TSA, you’re so smart!

A friend of mine (author of Confessions of a Coconut) is 6 months pregnant, and looks adorable and obviously pregnant. She also travels on a fairly regular basis. A few weeks ago, she was at the airport. In the security line, after she went through the scanner, the conversation went like this:

TSA lady: “Ma’am, we picked up something on your scan. Do you have something under your dress?”
Friend: “Um…. a baby?”
TSA lady: “I’m just going to check on that.”

Y’all, I am not making this up. They then proceeded to pat her down (where the agent got a little friendly with my friend’s posterior) and swab her hands for explosive material. Because, you know, she’s clearly smuggling something. And pregnant women as a rule are super dangerous. (Although I admit during my last month of being pregnant I may or may not have been considered dangerous if you got between me and the AC vent….Anyway.)

On the way home, my friend opted to go through the metal detector, hoping to avoid a repeat of her trip out. They did end up patting her down (in a much more courteous way) but decided her hands were probably clear of explosives without swabbing them.

I have heard some crazy TSA stories regarding pregnancy and motherhood (although usually referring to breastmilk, not the actual baby while it’s in utero) but this takes the cake!

Readers, have you had issues traveling while pregnant, or with a pregnant companion?

Also, don’t forget at 1pm ET/12pm CT I am co-hosting the National #GoLikeAPro chat with special guest Gary Leff. We will be discussing Travel and Technology, and it should be a good time. Join us!


  1. when i was 20 weeks pregnant and flying back from germany for vacation, not only did i get a pat down, but i had to lift my shirt to prove my bump was actually flesh. they also checked my ponytail.

    in the states, though, they let me through the metal detector and no pat down. i’m never sure what treatment i’ll get at which check point and which airport because it changes by the day, it seems.

  2. I always refuse to go through the nude-o-scopes, and while pregnant, it was very easy to just say, “I don’t want to expose my unborn child to radiation” as an excuse. I had several TSA staff members tell me that it was less radiation than an ultrasound and I was getting a lot of those right? (really? they somehow know that?). Turns out, I was working with midwives – I never had an ultrasound my entire pregnancy.

  3. I’m expecting #2 in 6 weeks and have traveled a fair amount while pregnant this time. I too always opt out of nude-o-scopes while pregnant (explaining that I’m pregnant) and usually get a pat down. But no one has given me a hard time about it or attempted to talk me into going through the machine. In the JetBlue terminal at JFK, they even let me do the regular metal detector once (no patdown needed). But that doesn’t seem to be standard operating procedure most places.

  4. “less radiation than an ultrasound” indeed?

    TSA wouldn’t know one kind of radiation from another.

  5. The exact same thing happened to my daughter while 8 1/2 months pregnant. They asked her what was under her top and she told them that she was growing a baby. She still got patted down. You’d think her her cankles would show that she was pregnant.

  6. My wife flewa few times and was treated with the upmost care and respect from TSA at RDU. When traveling with breastmilk after birth, again too marks to them for caring and treating the liquid gold with tremendous care.

  7. Two of the times I asked to go through the metal detector instead of x-ray while pregnant the agents did not want to let me. One went on and on about how his wife did it and it’s safe, you’ll have to be patted down, etc. I went through the metal detector and got my pat down.

    The other agent flat out told me that I had no choice–either do it or don’t fly. If I hadn’t been in such a hurry to catch my flight I would fought it and/or have reported the one who told me I had no choice that day.

    As for pony tails, I’ve had those patted down several times.

  8. The TSA is a criminal, out-of-control agency that abuses people with impunity. It hasn’t caught or thwarted a single potential attacker in its multi-billion-dollar history.

    Pistole and Napolitano are its sick, twisted ringleaders. They should be fired — after being forced to go through a few gropes themselves — and the entire agency dismantled.

    But I’m not holding my breath. Congress is craven, the president clueless — after all, his wife and children don’t get bullied, harassed, robbed, stripped, and groped — and half the population willfully ignorant.

    I’ve kept track of accounts of abuse. They aren’t rare, they aren’t few and far between, they are legion. I keep a running tally at TSA News Blog (dot com).

    We’re more likely to drown in a bathtub than be killed in a terrorist attack. To be struck by lightning. To choke on a sandwich. And certainly to be killed in a car accident (35,000 traffic fatalities in this country EVERY YEAR — how many 9/11s is that?).

    But empirical evidence, risk assessment, statistical analysis, security experts, logic — none of it matters to the United Sheeple of America. “The Terrorists! The Terrorists Are Everywhere!”

    So many cowards and paranoiacs. They won’t be happy until Uncle Sam is sticking his fingers up their a**es.

  9. Really? Pregnant women willingly allow untrained clerks with ZERO medical background to “scan” them with untested equipment – (this would apply to both the carcinogenic backscatter x-ray – blue box – and the cylindrical millimeter wave – said to be more like an MRI). EITHER WAY ladies – this is essentially medical equipment, being operated by Walmart Greeters.
    What planet are you on that this seems safe, makes sense and you allow not only yourself to receive these dubious scans -but also visit this harm/nonsense on your unborn kid? Are you NUTS? Wake up people.

  10. To be fair, neither ultrasound nor airport scanners can cause harm.

    Ultrasound – sound waves, not radiation.
    Airport scanners – Use millimeter waves which are non-ionizing. In other words, not capable of damaging DNA.

  11. Also to be fair, you’d be surprised at the ways people try to smuggle drugs. Often, the drug mules are young women who might not pose a threat as far as terrorism is concerned. Regardless, I don’t like airport security but give the TSA agents a break.

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