Flying is already hectic enough, but flying as a new breastfeeding mom can be pretty stressful. So that is why Vanessa Urango, Mom to a four month old baby & Three year old, called ahead of time to get information on how she would be able to fly with her pumped milk. She was told by a customer service rep to pack it with dry ice and check it at baggage claim.. Easy enough , right?
I am a mother to a four month and a three year old daughter. I spent the last eighteen days away from my children and husband for work. During this time, I had to pump at least four times per day to maintain a breast milk supply for my infant daughter and kept this supply in a freezer. One week before my scheduled departure, I contacted your customer service department via phone to find out how to transport the frozen breast milk home to my infant. I was told to pack it with dry ice in a cooler and check it at baggage claim. The dry ice content had to be under 5.5 lbs and the outside of the container had to be labeled. Because of this, I made a special trip to a local Target ($25 round trip Uber ride) to purchase a cooler and packing tape/markers to label the cooler. On the day of my departure (today) I woke up at 5:30 am to go to a dry ice vendor ($35 round trip Uber). I packed it all up and waited until I arrived at the airport to tape it up and label it, just in case it needed to be opened and to verify how it should be labeled. When I showed up to your ticket counter at EWR, the ticketing agent told me that I would have to pay $150 to check the $25 cooler because I already checked two other bags. In addition to this, he had no idea how to handle my cooler with dry ice. In fact, he acted irritated by it, and got two other agents involved. To say they were rude and completely lacking empathy is an understatement. Long story short, they told me I could not take the breast milk on the plane because they couldn't weigh the dry ice (just curious how they would ever weigh dry ice??) and because I didn't have the proper sticker on it to show it contained dry ice. I asked them where I could find such a sticker, and they just shrugged with complete apathy. I explained that I brought tape and markers specifically for this; I just needed to know how to label it. They had no response. I had no choice but to dispose of the cooler and it's contents, to which they told me I couldn't dispose of it in the airport because of the dry ice. They, of course, offered no suggestions and just left me standing helpless with a cooler full of frozen breast milk and dry ice. Luckily, some very kind and compassionate airport police officers came to my rescue. I cried to them out of complete exhaustion, frustration, and anger, and they helped me figure out a solution which involved tossing the dry ice into a bathroom trash can and taking the cooler with only frozen breast milk as a carry on.
So...here I sit waiting to board your plane...with a cooler of frozen breast milk WITHOUT dry ice. Who knows if it will even still be frozen when I arrive home in 8 hours; which basically means two weeks worth of breast milk will have to be thrown away. I wasted so much time and money for nothing. Thanks so much to your staff for their complete lack of compassion for a tired mom who really just wants to get home to her babies."
As of now, the breastmilk seems to be okay and Vanessa, is trying to find ways to keep her milk from thawing out.