Delta Removes Breastfeeding Mother from Flight.
Thanks to very focused and immediate activity from Advocacy Groups across the country, this issue received national media attention. Below is the original letter from Promom.
Dear Jim Whitehurst, Chief Operating Officer in charge of Operations, Sales and Customer Service, Network and Revenue Management, Marketing, and Corporate Strategy for Delta Air Lines, Lee Macenczak, Executive Vice President of Sales and Customer Service for Delta Air Lines, Paul Skellon, Vice President of Corporate Communications and International Operations for Mesa Air Group, Inc., and Michael Ferverda, Senior Vice President of Mesa Airlines, Inc.,President of Freedom Airlines, Inc.,
Many families are upset by the news of a breastfeeding mother being removed from an October 13th flight from Burlington Vermont to New York City. News articles are reporting that the mother was removed from the Delta Air Lines contractor: Freedom Airlines flight after she refused to use a blanket to "cover up". ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,229390,00.html and http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061114/NEWS01/611140314/1009/NEWS05 )
Many businesses are dealing more frequently with mothers nursing in
public. This information for businesses might help with this
I think there is a large possibility of losing many potential
paying passengers because of the bad press generated by this issue
for both Delta and Freedom Airlines. In addition to the loss of
customers, below are further reasons why airlines should institute
a written policy and training for employees regarding breastfeeding:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes breastfeeding as
the best way to feed a baby. ( http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/
When a breastfeeding mother is exposed to germs, she makes
antibodies and passes them on to her baby via her breast milk,
which will help a baby to fight illness from exposure to bacteria
and viruses in the airport and on the plane.
Breastfeeding is the best way to keep a nursing baby happy on a
plane, and most airline passengers would prefer to travel with a
happy baby onboard than with a baby who is unhappy and crying.
A nursing mother has a medical need to have milk removed from her
breasts every 2-4 hours. Not doing so may cause her to experience
engorgement, plugged milk ducts, and even a dangerous breast
infection called mastitis.
It is very common for babies to not be willing to nurse with a
blanket over their face. A mother is the person who knows best
whether or not her baby will tolerate being under a blanket while
nursing. And a blanket is not necessary for discretion; most mothers
breastfeed with minimal breast exposure.
Requiring breastfeeding with "discretion" is something to avoid
in any company policy. It is too difficult to define and judge
"discretion". Additionally, most state laws do not require
"discretion" and protect a mother's right to nurse whether or not
she is being "discreet". ( http://www.llli.org/Law/LawBills.html )
The age of a nursing child is irrelevant. There is no set age at
which breastfeeding should be stopped. ( http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detletter.htm http://www.kellymom.com/bf/bfextended/ebf-benefits.html )
Here are some suggestions for your policy and employee training:
Employees should NOT approach a mother while she is nursing. Even
if an employee is trying to be helpful by offering a more private
location, or a blanket, the mother may be offended and interpret
this "help" to mean she is not allowed to nurse where she is.
Employees should attempt to make the other customers, who are
complaining about the nursing mother, more comfortable (perhaps by
offering the complaining customer a location out of view of the
nursing mother) and employees should not resolve the issue by
contacting the nursing mother.
There is a history of incidents like this one occurring with
airlines (Jet Blue Airlines in December 2003 http://promom.org/3min/
3min_JetBlue_Dec03.html and SkyWest airlines in December/January
2006 http://promom.org/3min/3min_skywest_january06.html ). This
history sets a precedent for companies setting policy and educating
employees regarding a nursing mother's right to nurse where and
when they choose, with or without covering.
I sincerely hope that Delta Airlines and Freedom Airlines will take
advantage of the opportunity to turn this negative incident into a
positive change by adopting airline-wide policy allowing mothers to
breastfeed in whatever manner they choose, with or without a
blanket. This policy should be distributed and company wide
training should be instated to help employees deal with situations
like this in better way.