Jen Starks, owner of Ecological Babies, was not expecting to make a political statement for breastfeeding when she boarded a Delta airplane with her husband and two children. Her baby, 8 month old Tyler, was cradled in his sling, comfortably nursing when a flight attended asked him to be removed from the sling. Jen was faced with a decision, and since her husband was seated elsewhere on the plane, she had to make it alone. Allow her baby to finish nursing and remain in the sling where he was comfortable or remove him from the sling. Jen said,
I decided I wasn’t going to take him out. We’ve flown a bunch and this has never been brought up as a rule. Take off, landing, and taxiing were the only times I’ve been told he needed to be out of our carrier. When she came back for the third time, I told her I had decided that I was going to keep him in and would not be removing him. She was furious and huffed about it threatening that she’d be taking this to…the captain!
The flight attendant returned with a piece of paper stating that Jen was in violation of federal regulations and could be imprisoned or fined. Shortly after that, Jen’s baby woke up and wanted to get out of the carrier on his own so Jen happily took him out hoping to avoid further confrontation. When the plane landed, all passengers were asked to stay seated and Jen was escorted off the plane by armed guards (shocking her husband since he was seated somewhere else on the plane and hadn’t realized that there was a problem). Jen said,
The officers looked at the baby in confusion and wanted to know the story. As soon as I told them how I was breastfeeding and trying to be discreet, etc, they were pissed they’d been called for this and apologized to me. Also, greeting me off the plane was head of airport security! After making a statement and seeing all of their reactions, I was finally able to breathe, knowing I wasn’t going to prison or fined. In fact, they all apologized and I was really grateful for it.
I don’t know why, but it still shocks me that it’s socially acceptable to wear clothing that leaves little to the imagination but breastfeeding offends people. Jen is in the process of filing a complaint agains the flight attendant. Read Jen’s full story here.
What are your thoughts on breastfeeding on an airplane?