Air travel is not the most pleasant of life’s activities. Cramped quarters, weird smells (seriously, how can there be so many different bad smells in one small space?) and forced intimacy with strangers can all add up to some ‘fun’ times. How about adding painful breasts full of milk into the mix? Throw in a rude flight attendant and public humiliation and you have yourself a full- blown nighmare.
Such was the experience for Indiana native Dawnella Brahos on a recent American Airlines flight. Ms. Brahos, a 38-year old who is currently breast-feeding a child who was not present on the trip, had methodically researched the legalities involved with breast-pumping on a flight.
Ms. Brahos said: “I researched which airplanes had outlets at the seats so I could plug in my pump and I made sure that the type of breast pump I had – a Medela – was approved. I brought along a big Angry Birds blanket to cover myself with. And my husband and I even paid extra to make sure we’d get seats next to each other so I wouldn’t be sitting next to a stranger while using the pump.”
Ms. Brahos had no problems using her pump until the final leg of her trip, when a flight attendant forbade her from plugging in her electric breast pump.
“She was speaking in a loud voice, reading a page from a manual and adamant that because it was not pre-approved medical equipment I could not use the pump at my seat,” said Ms. Brahos.
“I felt humiliated. Everyone pretty much knew my business at that point and she kept checking back and eyeballing me the whole time to make sure I wasn’t using the pump.”
Critics have said Ms. Brahos should have used the pump in the bathroom, to which Ms. Brahos has replied “airplane bathrooms are pretty disgusting places to try to use a breast pump. And even if I did choose to pump in the bathroom, we weren’t even allowed to get up from our seats because the flight was so rough.”
American Airlines have issued the Brahos’ with an apology and a $100 voucher (that should get them half a one-way ticket, awesome).
Seems like we still have a long way in respecting the needs of mothers.
Have any BUST readers had similar experiences?