The beauty of breastfeeding is that it can be done anywhere and everywhere: in a park, on the bus or in a plane, or even while exercising. However, we sometimes hear of unfortunate instances where nursing mums are judged or even told off for breastfeeding in public. Recently, we heard of a mum kicked out for breastfeeding on flight, showing that public attitudes to nursing in public are still quite negative.
A mum traveling to New York with her two-year-old bub and her elderly parents was reportedly kicked out for breastfeeding on flight. The airline however, said that she wasn’t complying with the flight attendant’s instructions.
What exactly happened during the flight, and is it right for an airline to kick out a mum for breastfeeding?
She was kicked out for breastfeeding on flight
Mei Rui, a cancer researcher and a famous concert pianist, was on her way to New York along with her family. On the flight, she started to breastfeed her two-year-old in order to calm him down before the plane took off.
She then said that the flight attendants asked her to put her son in his seat, and denied her request to finish breastfeeding on flight.
“I said as soon as your plane doors are closed, I’ll put him in his seat. You just don’t have to treat people that way,” she shared.
However, the spokesperson for Spirit Airlines said that they disagree with the mum’s statement. “The reports from the crew indicate the door was closed at the time of the incident.”
“The passenger failed to comply with crew instructions by not being safely buckled and secured for takeoff after being asked repeatedly to do so,” they added.
Mei is so dedicated to breastfeeding her son, that she even snuck out during a piano performance so she could nurse!| Photo from: Facebook
She eventually relented and put her son in his seat
Eventually, Mei had to put her son in his seat. Soon after, he started crying, but the flight attendants still kicked them off the plane.
In a video that Mei took, she asked the flight attendant, “So you’re saying you can get rid of a family because a toddler was crying?”
“I didn’t say that. You were not compliant with flight crew instruction,” a representative responded.
In their statement, Spirit Airlines said that it was necessary to kick Mei and her family off the flight.
“We were forced to remove a passenger from flight 712 after they refused to comply with crew instructions several times while the doors were closed during taxi and safety briefing.
To ensure the safety of our guests and crew, FAA regulations and airline policies require all passengers stay seated and buckled during takeoff and landing.
We reviewed multiple accounts from the crew and other guests sitting nearby and we apologize for any inconvenience caused by this issue. As a courtesy, we’ve issued a full refund to the customer in question.”
In response, Mei said, “He was making a lot of noise, but that’s not criminal,” referring to her son. It’s humiliating, in front of hundreds of people, to be chased off a plane. We’re not lawbreakers or trouble seekers. We’re a family of seniors and a mother and a baby, why did they have to treat us this way?”
She was offered a full refund for the flight, which she accepted. But Mei shares that she won’t be traveling with Spirit Airlines in the future.
Watch Mei’s video below:
Important tips for breastfeeding mums when traveling
While we really can’t be sure of what exactly happened during the flight, it’s disheartening to hear about what happened. Airlines should not kick mums off flights for simply breastfeeding.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind whenever you’re traveling with your little one:
- Get there early. It’s always best to be early, especially if it’s an international flight. Leaving early gives you enough time to get your child settled down, and it’s also much less stressful.
- Get everything ready. Make sure you have a checklist of everything you need for the flight. Once you have the list, make sure to double check, or even triple check everything! Remember to take your breast pump as well as sanitiser or disinfectant.
- Know how much milk you can bring. Check in with the airline first about the rules of bringing milk onboard. Make sure to follow their instructions and store any milk in small quantities.
- Stay healthy! Airports are notorious for getting people sick. Make sure that you and your little one are both healthy, and keep yourselves hydrated. Also try to avoid cleaning your breast pump in airplane washrooms, as they are teeming with germs.
Importantly, remember there is no shame in breastfeeding and you have the right to nourish and comfort your little one as the need arises.
Photo screencapped from: Facebook
ALSO READ: 6 helpful travel tips for breastfeeding mums