Millions of people are expected to travel by air this summer -- not surprising the year after a pandemic! If you're planning a getaway and need to travel with breast milk to or from your destination, you can prepare for a smooth ride (notwithstanding any turbulence) by learning the laws, tips, and what to do if you experience an issue.
Traveling by plane with stored breast milk should not cause a problem, but unfortunately, people sometimes encounter difficulties. The following tells you what to know in advance and what to know in the moment.
TSA Regulations for Flying with Breast Milk
Perhaps the most important part of flying with breast milk is knowing the rules and regulations issued by TSA. While some parents have experienced inconsistencies with rules when going through security with breast milk at the airport, TSA's official rule is as follows:
Formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in reasonable quantities in carry-on bags. Remove these items from your carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk.
Additionally, you should know the following about carrying breast milk through security and with you on the plane:
1. Remove breast milk from your carry-on bag and place it in a separate bin for screening at the security checkpoint.
2. If the amount of breast milk you're carrying is greater than 3.4 oz, notify the TSA officer at the checkpoint that you are carrying breast milk in greater quantity.
3. Screening: the breast milk may be subject to screening. This may be done by transferring a small quantity of the liquid to a separate empty container.
4. If you do not want the breast milk x-rayed or opened, you will experience additional screening procedures to clear the liquid, including a pat-down and screening of other carry-on property.
Ice packs or gel packs used to cool the breast milk will also be subject to screening, as outlined above.
The FDA states that there are no known side effects from eating/drinking solid/fluid that has been x-rayed.
Problems & Help
When traveling, it helps to "assume the best, prepare for the worst." Assume that TSA agents want to get you to your destination safely and hassle-free. Adjusting your own attitude first can help if you do end up encountering an issue.
Issues that travelers carrying breast milk in the past have had include being told they had to test their breast milk by drinking, being told they had to dump out their breast milk, and being told they must have their child present to travel with breast milk. None of these actions are supported by TSA laws regarding travel with breast milk. If you experience difficulties while traveling through security with breast milk, remain calm and if you cannot get the issue resolved with a TSA officer, contact TSA's toll-free helpline, TSA Cares, at 1-855-787-2227. The helpline is staffed weekdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends and holidays. TSA Customer Service is an alternative option and can be reached at 1-866-289-9673.
Tips for Flying with Breast Milk
- Print out TSA's rules. Visit TSA's website and print out their screening rules and information related to traveling with breast milk. If you encounter any disagreements, you can present these for clarification.
- Head to TSA's family line. It's not mandatory, but you might find officers more familiar with special needs and traveling with breast milk.
- Pack breast milk in a water-tight, insulated cooler with ice packs.
- Your breast pump and cooler are fine to bring through TSA, but may count as extra carry-ons with your airline. Call your airline in advance to find out.
- Partially thawed milk is ok to refreeze once you get home. Fully defrosted/thawed milk must be consumed within 48 hours and should not be refrozen.
- Rules for flying with breast milk varies from country to country. Review guidelines before traveling to know what is permissible. Some countries require declaring large amounts of breast milk before traveling, and require that it be checked luggage.
Most passengers traveling by plane with breast milk experience no issues. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you should be able to enjoy your trip and transport your breast milk without incident. Happy travels!
TagsBreastfeeding Breast Milk Travel with breast milk Summer travel