Arizona mom Sara Salow went prepared for her recent flight from Phoenix to Boston — she knew she would have to bring extra items for her infant son.
Salow called American Airlines ahead of the flight to confirm she’d be able to bring some essentials like a stroller and diaper bag, the family told KNXV in Phoenix.
But when she got to the airport, the mom wasn’t allowed to bring one of the most important items — a small cooler of breast milk.
Salow said that she and her husband only brought what they knew was allowed, but American Airline employees said the cooler couldn’t go on the flight for free.
The airline said it would have to check her breast milk cooler for an additional $150. Salow told KNXV:
“I’m like, ‘This is a diaper bag, which I thought was exempt; that backpack is his personal item and we have the cooler — I didn’t have a personal item.”
Other nearby passengers offered to bring the breast milk cooler on-board as their own carry-on, but the airline employees said it wasn’t allowed.
Eventually, the family just decided to leave the cooler behind and go on their flight. Salow said she was “humiliated”:
“We were pretty mad; I immediately started crying…It really felt demeaning.”
According to American Airlines policy, economy customers are only allowed one carry-on each, but items like strollers and diaper bags are exempt.
Breast milk was not on the list of exempt items at the time of the flight, but Salow’s story helped change that.
After the mom spoke out, American Airlines issued an apology and confirmed that the mom should have been allowed to bring the breast milk aboard.
It said in a statement:
The customer should have been allowed to fly with the breast milk and we apologize that a mistake was made in this case. We have clarified our policies with our team members.
The airline has also now added breast milk to its list of exempt items.
And for Salow, the new policy made an overwhelmingly negative experience have a somewhat happy outcome.
She told KNXV that she’s happy other moms won’t have to go through the same thing she did. Watch the family’s interview below: