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American Airlines apologizes to breastfeeding mom

But is their apology sufficient?

A recent Facebook post is making the rounds after a mom who was breastfeeding her infant son on an American Airlines flight was asked to 'cover up' by a flight attendant. When she declined, stating her preference to feed her baby without a blanket covering him, she claims she was mistreated (the attendant allegedly didn't serve her drinks or make eye contact with her for the duration of the flight and moved a young girl out of the mom's row, making allegedly rude remarks about mom and baby).

American Airlines issued an apology, but Hannah Butta, a friend of the mom in question, isn't satisfied by their response. The airline suggested that they were sorry the attendant mistreated them, but that they ask for "certain discretion and a sense of modesty," while breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding mom

According to Butta, "The federal government and nearly every state have laws in place that protect women nursing in public.... Are the legal rights of breastfeeding infants really lost when the plane leaves the ground?"

The mom involved, who would like to remain anonymous, tells the full story:

“On July 21, 2013 my husband and I were travelling home with our 5 month-old son on an American Airlines flight. After lift-off, I allowed our son to begin nursing as it helps his ears not hurt and prevents him from crying for the rest of the flight. I was sitting in the window seat, my husband was sitting in the center seat, and our son’s head was toward the window so no one could really see what was going on. There was a girl about ten or twelve 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.

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. I told my husband, and we both agreed that she probably wouldn’t go any further, since I was being discreet and no one else seemed bothered. A few minutes later, the same stewardess returned to our row, leaned over the girl in the aisle seat, and told me (after a bit of hesitation as she couldn’t find her words) that I needed to put a blanket over my 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. The stewardess left our row and walked to the back of the plane.

A few minutes later, she returned again and told the young lady in the aisle seat, “I’m going to move you back here because you’re probably really uncomfortable.” By that time, our my son was asleep and the girl had yet to take notice in my nursing of him.

More from Mom to Mom:
#ISupportYou aims to end mommy wars over infant feeding

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!'
I filed a complaint on the American Airlines website describing the employee’s inappropriate, harassment-style behavior, saying that it made me hesitant to fly with American Airlines again. On August 3, 2013, I received the attached letter in response – Not an apology and further reason to believe that harassment is not uncommon for breastfeeding mothers flying with American Airlines."
What do you think: Did American Airlines apologize sufficiently, or is this mom right to be dissatisfied with their response? Tell us on Facebook
Sep 6, 2013 9:54PM

As a breastfeeding mother, I actually prefer to cover up but my baby refuses to eat under a blanket or nursing cover. He gets hot and doesn't eat very well. When he is uncovered he relaxes and it able to eat quite well. If I'm out and about when it's time for him to eat I am not going to let him go hungry because other people might be uncomfortable seeing my child nurse.

Aug 15, 2013 10:06PM
It's totally possible to breastfeed discreetly without a cover.  It's not like we're wearing big neon signs that say, "LOOK AT ME I'M BREASTFEEDING!"  I usually just wear a t-shirt that's big enough to drape down a little bit while my baby is eating and it just looks like I'm cuddling him.  No skin shows.  It actually draws a LOT more attention to drape a cover or a blanket over myself.  If I were wearing something that would expose more while nursing, then sure, I'd do the cover thing depending on the situation.

That flight attendant went waaay over the line by imposing her opinions on the othe passengers and, basically, being a nosy gossip.  I have probably nursed a dozen times on a plane and have never had an issue.  In fact, I've been encouraged by friendly attendants and smiled at, whether or not I was using a cover.
Aug 9, 2013 10:38PM

if this happened to my wife I woulda told the flight attendant to f-off.


I have flown with my wife breastfeeding our daughter many times and all the attendants, including ones in AA have been very friendly about it and even asking if we needed hot water or anything for the baby.

Aug 9, 2013 9:14PM
People complain about seeing a breast in a public place that is being used for the exact purpose it is made for, but then they go to a movie and don't think anything about seeing naked breast.  Grow up people.  You really can't even see the breast of a woman that is nursing.  Find something useful to complain about. 
Aug 9, 2013 3:44AM
I support breastfeeding. I breastfed my 2 children when it really wasn't popular. All these wonderful mothers giving their children such a wonderful start on life. But really! Is it so AWFUL a thing for these mothers to have a little common courtesy and just cover themselves? Ok, we get it, I got it, breastfeeding is natural and the way to go but not everyone is comfortable with viewing someone else's anatomy. I used to walk around feeding my children with a blanket over my shoulder. I got stared at but I was being courteous to others.
Aug 8, 2013 6:45PM

It Is disgraceful that a nursing mom has to deal with prejudices of others.  I breast fed all my children.  There were not many occasions that I had to do so in public, but if it happened, it happened.  When I am with a mom who needs to nurse her child, I am very respectful and discreet for her.  I want her to be as comfortable as possible and also the baby feels the relaxation in their surroundings.  If someone is uncomfortable, look away while the baby eats or entertain yourself with whatever electronic device you have. 

A good friend also had this happen, but in our local hospital, if you can imagine.  Society needs to relax and allow each other to live in their own comfort zone. 

Keep breastfeeding ladies, it is by far the best thing you can do for your baby, you get to bond closer to your baby and the cost is so much less too.  Win, win, win situation. Kudos to all who can and do!

Aug 8, 2013 4:41PM

I agree that women should be able to feed in public, but there's no reason they can't cover up. Not everyone wants to see it so its not that hard to put a blanket on top while doing it.

Aug 8, 2013 1:36AM
With the styles of clothing now, everything seems to be shown in public, and a big fuss about feeding a baby--this is so stupid and downright dumb. And coming from another woman, that is just wrong....if people are bother ed by the sight of a nursing mother, don't look...

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