Posts Tagged ‘airport security’

Getting through the Airport with Your Milk Stash

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

airportAir travel for some is already an arduous process before you add in traveling with pumped breast milk and breast feeding supplies like pumps and coolers. There has been a lot of news in the last few years regarding the problems that many mothers face going through airport security.

After a 2011 lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration that ended in 2014 with a payout of $75,000 to the traveling mother, TSA agents were retrained and required to follow strict standardized protocol. But just this past April, a British mom was forced to dump 500 ounces of breastmilk–enough to feed her baby for two weeks–at her gate before boarding a plane at Heathrow. Her frustrated Facebook post recounting the incident was shared more than 4,000 times.

So although it is legal to take your pump and frozen breastmilk on your flight with you–whether your baby is with you or not–the more informed you are, the better your chances of making it home with your stash intact.

Prior to Travel 
Prior to leaving, decide how you are going to store your milk. Breast milk that has been previously pumped into breast milk bags, then stored in insulated coolers, seems to be the most popular way to carry-on. A lot of moms recommend portioning the milk for feedings and making sure to leave an inch at the top of the bags for expansion that can happen at high altitudes. You’ll want to be sure that you immediately store the expressed milk from your trip in the coolers and then transfer to a freezer as soon as possible. The milk that is stored in a cooler with ice is good for 24 hours. Another good tip is to use the pumped milk from a trip first because it hasn’t been stored in a deep freezer.

Notify the TSA agent ASAP
When approaching security with your liquid gold remember to separate the breast milk from the rest of your carry-on items when it is over 3.4 ounces. Also notify the TSA officer prior to the start of your screening. Just like the formula and other liquids, the items are typically X-Rayed. The sooner the screening officer knows that you are carrying on breast milk, they can pull the cooler out and continue with liquid carry-on protocol.

Speak Up
Officers use X-ray to test for explosives and other items that are prohibited, including all liquids. If you don’t want the milk x-rayed, you must tell a TSA agent so that they can take additional screening preparations, such as enhanced pat downs and searches.  Although the FDA does stress that there is no known risk of X-Ray, if you’re concerned about the potential risks, don’t feel bad about speaking up. TSA agents should be well versed in backup methods of screenings and it is your right to refuse.

Know the Rules
It might seem like overkill, but it can be very handy to have a copy with you of all the specific policies and instructions on carrying breast milk. These policies can be found at the TSA website. Not a well-known rule, but TSA requires that your ice packs and cooler bags be x-rayed if they become slushy or melted, just as other liquid carry-ons. In addition, only passengers are technically allowed to open and close bottles. If you are worried about sterilization, or the way that your breast milk is being handled, ask for a security manager.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a mom to 2 crazy boys, a lover of snow, sleep, and seriously large iced teas.

Traveling with a Newborn

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Traveling with a NewbornWhen my daughter was 2.5 months old we took our very first flight. We flew down to California to visit family. Living in Washington State, this was a direct, 1-hour flight and just about the best flight scenario a new mom can ask for.

Nevertheless, I was nervous. I don’t know a new mom who wasn’t nervous the first time they flew with baby (or any time after that, either!). You fuss over what to pack and what to carry on, how you’ll manage the bags, baby, and car seat, and if everyone on the plane will hate you if/when baby starts crying. There is nothing more nerve wracking than being stuffed in a metal tube filled with people and feeling like every one of them is staring at you in irritation. (They’re not, but it sure can feel that way!)

My number one tip for flying with an infant is to use a good baby carrier. Wearing baby makes the entire process so much easier! First, you have both of your hands free to deal with luggage, tickets, and taking your shoes off for security. This is even more critical if you and baby are flying alone. Second, wearing baby reduces the load you need to move through the airport, as you don’t need a stroller. Third, wearing baby is calming both for you and for your child. Airports are busy, noisy, and new. For an infant, this can be overwhelming. Being snuggled up on mom is exactly where they want to be!

Wearing my daughter allowed me to get us quickly and securely to our gate on time. Boarding (and deplaning) was easier, since I could still get my bag stored above us without help. Once on the plane, it allowed me to nurse with a light cover (the sling tail), hold my daughter close as she slept, and made us new friends. We happened to be sitting amongst a number of women, many who complimented me on the sling and how multifunctional and smart it seemed. People even smiled at us as we moved through the airports. Finally, at our destination, we easily cruised down the escalator, no elevator needed.

The carrier you use is up to you. Soft structured carriers (SSC or backpack/buckle style), mei tais, and wraps are the choice of many due to the fact that they don’t have any metal parts that could set off the metal detector. Ring slings, though, are just as viable an option and are what I used for that first flight. Just know that policy on ring slings vary from airport to airport, but that generally you shouldn’t have to remove the sling. If you wear baby through security, be prepared to step aside for a hand swab. This is a quick, painless procedure that is standard practice at pretty much any airport. Once done, you’ll be on your way. Also know that regulations require that baby be outside of the carrier during takeoff and landing, so the flight attendants may come around to enforce that.

I’ve since flown with my daughter, both solo and with my husband, a number of times more. Each and every time, she’s been in a carrier and it has made the entire experience so much more manageable. Our last flight, we were late and I literally ran barefoot, shoes shoved in my purse, to make our gate on time. The bag wheels wobbled, the car seat threatened to tip us over completely, but my daughter was safe, secure, and happy on my back. One less thing to worry about!

Kate is a mostly stay-at-home mom and is a huge baby wearing advocate. She lives in the Pacific NW with her husband, daughter, and cranky cat.