Flying is often a necessary part of travel, although it can become a little tricky if you are taking a baby with you or leaving one at home. Your little one needs to eat, which means you need to figure out how to fly with breast milk. Thankfully, the TSA has put rules and regulations in place to make flying with breast milk much easier in recent years.
Everyone will choose to fly with breast milk for different reasons, and a couple of those reasons include the fact that they want to ensure they have enough milk for their baby, they want their significant other to be able to feed the baby, or they want to bottle feed while in the airport or on the airplane. It doesn’t matter why you are taking breast milk onto an airplane, so do not let anyone question you as to the reason!
We are going to go through everything you need to know about how to fly with breast milk and getting clearance from TSA, but we also recommend you check your airline’s policies to ensure you do not have too many carry-ons for your flight. Each airline has their own policies as to what they will allow you to take on the plane, and you will want to be prepared with that knowledge in advance to avoid any issues. In fact, we recommend you print those policies, just in case you come into contact with an employee who isn’t as well-versed as they should be.
The first thing you need to know is that any breast milk you take onto the plane is not subject to the 3.4-ounce limit, nor does it need to be squeezed into a quart sized bag. However, you do need to tell the TSA agent that you have breast milk, and it does need to be removed from your carry-on bag.
Since you are flying with breast milk, you are going to need to be prepared to have that breast milk screened in some way. This is to be expected, as the goal of the TSA is to keep everyone safe while in the air. The agents are basically going to be screening for explosives or another type of concealed item. They may ask if they can x-ray your breast milk, but if you do not want that, you can ask them to screen it a different way. However, that will mean that you may need to open your breast milk and pour some out, so it can be screened.
Please be aware that all airports react differently to being asked not to x-ray breast milk, so you may want to check to see how the airports you are going to be in handle those situations. By inquiring in advance, you can save yourself a lot of headaches during your travel.
When you are packing your breast milk and pump for travel, you will want to keep in mind that they are going to be considered carry-ons. A breast pump is not currently considered a medical device, so you cannot carry that as well as your personal item plus one. We recommend packing your pump in your carry-on and using a cooler for your breast milk as your plus one. Of course, it helps if you are traveling with others, because then they can acquire one of your items as their plus one, and you won’t need to worry about it!
Breast milk needs to be kept cold, so it stays fresh and doesn’t spoil. You are allowed to utilize ice packs inside your cooler, but make sure they are frozen solid. They may still be subject to inspection along with your breast milk, but at least they won’t need to make you throw them out.
Those ice packs will also come in handy if you created more breast milk than you needed during your vacation, and you need to get it home to use at a later date. Flying with frozen breast milk is just as easy as flying with breast milk that isn’t frozen, and the same rules are in place. We recommend freezing the breast milk before arriving at the airport, as you will have a better chance of it still being frozen when you reach home.
Dry ice is another option for keeping breast milk frozen, but check with your airlines first, as many of them have different rules of how much dry ice you are allowed to use.
If you have a trip coming up and you will be leaving your baby at home, don’t worry. You can still fly with breast milk. The TSA or airlines do not require you to have your child with you when you are flying with breast milk. This is wonderful news for all those moms who travel for work or other reasons and do not want to lose this bond with their child.
When you are traveling without your baby, you will still need to follow the same guidelines as mentioned above. The only time you may run into difficulty is if you try to take an overabundance of frozen breast milk home with you, but if you can manage to fit it inside a reasonably sized cooler and can prove that you have been away from home long enough to pump all that milk, you should be fine.
All the above guidelines are for travel within the United States. If you plan on flying internationally with breast milk, we urge you to check the requirements for the country where you are going. Each country has their own guidelines that need to be followed, and you don’t want to lose that precious liquid gold by not paying attention to them!
As long as you follow all these guidelines, you should have no issues flying with breast milk now or in the future. Just remember, you are doing what is best for you and your baby, and regulations have been put in place to allow you to do just that as you are flying.