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Breastfeeding on Delta? HA

I flew out, quite unexpectedly, to Connecticut last week upon news that my aunt Karen died of lung cancer. I spent five wonderful days soaking in the love and community of my family before heading back to Tallahassee yesterday. Our flight from Providence to Atlanta was smooth sailing – all flights have been with Will, he’s a flirt and does not have any problems with his ears during take off and landing.

It was our Delta flight to Atlanta that proved troublesome. The night before I upgraded our seat to Economy Comfort – in part because although I do have short legs, I like having space, and I had been assigned to a full plane in the middle row. To spare everyone else wiggly baby syndrome, I opted for the extra comfort, and also added a wifi pass as well (go big or go home, hey?).

We boarded early on and the flight attendant was enamored with Will (we all are!) and played with him until more people started filtering onto the plane. The Economy Comfort seat was the first row behind first class. I sat in the window seat, there was no one in the seat next to me, and across the aisle from me was a kind older gentleman who was also enamored with Will, who applauded for everyone as they entered the plane.

Once everyone got settled into their seats, the flight attendants began their pre-flight tasks. Will hadn’t slept at all on the flight to Atlanta and I knew he was tired – it was already almost 10pm at this point. He was a bit restless so I decided to nurse him. I unbuckled the clasp of my nursing bra, laid Will across my lap, lifted my shirt, latched him on, pulled my shirt down over the top of my breast, and sat back.

A few minutes later, the female flight attendant came from first class and stood in front of me opening up a plastic bag with a blanket.

“Here you go,” she said as she tried to hand me the blanket. I was confused and asked her what that was for. “For you to cover up with while you nurse.”

“I don’t need that, thank you.”

“Well, we’ve gotten complaints…” she said, holding the blanket out to me. I refused it.

“Are you kidding me? I am not covering up, and I am not doing anything wrong.” She then left back up to first class.  I was stunned. My oldest child is almost 8 and I have never once had a problem nursing in public with any of my kids, and certainly not on an airplane. The kind older gentleman sitting across the aisle from me shook his head and said something about how some people were just not very smart, that I was doing nothing wrong. “Feeding your child like this is the most natural thing in the world. You are doing fine.”

A few minutes later, a team leader (judging based on his uniform, not sure who he was) came over and leaned over me. “I’m sorry, I’m gonna have to get you to cover up.”

I once again refused. “I am not covering up. I do not need to. I have the right to breastfeed wherever I need to. It’s in YOUR MANUAL. I am not taking your blanket. I am not doing anything wrong.”

He shook his head at me and then said, “Well, I guess I have to see if a red jacket (later I learned this term was a “red coat” – some sort of supervisor) says you can breastfeed or not.”

Excuse me? No, no, no. I then started tweeting.

Up until that point, after the male flight attendant left me, no one came back at all to tell me what was going on, whether or not I’d be “allowed” to breastfeed (guess what, I still did, because Delta does not get to tell me when and how I can care for and parent my child…

… who by the way was amazingly well behaved and quiet and slept for the entire flight. You’re welcome, flight 2655.

I packed up and headed off the flight. The male flight attendant was cleaning up in first class and I asked him if I could speak with his supervisor. He said he would alert the manager to come out and speak with me. I disembarked and got the carseat attached and taken care of and waited on the jetway. The captain of the flight came out and apologized, saying his wife had breastfed all three of their children. One of the other flight attendants, as she was disembarking, apologized too and told me that I was doing the right thing and that she was horrified at what had happened.

The two flight attendants who attempted to get me to cover up came out and I explained again what happened in front of the captain, when the two flight attendants completely and utterly lied to save their asses. The female flight attendant said she had only offered the blanket to me as an option for privacy, that there had been no complaints, that it was perfectly fine for me to breastfeed without a blanket. The male flight attendant said he’d talked to the “red coat” who said I was in the right, that I could breastfeed without cover. When I countered with their assertion that there had been a complaint, and asked for the person who had complained so I could file my own report of sexual harassment, he interrupted and snapped at me that I brought this all onto myself, because I exposed too much of myself when I was nursing Will.

Sorry, for those of you who are not accustomed to my colorful metaphors in writing… but what the fuck. I did not take my shirt off and offer everyone a sip at the milk bar, I lifted my shirt, latched the baby on (whose head is bigger than my breast, thank you very much), and cradled him against my stomach and across my lap. The only way you could have seen more exposed body parts was if he was staring himself, and when I latched Will on, he wasn’t even THERE.

His voice raised a few times  and I found myself increasingly stunned at the audacity of these two “professionals” who completely lied in front of me. I was angry. I told the male flight attendant that I didn’t want to talk to him, that I was done with him and didn’t wish to hear his voice again. He snapped back at me, “Well, you’re going to have to listen to me because you’re still on the jetway and you need to get off and into the terminal.” I turned around and left.

Once we got into the terminal, I waited to speak with a supervisor, and the gate attendant said there wasn’t one available but I could register a complaint with the staff at the baggage claim who could forward it onto the right person in the morning. I went downstairs and despite many efforts of the staff there, they were unable to retrieve the staff names of the attendants in question. They promised that I would get a call back today, Wednesday 5/21, by 9:30am at the latest.

This morning I awoke to hundreds of messages of support. I did not receive a call from Delta until 2:32 this afternoon. I spoke with Susanna Curtis, an Executive Assistant, who apologized and of course could not tell me more about what specific disciplinary measures they would be taking but they’d be training them AGAIN with these issues. I told her that especially since Delta’s last incident involving misinformation regarding breastfeeding (e.g., nurse your baby, wherever, however), I had little faith that they would do the right thing, nor did I have faith in their hiring processes for the people who worked for them, and I didn’t have faith that they would follow whatever other important rules and regulations they needed to enforce.

We left the conversation with her promising to refund the cost of the entire trip and that if there was anything else she could do to make me feel better, she’d do it. I told her I would think about it.

Right now I am left still feeling unnecessarily harassed. While Susanna Curtis was very nice to talk to and I fully believe she is probably horrified at the actions of these employees, I can’t say that I trust Delta worth anything anymore.

That’s that for now. More tomorrow.

PS – feel free to comment, but if you feel the need to tell me I should have just covered up, you can kindly go to hell. If you are here to tell me I was being immodest, you can also kindly go to hell. Freedom of speech protects you from the government, not my blog, so don’t be a dipshit.

Edited to include a link to the story WTXL ran on the matter. Here’s the video of my news piece.

recycle this post! share it with your friends :)

Christine - Thank you for doing this. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to make a fuss, on behalf of all the women who have probably just put up and shut up and maybe never nursed on a flight again because some idiot flight attendant thought breastfeeding was “gross.”

Molly Shakar - I am so proud of you for sticking up for your right to breastfeed, but proud you stood up for Will’s need to nurse and be comforted.
You are an amazing Momma.

Lisa - Major respect. Sorry you had such an awful experience but proud of you for standing up for yourself. From Sydney, Australia. Xx

Boobs on a Plane: Delta Fails at Customer Service Again | - […] If you’d like to lend your voice to the righteous clamour, you can tweet @Delta and @DeltaAssist with the hashtag #feedwill to let the airline know that it’s about time they ensured all their staff members know how to treat customers with respect. And you can follow the progress of this story on Casey’s Twitter feed and at her blog too. […]

patricia - You go Mama!

Lorinne Myatt - Their behavior was abhorrent, and shocking. I mean this in the nicest possible way, but if they had to pick on someone, I’m glad it was YOU, Casey!! They had no idea who they were messing with, lol. Yay for feeding your baby, being an AAAAAMAZING awesome mama all around, and being such a wonderful person. Spread the word, girl. Maybe one day everyone will get a clue. <3

Carly Curry - THANK YOU for standing up for breastfeeding mothers. If more people would just nurse their babies in public WITHOUT a stupid cover, we could finally see a day where seeing breastfeeding is not any different than watching someone eat a meal at a table. I mean, really! I haven’t had any horrible experiences thus far, and consider myself lucky. If someone ever comes up to me though, I hope I am as confident as you!!

tric kearney - Great post. I will do my bit and spread the word. What an awful experience. Well done for sticking to your guns.

Kari - F Delta and their crappy practices. We had a cross-country flight during dinner hours, and they had asked our meal preferences when we booked the flight. However, we were only offered peanuts and soda, and everything at the airport was closed by the time we got there for our layover… so apparently they don’t want anyone, adult or infant, to eat on their planes :(

Stef - Carly: please don’t shame other women for not breastfeeding the same way you do. I think we all agree here that the nursing mother’s comfort is paramount, not what others think about how she happens to be feeding them. That’s why we’re all here in the first place!

Sean Ambort - I have no idea who you are. I am a friend of Alice’s, whom I went to school with (and am not near as eloquent with words as), but I am impelled to write. THANK YOU!
for what? just being you….
how refreshing to read. I’m sorry for your pain and struggle, but I highly admire your… well, you. :)
best wishes and thoughts.

Michelle S - What the f*** is wrong with people? Seriously. Why can’t they just leave breastfeeding moms alone.

I am applauding you for sticking up for yourself, your baby, his right to eat and for breastfeeding moms everywhere. Good job.

Britt Anderson - You rock girlfriend!!!

Nora Manca - Breastfeeding is what breasts are for. It is natural and right that you should use them for that purpose. I hope that when I have kids I am able to do the same. Thank you for standing up for this issue on such a public way. People need to understand that mothers shouldn’t have to hide to feed their babies.

Jennifer - Way to go! I’m amazed at your composure and capacity not to get flustered in the face of such complete BS. You’re being an awesome role model for those kids. Thanks for sticking up for all our rights!

Deanna - Hi Casey! Just wanted to say thanks for speaking up and I’m so sorry this happened to you (and at all!). I am the mama that was harassed for breastfeeding on a f
Frontier Airlines flight a couple months back and it sucks. While they have changed their policy, I have yet to see their website and formal policy updates be printed or shared as promised. What drives me batty is Delta has a policy and their flight attendants didn’t follow it, and their response is a casual “we’ll retrain” well what if it were a safety issue, or a real emergency and policy was not followed or simply forgotten? Guessing they wouldn’t be so flippant in that instance. I’ll be letting delta know how I feel about this!

You have my support!

ARC - Right on, mama! I appreciate that you are following up on this, even though your flight is over. I hope Delta is finally paying attention.

Christmas - I am sorry you had this terrible experience. Breastfeeding is one of the most beautiful and valuable things a woman can do for their children. It should be supported in every way and in every place. Salma Hayek pulled her breast out in public to feed a starving baby from another woman. That was applauded by many including me. I am not angry at the idiots who complained, I feel sorry for them for not having the mental capacity to understand one of the most beautiful functions of a woman. I had a similar experience with my baby who was overly tired during one of our connecting flights . It was not about breastfeeding. It was about him crying because of his exhaustion. One male flight attendant was so rude to me that he made me cry. He was putting so much pressure on me to get my son to stop crying and repeatedly asked me “Is something wrong with your son?” I felt so helpless because I could not do anything to make him stop crying but I knew that he would stop soon because that is usually how he gets right before falling into a deep sleep from being overly tired. but he continue to pressure me to quiet him up. The passengers next to me were very understanding and they were the ones who convinced me that I was doing nothing wrong. They clearly understood that sometimes children get overly tired and cry. It is part of being a baby. I guess if you don’t have children, you would not understand this. But once you are blessed with children, you understand and become more tolerant about many things others would not understand. I never made a complaint, but I will never forget the passenger around me, especially a woman next to me and a man in front of me. They were so kind and understanding. They encouraged me to ignore the idiot flight attendant who used the same excuse ‘that someone in first class was complaining about my son crying’ and that for that reason I had to find the way to quiet him up. He would tell me things like; ‘The whole airplane can hear your son’s crying, you need to do something about it mam.’ I was already extremely embarrassed and with his pressure, it made me feel even worse. He was so rude. It was awful.

Rosalie - Delta is the worst.

Megan - Thank you for standing up for breastfeeding mothers everywhere! I can’t believe this is still happening. I hope I have no issues when I fly through ATL on Delta in a week with my *gasp* nursing toddler!!!

Gretchen - On behalf of breast feeding mothers, hank you for making a fuss. Thank you for not allowing them to push you around. Thank you for insisting at Delta honor their own policies. Thank you for putting an uppity, misinformed flight attendant back in his place and not letting him intimidate you or disrespect you and baby.

Thank you. We need people like you to defend us, sadly, because our culture is crazy and has an issue with the DEsexualization of breasts.

Anna - I used to be a Flight Attendant for Delta. Over the last 5 years I have seen the company go downhill. They may be making a profit, but they are doing it at the expense of their employees and the passengers. I am not surprised at the attitude of the male FA. Lately, all Delta hires are bitchy males 25-35 who think that they walk on water! The airline has changed. They are no longer family focused and only care about trying to put out a younger, stylish image. I have since quit Delta and I now work for an even larger airline. Things are night and day different. ANY breastfeeding mother is welcome to feed and comfort her baby on our planes!

Mia Shargel - A nursing mother and baby is one of the most beautiful things to see in the world. I wish people could recognize it as a gift to share in that deeply human experience.
OK–that’s the aesthetic side. On the practical side, it is the perfect antidote to (and for) a tired, crying baby. Airlines need to recognize that it is a gift to them for a mama to take care of her child as nature intended. With women like you, we’ll get there eventually.

AshleyW. - Not BFR, but I had Delta stewards and stewardesses harass me on a 5 hour redeye flight a week ago. I was 26 weeks pregnant, and as we all know, pregnant women pee constantly. One of the many joys of carrying a child, LOL. Anyways, the first time I got up to go (long after takeoff) to the bathroom, I asked the steward where it was located. He ignored my question and says (quite rudely) “The seatbelt sign is on this entire flight, you really need to stay seated.” I politely told him if he didn’t tell me where it was, there would be a mess. I’m approximately 7 months pregnant and CANNOT hold it for long. Every single time I got up to go to the bathroom during this entire flight, I was told I should really “hold it” and the seatbelt light was on. We were not remotely close to lift off or landing time during any of these incidents, and the plane was not experiencing turbulance. I will never fly Delta again. Ever.

Leah - I completely support you. The great thing is that now, so does the law. When my kids were younger,in the “olden days,” I was harassed routinely, including on TWA and in restaurants in the same sort of way. Even once, at my work. Good luck, and never forget to talk about this with your kids constantly so they can be part of the better generation about bf awareness!!

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