He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche
I needed to book a flight for a business trip from upstate South Carolina to the city that never sleeps—New York City. The days of the two-day on-site vendor meeting at our corporate offices coincided perfectly with the March Femme Fever private party on Long Island. So, of course, Savannah needed to be packed up and brought along for the trip.
A perfect plan!
I managed to get Savannah packed in a small duffle along with my male-mode clothes and toiletries. I usually travel with just a backpack so carrying Savannah with me was like lugging a small child on my shoulders. That was okay. I wanted Savannah to get a bit of fresh air since I was missing two events at home for the same days I was to be away for the trip. Dress, makeup, heels, wig, pantyhose, body briefer, breast forms and hip pads…it was all easy… too easy.
I left directly from the office (in SC) and drive to the airport a few miles away. I parked in long-term parking, took the shuttle to the terminal, bypassed the ticket counters because I had the boarding pass on my iPhone, and set out to the not-too-terrible wait in the lines at the TSA checkpoints. Shoes off, laptops out, liquids separated, jackets removed. Check. Check. Check. Check! I am a seasoned traveler so I know the drill. This was going to be easy breezy. I even went through that weird feet-on-the-marks, hands-over-your-head, cylinder thingy like a pro! My trays came through the conveyor and I got my shoes back on my feet, and my backpack packed again. But, something was missing.
My duffle—with all of my Savannah stuff—was still in the x-ray machine. I heard one of the TSA agents announce to his co-workers that he was going to, “recheck” something. Well, my duffle wasn’t in line with all of my other belongings. Several other trays were emptied and left on the conveyor. I picked them up and put them on the stacks to be wheeled to the other side of the security area as I waited at the end of the conveyor. I knew I had been found out. With a big smile, I even told the TSA agent closest to me that the agent at the machine was probably trying to figure out what my breast forms were. I don’t think she realized what I was referring to.
Well, it happened. The duffle bag finally appeared in the “to check” conveyor lane… waiting to be unzipped and rifled through. I had panties and a bra in there! There was a pair of strappy heels and a wig in there! Gulp! I explained again what they would probably find in the bag and what had probably set up an alert to what was being seen in the x-ray machine monitors. The duffle came over to a “check” counter. The contents were pulled out. They tested the hip pads for residue. And, it got a hit! What the what? They took additional swabs for the hip pads and additional swabs for the breast forms and tested them on another machine. I continued to smile at them and even let them know that I could show them a pic of me in the actual dress—as proof. They mentioned that it wasn’t necessary, but they would enjoy seeing it if I wanted to share. What happened next was not expected at all.
They had to make a call to a supervisor. Now I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to take the breast forms and hip pads with me at all! What was I supposed to do? Have my girlfriend drive an hour from home in rush hour traffic to pick them up? The TSA agent spoke to her supervisor and explained what she was looking at on the counter. After a tense few minutes, she hung up. She asked me—oh my god, oh my god—if I wanted to repack my bag myself. Whew! Catastrophe averted!
The other female TSA agent who I had been initially talking with even came up and asked if she could see the pic of Savannah because she hadn’t a chance to see it. They both were complimentary, saying I “wore it well.” The agent who had made the supervisor call gave me tips on how to avoid the same grief on the return flight and mentioned how her brother performed in drag at a yearly teacher’s benefit. They told me to have a great day and I went on the terminal and the gate for my delayed flight to LGA.
All in all, I had little worry about, other than that I might have had to find a way to get my padding back home if I was unable to proceed with them on the flight. That would have been inconvenient for me and my girlfriend and, possibly, costly.
Otherwise, Savannah was going on her first plane ride!
P.S. — The experience at LGA in NYC was exactly the same. I did as the TSA agent had advised in Greenville (separate the forms in their own bin). The New York-based TSA agent swabbed the silicone pads and forms just as their Greenville, SC, counterparts had a few days before. A couple negative swab results later and I was on my way to the gates and back home again.