Thursday, November 16, 2006

Cover up that clean baby with a dirty blanket! Or else.

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:

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.

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?

Makes me glad I'm not flying Delta.


Anonymous said...

Little known fact: some babies refuse to nurse with their heads covered. After all, I don't like to eat with my head covered either.

Saoirse said...

People need to get over themselves. I think the comfort and safety of an infant clearly takes precedence over the "comfort" of adults (who, incidentally, can simply look the other way).

Anonymous said...

America still has these weird Puritanical ideas about nudity; I just don't get it. I haven't heard of any other country -- "civilized" or not -- that gets as worked up as America over a boob.

Nelumbo said...

Crazy. I'm pretty modest, but to my surprise as a new mom I've also seen that nursing occasionally in public is more uncomfortable for other people more than me!

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, not nursing in public is an issue in the UK as well. A lot of discussion in recent years about its appropriateness and whether specific 'spaces' should be provided for it. As a Brit I am so unaccustomed to seeing people nurse their children that it really surprises me when I do see it. I don't know how to react and then feel quite silly for being so confused by something so natural. I feel ackward if it isn't done discretely.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if breastfeeding hadn't been so discouraged for so many years, this wouldn't be such a problem for people. Good grief. I bet it had something to do with the fact that the daughter was almost 2 yrs old too.

PhD Mom said...

I once had to pump (twice) in a middle seat on a cross country flight with heavy turbulence. Iwas seated between two men. Yet, somehow that didn't get me thrown off and believe me, pumping in a middle seat is anything but discrete.

A Dirty Shame said...

As a mom, this really steams me. I walk around the city and see images of breasts every day - on TV, on posters, on the sides of buses - but a real woman using her breast for its intended purpose? Dirty dirty shame!
The issue here is that our society only allows breasts to see the light of day if they're selling something.

Mindy said...

It's stressful enough traveling with a toddler -- and that's without having to deal with ignorant people, long delays or getting kicked off a flight. Delta really needs to step up and address this.

Freudian Slip said...

I'm so glad my son is past the breast feeding stage. Yes, of course I do miss the closeness of it, but what a pain in the butt it could be!