TSA Confiscates Pregnant Woman's Insulin, Ice Packs

from the how-nice-of-them dept

DogBoy alerts us to the latest in customer service niceties from your friendly TSA agents. A pregnant woman, travelling alone via Denver International Airport, had her insulin and ice packs confiscated after TSA agents claimed they were a threat. The items were properly labeled and the woman had the requisite doctor’s note. When asked why they were doing this, the TSA agent claimed that such things were “a risk”:

“He’s like, ‘Well, you’re a risk.’ I’m like, ‘Excuse me?’ And he’s like, ‘This is a risk … I can’t tell you why again. But this is at risk for explosives,’? the woman said.

In typical TSA denial fashion, it has issued an apology… while also suggesting the woman is lying:

?We talked to all of our people and they didn?t touch her insulin,” said TSA spokeswoman Pat Ahlstrom.

Ahlstrom said ice packs are only allowed if they?re completely frozen and the woman?s were not.

Filed Under: ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “TSA Confiscates Pregnant Woman's Insulin, Ice Packs”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
quarterhorsgirl says:

Re: Re: Re:

I take offense at that remark. Not every high school drop out has a choice or doesn’t go on to complete their education, much less is any less of a hard worker than graduates. Most likely most of them work harder since nothing has ever been easier. Don’t judge all high school dropouts and we won’t judge all you graduates!

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“?We talked to all of our people and they didn?t touch her insulin,” said TSA spokeswoman Pat Ahlstrom. “

Because we have no cameras like we claimed in the past.

We do not have a problem with TSA agents stealing things, because we asked them and they said they wouldn’t steal.

They are all honest and upright and never abuse their position in any way.

While I’d like to believe the woman and vilify the TSA, there is a huge gap in the story here.
More telling is a quote from her, that she managed to hide and sneak some insulin in anyways.

The bigger story is we are now screwing with medical supplies to avoid terrorists, and that is fing stupid.
Just when you think it can’t get any more stupid… they find a way.

How far is to far, until the American people say WTF were we thinking and stop having a knee jerk reaction to we have to do this because of terrorism.

Anonymous Coward says:

I wish there were better statistics on this. I know there are clearly reported examples of things going wrong. I haven’t flown or been in an airport in a while so maybe things have changed but I sometimes feel that although bad things are happening with TSA, could it be a mis represented sample of loud speakerS?

But is it really only a bad few of TSA agents(scattered around the world or USA) that have issues with travelers? Are they misrepresenting TSA as a whole?

I can’t imagine that ALL TSA agents are hardened assholes about everything with a know it all attitude. Ive personally had fairly positive experience going through checkouts and stuff with no problems of myself and others. Including patient and understanding agents when someone didn’t know what to do or did something wrong.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Don’t compare those who were wronged with those who weren’t. Compare those who were wronged against terrorists caught.

So we have:
Public citizens violated: 3 (that I can think of off the top of my head)
Terrorists caught by the TSA: 0 (the two that were caught by citizens didn’t go threw a TSA checkpoint, so technically wouldn’t count against the TSA)

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

the two that were caught by citizens didn’t go threw a TSA checkpoint, so technically wouldn’t count against the TSA

The two who were caught, as well as the dozen or more other people causing problems aboard airplanes were caught by the people the TSA likes to abuse. I believe the TSA is just upset that the general public is better at catching terrorists than they are, and are dishing out some retribution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“I can’t imagine that ALL TSA agents are hardened assholes about everything with a know it all attitude.”

They’re all assholes. Every last one of them. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be supporting terrorism by working for the TSA. (I trust you’re intelligent enough to grasp why the TSA was one huge Christmas present to Al Queda; I’m sure even in their wildest dreams that they couldn’t dare hope it would work out so well for them.)

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

TSA sucks donkey bungholes, violently!

What a bunch of lying sacks of shit are at the TSA! Has a goddamned one of those shit-bags ever told the truth even once in their entire lives? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. There’s a special place in hell for the POS that committed this crime against humanity, and he should also serve some serious time in a SuperMax being some body builder’s shower toy before he gets there. I hope they all burn in hell! Their typical response to every accusation against them is that the accuser is lying. They invented lying, or re-invented it, as far as I’m concerned. Douche bags and scum buckets, the lot of them! I will never, ever fly anywhere as long as these goons govern the airways. They make the Gestapo look like rank punks.

Overcast (profile) says:

Re: Who is the bigger threat here?

If the woman has type 1 diabetes, it’s potentially life threatening to go without insulin for many hours! So who is the bigger threat here? The woman or TSA?

It depends:

If you are talking in terms of reality – the TSA is *obviously* the bigger threat.

But in today’s cesspool of a world, the media and government spin would indicate that the pregnant woman was the threat.

The Devil's Coachman (profile) says:

Re: Re: Who is the bigger threat here?

They’re the TSA, and according to them, they’re doing God’s work, and thus are not subject to the laws that the rest of us mere mortal civilians are. They are the law! And the law is what they say it is! No more, and no less. If you don’t believe them, then go ask Humpty Dumpty. That is your last avenue of appeal.

Prof Andy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Who is the bigger threat here?

> IANAL, but wouldn’t confiscating insulin from
> someone who needs it medically be a criminal
> offense? Knowingly taking it would (I assume)
> mean that you knowingly put someone at risk
> of dieing or at the least cause a serious
> medical issue.

As a Type 1 Diabetic, I consider it attempted murder.

–Prof Andy

RzITex (profile) says:

Say What

Though shall not die from a lack of insulin while in the custody of federal agents, which have perfected a way of keeping ice frozen without the means of an external cooler, in the presence of no record-capable audio or video devices before attempting to get shot at by a broad aim of radiation while carrying an unborn baby inside of you.?

Its been a while since I’ve chiseled stone, but I think I’m gunna need a week for this one.

Mark C. says:

In the past week I’ve gone through TSA security with two vials of insulin, in an ice pack container (blue plastic thing you freeze then put in an outer insulated pouch for travel) at Chicago O’Hare, Houston Intercontinental, Lambert-St. Louis and a small regional airport where I live.

Zero problem each time. I told them I had it, they looked it over, keep moving. Wonder whether this is just a left hand/right hand deal or if there’s more to the story.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Mark, considering the woman is all proud of “sneaking” some on board, I am guessing that a background check would find her as part of some sort of activist group or public whining committee. The story is stupid beyond understanding, and no TSA agent would take someone’s medicine away from them. That is just incredibly stupid.

Now, if she showed up with unlabeled vials, a melted ice pack, and so on, I would say that she might be setting them up to Fail. No doubt if she got on board with it, she would be crowing about how she snuck potential bomb making material past the TSA.

Sounds like one of those “anti security theater” types that Mike loves so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

eejit, sorry, but this is where you are wrong.

Carrying something that looks like insulin isn’t proof that it was prescribed, nor is it proof of what it really is. You are making the simple mistake that can cost lives.

There is no “fuck the poor she deserves to die”, that is you own hyperbole bullshit that proves you don’t have any good argument here.

The TSA said they didn’t take her insulin, they only took her unfrozen (and therefore useless) jelpacks.

She also claims to have smuggled stuff on board. She sounds like a truly credible, law abiding citizen, right?

Killercool (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Following this delightful logic, I came up with some more links for the TSA Fail Chain.

Carrying something that looks like a prescription isn’t proof that it was written by a doctor, nor is it proof of what it really is. You are making the simple mistake that can cost lives.

Carrying something that looks like a medical degree isn’t proof that someone is a doctor, nor is it proof of what it really is. You are making the simple mistake that can cost lives.

Et cetera, ad nauseum.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Wow, talk about taking something to an extreme just to be an idiot.

Read closely: The TSA didn’t take her insulin. They may have CHECKED her insulin, but they didn’t take it. However, they did take her useless unfrozen gel pack things.

Just because you show up at the gate with prescription medication in your hand does not mean that you have it lawfully, or that it is even what the label claims it to be. There are plenty of Oxycontin addicts out there that can come up with all sorts of reasons why they have a bunch of pills under someone else’s name.

So, would you like to take another swing at it there slugger, or are you willing to admit that you just sort of jumped all over something because you don’t like the truth?

Joe Publius (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Read the article too. She said that the TSA did take her insulin, it’s just that they didn’t take all of it because of how they searched her bag.

Now I guess you can boil this down to She Said, They Said, but I don’t see right now how one is more trustworthy than the other, especially considering the TSA tactics of just following orders now and evading later.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

She also claims to have smuggled stuff on board. She sounds like a truly credible, law abiding citizen, right?

TSA agents have stolen a lot of stuff, molested children and the elderly, broke colostomy and urostomy bags, forced a woman to remove her prosthetic breast, lied about the amount of radiation the scanners use, lied about whether the machines can even store pictures, etc. I don’t consider them credible at all. I don’t have any reason to consider this lady less credible just because she didn’t want to have the TSA go through her stuff.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“She also claims to have smuggled stuff on board. She sounds like a truly credible, law abiding citizen, right?”

Given the choice between keeping my potentially life-saving medication or being accused of being a non-credible, law breaking citizen by an anonymous commenter on the internet, I’d go with keeping the medication…

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

She also claims to have smuggled stuff on board. She sounds like a truly credible, law abiding citizen, right?

She merely said that they didn’t find 1 vial that she had somewhere else. If the TSA took all your other insulin, and that 1 vial could save your life, no person in their right mind would then tell those TSA a*holes they still had 1 vial.

And since even according to the TSA insulin is allowed, it wasn’t illegal for her to carry it on a plane.

The Old Fella says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Abide by the Law????

Just because a government makes a law, this does not mean that the law is good. For example, the slavery laws of the confederate south, or the race laws of nazi germany(related to the jews and gypsys), or the religious laws of sharia islam (related to kill the infidels), or the race laws found in countries in africa (you’re not of my tribe then you’re dead meat). These kinds of laws when judged against the highest moral law show how evil laws can come into existence and it is then up to the individual to choose whether one obeys these or the higher moral law.

Most of man-made law is a quicksand of control. As I teach my children, the only thing that is truly yours is free-will and the only right is that you have the ability and the responsibility to make a choice. After looking at this for many years, it is obvious to me (at least) that men and women in power try to take away your right to choose. God Almighty himself has made it plain that he will not take away your right to choose but also makes it plain that the responsibility of the consequences of your choices is also yours.

Be of good cheer, live long and choose well.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

She had everything clearly labeled and she had a doctor’s note. Obviously the ONLY reason she could have been there was as a set-up to embarrass the TSA and give Mike Masnick something to write in his blog.

Because, you know, the TSA doesn’t do enough crappy things as it is, so Mike needs help finding material. And because activists cannot possibly have legitimate medical conditions.

Overcast (profile) says:

Sad part of this whole thing is – ANY terrorist with ANY sense in his/her head would avoid the airlines like a plague.

Not only is it ‘old news’, but with the focus on the TSA and the failing airlines, it would quickly be clear that another target will likely be woefully unprotected.

The TSA claims to be there for our ‘safety’ – yet, they even fail at that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Your reasoning is mostly correct: any sensible terrorist would avoid airPLANES, not necessarily airLINES.

After all, that crowd of people busy either (a) sexually assaulting passengers (b) stealing passenger belongings (c) being sexually assaulted (d) having their property stolen is large, stationary and predictable. Very tempting target, wouldn’t you say?

Of course the gibbering baboons at the TSA like to pretend that because — putatively — they’ve made the airplanes safe, that airline travel is safe.

But it’s not. Nothing has changed except that the addition of cockpit doors has made it much less likely that a plane will be used as a weapon. But that does nothing to protect the passengers, who, in the TSA’s security model, are expendable whether in the air or on the ground.

DCL says:

Re: Re:

Wrong.. any intelligent terrorist would continue to try the airlines AND MAKE SURE TO GET caught on the plane!

Sample Headlines…
Some type of explosive blows up plane in flight.. 300 people died. (this one is all sad and makes people angry)
A terrorist was stopped trying to light a bomb hidden in their padded bra. (this one causes half the flying population to either get a more intrusive groping or to stop wearing bras on board)

Anonymous Coward says:

I hate the idea of defending the TSA but….
take the vial of properly labeled insulin or bottled water and replace it with something like ammonium hydroxide also clear and will burn your lungs or better yet one member of your team carries on chemical one and the other 3 members carry on chemicals 2,3 and 4, together they make a toxic gas or flammable material. hence the ban on containers like water and colostomy bags. don’t forget the adult diapers it could be a bomb. its all in the name of Just in case.

Flying is a privilege not a right. take a train/drive or call ahead and research the screening procedures.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

take the vial of properly labeled insulin or bottled water and replace it with something like ammonium hydroxide also clear and will burn your lungs or better yet one member of your team carries on chemical one and the other 3 members carry on chemicals 2,3 and 4, together they make a toxic gas or flammable material.

Funny how they don’t actually ban all liquids and gels, isn’t it? I wonder how many poisonous gasses capable of killing an entire plane of people you could make with just the containers in one small ziplock bag.

Flying is a privilege not a right. take a train

The TSA is starting in on trains and buses too. Keep burying your head in the sand in the name of keeping your magic tiger rock, though. I’m sure it will all turn out well in the end as long as you keep yourself in a constant state of fear.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

no airline has to take you anywhere

No airline has to take you anywhere…unless they want to lose their common carrier status. Sure, they can deny transportation to legal travelers, but if they do so, then they deserve no federal funds, no access to public terminals, and no subsidies on fuel and right-of-way. They can load and unload at a private terminal, pay full price for their jet-fuel, and we don’t have to bail them out when they go out of business.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

But because the airlines are “to big to fail” (read: owned by banks), instead of all that, the Government will just issue a 10% off coupon for a pair of Superman or Supergirl Underoos to every citizen of the U.S. and say “problem solved”. And if we still can’t fly they’ll say it’s not their problem if we weren’t born with superpowers, a rich relative, or a Member of Congress with a taxpayer paid for “private” government jet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

(a) Sovereignty and Public Right of Transit.–
(1) The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.
(2) A citizen of the United States has a public right of transit through the navigable airspace.

you forgot this part….

(b) Use of Airspace.–(1) The Administrator may modify or revoke an assignment when required in the public interest.

hence its a privilege not a right irregardless of the wording.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

hence its a privilege not a right irregardless of the wording.

And if Martial Law is declared, your rights are modified and/or revoked by an “administrator” when required in the “public interest”. Sure, there is a line between rights and privlidges, but that line gets thinner and thinner every day.

The real difference between rights and privileges these days? Privileges are what they allow you to do, and rights are what the cop reads to you, as he is arresting you for filming them.

Based on the way people in the U.S. get treated by their own government officials and those they empower to act on their behalf, I’d have to say that the same thing applies to the U.S. Constitutions Bill of Rights, irregardless of the wording.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

TSA are already screening passengers at train stations and bus depots. What form of transportation am I allowed to take now? Is a train a right or a privilege?
Do us a favour please. If you should ever meet this woman, doubtful I know, but if you do, look her in the eye and say that you honestly, 100 percent, feel safer now that the TSA take away her medication. Or do the same if you meet the old grandmothers who have cancer, and are told to hold up completely non-functional arms. Or those who have liver cancer, whose urine bags are deliberately burst open and thus have to literally sit through a flight with ruined trousers.

Thanks to the TSA, I have decided I am never travelling to the U.S.A. That’s my tourism dollars you’ll never see. There was even an in-depth article in a national newspaper a couple days ago about this problem.

Prof Andy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> Flying is a privilege not a right.
> take a train/drive or
> call ahead and research the screening procedures.

All the means of travel you suggested are “privileges.” You can be searched getting on a train. Your car can be searched while you are driving.

As for calling ahead, that will result in someone who doesn’t care lying to you.

–Prof Andy

earthshoes says:

Re: Re:

The thing is, she’d flown many times before with her insulin without a problem. Further more TSA has a policy concerning the transportation of insulin that includes the size of the bottle, how many they can carry, and a required doctor’s note–all of which she complied with. By the time this was an issue she’d already paid for her ticket. At that point she did have a right to expect to fly. This was someone’s massive screw up.

And if that isn’t enough to make you rethink what you just said–then there’s the fact that they MISSED the bottle in the bottom of her lunch bag, allowing her to get on board with her nail polish, hair spray, and syringes (with needles).

Bill says:

Sounds a little fishy to me.

I’ve been type 1 for a long time and haven’t had any problems getting through security. In fact when they discover I have sharps they often move me to the front of the line.

I’m surprised she would even need an ice pack. I never use them. Most insulin only requires refrigeration while in long term storage. Once you start using a vial or pen you no longer need to keep cold. It’s fine as long as it stays at room temp. Assuming you’ll use it up in the next week or 2.

Not defending the TSA goons. They’re all drunk on their power trip.

Chris ODonnell (profile) says:

She asked 7NEWS not to use her name for fear of retaliation for speaking out.

Then later in the article.

“It made me feel upset and made me feel somewhat helpless,” said the woman’s husband, Aaron Nieman.


My wife is a Type I diabetic. She has had a TSA agent take her insulin vials from her, hold them up to a light, shake them, and then look at them as though he could tell anything from doing that, and them return them, having somehow magically ascertained that it was just insulin.

Security Theater indeed.

MGM says:

What should have happened:

“Ma’am, please step to the side.” “May we call your physician to confirm this medication?” Confirmed. “Ma’am, let me walk you to the flight and hand this to the attendant. In the event you need this in flight you can obtain a dose from the attendant.” “They will be able to pass your medication back to you at the end of the flight. Would this be acceptable to you?” ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY!

Bt Garner (profile) says:

Re: What should have happened:

This would not be acceptable. Traveling by air is stressful enough, especially for a diabetic if you have to dine on airport food (unknown carbs). I have been on international flights where I have checked my bG 10 times, and dosed up at least 4 times (thank goodness at the time I was on inhaled insulin and not injectable). In such a case having to find the right flight attendant for my medicine in unreasonable.

Besides, would not this all start falling under the ADA?

Craig (profile) says:

Talk is cheap

I read lots of comments that bitch and moan about all the crap handed to you by the TSA and your government, but that’s it. It’s not going to change until people start to actually do something about it.

We can all jump on the TSA and vilify them (rightly so IMO) but that’s not going to make any changes. People have to do something, so get off the comment threads and start writing letters to your elected representatives. If that doesn’t work, then you will have to organize rallies to demonstrate your collective disgust over what the TSA does. And you have to keep the protests real and under control. As soon as windows start breaking and the riot police show up, you’ve lost all credibility.

Bottom line is put up or shut up.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...