Updated January 2023
Transporting breast milk can be made easier and less stressful with a bit of knowledge and understanding of airport policies. Discover all the tips for flying with frozen breast milk, chilled breast milk and the rules so you don’t get caught out. As an ex flight attendant, I’ve helped other parents travel as well as flown with my own babies many times long haul internationally. I’ve breastfed, pumped and formula fed, so a real mixture!
We break this down step by step below, but most of the rules:
- Depend on the country you are flying out of.
- Whether your infant is traveling with you or not.
- Not every country will allow you to travel with frozen breast milk in carry on bags, in your checked baggage or both!
- An exception is the USA who will allow you to travel with frozen breast milk in all the above scenarios.
The Rules Vary
Table of Contents - Click to jump to a section
If you have baby flying with you, then you can bring as much breastmilk with you as you need for the journey as carry on, and more in hold luggage. BUT, as mentioned above, you won’t always be allowed to bring it as carry on if it is frozen – this depends on the country you are leaving from and their security rules. The USA allows frozen breast milk as carry on and as checked luggage, but the UK only allows frozen breast milk as checked luggage. More on this below.
Frozen breastmilk is still considered a liquid when flying by some countries, so occasionally, the same airport rules regarding liquids apply. This usually applies if your baby is NOT flying with you, in which case you must follow the normal liquid rules.
Thankfully, some countries like the USA, realise that a working mom will likely be away from her child and need to pump, and bring back frozen breastmilk without having her child with her! We detail some of the countries which allow plane travel with frozen breast milk in the cabin as carry on luggage and some that don’t in the table below.
Dry Ice Policies
Air travel with breast milk requires an ice pack or dry ice (a dangerous good) to keep it frozen but not all airlines allow dry ice. There is no one answer to cover all countries so the rules may be different on your return trip.
Another consideration is whether you can bring dry ice into the aircraft cabin as well as the hold. Whilst airports have their own policies about what they will allow through to the boarding gate via security, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) DO permit up to 2.5kg per passenger (under certain conditions), it is ultimately up to the individual airline whether they will permit items such as dry ice into the cabin. if in doubt, check with your airline and get it in writing.
In all cases, when flying with frozen breast milk and dry ice, do check with your airline in advance, print out the policies for the airlines and relevant aviation authorities, emails (see the below chart for details) and all other relevant paperwork.
Always allow extra time at the airport. Passengers travelling with dry ice in the cabin, is not a common procedure for many airlines, so they may need to double check with seniors or manuals to verify the process.
The easiest way to transport frozen breast milk, is by using an ice pack and avoiding the extra paperwork that dry ice entails.
Below are airport security regulations to help you plan air travel with breast milk. I approached the airports and airlines directly for this information via email. Be aware that countries policies vary greatly, so don’t be caught out! Before you fly, go through the below questions so you can check with the airport/country policy for transporting frozen breast milk and chilled breastmilk as carry on and/or checked baggage.
Traveling with Frozen Breast Milk Considerations:
- Is there a limit to the amount of breast milk you can travel with?
- What watertight containers or coolers will you use to transport your breast milk?
- Is the frozen breast milk allowed as carry on?
- Do I need my baby with me if I bring frozen carry on breast milk?
- Will your airline/airport allow dry ice or ice packs? Do they need to be frozen solid or are gel packs allowed? If neither use a Ziploc bag and fill with ice cubes which are easy to replenish at the airport and on the plane.
- Where can I pick up/purchase dry ice?
- What documents do I need? If you are flying within the USA, print out this information sheet from the TSA showing transportation of breast milk is allowed.
Airport regulations for flying with breastmilk
ALL American airports rules for flying with breastmilk
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. Formula, breast milk, toddler drinks, and baby/toddler food (to include puree pouches) are considered medically necessary liquids.
This also applies to breast milk and formula cooling accessories, such as ice packs, freezer packs, and gel packs (regardless of presence of breast milk). 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 rules for flying with breastmilk
There are no restrictions on the amount of liquids and gels you can take onboard a domestic flight for a baby or infant. However, if you are connecting to an international flight or if your domestic flight is departing from an international terminal, limits apply.
You are allowed to carry onboard a reasonable quantity of breastmilk or gel items for a baby or infant for international flights. Pack only what you need for the duration of a flight and any delays that may occur.
Baby products allowed may include, but are not limited to:
- baby milk, including expressed breast milk and powdered formula
- sterilised water
- baby food in liquid, gel, powder or paste form.
What is a reasonable quantity?
Security screening officers have the final say about a ‘reasonable quantity’. You may need to surrender some of your baby items if it has been decided that it is an excessive quantity of inorganic powder, liquid, aerosol or gel items for the flight.
If travelling without a baby
Passengers travelling without their infant or toddler may only take expressed breast milk onboard an aircraft in containers of 100 millilitres or less and no more than one litre in total. It must be contained in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag where the four sides add up to no more than 80 centimetres (e.g. 20×20 cm or 15×25 cm).
Expressed breast milk in larger volumes may be carried in a suitably insulated container in checked baggage. There are no restrictions on powder, liquid, aerosol or gel items for checked baggage.
ALL Canadian airports rules for flying with breastmilk
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 of dry ice 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.
Changi Airport -Singapore rules for flying with breastmilk
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.
Dubai UAE rules for flying with breastmilk
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 rules for flying with breastmilk
If the baby is not travelling with you, then the 100ml limit must be complied with for hand luggage.
Hong Kong rules for flying with breastmilk
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 rules for flying with breastmilk
Expressed breast milk – expressed breast milk can be taken in unlimited quantities, as long as it’s in individual containers that are no larger than two litres per container. The milk cannot be frozen, but cooling gel packs or ice packs can be used to keep it cool. You can carry expressed breast milk even if your child isn’t flying with you. The milk cannot be frozen, but cooling gel packs or ice packs can be used to keep it cool.
London Heathrow LHR -UK rules for flying with breastmilk
Hand luggage: Baby food or baby milk: breast milk can be carried in the cabin; when it is stored in a clear, transparent container or bag. Flasks cannot be permitted. The volume of each container / bag should not exceed 2litres. Expressed breast milk over 100ml is permitted even if the child is not travelling. Breast milk should be in a liquid format and not frozen when in hand luggage.
Checked Luggage: Frozen breast milk is allowed
Paris – France rules for flying with breastmilk
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.
Quick Reference Chart on Breast Milk Travel Rules
|Breastmilk allowed also when NOT traveling with an infant.
|Frozen Milk Allowed in hand luggage
|Frozen Milk Allowed in hold luggage
|Yes, up to 1 litre
|expressed breast milk onboard an aircraft in containers of 100 millilitres or less and no more than one litre in total. It must be contained in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag where the four sides add up to no more than 80 centimetres (e.g. 20×20 cm or 15×25 cm). See Home Affairs information here.
|Dry ice is permitted with the approval of the air carrier
|No – must be under 100ml
|Lufthansa permit dry ice if under 2.5kg.
|Yes, but no dry ice.
|Yes, in containers up to 2,000ml/2 litres
|Gel packs are permitted to keep milk cool. See UK gov regulations here
|Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice are allowed in carry-on. The FAA limits passengers to 5.5 pounds (2.5 kgs) of dry ice in a carry-on or checked bag, but the package must be vented and marked as dry ice. The FAA stipulates that you must get airline approval before flying with dry ice. Tip: Additional non-hazardous ice packs (blue ice, gel packs, etc.) can be used to supplement the dry ice. However, for carry-on baggage, if the product contains any liquid or gel in excess of 100 ml (3.4 oz) per container, the TSA security rules require that the product be in the frozen state (i.e., solid) when the passenger goes through security screening.
How to Travel with Frozen Breast Milk
How to Transport Breast Milk
Whether you are traveling with breast milk internationally or domestically you first need to check the rules. The best place is either the website of the airport you are flying out of, or your government website travel section. eg TSA breast milk rules can be found here.
Once you have worked out whether you are allowed to transport frozen breast milk, if it’s allowed in the cabin or checked luggage, then you need a good method to keep your breast milk either frozen or well chilled. When traveling, the best coolers for breast milk are well insulated, easy to carry, lightweight with adequate space.
How to Keep Breast Milk Frozen While Traveling
These tips are based on you be allowed to use ice packs and travel with frozen breast milk. Traveling with frozen breast milk involves a little bit of preparation beforehand, including checking if you have additional forms to fill in and adequate storage. A well insulated breast milk cooler bag works best when you leave it sealed and minimise any opening. make sure you have enough ice packs or have obtained special permission to use dry ice. See the best travel coolers for breast milk here.
- Make sure the milk is well frozen when packing – if it starting to defrost, it may not be allowed.
- Make use of all available space in the cooler – all those frozen milk packs are ice blocks themselves so make sure the cooler is as full as possible!
- Use plenty of ice blocks or ice packs and pack the entire contents as tightly as possible.
- Make sure container seals well and is insulated.
- Label the containers well
- Make sure all documentation is ready and printed out
- Be prepared that security may want to open your container and test a packet. This shouldn’t take too long and the milk will stay frozen for that short time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I fly with frozen breast milk?
Usually as checked baggage yes. For carry on it depends on the country rules and regulations you are flying from.
Check some country regulations here:
Do I have to travel with my baby to fly with breast milk?
No, BUT, and it’s a big but, not all countries will allow parents to travel with additional liquids (even if breastmilk) without their baby, meaning you would need to adhere to the 3-1-1 /100 ml liquid rule for carry on liquids. For checked baggage, larger liquids are allowed in all circumstances but frozen rules differ. When traveling domestically from the US you are able to travel with breastmilk without baby with no issues. Flying internationally out of the USA the TSA advises that you can travel without your baby.
How much breastmilk can you bring on a plane?
This depends on whether you are planning on bringing in the cabin or the hold or both. If you have baby with you, and it’s liquid, you can bring as much as you need for the journey or a ‘reasonable quantity‘ as carry on luggage with all airlines. With most airlines you can bring it on as checked luggage. However, if bringing it on the plane as frozen for carry on, this will depends on individual country rules. It will likely need to be inspected at security.
How do you pack frozen breast milk in checked luggage?
See above, section on How to Keep Breast Milk Frozen When Traveling.
Can I use dry ice to travel with my frozen breast milk?
This is usually up to individual airlines. So check with your airline first. Additional paperwork and labelling is needed for traveling with dry-ice as it is a dangerous good.
Q: What is the colour of whole mik or full fat milk abroad?
A: If your toddler is on whole or full fat milk, then this milk guide helps with all the colour codes of milk in different countries!
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