A recent addition to the TSA's now famous limitations on liquids you can bring through security is that nursing mother's can bring "reasonable" amounts of breast milk through security "whether or not their baby is travelling with them". This is obviously important to working mothers who wish to pump while on business travel and bring the milk back with them for their baby. All nursing mothers agree that breast milk is pretty much the equivalent of liquid gold, so the thought of checking it, or sending it through the mail is not a happy one... so kudos to those "lactavists" who managed to get the rule changed.
Now this TSA rule is pretty new - infact all the signs I ever see in airports state that "you must be travelling with your baby" to bring "baby milk" through security. Oddly this new rule was also published August 4th 2007 under the title "New Policies for Lighters, Electronics and Breast Milk". So I think you might agree that I was understandably nervous about trying out this new policy on my recent trip away from little one. I was away for almost exactly 48 hours so not including the pumping session in the airport (standing in a dubiously clean, stale smoke smelling familly bathroom - but that's another issue), I had about 40 ounces of breast milk to travel back with. I came prepared with a print-out of the new rule, and with plenty of time to "argue with the supervisor" if it came to that. I think you'll forgive me for assuming that the average TSA employee might not have taken the time to become familiar with this rule, and may not have come across this situation before.
Well I have to say that I vastly underestimated the TSA (or maybe I overestimated them). My cooler of breast milk passed through the X-ray with not a single comment. As instructed in the rules I declared that I was "travelling with expressed breast milk", but I'm not entirely convinced they heard me in the noisy airport. Perhaps this has to do with the two gentlemen ahead of me in the line with arabic writing on their passports and who clearly were not familiar with the usual TSA procedure (taking out their laptops, removing their shoes and jackets etc). The TSA employees at that security line gave me not a second glance.
I feel a little guilty, but I have to say that travel without little one was a real treat! Obviously I missed her, but I had time to myself on the plane to read and no "bouncing baby with a death wish" to hold onto. I got two uninterrupted night's sleep (well apart from worry about my interview) and changed no diapers. I guess I was ready for a break (well as much of a break as can be provided by a faculty interview trip).
PS. I'll post more about my two faculty interviews when I get the chance.