A woman’s story about being scolded for breastfeeding on board her American Airlines flight is going viral on social media.
Akeia Escobar was flying Dallas – Fort Worth to Atlanta on American Airlines flight AA980 when, she says that a flight attendant told her to “cover up [her] breast.” But her “baby was latched and [her] nipple was not visible.”
The flight attendant is then said to have,
proceeded to grab a paper towel and throw it on my baby’s face. When I walked away she yelled that I was disgusting.
…She refused to tell me her name and yelled for me to get off the plane each subsequent time I asked.
I was wearing a shirt that was specifically made for breastfeeding. I’m not going to put a blanket over my baby’s head because seeing skin upsets y’all.
— @NotIkea (@NotIkea) June 13, 2021
Oh, and the flight was even subjected to rolling delays.
She complained to American Airlines and says her travel party was offered $125 travel vouchers and that American would be “sending out a reminder that moms are welcome to nurse their babies.” As Escobar points out, though, if she’d thrown a paper towel at the flight attendant she’d have been kicked off the aircraft and possibly met by law enforcement.
Spirit Airlines once defended themselves for kicking off a woman who breastfed her two year crying old child. United sent a woman to the pet relief area to pump breast milk and scolded another woman inflight. So while it’s true that airlines have tens of thousands of employees, and some make mistakes, issues around breastfeeding aren’t new.
Treating this as a novel issue that requires education, as though we can’t criticize behavior because it’s not something a cabin crew member would have thought about before, is an odd take. And if the issue is lack of training, that’s something the airline should be addressing with regular recurrent training and not a memo. In my experience most flight attendants don’t internalize the messages from those, they get most of their training from flight attendant groups on Facebook.