KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Tennessee mother is demanding reform from the airline industry after her recent experience led to 145 ounces of her breast milk being spoiled.
Sarah Morrow said she exclusively breastfeeds her 9-month-old son and knew she had to keep pumping while visiting Mexico for a friend’s wedding. Every three to five hours, Morrow would stop what she was doing and pump breast milk for her son, Kai.
Morrow pumped several bags of breast milk every day at her hotel and had them frozen. Hotel staff would pick up the milk and store it in a freezer for her so she could eventually take it home to her son.
At the end of her trip, she had more than 145 ounces of milk, nearly a gallon of “liquid gold.”
When she got to airport security in Mexico, she was denied the ability to bring her breast milk in her carry-on, which is usually the standard procedure. Morrow said she was told she could only bring three ounces if she had a child present, and since she didn’t have her child, she couldn’t carry on any of the breastmilk.
“I instantly started crying because your emotions are already nervous going up to check something like that,” she said. “I started hysterically crying and said ‘my son has to have this, it’s frozen, you can do anything you want with it but I have to bring this on the plane with me.'”
She had to go back and add the breast milk into her checked luggage.
“I go up to the American desk and I just pleaded with them to help me. I told them the situation and they said ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing I can do,'” she recalled.
The ordeal caused her to miss her connecting flight from Dallas to Knoxville. After being told her checked luggage would make it to Knoxville that night, it actually stayed in Dallas causing all 145 ounces of her breastmilk to spoil.
“I was devastated. I immediately that night in my devastation filed a formal complaint with Mexico’s version of TSA, with TSA themselves and with American Airlines,” said Morrow. “I was just devastated and I knew right then that I had to figure this out, that something had to change for women because I didn’t want more women to go through this scenario again.”
Morrow explained she was most concerned with the lack of advocacy that American Airlines showed for mothers who were breast-feeding and traveling with breast milk, the lack of empathy and customer service at the gate in Dallas specifically, and the lack of a sense of urgency and accountability in ascertaining where exactly her breast milk bag was.
Morrow posted her experience to social media and said a lot of other women agreed the rules about traveling with breast milk are too vague. She said American Airlines tried giving her a $200 flight voucher for the inconvenience but she turned it down because her breast milk alone was worth triple that and she wants to see reform.
American Airlines released the following statement:
“After the customer missed their connection, they were accommodated on a flight to Knoxville the following day, and per procedure, their checked bag was rerouted to the rescheduled flight. We are sorry to hear that the customer had a negative experience with us and are looking into the circumstances internally. A member of our customer relations team has reached out to learn more about their experience.”American Airlines
Accordng to TSA, breast milk in quantities greater than 3.4 ounces is allowed in carry-on baggage and does not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Travelers are asked to remove the breast milk from their carry-on bag to be screened separately from the rest of their belongings. You do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk, according to TSA.