Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act
On Friday, October 5, 2018, the President signed the five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which included language that requires airports to provide lactation rooms that are accessible to the public. This requirement will go into effect in 2021.
The provisions came from the bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act, which was introduced by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Representative Stephen Knight (R-CA-25) in May 2017. The text of those bills were later incorporated into FAA Reauthorization bills where they were met without opposition.
All large- and medium-sized airports are now required to provide a clean, private, non-bathroom space in each terminal for the expression of breast milk. The space must be accessible to persons with disabilities, available in each terminal building after the security checkpoint, and include a place to sit, a table or other flat surface, and an electrical outlet. The bill also makes grants available to airports to help them make these critical renovations. The Act also requires airports to provide a baby changing table in one men's and one women's restroom in each passenger terminal building.
A 2014 study of 100 airports found that while 62% reported being "breastfeeding friendly," only 8% met the minimum requirements for a person who is lactating or nursing. The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding; the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention; and the National Prevention Strategy each call for breastfeeding-friendly environments.
Yet in spite of this tremendous recognition—and laws in all 50 states that specifically allow breastfeeding in any public or private location—breastfeeding people have continued to face barriers, even harassment, when breastfeeding in public. And when away from their babies, airports are just one of many public places where people who are lactating face challenges finding a clean, private space to pump. The requirement for airports to provide lactation accommodations will go a long way toward supporting breastfeeding travelers and airport workers.
FAM Act 2017 House Bill Number: H.R. 2375
- Read full text
- Committee of jurisdiction: House Transportation and Infrastructure: Subcommittee on Aviation
FAM Act 2017 Senate Bill Number: S. 1110
- Read full text
- Committee of jurisdiction: Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety & Security
In May 2015, Senator Tammy Duckworth introduced H.R. 2350, the Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act of 2015. This first-of-its-kind bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Aviation. In April 2016, FAM Act provisions passed the Senate as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act, which funds our nation's air transportation infrastructure. It then returned to the House for consideration as part of the FAA Reauthorization Act, however, this reauthorization was not ultimately passed before the end of the 114th Congressional session
- Help Traveling Families Stay Healthy: Ensure Airport Accommodations for Nursing Mothers (USBC fact sheet - 2017)
- Duckworth Press Releases:
- "Ahead of Mother’s Day, Duckworth, Fischer, McCaskill & Knight Re-Introduce Bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers Act"
- "Senate Passes Duckworth Proposals To Help Nursing Mothers, Protect Passengers With Disabilities & Make Air Travel Safer"
- Federal Aviation Administration Memorandum: "Reauthorization Program Guidance Letter (R-PGL) 19-03: Airport Types and Eligibility"
- Knight Press Release: "Knight introduces bipartisan measure to help nursing mothers at airports"
Relevant Cases / Real Stories
- Chicago Sun Times: "Airports fail to accommodate breastfeeding mothers"
- Cosmopolitan: "Tammy Duckworth: Why Do We Expect Moms to Pump Milk for Their Children on a Toilet Seat?"
- The Huffington Post:
- "Mom Fights For Lactation Rooms In Airports After Pumping In A ‘Filthy’ Janitorial Closet"
- "Breastfeeding In Airports Is Miserable. These Women Are Aiming To Fix That."
- Medium: "How one trip to the airport made me a feminist"
- Romper: "Lactation Rooms Are About To Pop Up At So Many U.S. Airports Thanks To This Important New Law"
- USA Today: "Nursing rooms for breastfeeding moms now required at all major airports"
- WCVB Boston: "Mom led to airport pet relief room to pump breast milk: Newton woman shocked at suggested accommodations"
- Yahoo! Lifestyle: