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Delta and Freedom Airlines Make Boobs of Themselves

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It seems ironic that I ran across this story shortly after making a post about holiday travel and breastfeeding... Apparently a New Mexico woman was actually kicked off a plane after she refused to cover up while nursing her 22 month old daughter. I have to admit I'm floored...I wouldn't have been surprised to have heard about a woman being asked to cover up (even though that's totally lame) but I never would have fathomed that an airline would actually remove a mom and her family from the flight. Talk about idiotic!

From the Burlington Free Press:

Emily Gillette, 27, filed a charge with the commission last week -- a step citizens can take before suing in court -- after a Freedom Airlines flight attendant allegedly told Gillette that she offended her, ordering her to cover up.

Gillette said she was seated in the second-to-last row, next to the window, when she began to breast-feed her daughter. Breast-feeding helps babies with the altitude changes through takeoff and landings, Gillette said. She said she was being discreet -- her husband was seated between her and the aisle -- and no part of her breast was showing.

Gillette said that's when a flight attendant approached her, trying to hand her a blanket and directing her to cover up. Gillette said she told the attendant she was exercising her legal right to breast-feed, declining the blanket. That's when Gillette alleges the attendant told her, "You are offending me," and told her to cover up her daughter's head with the blanket.

"I declined," Gillette said in her complaint.

Moments later, a Delta ticket agent approached the Gillettes and said that the flight attendant was having the family removed from the flight.

Absolutely ridiculous. Delta and Freedom Airlines should be ASHAMED of themselves.

I've sent off my own letter to Delta and Freedom Airlines that reads as follows...

I am writing to express my dismay at the actions of flight attendants and Delta ticket agents in regards to having Emily Gillette and her family removed from Delta Flight 6160 on October 13th because Gillette chose to exercise her LEGAL RIGHT to nurse her child on board.

While Gillette was nursing discreetly, the reality remains that even if she had chosen to expose a full breast while nursing, her right to do so is legally protected.

Freedom Airlines Spokesman Paul Skellon's comment:

"A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way," that doesn't bother others, Skellon said. "She was asked to use a blanket just to provide a little more discretion, she was given a blanket, and she refused to use it, and that's all I know."

shows no sign of apology from the company, nor of understanding of a mother's legal right to nurse in public. It also ignores the fact that even if a mother was ok with covering herself and her child with a blanket, the reality is that many children will simply refuse to nurse with their heads covered.

I'd ask how many Delta and Freedom Airlines employees enjoy their daily meals with a blanket over their heads.

I would strongly encourage both Delta and Freedom Airlines to acknowledge the error in judgement that was made by both the flight attendant and the ticket agent and to issue a public apology to Ms. Gillette. I'd also encourage them to properly train their employees as to the legal rights of nursing moms so as to avoid future issues.

Jennifer Laycock
The Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog

It's sad to think that these types of incidents are still happening. That said, it continues to outline the need of not only nursing moms to bravely nurse where no mom has nursed before (tee hee), but also of ALL of us to stand up and shout for other women's rights when they are being trampled. I'd like to think that if I, or the many Lactivist readers have been on that flight that we would have stood up and fought for that woman's right to remain on the plane or that we would have exited with them in a sign of protest again the action.

UPDATE: Someone on a board that I frequent called Delta Airlines to ask what their policy was on breastfeeding on the planes. You guys will just LOVE this...

According to her, the man she spoke with said that the issue is at the flight attendant's discretion and that yes, they MAY require you to cover up. He went on to say that if that causes concern for a nursing mom, he suggests they come prepared with a bottle.


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  1. Blogger cooler*doula | 5:34 PM |  

    Geez... Sad. Preposterous. *Sigh*

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:47 PM |  

    Did you see today that there was a "nurse-in" at the Delta counter in Burlington, VT?? In support of breast feeding mom's everywhere....

  3. Anonymous Anonymous | 1:30 PM |  

    I heard about this through momsrising.org - how ridiculous! I swear to god, this country is so messed up that we are now picking on breastfeeing mothers?! Don't we have bigger fish to fry?

  4. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:34 AM |  

    I don't mind mothers to breastfeed there children as long as it is done in a discreet manner. I do not want to see someone showing their breasts in public - period! That is disrespectful to others and other mothers who have small children, and anyone that finds it offensive. Being polite and respectful to others is very important. The right to breastfeed does not give any woman the right to be rude and disregard others. Just in case, anyone thinks that I am a man - I am not -I am a woman and planning to have children.

  5. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:29 PM |  

    I see why anonymous number 4 is anonymous. Well I hope you don't run into me because when it's 98° I'm NOT putting on no friggen blanket. Nursing mom to 10 month old Bethany (don't care who it offends)

  6. Blogger Unknown | 4:05 PM |  

    I have nursed 4 children. I don't care were you are you don't compromise your integrity to show your boob and you don't take advantage of a law that allows you to nurse where you want. It does't take much to cover up with a light blanket. People who are against this just want to create a power stuggle.

  7. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:23 PM |  

    Umm...or their babies won't eat while covered with blankets.

    Or...they feel that if they have the right to eat without a blanket over their head, their child does too.

    If there's nothing wrong with breastfeeding, why do we have to hide it?

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:04 PM |  

    There is nothing wrong with going to the bathroom, but you don't do that in public do you? Where is the common curtousy? Is it that hard to bring a bottle for your travels? Lets show some respect for others and not be so selfish to your own WANTs!(its Not a Need!) Its your constitutional right to sware too, but if you can't contain yourself enough to respect others around you and cause a disturbance, I'll be kicking you off too.

    Commercial Pilot

  9. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:31 AM |  

    LOL. I can't even take your post seriously as any actual airline pilot knows the reality of when you can and can't kick someone off a plane.

    But your post amused me, so I let it through. Now, go sell crazy someplace else. We're all full up here.

  10. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:55 PM |  

    I am a Mom who breastfed and out of respect for MYSELF--I ALWAYS pumped my milk and used a bottle in public---what you do in public and what you do in private are COMPLETELY different issues!!! I'm all for breastfeeding--but not at others expense--MOM'S of the World--GET A GRIP--The WORLD doesn't revolve around YOUR BOOB--and will not end if you use a bottle in public---the ISSUE is your child getting YOUR milk--if that's accomplished --where's the problem???

  11. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:04 AM |  

    ban that mORON of a woman

    from flying

  12. Anonymous Anonymous | 2:21 PM |  

    response to comment left by "PM", pilot:

    perhaps if your mom breastfed you, you'd have grown up to become a better speller.

  13. Anonymous Anonymous | 11:20 PM |  

    She was not kicked off for feeding her kid. She was kicked off for the mouth she gave the fa and yelling at her telling her no she wont do it. As a fellow FA i dont deal well with people getting in my face and yelling at me. More so when i used to work on RJ and know once that door was closed it was just me to help myself if anything went down and yes i have kicked poeple off for a fuuny gut feeling i got! sorry not worth my life. its the same feeling you get walking down a dark street in the middle of the night. you just dont do it. i have see mothers brest feed all the time but they dont have there boob all hanging out and they dont yell at me and tell me what they can and cant do.you know when you get on a plane there is a line where by stepping foot on the plane you must comply with all lighted signs posted placards and CREW MEMBER INSTRUCTIONS.

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