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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Breast-pumping mom 'felt humiliated' by flight attendant

Posted by on May. 1, 2013 at 7:54 AM
  • 64 Replies

  , NBC News contributor   –   20 hrs.

Breast-pumping mom 'felt humiliated' by flight attendant

Dawnella Brahos with her child.

Courtesy Dawnella Brahos

Dawnella Brahos with her child.

Despite reassurances by reservation agents that using a breast pump at her seat was allowed, American Airlines passenger Dawnella Brahos says she was was embarrassed on a recent flight from Minneapolis to Chicago when a flight attendant told her that plugging in the device 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, Ind., 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 the 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 an airline representative at the airport after she complained about her treatment, but is planning on filing a formal complaint. For now, she says she wants the airline “to let moms do what they need to do.”

by on May. 1, 2013 at 7:54 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on May. 1, 2013 at 8:01 AM
2 moms liked this

I've been in that situation. I used a hand pump. It's annoying and a little tedious but whatever. If it was truly that important to her she could have requested a special message be sent to all of the crew of that flight before she boarded or taken extra measure to speak to the crew before take off.

Does that mean I discredit her for feeling humiliated? No.

illogicalkat
by Bronze Member on May. 1, 2013 at 8:02 AM
5 moms liked this

Shame on that stewardess. She ought to lose her job.

mikiemom
by Ruby Member on May. 1, 2013 at 8:05 AM
2 moms liked this

I hope the stewardess gets counseled concerning the fact that breast feeding is natural.

 

illogicalkat
by Bronze Member on May. 1, 2013 at 8:08 AM
1 mom liked this

It's one thing to have to use a manual pump, but this woman was told she could not use a breast pump at all, in direct contradiction to airline policy.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:

I've been in that situation. I used a hand pump. It's annoying and a little tedious but whatever. If it was truly that important to her she could have requested a special message be sent to all of the crew of that flight before she boarded or taken extra measure to speak to the crew before take off.

Does that mean I discredit her for feeling humiliated? No.



cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on May. 1, 2013 at 8:14 AM

I was going to guess this was Delta, but I see it's American Airlines. 

I suspect that even if she had a hand pump (which is painful and not as efficient anyway), she likely wouldn't have been allowed to use it, either, since the flight attendant was insisting it was illegal to pump at all. 

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on May. 1, 2013 at 8:14 AM

lol@stewardess

who says that?

cjsbmom
by Lois Lane on May. 1, 2013 at 8:15 AM

And good luck with her formal complaint. Airlines tend to ignore those. 

Kmary
by Member on May. 1, 2013 at 8:19 AM
3 moms liked this

This has really got to stop.   This woman did everything right.  She checked ahead of time every single detail to make sure it was alright and was completely discreet.  Not pumping when one needs to is at least uncomfortable and at most a medical issue leading to mastitis.  There is really no defending the flight attendant in this instance. 

America's entire attitude towards breastfeeding really needs an adjustment.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on May. 1, 2013 at 8:54 AM


Quoting Kmary:

This has really got to stop.   This woman did everything right.  She checked ahead of time every single detail to make sure it was alright and was completely discreet.  Not pumping when one needs to is at least uncomfortable and at most a medical issue leading to mastitis.  There is really no defending the flight attendant in this instance. 

America's entire attitude towards breastfeeding really needs an adjustment.

she could have asked for a faxed, signed letter confirming her answer or asked the airline to mail her a formal approval

fireangel5
by Gold Member on May. 1, 2013 at 9:53 AM
3 moms liked this

I would have never even thought of that. I would have gone by the supervisors word. 



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting Kmary:

This has really got to stop.   This woman did everything right.  She checked ahead of time every single detail to make sure it was alright and was completely discreet.  Not pumping when one needs to is at least uncomfortable and at most a medical issue leading to mastitis.  There is really no defending the flight attendant in this instance. 

America's entire attitude towards breastfeeding really needs an adjustment.

she could have asked for a faxed, signed letter confirming her answer or asked the airline to mail her a formal approval



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