pumping on a plane

Tips for Pumping on a Plane

Tips for Pumping on a Plane

Pumping is totally doable on a plane.  Whether you are pressed for time upon arriving at your destination, have a long flight, or are trying to stick to a strict schedule, you may be wondering if it is possible to pump on a plane. The short answer is YES!  Below are 4 easy tips you can follow if you’re taking off for a weekend getaway or business trip.

#1 Plan Ahead   

A breast pump is considered a medical device and does not count against you as a carry on so you don’t have to worry about getting it onboard.  Make sure to take it out of your suitcase or bag when going through security to prevent getting stuck longer than necessary. It is highly recommended that you carry your breast pump and pumping accessories in a dedicated bag.  This will make it easier when you go through TSA security as well as when you go to pump.

Once on the plane, you have the right to pump on a plane.  However, you are not allowed to do so in a jump seat or common areas due to safety concerns.  So, make sure you aren’t in an “Exit row” seat! This means your options are in your seat or in the bathroom when the “fasten your seatbelt” sign is off.  Check the airline’s guidelines before you get that ticket!

#2 What you need

Of course, a good pump is essential for efficiency.  Spectra Baby USA has some great options to consider, especially if you want a quiet, and not to mention cute, efficient pump.  Make sure you don’t forget a Ziploc bag ready for holding your used parts until they can be cleaned and a small cooler to keep your milk cold.

When finished pumping, you should be able to ask for ice to keep your milk cooled but, unfortunately, airline staff is not allowed to store milk for you.  A bottle cooler is ideal for storing your breast milk while traveling.  You can always ask for ice if needed.  Lastly, it is always wise to bring batteries for your pump since it’s hard to count on electricity on the plane. Thankfully, some Spectra’s breast pumps don’t need batteries; but, if using the S2 Plus a compatible battery pack would be a helpful tool to have so you can pump without needing a power outlet!

#3 Where to pump

As we mentioned, you have two options on the plane: in your seat or the bathroom.  Pumping in your seat has to do with your comfort level. With the hum of the plane and a cover, no one will be the wiser, which is great.  If you’re not comfortable with this you can certainly squeeze into the bathroom. If you are worried about spending too much time in the bathroom try to time it when there are fewer people needing the bathroom (for example when the cabin is dimmed for sleeping or meals are being served).  You can even break it up into a few 5-10 minute sessions at a time.  No matter what you choose, having everything set up and ready to go before flying will make pumping as stress-free as possible.     

#4 Details to consider

It can get a lot more complicated if your baby is with you.  The best case scenario is that you have a travel companion that can hold and entertain baby while your pumping.  Otherwise, you should definitely consider buying a seat for baby (instead of having them on your lap) so they have their own space while you’re pumping.  You can also take your chances with getting an open seat (they will usually give you one for free if it is available) or a baby bassinet (usually first come, first serve).  Otherwise, you may have to ask for help from a friendly neighbor.  If you aren’t comfortable with these options, you may consider alternatives such as pumping on the drive to or at the airport.

Pumping on a plane is totally doable.  Do a little preparation to help everything run smoothly and try not to feel self-conscious.  After all, you are providing your baby with the best possible nutrition! For more general information on feeding and flying check out our blog post here. ().


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