Shawn Johnson claims she was ‘groped and yelled at’ by TSA agent over breast milk

By Chelsea Ritschel
Getty Images for Vera Bradley

Shawn Johnson has alleged that she was “groped” and publicly humiliated by a Transportation Security Administration agent while attempting to travel with breast milk.

On Sunday, the Olympic gymnast, who gave birth to her son Jhett in July, addressed the airport incident, which she described as “one of the worst experiences,” on her Instagram Stories, where she wrote: “We as mamas have a duty to our babies and a right in this world to carry breast milk through security,” according to a screenshot captured by Yahoo.

In the post, which included a photo of clear plastic bags full of breast milk, the mother-of-two then claimed that it was against her rights for the unidentified TSA agent to “publicly humiliate” her by having her prove the liquid she was travelling with was breast milk.

“To then be groped and yelled at in public was excessive,” she continued. “I know you were doing your job… but so was I.”

In another post, the 29-year-old athlete went on to address the TSA agent directly, with Johnson apologising for their bad day before acknowledging that taking it out on her was “unnecessary”.

“To the lady at the TSA checkpoint having a bad day… I’m really sorry you have had a bad day but taking it out on me was unnecessary. I can honestly say that was one of the worst experiences I have [had],” Johnson wrote.

According to Yahoo, Johnson was returning home to Tennessee from her first trip without her son when the incident occurred at airport security.

On the TSA’s website, it states that passengers are allowed to bring breast milk, formula and juice in quantities “greater than 3.4 ounces” in their carry-on bags and that “you do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk”.

According to the security agency, travellers should remove the liquid from their carry-ons to be screened separately from the rest of their belongings.

While breast milk is allowed, the agency notes that TSA officers may “ask you to open the container and/or have you transfer a small quantity of the liquid to a separate empty container or dispose of a small quantity, if feasible”. However, according to the TSA, those who do not want their breast milk, formula, and/or juice to be opened or X-rayed can inform an officer, at which point the individual will “undergo additional screening procedures,” such as a pat-down.

Following the incident, a representative for TSA confirmed to Yahoo that “breast milk is, of course, permitted”.

In addition to three-month-old son Jhett, Johnson also shares daughter Drew, two, with husband Andrew East.

The Independent has contacted the TSA for comment.


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