Julie WattsJulie Watts NewsMom is the KPIX Consumer-Investigative reporter and a mom. Her #NewsMom Blog on CBSSF offers a unique perspective on issues facing Bay Area parents. 

Julie’s independent website NewsMom.com
features “News, Reviews and Resources for Moms, by Moms Who Report the News.” Follow @newsmomdotcom on Facebook & Twitter

(CBS-SF #NewsMom Blog) – If you’ve ever traveled with a baby, you know that TSA makes exceptions for parents traveling with small children. You’re allowed to carry on more liquids that the 3-1-1 rule generally allows (i.e. more than 3.4 oz of water, formula, food, etc.)

But there is a catch. You can only carry on what is medically necessary during the flight.

That was an issue for us on a recent trip to the jungles of South America with our toddler.

Due to Typhoid concerns, our doctor prescribed special baby food to supplement our  daughters diet while visiting family in Argentina and Paraguay. She couldn’t eat any fresh fruits, veggies or anything that had been washed and not cooked.

10 days without fiber can do a number on an 18 months old… translation a carry-on suitcase full of pureed fruit pouches.  However, we couldn’t  afford to check it due to the high risk of baggage theft at the airports we were flying into.

Enter TSA Cares.

Following this recent ConsumerWatch report, TSA agreed to broaden the scope of its TSA Cares program to include travelers with extenuating circumstances (like specialized luggage).

So, I put their word to the test.

For the full story – Check out my NewsMom.com  blog.

Based on my baby food odyssey, here is the 4 step process I suggest for parents flying with a child and “special circumstances.”

4 Steps to Navigating TSA Rules With A Toddler

Step 1: Call TSA Cares 1-855-787-2227
(at least 72 hours before your flight).

Explain your special circumstance and ask for the number of the passenger screening specialist or TSA Duty Manager at the airport that you’re flying out of. BE NICE!

Step 2: Call the Duty Manager
(at least 72 hours before your flight)

Explain your special circumstance again to the Duty Manager and ask if there is any way to get pre-authorization for your special needs. Offer to come to the airport in advance for pre-screening of specialized items.

Document the name of the agent you speak with and everything he/she tells you.

Ask the agent to document your request and to notify the passenger screening specialist or duty manager who will be working on the day/time of your flight. BE NICE!

Step 3: Call the Duty Manager again
(as you’re pulling up to the airport)

Ask the TSA Duty Manager to meet you at the check-in counter before you check your bags.  

If you wait until you’re going through security after your bags are checked, you may be forced to throw questionable items away.  You’ll also waste time if the security agents have to call the TSA Duty Manager to meet you there.  AGAIN, BE NICE!

Step 4: At the Check-In Counter 

Ask the TSA Duty Manager to examine the items you want to carry on and explain their necessity in person.

Best Case Scenario: The Duty Manager will authorize the security checkpoint agents to allow you to carry onyour items.
Worst Case Scenario: You’ll have to check them and risk bag theft/loss etc.

We followed the 4-step process above.  After days of debate over the medical necessity of the food, the TSA Duty Manager finally agreed to let us carry it on.


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