I've had my fair share of airports for the season.
On Monday I bid farwell to Kyoto, trying to soak it in last minute from a cab to the station, and then from the long bus-ride to Kansai International. We travelled for more than 24 hours, all told, and we still arrived in San Francisco before we left Osaka.
I spent a few days in the Bay Area, catching up with friends and eating tons of beautiful kale and collards and other things you can't find in Japan.
By Thursday morning, I was back at the airport, prepared for a long "frequent flyer" day -- you know, the kind of flight combination where they route you through Dallas no matter where you're going, and it takes you 12 hours to get where it should normally only take 4. I brought an ample lunch of leftover greens & rice, fruit, yogurt, crackers, and hummus to sustain me through terrible airline snacks and even more terrible airport food.
The sleepy TSA lady (and I do mean sleepy, she was yawning the whole time) stopped my bag through security check, and called over another officer to examine it. He took my lunch bag out, and told me I couldn't take the yogurt or the hummus with me.
"But it's food!" I protested.
"The rules say we can't allow anything liquid."
"But it's packaged and sealed... it's food!" I repeated.
"If you want, you can take it outside and eat it right now," he offered, trying to be helpful.
By that point, I had 20 minutes to get on my plane.
"I'm pregnant," I blurted, "They won't feed me on the plane, and I have to eat!"
He appeared to be sympathetic. He took me and my lunch over to a more official-looking TSA Agent wearing a sweater-vest, and said, "She's pregnant."
Sweater-vest looked at me over his glasses, looked at my belly, and said, "Oh."
He reiterated the rules about not allowing liquids through security, but perhaps he sensed the coming storm of panic by the look on my face, and miraculously waved me through.
I thanked them both and hustled to my gate, feeling somewhat guilty for pulling the pregnancy card AND for being really whiny about it. But I admit I have been particularly vexed by the "no liquid" rule, and the whole principle behind this kind of reactive airport security. For a while I was sure it was a ploy by the Artisan Water people, who charge $3 for bottled water from the liquid-less legions after we get through security check. Then articles abounded about women who weren't allowed to bring on board their own breast-milk that they'd been pumping while they were away from their babies during travel (now I think the rules have been changed). Compared to that, I got through easy! I'm surprised they didn't have a female officer pat me down to make sure my belly wasn't really a bomb belt! At this point, I think you might have an easier time trying to get actual bomb parts on an airplane than food.
But I swear, that's the first time I've used being pregnant to address an otherwise unrelated grievance.
Welcome back to The United States!