Traveling with breast milk | TSA

Travel season is upon us! Traveling can be hectic with or without a baby not to mention thinking about what you're going to need to do if you're carrying breastmilk. So what is a breastfeeding mom to do with pumped milk? What are the logistics behind traveling with bags and bottles of liquids and a breast pump? We're here to run through the TSA regulations with you and make sure you are prepared and ready to go for a smooth vacation. 

 
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CAN I BRING PUMPED MILK ON MY TRIP?

Absolutely! You can bring your pumped milk in your carry on and in your checked luggage. 

TSA (Transportation Security Administration aka the gatekeepers of our luggage for plane travel) states breastmilk, formula, and juice for infants and toddlers may be brought on in your carry on and must undergo screening. 

SO, WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?

  1. Before going through security, inform the TSA agent that you are traveling with breastmilk and/or a breast pump and have your milk in a separate bag ready to be screened.
  2. Expect your milk to be screened via x-ray. (Not to worry, there are no known effects of x-ray screening on food or drink according to the Food and Drug Administration FDA.) You may request hand screening which may include pouring a small amount of breast milk into a separate container for TSA to dip a testing strip to detect any explosive residue. If you have a TSA agent hand screen your milk, you can ask that they put on fresh gloves before handling your bags of milk.
  3. Feel free to print out our free TSA printable and the TSA guidelines directly from their website to hand to your agent if you run into any issues. TSA agents are legally required to be trained on handling breastmilk (thanks to the Bottles and Breastfeeding Equipment Screening Act (BABES Act) enacted by President Obama in 2016) but holidays can be hectic and its always good to be prepared, just in case. 

CAN I BRING FROZEN MILK?

Yes! You can bring frozen milk, ice packs, and frozen gel packs for your breastmilk in your carry-on. TSA does require that if the freezer pack is slightly thawed and slushy that it be screened separately either by x-ray or hand screening.

CAN I BRING MY PUMP AS A CARRY ON?

Sure! You can certainly bring your pump with you in your carry on but depending on its size, it may count as your personal item like a laptop or purse, so plan accordingly since most airports allow only one personal item.

HOW MUCH MILK CAN I BRING?

TSA does not set a limit but their policy does say "reasonable quantities" and they recommend bringing just what you will need for your travel. If you are traveling with a lot of bagged milk you may want to check your bag or call your airlines in advance for their recommendation.

If you're away from your baby or want to get your pumped milk home without taking it with you, you might also want to consider using a service like Milk Stork, which delivers breast milk to your home from anywhere in the US.

HELPFUL TIPS

  • When traveling with breast milk, pack your milk in a separate bag so you can easily access it since it has to be screened separately. 
  • Make sure you inform a TSA agent that you have breast milk in your carry on and/or a breast pump.
  • You can request a hand screening and glove change but x-ray screening is safe so whatever you feel comfortable with.
  • Reminder: Your little one does not have to be traveling with you for you to be traveling with breast milk on domestic flights. TSA got the memo that breastfeeding moms are not always with a child in tow.

Running into issues? Reach out to TSA directly by chat, Facebook messenger, email or phone 1(866) 289-9673. 

AIRLINE POLICIES

We've rounded up some of the popular airline policies for you to refer to. ALL domestic airlines should allow your to carry on your breast milk per the law - be prepared with printed regulations as a back up because no one can argue with their regulations. International airlines may have additional stipulations so make sure you double check with your airlines before your travels.

DELTA - "Delta fully supports a woman’s right to breast-feed on board Delta and Delta Connection aircraft and in Delta facilities. Breast pumps are allowed on board....  During security check in, the TSA will usually make a special provision for items like medications, breast milk and baby formula. "

UNITED - "Nursing mothers are welcome to breastfeed or pump on our aircraft and in our facilities...If you will need to pump, we recommend bringing a battery-operated or manual breast pump, since the availability of inflight seat power varies by aircraft fleet. Breast pumps may be carried on board in addition to the one bag and one personal item limit....Our flight attendants may be able to provide ice to keep pumped milk cool during a flight, but they are not permitted to store items such as milk or formula."

JETBLUE - "[Liquid exemptions exempt items more than 3.4 ounces / 100 ml] Baby formula or milk (to include breast milk)... When carrying formula, breast milk, or juice through the checkpoint, customers will be inspected, however, the customer or their baby or toddler will not be asked to test or taste breast milk, formula, or juice. The TSA Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3.4 ounces / 100 ml) for explosives. When traveling with a child, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3.4 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of the customer's itinerary, if the customer perform the following:

  1. Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag
  2. Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint
  3. Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening

Jetblue also allows breast pumps "must be battery powered in order to be used during flight."

AMERICAN AIRLINES - "You may have the items listed below, but you must declare them to TSA at the screening checkpoint if they are not contained in a clear transparent resealable 1 quart (1 liter) size plastic bag and/or are over 3 oz.(90ml): Baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling."

SOUTHWEST AIRLINES - "Southwest welcomes nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities" From the Southwest travel tips blog: Your pump, bags of breastmilk, and formula are considered medically necessary items that both the airlines and the TSA see every day, so they’re nothing to stress about. Milk and/or formula..will be tested separately by TSA, and once it goes on the belt, the TSA will handle all of your items until they are done with their screening."

LUFTHANSA - No posted policy.. We've emailed their customer service and will update this post with a response.

AIR CANADA - "Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food (in small containers) are permitted in carry-on baggage. Because onboard refrigeration may not always be available on all aircraft types, the cabin crew is unable to look after these items on board. We therefore ask that you bring these items in a small cooler to keep them at the desired temperature. If available, extra ice may be provided as needed.....We are also happy to support breastfeeding on board our aircraft, whenever safety permits. "

For more information on travelling as a breastfeeding parent, check out the CDC's guidelines

Have you ever traveled with breast milk? Post your story and helpful tricks in the comments below!