Vanessa Kasten Urango is a mom of a 4-month-old and a 3-year-old from Texas. She was away on business for eighteen days, and pumped at least 4 times a day in order to maintain the supply necessary for her young daughter.
"I contacted [Delta] 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," she writes, "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."
The whole journey was filled will rude customer service people and bureaucratic nonsense. In other words, Delta Airlines being Delta Airlines. She recounted the whole saga on Facebook:
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.
After posting the story to Delta's page on December 19th, Urango added a few updates. Once the story got around—all the way to The Today Show—Delta felt motivated to compensate her, in the form of gift cards and reimbursements.
Delta just sent me an email apologizing and offering me a $25 gift card as a "goodwill gesture".
A Delta rep contacted me via phone and acknowledged that employees should have been aware of Delta's dry ice policy and acted incorrectly. She promised They are going to look into the matter. They are sending me $150...better than nothing but still a long way to go toward making traveling a pleasant, hassle free experience for BF moms and anyone travelling with children. Thanks for all the support..can't believe some of the stories I've read. Hopefully, sharing all these stories is the first step toward change!
On another note...all your posts, shares, and likes caught the attention of some media outlets, and the Today show will be airing the story tomorrow (12/22). Hopefully bringing more attention to this will help Delta see the need for change.'
At last, justice! Outing incompetence via Facebook works, y'all. Celebrate with some dry ice at your next party.