Breastfeeding is Getting Friendlier in the Sky
Airline breastfeeding policies have been in the news a lot recently. Thankfully policies seem to be improving.
I have flown on a total of 18 flights in my life. I’ve breastfed on 10 of them and never with a cover. The first couple times, I was very nervous about breastfeeding on an airplane. What if someone made a rude comment? What if someone complained? What if I got kicked off the plane?
Even though I know my right to nurse in public, these thoughts still crossed my mind and raised my stress level. Despite the law protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed in public (Yes, even without a cover), there are still incidents where moms are told to cover up or that they can’t nurse wherever they are. The law isn’t enough, apparently, but a few airlines and even the TSA is now working on updated training and written breastfeeding policies.
Earlier this year, a mother was told by a flight attendant to cover up on Frontier Airlines. Another mother reached out to Delta on Twitter asking about their breastfeeding policy and was told she would need to cover or pump milk ahead of time to bring on board. Apologies were issued for both of these incidents along with promises to train staff better and update their policies.
I’m thankful I’ve never encountered more than a few sidelong looks while nursing in public. It’s great to see progress in protecting a mom’s right to breastfeed while flying, but the biggest victory yet this year has little to do with nursing on-board and everything to do with pumping moms.
It’s hard enough to be away from your baby without running into issues going through security with breast milk. Only a few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she was near tears because she almost had to trash the breast milk she was trying to bring home. I’ve pumped and dumped while away on trips, but not all mamas can do that. Now thanks to Stacey Armato, moms transporting breast milk should have an easier time getting through security.
The TSA recently agreed to a settlement of $75,000 after Armato sued them after they refused to alternatively screen her two containers of breast milk in 2010. Armato did not want her milk to be x-rayed but was given a hard time by TSA agents who told her to either have it x-rayed or to throw it away.
I don’t know about you, but it’s a lot of work for me to fill up one baby bottle with pumped breast milk. I think I would have burst into tears immediately upon such an insulting suggestion. It was one thing when I had to toss out a perfectly good tube of sunscreen because I forgot to put it in a plastic bag in my carry-on. But milk pumped for my baby? I’ve received nicer treatment about the contents of my kids’ sippy cups.
Each of these stories has helped to raise awareness and educate more people about breastfeeding laws. Hopefully there will be less incidents of misinformed and improperly trained employees infringing on mothers’ rights. I also hope to see some changes to carry-on policies for moms who bring their pumps on-board, whether or not they pump during the flight.
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