Every so often my newsfeed is full of news about a breastfeeding ‘incident’ onboard an airplane, or a mum having to ‘dump’ her pumped expressed milk at Heathrow airport as she was flying without her baby.
Therefore, I thought it would be useful to ask the main airlines what their breastfeeding policy is and if they can store expressed milk?
(Some airlines may use terminology such as “allowed’ or “permitted” instead of ‘welcomed” but I don’t feel that they mean to cause offence – but are instead using broad terms to convey breastfeeding is welcome, and English may also not be their native tongue.)
I’ve also contacted several major airports to ask them their security policy on bringing expressed milk onboard – if you are flying WITHOUT your baby. You will find this information below the airline policies.The answers vary greatly. Hopefully, this can allow you to plan ahead armed with this knowledge.
Airline Policies For Breastfeeding
“Breastfeeding is welcomed onboard. 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 are unable to look after these items on board. We therefore ask that you bring these items onboard.
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 do not have dedicated breastfeeding areas on board but our cabin crew staff will cater to specific requests and assist breastfeeding mothers.
We cannot refrigerate milk (or medication) for security reasons, however, our crews can provide ice to keep such products cool. We can also warm feeding bottles if required.”
Air New Zealand
“Air New Zealand is committed to ensuring that every customer travelling with us has a comfortable and enjoyable journey.
Rather than having policies to cover every on board scenario, we empower our crew to use their common sense and judgement to do their best to accommodate individual needs and preferences of all passengers within the confines of the aircraft environment- including those of nursing mothers and the passengers around them.
Air New Zealand is unable to store items in its onboard fridges for heath and safety and biosecurity reasons, however our crew are happy to provide bags and ice, should customers wish to keep items cool.”
“We make every effort to accommodate breastfeeding mothers. If needed we will help store breast milk over ice, but there is no refrigeration on board, per say.
Breast- feeding is not to be considered “lewd, immoral or indecent.”
A mother’s right to breast-feed a child in public or private location is protected under multiple state and federal laws.
Flight attendants do not require a nursing mother to cover up. This is up to the discretion of the mother.
If another customer is offended or objects, that person will be moved to another seat.”
American Airlines breastfeeding policy
“Moms are welcome to nurse or pump wherever they feel comfortable onboard American Airlines planes and in any of our spaces ( at the gate, in our airport lounges etc.
I personally have nursed in my seat and have pumped both in my seat and in the lav. One tip I always like to give people is that if you are going to be in the lavatory for a prolonged period, it’s always a good idea to give the flight attendant a heads up so that they don’t worry that something is wrong.
As far as storing expressed , while we don’t offer dedicated storage space onboard our aircraft, flight attendants can provide you ice that you can use to store the milk for the duration of your flight.”
Do not have any specific policy for breastfeeding. “It depends on the passenger if she wants to breastfeed or not on board. With regards to the storage of milk we only have arrangements for a small ice container – in this case what the staff on board can provide is ice to conserve the milk during the flight.”
British Airways Breastfeeding Policy
There is no official policy. Breastfeeding mothers are most welcome on-board. Ice cubes can be given to help store any milk.
“Breastfeeding your baby is allowed during all phases of flight. If you wish to express whilst onboard, electric breast pumps may only be used after cabin crew has made an announcement informing passengers that electronic devices could be switched on and until the seat belt sign is switched on in preparation for landing. They have to be stowed for take-off, taxiing and landing.
A wide variety of baby food is available inflight. Passengers wishing to bring infant food or expressed milk on board should note that our crew will not be able to re-heat or chill it due to hygiene reasons.
Any food or expressed milk requiring refrigeration should be packed in either a cool bag or vacuum flask.
Passengers may bring their own dry ice in quantities of less than 2.5kg (4.41 lbs) which is suitably packed to allow CO2 gases to evaporate freely.
Passengers must identify to airport staff that they are bringing dry ice on board at the time of check -in. If warming of food items or milk is required inflight, please ask our cabin crew for a container with hot water.”
“In both policy and spirit, Delta fully supports a mother’s right and choice to breastfeed and bring a breast pump on board any Delta or Delta Connection aircraft or in Delta ground facilities.
We empower our people to make the right decision for our customers based on situational flexibility to make our customers’ journey more comfortable.
“easyJet is a family friendly airline. Our policy is that passengers can breastfeed at any time during the flight including during take-off and landing.
We would always be happy to supply ice to our customers, however as easyJet is a shorthaul airline operating narrow bodies airport, which have limited galley space on board and the majority of our flights are under two hours, we carry limited quantities of ice.
We therefore recommend that any customer who wished to bring expressed milk onboard do so in their own small cool bag and the crew onboard can supply the ice.”
Emirates breastfeeding policy
Emirates do not have a specific policy relating to breastfeeding, but Emirates can store milk in the fridges/chilled compartments on board.
Etihad breastfeeding policy
A spokesperson for the airline stated, “If a guest requests to store breast milk onboard, the airline will be happy to refrigerate and return to guests when required. In addition there are no restrictions on expressing milk and passengers can feed children in their seats.
Etihad Airways also offers a Flying Nanny service for helping to get the children settled for bed, keeping them entertained or simply offering advice and support to parents.”
“Hawaiian Airlines does not have a specific policy for breastfeeding or storing breast milk for passengers during flight. Flight attendant handle each situation according to the resources available to them on any given flight ( i.e space and supplies available.) “
KLM breastfeeding policy
Unfortunately, this is the only negative breastfeeding policy I have come across in terms of potentially asking a mother to cover up in case another passenger is “offended”. “Breastfeeding is permitted at KLM flights. However, to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.”
Here is the link to KLM’s breast-feeding policy.
“At Lufthansa we do not have any policy about breastfeeding. It has never caused a problem with passengers and there is no need for any kind of regulation. If the mother wants to deposit any expressed milk for use later on the flight, the crew will always be helpful to offer assistance and to store the milk appropriately.”
Qantas do not have an official policy on breastfeeding. “Although we don’t provide storage for expressed milk, our crew will always go above and beyond to assist mothers and fathers with anything they need to care for their babies.”
“SouthWest is a family-friendly business that supports breastfeeding mothers. Due to food regulations we do not intermingle breast milk with ice. We do, however, encourage our inflight team to offer extra ice, if needed, to accommodate any expressed milk during flight.”
“We don’t have a specific policy on breastfeeding on board, so it would be up to the individual concerned to decide if they wanted to do this or not. For your other query around expressed milk, no we don’t guarantee storage facilities, although there are storage units onboard which may be available on the day. Since these units contain catering though, while crew will assist where possible it cannot be guaranteed space will be available, so we advise parents plan accordingly.”
“SWISS does not have a written policy for breastfeeding on board. Our cabin crew have been trained to respond to the individual needs of mothers. Some stay on their seat, others prefer s jump seat with curtain in the galley as a more discreet location. Storage for expressed milk or medicine is provided in the respective galley.”
“Breast fed infants are very much welcome onboard Thai.”
“There is no official policy, however passengers can ask the cabin crew to help secure them a more private spot if required. There is no facility to store milk.”
“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 power outlets varies by aircraft fleet.
If you are travelling with an infant, please bring enough food and supplies with you. Our flights are not equipped to heat baby bottles. You may request hot water of ice from a flight attendant to keep items hot or cold.”
Virgin do not have specific policy but of course ” welcome mothers to breastfeed onboard and our crew will make them as comfortable as possible. They will provide blankets for the mum or provide a seat in the galley if they would like some more privacy.
For storing expressed milk, unfortunately we can’t store in the fridges onboard. This is because we cannot guarantee the temperature of the on board fridges and we also cannot guarantee that personal items stowed in a fridge do not become contaminated. However, we can provide ice to customers to put in their cool bags or provide ice buckets and ice.”
“Cabin crew will heat bottled and assist you with preparing and washing bottles or pacifiers. There are no private areas set aside for breastfeeding, but you are welcome to feed your baby in your seat.
We do not have ‘storage’ on board for any expressed milk, however we can pop some ice in a plastic bag to help keep the milk cool.”
Airport Security Policies For Breastmilk (when flying without your baby)
ALL American airports
“The rules for flying with breast milk remain the same whether your infant is accompanying you or not. Formula, breastmilk and juice in qualities greater than 3.4 ounces or 100ml are allowed in carry-on baggage and do not need to fit within a quart sized bag.
Please pack these medically necessary liquids in a way you can present them for inspections at the check point. Please inform officers of your medically necessary liquids and place them in a separate bin from your other items.”
ALL Australian airports
“Passengers travelling without their infant or toddler may only take expressed milk on board an aircraft in containers of 100ml or less and contained in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag that has a total volume of no more than one litre. Expressed breast milk in larger volumes may be carried in a suitable insulated container in checked-in luggage.
ALL Canadian airports
Passengers flying with or without their child will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than 100ml provided it is presented to the Screening Officer for inspection prior to screening. Gel or ice packs are also permitted.
Dry ice may be permitted if certain conditions are met. Dry ice may be transported with the approval of the air carrier, in carry-on baggage or in checked baggage. Quantities must not exceed 2.5 kg per person and the package must permit the release of carbon dioxide gas. When carried in checked baggage, each package must be marked – DRY ICE or Carbon Dioxide Solid and must indicate that the net weight is 2.5kg or less.
ALL South African Airports.
“In the event the mother is not travelling with an infant, then the normal process and policy applies with regards to Liquids, Aerosols and gels ( LAGs).
This means the passenger will not be allowed to carry dry ice or ice cubes. Please note the airlines do not have jurisdiction to determine or verify if indeed the passenger is carrying expressed breastmilk.
This is the prerogative of airport security. Therefore it would not be advisable to request the airline staff to place the milk in the hold of the aircraft.
We recommend that the passenger travelling without the infant rather opt to transport the expressed milk in a marked container accompanied by a pack of dry ice as a cargo item.
It would be advisable to specify that the product requires ambient conditions for transportation so that it is kept cool.”
Amsterdam Schipol – Netherlands
When flying without an infant, the 100ml rule applies for hand luggage.
Changi Airport -Singapore
“It must be stored in 100 ml bottles or breast milk storage capacity bags, as long as the max capacity is not more than 100ml. No more than 1 litre can be brought inside the cabin. Dry ice will not be allowed on board.”
“This is governed by international regulation (ICAO). While technology and processes used may vary from airport to airport, all liquids and gels must be screened and their state, quantities, temperature, packaging etc. controlled.
Some of these international regulations are paraphrased/outlined below ( although please check with ICAO and/or IATA to confirm).
The passenger must declare the nature of any carried liquid to the airport security and airline.
The airline is responsible and must agree to carry any liquids.
The temperature of carried liquid is also regulated, so a small variation can affect the screening process. (E.g if it is a frozen solid.)
The hygiene of the liquid must remain undisturbed.”
Frankfurt – Germany
`If the baby is not travelling with you, then the 100ml limit must be complied with for hand luggage.
“Expressed breast milk of breast feeding mothers travelling without their child is exempted from the 100ml requirement. To facilitate the screening process, you should present these exempted items separately to the security screening officer for x-ray inspection at the check point.”
London Gatwick LGW – UK
If a passenger is not travelling with an infant, they need to comply with the 100ml ruling. Any remaining expressed milk would need to go in the hold.
London Heathrow LHR -UK
Expressed breast milk over 100ml must go in the hold if the child is not travelling. You can bring dry ice, but in a small amount and you will be asked to explain the reasoning behind this. However at LHR, there is no need to bring dry ice with you as they have an agreement with the retailers, that once you are airside you can get the ice for free. Make sure you contact the airport before hand so you can make sure your milk is correctly packaged for the hold.
Paris – France
First option, if the milk is packed in dry ice and put in the hold, the passengers must get the information from their airlines.
Second option, if the passengers bring it on as hand luggage with ice cubes, they must present to the security agent a relevant certificate written by a doctor or lactarium or other authority which confirms a special dietary requirement.
In this case, the passengers must show it to the security check staff member.
Without any certificate, the passengers will not be able to travel with it.
If you are not breastfeeding, powdered milk and liquid formula can be brought on board over 100ml. At some UK airports you can pre order milk and supplies from Boots a week in advance and pick up after security, hopefully making your time in line a little shorter.
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