the minivan.

Posted by: TimIn Scottsdale | June 19, 2007 11:27 AM

Believe me, flying with small children is not high on my list of favorite activities, but sometimes "the minivan" just isn't an option.

If families bother you so much, sit in first class. Problem solved.

But you ride in coach, you deal with us. Sorry, cheapskate.

Posted by: Bob | June 19, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Tim in Scottsdale: My child has as much a right to travel as any adult. Just because she's small doesn't mean she is required to stay home. A 2 hour flight is much more tolerable to her than a 12 hour drive. If you have a problem with it, then maybe you should stay home or "take the minivan"

Posted by: lrp | June 19, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I was involved in an incident at BWI once, when I forgot to remove what they considered a "weapon" from my carry-on. I was in line and handed the item to a TSA agent prior to screening (because I anticipated that there might be a problem), and was written a citation. I was quiet and respectful the entire time (though a bit teary-eyed; this was unexpected), and was treated with nothing but compassion by everyone involved. The TSA and police officer regarded me suspiciously at first, but my polite demeanor elicited a polite response from them. I wouldn't be disrespectful or patronizing enough to play the mommy card, and I certainly wouldn't misrepresent myself as an officer of the law.

Has anyone seen the tape? She not only dumps the water on the floor (in the middle of the corridor, not even off to the side); she then shakes the last drops out of the cup. Then she removes her child from his stroller (contradictory to her complaint that this occurred as he was screaming in his chair), and chases after him as he runs off. She attempts to re-enter security through the exit line, and I saw no "manhandling," as she called it. When she darts after her child, no one chases her, but I would imagine if the TSA agents were being so rough and cruel to her, someone would at least try to restrain her, or make a move toward her at least.

I'm not saying don't question authority, but pick your battles. This wasn't precious breast milk or expensive formula or medication. She threw a fit over tap water, because she is a self-important, self-entitled spoiled brat who is not used to answering to anyone. I expect better from even former SS agents. Being a mom doesn't mean you don't have to play by the rules. Other parents struggle through security gates, she should be no exception.

Oh, and to try and retaliate through the media. Precious. Glad they released the video. I hope she has the good grace to at least feel ashamed now.

Posted by: anon this post | June 19, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"Mothers with babies on the other hand are consistently obnoxious and full of themselves"

Especially when they pull out their boobs for breastfeeding! Martyrs, Inc. What a pain!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

"She steps up to the security place, she realizes she can't take the sippy cup through with the water in it. Why didn't she just drink the water out of the sippy cup and hand it back to the kid to keep him from screaming? That way everyone would be happy: kid's got his cup so he's not screaming, no liquids in it so TSA is satisfied, mom makes her flight on time."

If you've read any of the published accounts, you've seen that the mother said that she was not offered the option of drinking or pouring out the water at the security checkpoint. Her only options were to either surrender the sippy cup entirely (which was the only thing her toddler would drink from) or leave security to empty the cup and get back at the end of the line.

I agree that she should not have attempted to bring the water on in the first place. HOWEVER, when she did, the TSA should not have raised the level of intensity to what you might expect for someone attempting to bring a loaded weapon on board. It's water. Let her drink it and be on her way. There's certainly precedent for allowing someone to do that w/o having to go back to the end of the security line, and why they didn't, I'm sure I don't know. It's the inconsistency of the TSA rule enforcement that's ultimately to blame here, and every time I fly, I wonder if I'm going to get the Good Cop who just wants to do his/her job or the Bad Cop who wants to show everyone how powerful he/she is over we mere travelers. You never know who you'll get, and that's the problem in a nutshell.

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | June 19, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

CallMeSkeptical |

"every time I fly, I wonder if I'm going to get the Good Cop who just wants to do his/her job or the Bad Cop who wants to show everyone how powerful he/she is over we mere travelers"

Then don't bring in the stupid sippy cup with water in the first place! Duh!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Just to echo what Fred Evil and others have said: TSA performance varies considerably, and too much.
There are some agents who are really nice and courteous, hardworking and striving to move lines efficiently. Maybe even most of them.
Then there are others who just seem to be, frankly, power-tripping. They seem to enjoy not only making toddlers cry but also insulting and inconveniencing as many people as possible -- people of all ages.
Seems like there's a need for a little more consistency, not to mention professionalism.
As for those whining about babies, children and mothers who dare to board airplanes, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?" as they say in the military. First of all, what kind of loser goes to a parenting blog to trash parents and children? And secondly -- to state the obvious -- human beings of all ages, from newborns to the very elderly, have equal rights and equal needs to use commercial air travel. Also, the option of driving the minivan isn't very viable when you're traveling from, say, Anchorage to Iowa or London to Chicago.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Just to echo what Fred Evil and others have said: TSA performance varies considerably, and too much.
There are some agents who are really nice and courteous, hardworking and striving to move lines efficiently. Maybe even most of them.
Then there are others who just seem to be, frankly, power-tripping. They seem to enjoy not only making toddlers cry but also insulting and inconveniencing as many people as possible -- people of all ages.
Seems like there's a need for a little more consistency, not to mention professionalism.
As for those whining about babies, children and mothers who dare to board airplanes, "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?" as they say in the military. First of all, what kind of loser goes to a parenting blog to trash parents and children? And secondly -- to state the obvious -- human beings of all ages, from newborns to the very elderly, have equal rights and equal needs to use commercial air travel. Also, the option of driving the minivan isn't very viable when you're traveling from, say, Anchorage to Iowa or London to Chicago.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Miss Monica, what a tangled web you weave! This is a tale of many lessons for her royal highness. The "I am special" generation, for which I am a part, is on big display here. TSA rules are clear regarding liquids, and no one is entitled to be exempt from them because they think "it is a stupid policy" or because they were a former Secret Service employee. We are all equal. And pray tell, isn't it wrong to misrepresent yourself as a SS agent if you are no longer employed there?

What I find most fascinating is the psychological driver that pushed her to the edge at the airport and that made her seek public sympathy on the internet. She seems to suggest that she is Everywoman, and this could happen to you. But in fact, people should do their best to cooperate under the circumstances or at least try to defuse an escalating situation. Demanding to speak to a supervisor (no pretty please?), believing you are "being detained against your will," and then yelling out to your fiance a couple hundred yards away aren't going to help. One of my biggest gripes is why didn't the fiance try to assist earlier in the process. Does he not speak? Could he not tell she was being held up? Okay, this is more of a Carolyn Hax issue.

Yes, airport screening is not usually an experience one expects to savor. You simply tolerate it in order to have the privilege of flying. But to empty the contents of the sippy cup on the floor (to me this is tantamount to drivers throwing out their cigarette butts out the window!!) is a really sad act. This is a me-first person who didn't like being confronted by authority. Maybe it is her background working in the SS that made her contemptuous of the TSA officers. An untold pecking order perhaps.

It seems that after the incident, Miss Monica was desperately seeking some sort of validation from her peers that she was in the right, when in fact videos painted quite an opposite picture. To hear her account, it sounded like she was being whipped around by the TSA officers and being held against her will perhaps in a non-public area. But again, the videos show her in a very public area, and her account was indeed an exaggeration. She also says she was ordered to clean the water, so she got on her hands and knees to clean it. Yes, that was the right thing to do, Miss Monica. Thank you for that.

Biggest lesson learned: please help you help yourself. Don't want to miss that flight? Then facilitate your security clearance! Something tells me Akira Kurosawa is turning over in his grave. This Rashomon case is closed!

Posted by: Copenhagen | June 19, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the rules on liquids are ridiculous

I agree that her reports were completely baseless and she was wrong to toss the water on the floor

I agree that most pasengers on flights are annoying when they ignore EVERY poster and EVERY announcement and shouting by the big guy in the uniform up ahead telling you all the rules very clearly

And I agree that I'd enjoy no-kids flights :)

Posted by: Liz D | June 19, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

One of the problems is that there ARE exceptions to the rules for babies. No time I have flown with my child have I EVER been told he could not bring his sippy cup through - and he did have water or juice in it every time.

I think another part of the problem is that the line between baby and toddler and child is all about personal interpretation. Nobody is going to expect an 8 month old to give up their bottle, but they might expect a 2 year old to give up their cup - some 2 year olds are capable of doing that gracefully and some are not. No mother wants to see her child upset, so you get defensive, and react in bad ways, so on and so forth.

For the most part if you treat security people with respect and some good humor, things are fine. It would be nice if they did the same for passengers, but I can understand that after the fiftieth uncooperative passenger of the day they might get a bit testy.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 3:09 PM | Report abuse

What's a sippy cup?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

why would you give a toddler a sippy cup knowing it will have to be taken away from the child? i always wait until i go through security before giving things to my child.

toddlers generally don't part with things easily. why make things difficult when it's not necessary?

Posted by: lrp | June 19, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I was traveling with my infant son from BWI to Phx sans hubby. I did my homework, I even called TSA to confirm some things. Even though this was way before the "no water" rule, TSA was no better the either. I was also traveling with my 81 yo alzheimer father in a wheelchair, my 72 yo mother who needs a walker along with all my baby stuff in a stroller with the car seat. When we arrived at the airport, I was hoping that my parents would have been able to go through security with me for some added assistance. They were pulled out of line because of the wheelchair leaving me to fend for myself.

The TSA officer must have only been on the job for 5 minutes and never seen a baby before. DS was sleeping peacefully in car seat attached to stroller. TSA demanded that I remove sleeping baby from car seat, remove everything from stroller, fold the car seat handle, put car seat on belt, fold stroller and put stroller on belt.

Normally, this would be fine, except that one person CANNOT possibly do all this with one hand within 1 minute while holding a sleeping infant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I requested his assistance to which he refused. By this time, I'm getting more than pissed and I also notice 2 lanes over, they've practically undressed my father and mother while attempting the deconstruction of their disability apparatus.

If it weren't for the very nice man behind me, I might have said something I wouldn't have regretted to this day. TSA needs to have sensitivity training for situations that arise that are part of the traveling family life.

Incidentally, I was smart enough to wear flip flops which saved me just one more thing to have to worry about on the other side of the squirrely gates of admission.

When returning from Phx, I did get assistance without even requesting it. Someone was observant and helped me through.

And for all those out there who think that families shouldn't use air for travel -- I can always pick you out when there's open seating and I enjoy making you sit next to us. Remember -- we mom's -- we're immune to the baby's cry. We can take it much much longer than you can. Oh, and since there's no changing table in the lavatories, you wouldn't believe the fun we have changing diapers right under your nose and box lunch.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!!!!

Posted by: cj | June 19, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

cj

"And for all those out there who think that families shouldn't use air for travel -- I can always pick you out when there's open seating and I enjoy making you sit next to us. Remember -- we mom's -- we're immune to the baby's cry. We can take it much much longer than you can. Oh, and since there's no changing table in the lavatories, you wouldn't believe the fun we have changing diapers right under your nose and box lunch.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA"

As long as you keep your saggy boobs inside your top, I don't care!

Posted by: Spike | June 19, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

WOW!! Spike!! Good comeback!! NOT

Posted by: cj | June 19, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

cj - much of your experience sounds familiar to me.
Airline travel can be hellish these days, not just because of the TSA but also because of airlines' drastic cutbacks in service. Thank God for the really nice people -- fellow passengers, like the man behind you in the line -- who help out parents, kids and others in need. I am so grateful to the people who've helped me when I've struggled with my small kids on some (non-joyful, non-optional) airline trip. It reminds me to pass it on. . .be helpful to others who might be struggling.

Posted by: anon mom | June 19, 2007 4:24 PM | Report abuse

"I can always pick you out when there's open seating and I enjoy making you sit next to us. Remember -- we mom's -- we're immune to the baby's cry. We can take it much much longer than you can. Oh, and since there's no changing table in the lavatories, you wouldn't believe the fun we have changing diapers right under your nose and box lunch.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA"

And cj clearly paints herself as the obnoxious mother who gives the rest of the good mom's in the world a bad name.

Your blatant rudeness is why the TSA worker didn't want to help you with the stroller - which btw you have ALWAYS had to have your strollers screened seperately. I travelled with my children as infrants pre-911 and that rule has been in place for many years.

Posted by: When you're rude what do you expect? | June 19, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Our normally even-tempered 3 year old pitched a fit when TSA made him take off his shoes.

That's TSA for you---keeping us safe from 3 year old shoe bombers.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 20, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

We have flown four times with our kid. This last round trip we brought milk in bottles for our 16-month old. I declared it going east, and they glanced at it and handed it back to me, no worries. Coming west, my husband just left it in his pack and didn't say anything. They didn't mention it either. Pretty scary, if liquids are really a security threat. (And frankly, my husband, an unreformed hippie, looks pretty scary to people who don't know him-- I'm surprised he didn't get pulled out of line just for fitting the profile.)

His attitude is "I'll do what they tell me I have to do, but I won't work at following their rules."

I did notice on our return trip from Atlanta that there was no trash can at the gate for water, unallowed items, etc. I had a water bottle which I handed to the screener and he acted like I was being weird-- but really, it was a long line and hot, and I kept the water until the bitter end. They need to have a container.

As for the woman dumping her water, I feel for her being frazzled and losing her temper, but then for her to play the victim and act like "TSA made me do it"-- it really isn't a big deal-- they have all the power, so go ahead and follow their rules.

Posted by: raisin mountaineer | June 20, 2007 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and as for first class being baby-free... this last round trip, we upgraded both ways! Since we can't manage to use our miles to buy flights that we want, we've started making the trip nicer for ourselves. Until kid turns two and we HAVE to buy him a seat, that's what we're doing. I have to say that the other first class passengers at least pretended that they didn't mind.

As for bf-ing, if it keeps my kid quiet and even sleeping (which it does), you should be grateful. And if you saw my boob, you were trying pretty hard to peek-- do you get that much of a thrill out of it?

Posted by: raisin mountaineer | June 20, 2007 7:16 PM | Report abuse

The point is that everyone should be outraged at the screenings of hundreds of millions of innocent Americans. So far the TSA has not stopped a single legitimage terrorist incident, and it never will, since it is still trivial to put a bomb in cargo or have an airport employee bring a gun to work.

For the price of 2 TSA screeners, we could hire an FBI counterterrorism agent. The next time you see the 20 screeners at the airport, imagine what 25,000 FBI agents could do...

Posted by: Walter Nissen | June 20, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Re: 3-year-old shoe bombers - Prairie Home Companion once had a really funny skit about jihadists disguised as elderly Minnesota Lutherans.
But to give TSA its due, airline security isn't only about would-be terrorists. It's also about corralling drunks. Maybe more about that than anything. I have personally seen TSA agents deal with belligerent or spaced-out drunks, and a friend of mine who works in our state's Homeland Security division confirms that the biggest airport challenge for TSA around these parts is dealing with drunks.

Posted by: anon mom | June 21, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Re: 3-year-old shoe bombers - Prairie Home Companion once had a really funny skit about jihadists disguised as elderly Minnesota Lutherans.
But to give TSA its due, airline security isn't only about would-be terrorists. It's also about corralling drunks. Maybe more about that than anything. I have personally seen TSA agents deal with belligerent or spaced-out drunks, and a friend of mine who works in our state's Homeland Security division confirms that the biggest airport challenge for TSA around these parts is dealing with drunks.

Posted by: anon mom | June 21, 2007 6:03 PM | Report abuse

fr Bob:

>...If families bother you so much, sit in first class. Problem solved. But you ride in coach, you deal with us. Sorry, cheapskate.

There's no call for that. I was flying back from a family funeral, when I had the misfortune of sitting next to a cranky 3 year old. Mommy simply said that little darling hadn't had time for her nap today. The lovely little child kicked me and my seat the entire trip back from Chicago to Sacramento, poked me, woke me from a nap, etc. I can't afford to fly first class.

Posted by: Alex | June 25, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

3 yr old shoe bombers...what a great idea for some fanatic ...I, for one, think as inconvenient as the rules are...I would rather have them than not.
I would think that a parent would want and appreciate every effort to provide their child a safe flight...even if it means sippy cup withdrawal for a few minutes

Posted by: hartfordcity | June 25, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

3 yr old shoe bombers...what a great idea for some fanatic ...I, for one, think as inconvenient as the rules are...I would rather have them than not.
I would think that a parent would want and appreciate every effort to provide their child a safe flight...even if it means sippy cup withdrawal for a few minutes

Posted by: hartfordcity | June 25, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

3 yr old shoe bombers...what a great idea for some fanatic ...I, for one, think as inconvenient as the rules are...I would rather have them than not.
I would think that a parent would want and appreciate every effort to provide their child a safe flight...even if it means sippy cup withdrawal for a few minutes

Posted by: hartfordcity | June 25, 2007 10:39 PM | Report abuse

The only post on this blog that makes sense is Walter Nissen´s. Research has shown that the threat of liquid explosives existed but yet did not pose a significant threat. And what terrorist would bomb a plane these days anyway? If i were one, then I´d hit a shopping mall or university. So where does this pointless screening stop?

I agree it totally depends on what day, which airport, which line you step into and probably your race as well to predict TSA behavior. As for the mom with the freaking sippy cup. Good for her for being outraged. You all should be.

Posted by: mmm | June 29, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

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