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What's the best way to transport multiple bags (~40 bags) of frozen mother's milk by air within the US?

By best, I mean: a way to transport it without damaging the milk or pissing off the TSA. It's for a ~2 hour flight, + 3 hours on both ends for travel to/from the airport. It can go in cargo/check-in, but I would rather carry it with me

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I have to wonder why you would need 40 bags of frozen mother's milk for a 5 hours? – Karlson Jun 24 '13 at 10:52
@Karlson - Maybe because the whole trip is longer than the flight alone. – mouviciel Jun 24 '13 at 12:05
@mouviciel OK. Let's do some math then. A newborn eats about 2 ounces (60 grams) every couple of hours. Even if I assume that each bag will contain a single feeding I come up with ~80 hours. So in the span of over 3 days a newborn is spending in and out of the planes... Anyone other then me thinks it's cruel and unusual? – Karlson Jun 24 '13 at 12:39
@Karlson the mother may simply not be joining the baby and father on the trip? Or may be ill. – Mark Mayo Jun 24 '13 at 15:28
@psychotik Wouldn't UPS or FedEx work better for that? – Karlson Jun 24 '13 at 17:53

It's actually perfectly common and relatively normal to transport breast milk on a plane.

So common, in fact, that the TSA has their own page on how to do it.

The key points:

  • Parents flying with, and without, their child(ren) are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is presented for inspection at the security checkpoint.

  • Our Security Officers may test liquid exemptions (exempt items more than 3 ounces) items for explosives. Officers may also ask you to open the container during the screening process.

  • Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag. Let Officers at the security checkpoint know you have these items. Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray.

  • You are encouraged to travel with only as much formula, breast milk, or juice in your carry-on needed to reach your destination.

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I am moving to another city, and need to take several ounces (~100) of milk so I'm interesting in what kind of packaging materials to use/transport this. – psychotik Jun 24 '13 at 17:14

In addition to the other answers and regarding the safety of the frozen milk, you need to keep it frozen so it won't get spoiled, ask the airlines if they can provide some "dry ice" packs for you. It is not allowed to bring it yourself as it is considered to be a "dangerous goods" item, but the airlines can authorize it to be onboard (it is actually avaiable in almost all flights with the meals (if available) in the chillers in case the chillers failed". If they agree to provide it then you will be sure the milk will reach it's destination safely as the dry ice will make the milk frozen for many hours.

Alternative option if you managed to get it onboard, ask the crew to place it in the chillers for you, eventhough it is not allowed per almost all airlines' policies but crew will always understand such cases and try to help :)

P.S. I have first hand experience with this as a cabin crew member.

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Use a sturdy suitcase with enough room, fill it with insulating foam, shrink-wrap the bags (so if one leaks, it does not cause a mess) and pad the bags. Then proceed to the airport 12 hours in advance, get to the TSA information and tell them that you want to transport 40 bags of frozen mother's milk by cargo. Sit down and wait for the prolonged interview and meticulous examination of your cargo and pray silently hard that you won't miss your plane.

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