Moms worry about how to fly with breast milk but it is not as complicated as it seems. Flying with breast milk doesn’t have to be a hassle.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, the airport is a tricky obstacle that all parents must work their way through. On one hand, breastfeeding your baby should never stop you from enjoying your life. On the other hand, there are many things that can go wrong when flying with breast milk.
Will you breeze through the security checkpoints with a simple explanation that you’re carrying breast milk? Or will you get stopped? If you get stopped, will the agent know your rights as a breastfeeding mother carrying milk for your baby? The worst-case scenario is a security agent will force you to open your bottles of breast milk or consent to x-rays, which contaminates your milk.
On rare occasion, agents have forced parents to dump their milk out. That may leave you struggling to provide nourishment for your baby while traveling. You may need to breastfeed more often without that reserve in your bag.
When , even a few questions regarding your breast milk stash could lead to embarrassment and delays in your trip. Definitely arrive at the airport early to make sure you have enough time to clear the checkpoints, but also take the time to read this page to learn about your rights when flying with breastmilk.
We’re answering some of the most commonly asked questions on this topic because we want all breastfeeding parents to know what to expect at the airport. The more you know now, the better you can prepare to decrease your risk of airport mishaps.
Is Breast Milk Allowed through Airport Security?
Yes, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations do permit bottles of breast milk to pass through security checkpoints. Here’s a cheat sheet of what you need to know:
* Keep the breast milk in bottles or breast milk storage containers rather than uncommon containers. You want to make it obvious that what you’re carrying is legitimate breast milk.
* Present your breast milk to the TSA agent at each checkpoint and inform them that you’re carrying breast milk for your baby.
* Security agents can check breast milk for explosives and other dangers, according to the official regulations. You have the right to ask that they not x-ray the milk or open the containers, and they may have other methods to clear your milk. For instance, they may ask you to dispense a small amount of milk into a separate container so you don’t contaminate the full supply.
* Carry your breast milk separate from your other belongings. That makes it easy to reveal the breast milk to TSA agents and identify it. You’ll also have the milk within easy reach in its own bag, so it works in your favor anyway.
* You can carry breast milk while flying even if your baby isn’t with you. If you’re questioned about why you need the milk if your baby isn’t there, explain that your body is still creating breast milk and you need to express that milk for your comfort and to keep your milk supply high.
* Print a copy of the TSA breast milk guidelines. If you’re questioned by a TSA agent who seems unfamiliar with your rights, show them the rules calmly. You can insist on being treated with respect without getting angry or combative.
How Much Breast Milk Can You Fly With?
There is a limit on how much liquid travelers can carry when boarding a plane, but that limit doesn’t apply to taking breast milk on a plane. Formula and juice intended for a baby or toddler are also exempt from that limitation. The rule for all liquids is 3.4 ounces, so you should be in the clear if you carry that amount of breast milk or less.
The only restriction for breast milk is that the amount you take onto the plane must be “reasonable.” That works in your favor too because you don’t want to weigh down your carryon or checked bags with an excessive amount of breast milk. Think about when you will be able to breastfeed your baby and how much milk you realistically need to make it to that next feeding. Taking some extra milk is recommended because you never know if your flight will be delayed.
How Can I Keep My Breast Milk Cold While Traveling?
TSA guidelines permit you to use frozen gel packs, freezer packs or other items needed to keep your breast milk on an airplane to remain cool during your flight. You need to present these items along with your breast milk when you tell the security agent that you’re carrying milk for your baby.
It’s best to use a cooler carry bag designed for breast milk. They’re fitted with ice packs that hold the bottles in place and are less likely to allow leaking while you’re traveling. They also make it easy to carry your breast milk reserve separate from your other belongings.
Does a Breast Milk Cooler Count as a Carryon?
TSA guidelines specifically state that you can carry a reasonable amount of breast milk in your carryon bag. There is no mention of separate cooler carry bags, but they may be counted as a carryon. If your airline restricts the number of carryons, you may want to tuck your cooler bag into a larger carryon that still fits within the airline’s size or weight restrictions.
You may also just add a small supply of breast milk into a larger carryon bag if you’re concerned about the number of bags you can keep with you on the flight. Just make sure that you’re able to quickly remove the milk to present it at the security checkpoints for open declaration and potential safety screening. Your breast milk may need to take the place of other items that you would normally have carried on a flight before your baby days began.
Flying with Frozen Breast Milk in Checked Luggage
What happens if you need to take a larger supply of breast milk on a plane, but you won’t necessarily need it during the flight? You can freeze it and then pack it into your checked luggage. As long as it’s frozen solid, it’s not considered a liquid. If asked by a TSA agent about what’s in your check bags, you can still mention that you are flying with frozen breast milk so that you’re open and honest.
Can You Carry a Breast Pump While Flying?
TSA regulations do permit you to carry a breast pump in your carryon bag. It’s technically considered a medical device and shouldn’t be counted as a carryon bag when in a separate bag, but each airline is allowed to set their own rules on that issue. Make sure to check with your airline to see if you must put the pump in a larger carryon bag or if you can have it in a separate bag and still carry on another bag that meets their standards.
How to Fly With Breast Milk and Get Through Security and/or Customs
Most TSA agents are familiar with the proper regulations for breast milk and will follow the rules politely whether you are traveling with a breastfeeding baby or without. They don’t want to slow down their already chaotic work schedule any more than you want to stop the line to answer questions. Go into security checkpoints with a positive mindset and expect that all agents you encounter will do what’s best for everyone involved, especially your hungry baby.
If a security agent does want to screen your breast milk for safety, you can politely request that they put on a clean pair of gloves and not expose your full supply to potential contamination. Most agents are more than willing to test a small amount of breast milk that you express into a separate container on your own.
Are there Alternatives to Flying with Breast Milk?
If you don’t want to worry about clearing checkpoints or potentially contaminating your breast milk due to safety screenings, you can use a breast milk deliver service like Milk Stork. This mother-friendly service makes it fast and easy to ship your breast milk so that you never have to take it on the plane.
FedEx also offers cold shipping for breast milk, ensuring complete temperature control until it arrives safely at your home, hotel or other destination. You can compare pricing and convenience of both services to see what would work best for you. If it’s not convenient or will become a financial burden, go back through this guide and make a plan to take your breast milk on the plane with you.
Flying Internationally With Breast Milk
The information presented here is specific to flights within the United States. If you travel through a foreign country, you should look into their laws and regulations before you leave home. You don’t want to get caught by surprise in customs or at a foreign checkpoint, so it’s best to know the rules in advance and follow them just as you would U.S. laws.
Again, print a copy of the regulations for any country that you plan to travel through. That will give you some validation if you come across a security agent who doesn’t seem to understand the rules regarding flying with breast milk.