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Breast-pumping mom 'felt humiliated' by flight attendant

  , 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
Replies (21-30):
MeAndTommyLee
by Gold Member on May. 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

It's inconvenient.  Why would anyone  put themselves through this scenario,  knowing full well that you have a good chance of running into a problem while depending on others.  I wouldn't want to aggravate myself.  I also would not want the whole plane knowing my business.  I'd be angry because, too.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Did this really have to be done on the plane in the first place?  Better planning could have avoided all of this.

why not on the plane?


 

talia-mom
by Gold Member on May. 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM
I don't know. You asked why not on the plane. From her picture, it was going to be a very tight squeeze to begin with and she has no reason to take part of someone else's space because she couldn't hand do it.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting talia-mom:

Space



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Did this really have to be done on the plane in the first place?  Better planning could have avoided all of this.

why not on the plane?




was the ever the issue? or was the issue that it was approved as a medical device? I've seen people on a plane with oxyegen tanks that were a little larger than that pump appears to be. But, you know, breathing is paramount. lol


LAHnTAH0812
by Bronze Member on May. 1, 2013 at 10:27 AM
2 moms liked this
Even if she'd gotten a letter someone else would say she should have gotten a blood oath with the supervisors fingerprints. Lol.


Quoting fireangel5:

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





Sisteract
by Whoopie on May. 1, 2013 at 10:31 AM

If she did not have an electrical outlet at her own seat (many, most planes do not), was she attempting to string the chord up the aisle to utilize the plug in the galley? THAT is what I am getting from this story, and if so, it would have been a safety hazard as well as a PITA-

anxiousschk
by anxiouss on May. 1, 2013 at 10:40 AM
1 mom liked this

But (for me) the issue is that this flight attendant DIDN'T.  American has come out to say that, yes, pumping is allowed on all flights.  This stewardess was clearly wrong.  

No, I don't feel she should lose her job, but an apology and better training is clearly in order. 


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting DestinyHLewis:


She shouldn't loose her job over this. She should be counseled on the issue. You don't just destroy a persons livelihood because they made a mistake of this nature. It would deserve a write up, and a class or what have you on the policies for her company, but not the loss of her job. Lordy. 

Quoting illogicalkat:

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



I feel like flight attendants jobs are overly scrutinized. I can't say I blame any one of them for following the guidelines to the nth.



anxiousschk
by anxiouss on May. 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM
1 mom liked this

Who else's space would she be taking part of?  She and her husband were side by side in seats.  The pump isn't that much more space than a baby.  

Quoting talia-mom:

I don't know. You asked why not on the plane. From her picture, it was going to be a very tight squeeze to begin with and she has no reason to take part of someone else's space because she couldn't hand do it.


Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting talia-mom:

Space



Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Did this really have to be done on the plane in the first place?  Better planning could have avoided all of this.

why not on the plane?




was the ever the issue? or was the issue that it was approved as a medical device? I've seen people on a plane with oxyegen tanks that were a little larger than that pump appears to be. But, you know, breathing is paramount. lol




Kmary
by Member on May. 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM
3 moms liked this

Well I guess she could have done a lot of things.  Perhaps they could have carved a contract for her written in stone or blood.   I honestly can't believe any normal, thinking human being can defend the actions of the flight attendant in this instance at all.  And I'm not exactly a breastfeeding "nazi."  Both my kiddos had formula, at least sometimes.  But this story is utterly ridiculous.  If multiple phone calls that lasted for hours ahead of time with many reassurances aren't enough then something is wrong with the airline, NOT her. 


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



Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on May. 1, 2013 at 11:26 AM


Quoting Kmary:

Well I guess she could have done a lot of things.  Perhaps they could have carved a contract for her written in stone or blood.   I honestly can't believe any normal, thinking human being can defend the actions of the flight attendant in this instance at all.  And I'm not exactly a breastfeeding "nazi."  Both my kiddos had formula, at least sometimes.  But this story is utterly ridiculous.  If multiple phone calls that lasted for hours ahead of time with many reassurances aren't enough then something is wrong with the airline, NOT her. 


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



I'm not suggesting that anything is wrong with her. I'm suggesting that with all of her effort she probably should've (shoulda..woulda...coulda) been a bit more diligent with 'proof'. That's all. I support her rights and applaud her efforts!

Traci_Momof2
by Silver Member on May. 1, 2013 at 11:42 AM

 I agree with you.  As pissed as I am at this flight attendant for doing this to this woman, it is not job-loss worthy.  A write-up and some intense training?  Absolutely.  But not job loss.


Quoting DestinyHLewis:

 

She shouldn't loose her job over this. She should be counseled on the issue. You don't just destroy a persons livelihood because they made a mistake of this nature. It would deserve a write up, and a class or what have you on the policies for her company, but not the loss of her job. Lordy. 

Quoting illogicalkat:

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

 

 


 

Traci_Momof2
by Silver Member on May. 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM
1 mom liked this

 


Quoting Sisteract:

If she did not have an electrical outlet at her own seat (many, most planes do not), was she attempting to string the chord up the aisle to utilize the plug in the galley? THAT is what I am getting from this story, and if so, it would have been a safety hazard as well as a PITA-

From article:  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.

 

So outlet availability was not the issue, nor was space for that matter.  The issue was the one flight attendant who had her regulations mixed up, or was reading from an old manual or something.

 

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