As a pregnant woman about to get on an airplane, this story at Adventures in Ethics and Science pricked a nerve today.
As reported by the Burlington Free Press:Why in the world would any mom want to cover her clean breast and her baby's head with an airplane blanket that had been used by who-kn0ws-how-many germy other passengers?Emily Gillette of Santa Fe, N.M., was asked to leave a flight departing from Burlington after she declined to cover her baby as she breast-fed.
Gillette said she began to nurse her 22-month-old daughter as the plane prepared for takeoff after a three-hour delay. Gillette said a Freedom Airlines flight attendant approached her, directing her to cover up with a blanket. When Gillette refused, the attendant allegedly told her that she was offended, and Gillette and her husband say they were asked to leave the plane.
Gillette said she has filed a charge against two airlines -- Delta Air Lines and Freedom Airlines, which was operating the commuter flight for Delta -- with the Vermont Human Rights Commission because breast-feeding is protected under Vermont's Public Accommodations Law.
Neither Delta nor Freedom officials returned calls Wednesday seeking comment. Freedom Airlines spokesman Paul Skellon said Monday that he was aware of the incident.
"A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way" that doesn't bother others, Skellon said. "She was asked to use a blanket just to provide a little more discretion, she was given a blanket, and she refused to use it, and that's all I know."
Gillette was put off the plane for refusing to breastfeed "discreetly", but it should be noted that she was seated in a window seat -- with her husband seated next to her -- in the next to last row of the plane when the breastfeeding occurred and, as far as I can tell from the news coverage, only the flight attendant was offended by the display of boobie. To the extent that flight attendants are supposed to be focused on passenger safety, Delta might want to consider hiring flight attendants who are not so easily distracted by the sight of a young human taking in nourishment.
If you'd like to sign a petition to let Delta know that this is a stupid way to treat its passengers, there's one here.
Makes me glad I'm not flying Delta.