The thought of breastfeeding in the small, public space of an aircraft cabin can be a little daunting to some mums. However, there is no need to be concerned about breastfeeding during a flight, because our guide and tips can help you have a smooth plane journey. Despite this, there are usually no dedicated breastfeeding areas on board, and so mothers will have to do it elsewhere on the plane. Airline staff should be completely fine with you breastfeeding in your seat, and some may allow you to go in the gallery for added privacy. However the gallery still needs to be used, so it won't be completely private.
Breastfeeding can actually be beneficial for calming them when on a plane, as it is familiar and comforting when faced with unusual people, noises and sounds. In addition, the swallowing and sucking can help relieve pressure buildup in babies ears, especially during landing and takeoff. However, if you plan to breastfeed during these times, you will need to ensure that the baby is secured appropriately with a lap belt extension.
Due to the Equity Act of 2010 which states "A business cannot discriminate against mothers who are breastfeeding a child of any age", airlines are not allowed to discriminate breastfeeding mothers, including asking them to stop. It is also illegal in the U.K. and many other countries to ask a woman to stop or leave due to breastfeeding, and also all 50 U.S. states have laws stating that women are allowed to breastfeed in a public or private place where she is legally authorised to be. Therefore, all mums have the assurance that they are backed by the law. Some airlines also have their own breastfeeding policy, which can be found further down this page.
To be able to have the most comfortable flight for both you and your baby, here are some guidelines of what you can do before flying to ensure an enjoyable experience.
Make sure you pre-book your seat according to your preference. Some mums will prefer to be sat by the window, for extra privacy and to avoid being bumped by people passing in the aisles. However, others will prefer to be sat in the aisle, so that they can have more room and feel less cramped and can also easily access the aisle to walk around and bounce their baby after feeding.
When travelling with a young baby, the airline may be able to provide a bassinet, or cot for the baby to sit in for the flight. If you contact the airline well enough in advance, they will be able to provide information on the availability of this.
Flying can be dehydrating at the best of times, let alone when feeding. Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before and during the flight.
If you do your research and choose your flight time according to the routine of your baby, you may find a flight that fits perfectly. Night flights are often a good option as children may often fall asleep straight away. Alternatively, if your baby usually wakes up early, then an early-morning flight may be better.
Avoid getting tangled in clothes and the seatbelts and wear easily removable layers for your flight to help you stay as comfortable as possible.
If you are planning to express on a flight, you should check in advance what power socket there will be, and if they have one at all. If there is not one, you may need to pack a manual pump. You will also need to bring a small cool bag to store the milk in.
Many women will want to ensure they have packed the following: Burp cloth, cover-up blanket and a breastfeeding pillow.
Ability to select your seat
Friendly and accommodating staff
Plugs for expressing milk
Seats with a wide seat for more room
Delta state in their online policy that they fully support women's rights to breastfeed on board, and also provide private lactation rooms or suites in many airports.
Mothers are welcome to breastfeed or use a breast pump on board Southwest planes, according to a spokesperson for the airline.
Alaska Airlines state that guests have a right to breastfeed their child as per state and federal laws. They have previously said that if a breastfeeding mother makes another guest uncomfortable, they'll offer to move the objecting guest to a different seat.
British Airways state that they welcome breastfeeding onboard.
Women are welcome to breastfeed or pump onboard United flights, and also in their facilities.
This airline supports the right to breastfeed onboard flights, and breast pumps are also welcome onboard.
American state that they support any breastfeeding or pumping by mothers in any of their facilities from the plane, in the Admiral's club and also in the airport.
This airline stated that they didn't have a specific policy, but that women are welcome to breastfeed onboard. They also added that the onboard crew will help to make mothers feel as comfortable as possible.