Traveling on Plane with Breast Milk

Updated on December 30, 2010
M.B. asks from Austin, TX
17 answers

I have to travel for 3 days in September without my son who I am still nursing. I will pump while I am away but I wasn't sure the rules on traveling on a plane with breast milk. My milk is like gold to me because I don't get that much so what I do get i am not about to toss down the drain. Have any of you had to do this??

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answers from Austin on

I have had to travel for business a few times this spring and pumped the whole time I was gone. Needless to say over 2-3 days, there was a lot of milk. I printed out the TSA web pages that outline traveling with breastmilk ( and which they say is medically necessary as long at it is declared at checkpoint.

I wasn't sure if I needed to check it with my ice pack on my return, so I told the gate agent that I had over 30 oz and she said it was fine. Each time I got to a checkpoint I declared the milk and had no problems. One time I flew through Regan National, which has pretty tight security and they had no issues at all.

Best of luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would call the airlines, and the airport, and talk to them. See if there is a way to make an exception for you. If not, I guess figure out how to store the milk in check-in luggage :(



answers from Houston on

You bring up a great question which I myself was curious about but didn't know the answer to. I know that if baby is with you it wouldn't be a big deal but without baby that's an interesting question. I would like others suggest, take paperwork with you from your dr and paperwork regarding the law. You always have a chance of running into that one person at security who doesn't understand just how important it is.


answers from Nashville on

I know when I traveled with my baby, I could take my pumped milk onto the plane with me, because baby food items are an exception to the rule. However, I don't know if they would still let you since you are not traveling with him. I agree with the first poster and I would call the airline just to be safe. I know exactly what you mean about your milk being like gold to you, so I think it would be better to wait on hold forever to know for sure then to get there and have to dump it.

Also, how long is your flight? Could you pack a smaller cooler with tons of ice packs and pack that in your checked luggage? Even if you don't plan to freeze it, you can fit more milk in a cooler if you put it in those breast milk freezer bags rather than the pumping bottles since they can be squished around. We traveled a lot by car when my daughter was bfing, so I did that quite often if I had more than what would fit in bottles. I could fit several of the cold, not frozen, of the Lansinoh freezer bags (my personal fav) in this Playtex cooler
It keeps things cold for a long time, so I'm sure it would keep your milk cold if you had a long day of traveling. You stick the entire bag in the freezer and the freeze packs are built in the cooler.

I have also heard of several moms shipping their milk home while they were away, so you could always try that, too. I have never done it, so I don't know exactly how they did it, but if you could find out how they kept it cold long enough, you could do that or you could use the same technique to store it in your checked luggage and it would stay cold for your trip.

Good luck with it!!



answers from Gainesville on

If they won't let you carry it on I have seen people checking small coolers with their luggage. You could use dry ice and then you use duct tape to close up the cooler (at least that's what I've seen done before).



answers from San Antonio on

I know for sure that breastmilk and formula are exempt from the 3 oz when you are traveling with a baby, so I would think it would also be exempt even if you're not traveling with a baby.



answers from Los Angeles on

Since your child is not going to be with you I would DEFINITELY freeze the milk and put it in with your checked luggage. They will make you throw it away for sure if you go through security. I've had to throw away ice packs and milk even WITH my child - it all depends on the airport and the specific security guards unfortunately.



answers from Houston on

YES YOU CAN TRAVEL WITH YOUR BREASTMILK!!! I did this many times while traveling on business when I was nursing (just last year) - however; it's a fairly new rule. Most of my flying was between Houston and Atlanta so in Houston I would let them know that I had the ice block in my bag for my breastmilk and on the way back; I told them my liquid was breastmilk. I also printed the rule from the TSA website just in case. I always kept that print out in my pump bag just in case someone had a question.

Also, I never worried about the 3 oz per container rule. I don't recall them actually checking my bottles. I mean if I pump more than 3 oz per container I'm keeping it... :-)



answers from New York on

i brought a little cooler full of breast milk on the plane, i had to take it all out and lay them all out on the counter while they ran the strip over each one, definitely a little awkward with a huge line behind me, my best advice is to leave plenty of time. i would make a call just to double check the 3 oz rule, mine were all 5 or 6 oz, but that was a few years ago, maybe double check that you dont need to keep the bags under 3 oz each. and it really does depend on who you get. at first they didnt want to let me on at all with it, but there was no way in hell i was dumping it, the person at security just didnt know any better, i had to get a supervisor. which sure didnt help the situation with the people behind me on line. so maybe in case you get an idiot, just call ahead and get the policy in writing, thats what i would do.



answers from Stationed Overseas on

I've gone through security at the airport several times with breast milk. Even if your child is not with you it is possible. They will pull it out and run strips on the outside of the container and then process it in a machine. If they say no insist on talking with a supervisor and get it done. I would not check it in case they lose it. Have a small cooler with ice packs not ice.



answers from New York on

I have done this many times. It is absolutely NOT TRUE that they will make you dump it out. If you have your pump with you and your cooler full of breastmilk, when you get to the security line, you just need to notify them that you are travelling with breastmilk. I usually tell the person who is checking my ID and then s/he directs me to the person who is doing the security line and tells me to inform them. They will take the pump and the milk and test it. I have never had them ask me to dump the milk, ever.

I have also shipped my milk home on occasion if I was not able to leave enough behind to make it through my whole trip. The best way to do it is with dry ice, but I couldn't find any, so I just went ahead and froze the milk, wrapped it up with ice packs in a cooler, put everything in a cardboard box and overnighted it home for early morning delivery. It worked out fine.

Best of luck!



answers from Houston on

get a doc note, you can only have 3oz of liquid, even if it's breastmilk, they're sticklers about it



answers from San Antonio on

As long as it is breast milk in a bag and you show your pump, you will be fine. I had to bring breast milk on the plane and they saw it was for the baby and they passed me through. They will pull you aside and double check it, but I as long as it is something for the baby, you should be fine if you just explain. The only difference is that I had my baby with me. It sounds like you will not, so explaining may be a little more difficult.

When in doubt, call the airline.



answers from St. Louis on

Yes. A lot, actually.

I've called hotels to see if they had a freezer I could use. The answer was always "yes." When I was away, I pumped and stored it in the hotel freezer. Then just before I left, I would pack the milk in a travel cooler and take it with me on the plane. This was after 9/11. I just talked to the airline representatives beforehand, and they were always willing to work with me.

Depending on the timing, I would also pump at the airport before the plane left and just add that milk in with the frozen milk. All the milk stayed frozen pretty well until I returned home, at which point I would either put it in my home freezer or put a bag or two in the refrigerator for day care the next day.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, let me know!



answers from Minneapolis on

They have things to test it now- and you can bring it along. I understand the "gold" comparison- I am/was the same way. Make sure you get a good ice pack(the one that comes with the Medela pump was great) because you don't want it to not stay "fresh". Airport security and breast pumps- I could write 1000 stories because it is usually awkward(but totally worth it).



answers from Houston on

I was breastfeeding and travelling a lot for business right when they started the liquid restrictions. It was the ONLY time I've ever had to "argue" my way through the TSA checkpoint...before there was any exemption specified for formula or breastmilk.

Some trips were easier than others, but I went from one end of the U.S. to another...Canada, too and never had to dump anything out.

I would give yourself extra time to get through security and ask the agent who checks your id and boarding pass right at the beginning. Let them know you have breastmilk and need and extra screening.

I actually had more issues with my breast pump needing to be checked out than I ever had with the milk itself....and I've taken more than 40 ounces through (I was a dairy cow in another life).

If you encounter any resistance, the key is to politely ask to speak with their supervisor...and the next supervisor and so on and so forth until you reach someone with the authority to allow you through.

As a side note, don't call the airline for security need to call the TSA. They are the governing body...not the airline.



answers from Los Angeles on

When I traveled with frozen breast milk in storage bags, the TSA did not have a problem with the milk. The next flight I took I had milk in storage bags but it was not frozen. I made sure that the milk in the bags was 3 ounces. The TSA said that the milk had to be tested because although the milk may be only 3 oz., the containers were not 3 oz. containers. They had me open each breast milk bag (I had about 6) and the agent held a test strip over each bag. The strip never touched the milk. I asked the agent why my milk had not been tested on the other flight I took. He told me that you are allowed to take frozen liquids on the plane. In fact, I had a frozen blue ice pack and iced surrounding the milk and neither had to be tested. I wasn't crazy about opening all of my milk containers - it just didn't seem sanitary - but for safety reasons I understand the necessity.

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