You may have recently read about the male flight attendant who allegedly tossed a blanket at a passenger who was breastfeeding, ordering her to cover up. It’s tempting to obsess over this one incident, but its bigger than that. Unfortunately, mothers are often told to cover up, and not just by flight attendants who may be unfamiliar with their airlines’ policies.
Then again, when an airline’s policy isn’t exactly clear (or posted online), it’s easy to see how this could happen. The job of a flight attendant, like myself, is to try and make everyone happy: not just one person, but 160 people.
“United welcomes nursing mothers on board and we ask that crew members do their best to ensure their comfort and safety as they do with all customers,” the airline told Mashable. “We also ask nursing mothers and passengers seated near them to be mindful of one another’s space and comfort.”
What passengers (and some flight attendants) have to understand is this: Regardless how one might feel about breasts and nipples, women are allowed to breastfeed babies on the airplane.
With that in mind, I decided to ask someone I know, someone very close to me, what he would do if he saw a woman breastfeeding on the plane.
However, I’ve had passengers far older than 8 act a lot like my son upon spotting a woman breastfeeding on a plane. Full-grown adults who get upset by a bare breast you can hardly even see past a baby’s head. No, they didn’t yell, “Breastfeeder! Breastfeeder!” Most of them just looked very uncomfortable or upset. And a few have pointed out mothers to me, even suggesting that I ask them to cover up.
What I’ve learned through years as a flight attendant is this: You can’t please everyone. No matter how hard I try, someone is going to walk away from a flight unhappy, and there’s usually nothing I could have done to make it better. It’s just to be expected when we have the “haves” (window and aisle seat people) and the “have-nots” (middle seats and anyone sitting near a lavatory). Now mix in a few big people, little people and couple of so-called smelly people, and somebody’s going to have a problem. Add a few pets, a couple of recliners, a tuna sandwich and a breastfeeding mom, and I’ll bet you $10 I’m going to hear about it. Read more…