Mothers may be told by an airline that they cannot take expressed breastmilk (EBM) in their hand luggage on a plane. LLLGB is sometimes contacted by mothers this has happened to. Having to unexpectedly discard the milk they have expressed for their child can be very distressing.
Some airlines will not allow expressed milk in hand luggage. We sympathise with any mum who has expressed breastmilk for her child and is disappointed to find she cannot take it on board a plane. When a mother is away from her child she needs to express milk for her own comfort and to maintain a supply for her child. Not expressing her milk may lead to mastitis, engorged breasts or a drop in milk production.
Many babies are fed EBM as their main source of food, especially when their mother is working. These babies need the EBM their mothers have expressed while they were away.
Expressing and maintaining a supply of EBM can be time-consuming work. It can be very upsetting to express and then have to discard the milk.
As from February 8th 2017 the regulations on taking expressed breastmilk onto planes has changed as set out in the announcement below.
DEPARTMENT FOR TRANSPORT MAKING FLYING EASIER FOR BREASTFEEDING PARENTS
“From 8 February 2017 passengers carrying expressed breast milk will be able to carry an unlimited supply in hand luggage. It must be in liquid form, not frozen, and must be presented in individual containers no larger than 2l. The milk will be subjected to screening and, if successful, will be allowed on board an aircraft. Passengers will not have to be accompanied by the breastfeeding infant.
Previously, expressed breast milk in quantities over 100ml was allowed only when the passenger was accompanied by an infant.”
This change brings the UK into line with the USA, Canada and other EU member states.
Updated guidance on gov.uk aims to make it simpler for parents to understand what they can and cannot take in their hand luggage.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The UK has some of the strictest security measures in the world. As part of our on-going work to improve passenger experience, travellers will now be allowed to carry liquid breast milk in hand luggage regardless of an infant being present.”
Airline guidelines can differ from country to country, and between individual airlines. Some airlines do not permit EBM to be carried in hand luggage, others have it listed as an Exempt Liquid. Some will allow EBM to be carried in hand luggage but require it to be x-rayed or otherwise screened.
We suggest that mothers travelling with expressed breastmilk check the guidelines beforehand with the airline they are using. If they are contacted in advance the airline will be able to explain what their procedure will be. They should be able to give you suggestions about the best way to travel with EBM.
Breastmilk can be put into check-in luggage.
LLLGB can offer information to women who have to travel without their babies and need to express and store milk. The security procedures of any airline are outside our area of expertise. You may find helpful information in Further Reading
Written by Anna Burbidge.
Copyright LLLGB 2017.