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Flying High with Bub

November 2014

There is a lot for parents to consider when flying, but what about parents flying with babies? Do the liquid rules apply to breastmilk? Just how does flying affect babies? Read on for several helpful tips for flying with babies, as well as avaliable airline policies on breastfeeding.

  1. Mothers should breastfeed on take-off and landing to help equalize the internal ear pressure for their infants.
  2. Research the airline policy on infant feeding, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration criteria for transporting breast milk. In the US, mothers may carry more than the regulated 3 oz. of fluids if it is breast milk. It must be declared and inspected at security, but any unusual request (like drinking some to prove what it is) is unmandated and illegal.
  3. Use helpful products (think small nursing pillows, ring slings, hands-free pumping bras, comfortable clothing etc.) to help throughout the trip.
  4. Choose loose-fitting clothing that allows for discreet nursing rather than an obvious cover-up that tells everyone on the plane what mother is doing!
  5. If an incident occurs on a US flight, mothers should report it to FirstRight, a national grassroots breastfeeding rights advocacy group, who can help with composing complaint letters and appropriate follow-up actions.

Airline Policies:

Air Canada: As a public transport company, they follow the Human Rights Act as well as the Canadian Transportation Act. They recommend breastfeeding on take-off and landing.

Air Transat: They welcome nursing mothers to breastfeed anytime during the flight. They may restrict infant positions during take-off and landing.

American Airlines: Their procedures advise flight crews to ensure breastfeeding mothers have the privacy they need and that other customers are not subjected to uncomfortable situations.

British Airways: New crew training covers breastfeeding issues, although there is no official policy. They fully support a mother's choice to breastfeed her baby when traveling with them.

Continental Airlines: They are a "family friendly airline", and their policy does not prohibit breastfeeding onboard the plane.

Delta: They support a mother's right to breastfeed aboard their aircraft, but have no official policy.

Lufthansa: There is no official policy but they state they permit breastfeeding on flights. They, however, request that mothers use a cover-up if they nurse in their seat "out of respect for other passengers that may be uncomfortable".

Northwest: They have no policies forbidding or constraining the nursing of infants on their flights.

Qantas: They recommend that mothers breastfeed or provide a bottle on take-off and landing to alleviate the popping sensation. Mothers are welcomed to breastfeed their baby in their seat.

Sunwing: They have no official feeding policy.

United Airlines: They report that they respect the rights of a nursing mother, unless it provides a safety hazard to the mother, child or other passengers.

US Airways: Although there is no official breastfeeding policy, mothers are welcome to feed their baby on the plane, including during take-off and landing.

Virgin Blue: They recommend mothers breastfeed or bottlefeed infants during take-off and landing to make them more comfortable.

WestJet: They are supportive of a mother's right to breastfeed, but have no official policy.

Thanks to the PhDinparenting website and individual airline websites for information.

Kathy Parkes
Online Course Facilitator for Step2Education


Kathy Parkes, MSN-Ed, RN, IBCLC, FILCA
Course Tutor, Step2 Education
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