Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

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 (31-40):
denise3680
by Gold Member on May. 1, 2013 at 11:54 AM

everyone gets embarrassed onetime in their lives, file the complaint and move on:/  Maybe if she would have had some sort of documentation showing that she was authorized to use the pump none of this would have happened.  I do not think the stewardess should lose her job, why because she read a piece of paper loud or supposed loudly?  Don't ya think that people around her would have asked questions about the strange noise coming from her seat when she turned on the pump to begin with? 

Caera
by on May. 1, 2013 at 11:42 PM

Gross. She should've known to use the bathroom for her bodily functions. 

Euphoric
by Bazinga! on May. 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM
1 mom liked this

 ^ wow

parentalrights1
by on May. 1, 2013 at 11:48 PM
You're joking right?


Quoting Caera:

Gross. She should've known to use the bathroom for her bodily functions. 


Euphoric
by Bazinga! on May. 1, 2013 at 11:49 PM

 Good lord I hope so.

Quoting parentalrights1:

You're joking right?


Quoting Caera:

Gross. She should've known to use the bathroom for her bodily functions. 


 

www.cafemom.com/group/116692
Sisteract
by Whoopie on May. 1, 2013 at 11:58 PM

Sorry, but what does this mean?


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.


Quoting Traci_Momof2:



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.



LizzieAnnesMom
by Bronze Member on May. 2, 2013 at 12:14 AM
It seems the airline itself does let moms do what they need to but that stewardess had a bug up her ass.
jllcali
by Jane on May. 2, 2013 at 1:02 AM
She shouldn't have to. The flight attendant should have known the airline's policy.

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

jllcali
by Jane on May. 2, 2013 at 1:04 AM
1 mom liked this
Would you eat in a bathroom, especially a public one? Do you cook or prepare food in the bathroom?

Quoting Caera:

Gross. She should've known to use the bathroom for her bodily functions. 

Traci_Momof2
by Silver Member on May. 2, 2013 at 8:43 AM

 

I don't know.  I took it to mean that those flight attendants were extra helpful and said something like "Here, let us plug that in for you up in the galley."  Maybe the outlets in the galley are more powerful?  I really don't know.

At the very least, it speaks to what I think is the core issue in all the flight stories - inconsistency.  This woman had no problem with 3 of her flights and then all of a sudden on one flight it was an issue.  That's inconsistent.  You see it all the time whether it's attire, what people are doing, what people are bringing, etc.  Something will be no issue at all on one flight and then suddenly a huge issue on another flight of the same airline.  These airlines need to figure out exactly what their policies are and then properly communicate them to their staff so that we as passengers don't have to try to second guess what will or will not be allowed.

Quoting Sisteract:

Sorry, but what does this mean?

 

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.


Quoting Traci_Momof2:

 

 

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.

 



 

Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)