breastfeeding while traveling

I’m doing some research for my upcoming trip. I really don’t think there will be any problems when I try to feed my son on the plane, but I want to be prepared just in case.

Unfortunately, United doesn’t have any posted policies on their site about allowing breastfeeding. I found some news stories from an incident in 2006 where United stated that their company policy allows breastfeeding on the plane. I would hope so, considering they encourage moms to feed their children during take-off and landing. I’d love to have something from them that I could print out and take with me, but I couldn’t find any references that I could show to any flight attendants.

I also couldn’t find anything on TSA’s site, except a note that breastfeeding moms can take quantities of breast milk and juice greater than 3 oz. if they declare them for inspection separately from their 1-quart zip bag of liquids. That’s good, but I’ll be traveling for 4 hours plus layovers and won’t really have a way to keep the milk cool. (I know you can keep milk up to 10 hours, but that would have to be freshly expressed. My flight leaves at 7 am and you’re crazy if you think I’m going to get up at 4 to pump.)

But I did find a listing that summarizes breastfeeding laws in the 50 states. And since they should have to follow the laws in the state that the flight originates in, I should be okay.

I really hope that prepping beforehand will mean that there are no hassles and I won’t have to worry about it.

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4 Responses
  1. Susan says:

    Hi, As someone who took 6 international trips with my daughter in her first year (including several stops in the US) I can tell you that no one should hassle you about breastfeeding on a plane. As for the formula/milk allowance, in 2 airports I had to abandon my boxes of ready-made formula because, while I was allowed to bring more than the volume allotment, I had to open the non-resealable boxes and drink from them. It’s easier to breastfeed . . . .

  2. becky says:

    They changed that & will now not require you to drink from it, thankfully. But I’m flying united & they’ve had incidents before. It’ll probably be fine. But this will be our first flight.

  3. JakeJD (1 comments.) says:

    The TSA policy applies only to what comes through the checkpoint and not to anything that happens once you are through, in the airport, or on the airplane. While the TSA policy change to allowing unlimited quantities of pumped breastmilk occured August ’07, forcing adults to drink breastmilk at checkpoints was expressly forbidden under even the previous policy (in a provision added after a few women had been forced to drink breastmilk).

    Sadly, it is still not clear what law applies when a plane is in the air (there has not been a litigated case yet) so it is not necessarily safe to assume a particular state law is in force unless the plane is on the ground. In the now famous (and still on-going) Gillette case against Delta airlines in Vermont, Delta (unsuccessfully) argued that state law did not apply because airlines are federally regulated. However Gillette’s success on that point was tied to the fact that the plane was on the ground and therefore clearly in the state.

    FWIW, I think is a better source for state breastfeeding laws because many of the links on the National Council of State Legislatures site you link to are dead (they link to the bill in the legislature which usually disappears once the law is moved into the state statutes). Knowing the state laws is important for the time you are on the ground, either in the air or in the airport changing planes or during layovers. Also keep in mind that in states without any enforcement provision or penalty in the law, there may be little you can do even if the law is violated. (See )

    I am not aware of any airline that has a written formal policy concerning breastfeeding on their airplanes. Unfortunately, one hears of negative experiences with flight attendants all too frequently. This is very serious but is still, I think, the exception and not the rule.

    If you have a news article that quotes United as stating that company policy allows breastfeeding, I suggest printing that news article to show to any United personnel that might give you a hard time.

    Hope that helps. :)

  4. becky says:

    @jake – thanks so much! a lot of great info there. i think i will go back and see if i can find that article again and print it. it mentioned that there’s a policy manual onboard the plane that mentions it.