MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/WBIR) - A Knoxville mother says she had to trash more than 140 ounces of breast milk after running into issues with TSA and American Airlines during a recent trip to Mexico.
Sarah Morrow is mom to sons Koa, 4, and Kai, 9 months. She and her husband recently traveled to Cabo San Lucas for a wedding.
“It’s just one of those things that’s been on our calendar for almost a year that’s given us excitement,” Morrow told WBIR.
While there, she pumped every few hours, sometimes up to five times a day.
“I was just super proud of myself, too, because I pumped for over 10 hours,” said Morrow.
She made arrangements with the hotel to safely store the breast milk during the trip.
“At the end of the day, room service would come and have gloves on, take my milk and go put it in the freezer, lay it flat for me,” said Morrow.
Morrow ended up with 145 ounces of breastmilk, which is more than a gallon of milk.
She says researched protocols for traveling with breastmilk and did everything according to TSA guidelines, but she learned the rules are different in Mexico.
She packed all 25 bags of frozen milk on ice in a cooler and headed to the airport, but she ran into trouble when she went through Mexico’s airport security.
“She said, ‘No you can’t bring that,’ and I started instantly crying because there is such anxiety women have when traveling with their breast milk,” said Morrow. “She said if I had a child with me I could bring it in a three-ounce bag.”
Morrow had to check her cooler with American Airlines.
“I, at least, was hoping for, ‘Hey, maybe we can ship this for you overnight?’ There was no solution. It was very cold,” she said.
But when they landed in Dallas, there was a delay on the tarmac and it caused her to miss her connection. She was stuck in Dallas for the night while her milk was on the way to Knoxville.
“I paid a courier $100 to go pick it up at midnight,” said Morrow.
But the cooler wasn’t there. It was still in Dallas.
She finally got the bag when she landed the next day in Knoxville.
“Came home, opened it, all of it completely melted, completely ruined, and it just devastated me,” said Morrow. “It’s an extension of you and an extension of your child. It’s what your child needs to survive.”
Morrow says he wants to see airlines allow breast milk in carry-ons, regardless of if the child is present.
“My main goal would be to advocate for people to be able to carry breastmilk because it’s an essential nutrient without absurd or ambiguous restrictions because it’s that important,” she said.
She filed a formal complaint with Mexico’s airport security and American Airlines.
WBIR reached out to American Airlines and their media relations department sent the following statement: “We are sorry to hear that the customer’s bag was rerouted and we’re looking into the circumstances internally. A member of our customer relations team has reached out to the customer to learn more about their experience.”
“I know that losing all of that milk and going through all of that last night and this morning was for a bigger purpose,” she said.
Morrow said American Airlines offered her a $200 voucher but she turned it down.