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Mom Confessions Mom Confessions

Breast-pumping mom 'felt humiliated' by flight attendant

Posted by on Apr. 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM
  • 10 Replies


Dawnella Brahos with her child.

Courtesy Dawnella Brahos

Dawnella Brahos with her child.


Despite repeated reassurance by reservation agents that using a breast pump at her seat was allowed, on a recent flight from Minneapolis to Chicago, an American Airlines flight attendant repeatedly told Dawnella Brahos that plugging in the device on board was forbidden.

“She was speaking in a loud voice, reading a page from a manual and adamant that because it was not pre-approved medical equipment I could not use the pump at my seat,” Brahos told NBC News. “I felt humiliated. Everyone pretty much knew my business at that point and she kept checking back and eyeballing me the whole time to make sure I wasn’t using the pump.”

On April 18, Brahos, a 38 year-old mother of three from Lowell, Indiana, was on the last leg of trip to California with her husband. Her three kids, including one still on breast milk, were at home with her mom.

Before her trip, she spent hours on the phone talking to airline reservation agents and their supervisors, all of whom told her not to worry.

Dawnella Brahos and the Medela pump

Courtesy Dawnella Brahos

Dawnella Brahos and the Medela pump she was asked to not use by the American Airlines flight attendant.

“I researched which airplanes had outlets at the seats so I could plug in my pump and I made sure that the type of breast pump I had – a Medela – was approved. I brought along a big Angry Birds blanket to cover myself with. And my husband and I even paid extra to make sure we’d get seats next to each other so I wouldn’t be sitting next to a stranger while using the pump.”

During three legs of the trip, Brahos had no problem using her breast pump during the flight and says helpful flight attendants even let her plug in the breast pump in the galley.

But on the final leg of the trip, Brahos said the flight attendant told her she could not use galley nor use the pump at her seat. “She even said I was making up the fact that I had used the pump on previous flights,” said Brahos.

“A lot people are saying I should have used the pump in the bathroom, but airplane bathrooms are pretty disgusting places to try to use a breast pump. And even if I did choose to pump in the bathroom, we weren’t even allowed to get up from our seats because the flight was so rough.”

American Airlines issued an apology, saying it does not have a policy prohibiting the use of breast pumps in-flight.

"We apologize for the experience Ms. Brahos had on a recent flight. Our in-flight personnel are trained to handle these situations with professionalism and discretion... As with other devices that have an on/off switch, customers will be asked not to use them during takeoff and landing.”

“Our procedures advise our crews to ensure that mothers who are breastfeeding or using breast pumps have the privacy they need,” said American Airlines spokesperson Andrea Huguely.

La Leche League International encourages mothers to check with the airline if they plan to travel with a breast pump. Because “we clearly still have a culture that is not yet aware of the needs of breastfeeding mothers,” La Leche International spokesperson Diana West says it’s a good idea to print out and carry a copy of the airline’s rules with them when they travel.

Brahos received a $100 voucher from airline representative at the airport after she complained about her treatment, but is planning on filing a formal complaint. For now, she says she want the airline “to let moms do what they need to do.”

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Thoughts, do you think she should sue? Because one employee when against the rules? What do you think? Is the voucher and an apology good enough?




by on Apr. 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM
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Replies (1-10):
snowpeasmom
by Gold Member on May. 1, 2013 at 4:45 AM
Bumo
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Redwoods_Mama
by Platinum Member on May. 1, 2013 at 4:51 AM

So not surprised she was on American.  Those flight attendants are ruder than a poorly behaved dog. 

 

Kitsun
by Ruby Member on May. 1, 2013 at 5:00 AM
Honestly, I'd say sue, just to make it public and let everyone know that a breast feeding moms have rights, and should be able to do what they need to do. It sounds like her and her dh went thru A LOT to make sure they were seated together, for her comfort AND the comfort of other passengers, and was not trying to use it during take off or landing
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on May. 1, 2013 at 5:00 AM

for real, she couldn't wait a whole hour before using her pump? 

happy41ce
by on May. 1, 2013 at 5:03 AM
Do you breast feed or have you ever?
If not.. Do you realize how bad our boobs get engorged after just a few hours of exclusive breast feeding? It hurts and maybe she COULDN'T wait.


Quoting Anonymous:

for real, she couldn't wait a whole hour before using her pump? 

504bbymami
by Sapphire Member on May. 1, 2013 at 5:04 AM
That's fucked up
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Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on May. 1, 2013 at 5:05 AM

she had successfully pumped on the other two parts of her trip. It takes just over 4 hours to get from California to Chicago. Plus the layover times in the airport. She would have had plenty of time to empty out. An hour is not critical mass. 

Quoting happy41ce:

Do you breast feed or have you ever?
If not.. Do you realize how bad our boobs get engorged after just a few hours of exclusive breast feeding? It hurts and maybe she COULDN'T wait.


Quoting Anonymous:

for real, she couldn't wait a whole hour before using her pump? 


AngryBob
by Platinum Member on May. 1, 2013 at 5:06 AM
Another article I read stated that she had been stuck checking out and then going through airport security, or something like that, and it had been hours for her. She stated she tried to plan it so that she wouldn't have to pump, but brought it along just in case.
Regardless, she shouldn't have been harassed, or treated the way she was, if her story is true.
I didn't see anything about her suing, just that she wants others to know about her experience. She's getting a lot of media coverage already.


Quoting Anonymous:

for real, she couldn't wait a whole hour before using her pump? 


504bbymami
by Sapphire Member on May. 1, 2013 at 5:06 AM
1 mom liked this
You must not have ever nursed/pumped. If you are on a schedule, your supply gets used to it. They will become engorged and let down (meaning the milk is gonna start coming out wether you like it or not)

But that's not even the point. She shouldn't have HAD TO wait. She has the right to do it where and when she pleases/


Quoting Anonymous:

for real, she couldn't wait a whole hour before using her pump? 


Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on May. 1, 2013 at 5:06 AM
I am all for nursing in public. But I would have been mortified to break that thing out in public.
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