Air Travel w/Breastpump?

Updated on August 18, 2008
L.V. asks from Alexandria, VA
5 answers

Hi ladies,

I have to travel for work next week. This will be my first trip by air since my son was born. We nurse 4x/day, so it is essential that I pump and bring the expressed milk home, since this trip will use the rest of my stash.

Has anyone traveled by air with her breastpump? Did you carry it on the plane? Do they make you take it out of the bag? What about expressed did you store it for the trip? Any tips?


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answers from Washington DC on

I traveled to Hawaii when my first child was just 5 months old. I was exclusively breastfeeding, so I had to pump & store prior to the trip (he did not go with me) and then pump while I was there (including in-flight). I had the Medela Pump in Style backpack pump, and I brought it with me on the plane. To be honest, I can't remember what the protocol was through security, but I did bring it on the plane. I used the battery adapter and pumped in the bathroom on the plane. Definitely not the most ideal situation, but I've learned that you do what you gotta do :) I also pumped in airport bathrooms. I chose to pump and dump, rather than bringing the milk back with me. I was told by my lactation consultant at that time, that I would have had to store it for the week and then pay to have it shipped back home on dry ice. The good news, I will share, is that while my son was bottlefed (breastmilk) the week I was away, he went right back to the breast upon my return. That was something I was not sure would happen. Hope this info helps and good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

Hello, L.!
Yes, I took my Medela briefcase looking pump on the plane with me. I had no problem going through security with it. They seemed to have been trained on what it was, and only asked a couple of questions, but didn't really make me open it. My bag has a place for ice packs, but I really don't remember if I kept it or not.

I did pump in-flight in the lavatory, and I must say that it started out awkward, b/c I was trying to be discreet (more commonly read embarrassed), and find a time that there wasn't a line waiting. I finally couldn't wait any longer, b/c I had already waited too long. I got situated, and was fretting about taking so long, and the noise it was making, but kept reminding myself this was for my baby. Then, to top it all off, I must not have latched the lock very well, b/c the door moved inward, and a guy was trying to get in. I think he was more shocked than I was. Of course, now I was very uncomfortable, trying to finish up with one foot propped keeping the door closed, trying to stay balance on those little plastics seats, and trying to keep my pumps attached, all the while thinking no one but my husband has had that view before.

I look back at it now, and see it as another funny tale for the wanna-be big-time traveling executive, but in the end still just the small-town farm girl. I'm laughing now, but even to this day, I don't think I've even told my husband the story.

Best of luck to you, L.!




answers from Washington DC on

Good news . . . according to TSA's website, they are now allowing breastmilk through the checkpoint even if you are not traveling with a child:

This puts breastmilk in the same category as liquid medications. I think you can bring whatever coolant is required to keep "medications" safe, so that should extend to breast milk too: "Gels or frozen liquids needed to cool disability or medically related items used by persons with disabilities or medical conditions." are allowed:

I have flown with my breastpump before, but not in my carryon bag. It went through checked luggage fine, though (a risk, I realize).

When I brought the milk back, I froze it as I pumped it and brought it back with ice packs. You probably would want to use that milk first when you get back and freeze new milk for your stash since what you've expressed while away probably would not have kept a hard freeze.

Happy flying!



answers from Washington DC on

I carried on a breastpump and expressed milk several times while I was breastfeeding, including ice packs to keep the expressed milk cold. I never had any difficult with TSA/security. One time they asked that I take out the pump, but they quickly examined and let me on my way. Indeed, it was much easier than I thought. TSA never asked to examine the expressed milk. I did tell TSA that I was carrying expressed milk when I went through security on the way back from the trip.

I also traveled with the pump internationally and carried on, no difficulties whatsoever, but did not bring the expressed milk back from the international trip.

Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

I am not sure you will be able to bring the milk back with you because of liquid restrictions these days. You cannot carry on any liquids as far as I know. You did not say how long you time away from home will be, but I do not think the milk will store well simply with ice may want to call the air line and La Leche League.

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