Breastfeeding Mum Told to Cover Up on American Airlines Flight
News.com.au | Aug. 07, 2013
A mother claims she was shamed by a flight attendant for breastfeeding on a plane.
The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, was flying with American Airlines on July 21 when the incident happened.
The situation is detailed in a Facebook status message posted by her friend Hannah Butta, which has received over 5000 shares already, sparking outrage.
The woman, who was sitting in a window seat, said she decided to breastfeed her five month-old son to help ease his ear pain and prevent him from crying. She claims she breastfed "discreetly".
"I was sitting in the window seat, my husband was sitting in the centre seat, and our son's head was toward the window so no one could really see what was going on," she said.
"There was a girl about 10 or 12 years old sitting in the aisle seat next to my husband. She had her headphones on and was chatting with her friends in surrounding seats - my son's eating did not seem to be bothering her."
However, she claims a flight attendant took objection to what she saw.
"A few minutes after my son started nursing, a stewardess walked by our row, shook her head at me, and shot me a very displeased look."
The flight attendant went away but returned and allegedly told the passenger she needed to put a blanket over her son "because there are kids on this flight".
"My husband promptly responded that there was no problem with what I was doing and that we preferred to not use a blanket," she said.
She claims the crew member then moved the girl that was sitting in the same row towards the back of the plane, and then avoided the couple.
"For the rest of the flight, that stewardess never offered us drinks and avoided looking at us, but my son happily nursed and slept. We had passengers all around us saying how thankful they were that our son was sleeping, commenting 'He's the best baby on the plane!'"
The woman filed a complaint on the airline's website about the flight attendant's "inappropriate, harassment-style behaviour". She claims she received this response from the airline: "To offer some clarity, we certainly do allow for the breast-feeding of infants on our flights. However, because of the offense that may be taken by others within the close confines of commercial aircraft, we simply ask that breast-feeding be done with certain discretion and a sense of modesty. We believe it is reasonable to ask that the mother cover-up in an appropriate manner during the feeding, and by your account it appears that you were sensitive to this need."
The incident had Ms Butta asking "Are the legal rights of breastfeeding infants really lost when the plane leaves the ground?".
A spokesperson for American Airlines told news.com.au that they always allow mothers to breastfeed during flights.
"The approach our flight attendants take is to ensure breastfeeding mothers have the privacy they wish to have, while also ensuring the comfort of our other passengers," said Andrea Huguely from American Airlines media relations.
"We apologise to the breastfeeding mother who was offered a blanket during a recent flight by a well-intentioned flight attendant. The intent was to make everyone onboard comfortable, including the unrelated 12-year-old sitting in the same row."
The incident comes after a woman claimed she was "humiliated" for using a breast pump on an American Airlines flight in April.
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