Taking Breastmilk On A Plane – Rules In Australia, The US And The UK

Taking Breastmilk On A Plane - Rules In Australia, The US And The UK

Travelling with a baby can be a daunting experience.

Not only are there hundreds of things you have to pack, but you’ve no idea whether your precious darling will sleep happily on your chest, or cry for the entire journey.

When you are travelling by plane, you might worry about how much liquid (e.g. expressed breastmilk) you will be allowed to bring onboard.

This might be especially the case if you’ve heard stories in the media of mothers being forced to dump their expressed breastmilk (EBM) at the airport.

Any mother who has expressed her breastmilk will know that the saying ‘There’s no point crying over spilt milk’ just doesn’t apply when it comes to EBM.

The rules about taking breastmilk on a plane vary, depending on the country you’re in, and whether it’s a domestic or international flight.

Before travelling, it’s advisable to check with the airlines you’re flying with to make sure you have the most up-to-date and accurate information, to avoid dismay.

Taking Breastmilk On A Plane

Here are the rules about taking EBM on a plane – for Australia, the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).

Rules For Australia

In Australia, on domestic flights, there are no restrictions on the amount of EBM you can take onboard for your baby.

On international flights, you are permitted to bring onboard a ‘reasonable’ amount of EBM. It’s advised that you pack only what you need for the duration of the flight.

It’s also indicated that security screening officers have the final say about what is a ‘reasonable quantity’; if they decide you have an excessive quantity you might have to surrender some.

If you are travelling without your baby, you may take EBM onboard a plane, but only in containers of up to 100mL, and no more than 1 litre in total. The EBM must be contained in a transparent, re-sealable plastic bag, where the length of the four sides add up to no more than 80 centimetres (e.g. 20×20 cm or 15×25 cm).

Larger volumes of EBM may be carried in a suitably insulated container, in checked baggage.

Rules For The United Kingdom

In the UK, you’re allowed to bring onboard enough EBM for the journey.

It’s indicated that airport staff might need to open the containers to screen the liquids at the security check-in point.

Any EBM over 100mL must go in the hold if your baby is not travelling with you.

Rules For The United States

In the US, you are permitted to bring more than 100mL of EBM onboard a flight but it is typically screened by X-ray.

If security screening officers are unable to use X-ray to clear your EBM, they may ask to open the container, and either have you transfer the liquid to a separate empty container, or dispose of a small quantity of liquid, if feasible.

You can inform the security screening officer if you do not want your EBM X-rayed or opened. Other steps will be taken to clear your EBM and you will undergo additional screening procedures.

You do not need to travel with your baby to bring EBM onboard.

Hopefully this information helps you feel more prepared and in control when you take your precious EBM on a plane.

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Renee Kam IBCLC CONTRIBUTOR

Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.


One comment

  1. FYI: The UK no longer allows frozen EMB to brought on board. It seems a strange rule and from what I can see it is only in the UK and not USA or Australia, worth keeping an eye on though.

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