American Airlines Attendant Overreacts to Breastfeeding Mom

Image via Flickr/Mothering Touch


Did you breastfeed? I breastfed, thankfully, never on an American Airlines flight. Honestly, I spent the entire time I breastfed feeling like I was on house arrest. I loved the bond breastfeeding created and I loved being able to feed my child but I felt like I never left the house in those first few months. I was not comfortable feeding in public because my daughters hated to have their face covered. I didn’t feel comfortable feeding them in public while enduring all the sideways glances and disapproving looks. So, I was home bound for a long time and when the next baby came, I knew I wouldn’t see daylight for at least another six months. This is how it felt for me 8 and 6 years ago…times have changed. Breastfeeding has come a long way – or has it?

An American Airlines stewardess walked by very displeased and shaking her head, only to return, lean over the tween and tell the couple that they needed to put a blanket over the nursing child because there were kids on that flight.

A woman traveling on a five hour flight on American Airlines breastfed her baby to help alleviate some of the discomfort of flying, and to help calm the baby down so that he could sleep and the rest of the passengers could enjoy their flight without enduring a crying infant. The mother was in a window seat, baby was nursing facing the window and dad was sitting in the center seat next to her. On the aisle was a preteen girl who was wearing headphones and chatting with her friends, paying no attention whatsoever to the nursing baby.

An American Airlines stewardess walked by, showing obvious displeasure, only to return, lean over the tween and tell the couple that they needed to put a blanket over the nursing child because there were kids on that flight. The father refused. The indignant attendant promptly moved the tween to the back of the plane, to make sure she was not scarred for life from seeing a mother nursing her baby.

This is crazy. This is what is wrong with our society. Breastfeeding is natural and beautiful, not something seedy. In my opinion, this flight attendant went overboard. What’s more shocking is that she herself was a woman and took offense. Where is the compassion? A mother discretely nursing her baby is not the same as a woman exposing her breasts for no reason at all. Believe me, I have seen plenty of gratuitous cleavage in my lifetime and no one has ever been moved to the back of the plane for it. No one has been shamed or made to feel dirty.

The mother filed a complaint with American Airlines only to be half-heartedly apologized to and sent their policy on breastfeeding on the plane which asks that mothers “cover-up”. I am sure the flight attendant in question only received a slap on the wrist, if any reprimand at all. 


Look, breastfeeding mothers are not asking for special treatment. No one is asking for a lactation lounge on the airplane, but they also shouldn’t be asked to cover up and hide like they’ve done something wrong.

What do you think of how American Airlines handled this situation?

What do you think?

American Airlines Attendant Overreacts to Breastfeeding Mom

Deborah Cruz, @TruthfulMommy, is the creator of The TRUTH about Motherhood, an often humorous and brutally honest look at motherhood. She's a writer, a wife, and a work-at-home Mommy who's trying to do it all well. She live in the Midwest with her 2 little girls and her husband. She has a lot of degrees from a bunch of schools but mostly spends her days shuttling people under the age of 7, while trying to maintain her sanity and she wouldn't have it any other way. She talks a lot. She ... More

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  1. Erin says:

    I have to say im glad this is an older article. I have BF my baby on at least 8 flights now (he’s 8 months old) all on American AIrlines flights – with no cover, middle, window and aisle seats – with not a single stare or look from anyone. Including flight attendants. So either society is getting better or training is. Either way i’m pretty happy and it kept my son happy on all of those flights too.

  2. Kaleh says:

    In my opinion that flight attendant was rude and did not approach the situation in a better manner… Unfortunately, ignorance in our society is at a high rate sad, but true…. The worse part is this is the reason that a lot of mothers chose not to breast feed.. Because of people like the flight attendant and others who see it as something seedy and gross… When the fact of the matter is that your giving your child the best health & food there is… What amazes me is that if a model was half naked on the plain no one would have had a problem with it… That’s what’s wrong with our world today too many ignorant people…….

  3. I flew American airlines earlier this year and my youngest was around 4 months old. I breastfed her on the flight-but I used a phenomenal device called a nursing cover (by Hooter Hiders).

  4. jollean says:

    as a mother who has breastfed both of my boys and plan on breastfeeding this to it is appalling for people to look or make comments when we see men sag, and females run around barely dressed in the summer revealing more than I show when I feed my child

  5. Giselle says:

    Why is it that still in this day & age society has not learned to accept the it very natural to breastfeed your baby!!! That is what mother nature has intended us to use our breast for. I understand that everyone has an opinion, but does this have to be so controversial. There are more important things to discuss & have strong opinions about. That flight attendant could have just kept on going about her job and not worry about the breastfeeding. That baby & mother were not bothering her at all.

  6. Khou says:

    Why should any breastfeeding mother have to cover up? As long as she is feeding her hungry baby and he/she is not fussing, then so be it. When I had my two boys, I fed them whenever and wherever. No one said anything to me. And if there were any glares, I sure didn’t pay attention to it. How about you put a blanket over you while you are eating. Do you find that comfortable? I didn’t think so. There will always be debate on this breastfeeding issue, but regardless, a mother should be able to feed whenever she needs to. Whether it is covered up or not, that is her choice, not no one else.

  7. Hilary says:

    I think it’s ridiculous to be appalled by this. Sure, it sounds like the airline attendant was kind of a biotch, but that’s also through the eyes of the woman who was offended by this situation, so we will never really know the full story.

    I don’t think that it is ridiculous to expect mothers to cover up when breastfeeding. I will be breastfeeding and think it’s great when mothers decide to do so. But it is not a breast-feeding mother’s right or place to tell the rest of society that it is natural and that she should be able to just whip it out uncovered whenever she feels like it. I don’t want to see another woman, uncovered and breastfeeding in public, no matter how natural it is between the mom and baby. And it is not immature to think this way. I think it is more immature for mothers to be demanding this right. Since when did everyone get so self-entitled?

    Inexperienced mom or not, I know there are options. There are about 1000 different types of nursing covers out there, If one doesn’t work, try another one. If no nursing covers work, there is such thing called a pump and a bottle-use it! Now more than ever, mother’s rely on pumps to feed their children when they go back to work, so don’t tell me that there is NO OTHER WAY to feed your child other than bare and open chested.

    Just because you are a mom, doesn’t change the fact that a breast is still considered a “private part”, and yes, SHOULD be covered-up in public, no matter how inconvenient it is. We are moms, when did anything ever become convenient?

    • Angelica says:

      Very well put. It seems like stories like this are always coming out and I am glad other woman agree that open breast feeding is not appropriate. Also just because this particular mother felt it okay to show her breast to a “preteen” I am betting that the mother of that child would not approve. The attendant should not have even gotten a “slap on the wrist”. Clearly it was airline policy and she did her job.

  8. ione says:

    I think this is immature of society to be like this. I think that the article speaks truthfully that there of plenty of people who expose themselves for no reason and yet we breastfeeding our children to benefit them and nourish them in the most natural form and these people have a problem. That flight attendant should have had to apologize and been educated

  9. Sarah says:

    Being a mom who couldn’t breastfeed her little one. It makes me angry that someone would do that to a mother who was obviously not making anyone else uncomfortable. If they are that worried about how people are going to perceive a woman feeding her child then they can start retrofitting the planes with a quiet and comfortable place that they can feed their babies. If I could’ve do it I would’ve feed my son where ever and when ever he needed it without a care about what others think. Whenever I see a woman who is breastfeeding and getting flack for it, I stand up for her. No woman should feel bad for doing what is natural.

  10. Leah says:

    if they are asking for mothers to cover up, they should be offering a lounge its only fair

  11. EbyMom says:

    They didnt handle it well. Breastfeeding in public should be a choice or maybe as the need arises. Where I come from mothers breatfeed their babies anywhere and anyhow. You can cover up or not. It doesn’t really matter as long as you feed and attend to your baby appropriately.

  12. Phammom says:

    That’s not right. Some children don’t like to be covered. I know I will be covering up unless it makes it worse for the child but proud o every mother who breastfeeds no matter what.

  13. Dj says:

    I now have a 4 month old baby girl, sence day 2 when I got out of the hospital. I have been breast feeding her any where I go that she gets fuzzy. Stores, restorance, any where! My view is as a mom some where do I want to have my baby crying and giving other people an unpleasant experience? Or do I want to be the mom that brakes out a bottle when I have the privilege of feeding my baby something better? Then you have the last option, feed you baby and release some of that built up pressure? That’s the one I choose. I have had people come up to me and say it was gross. But I stay strong because i know I’m giving my baby the best. With all that said, I think you need to do it respectfully. As said in the paragraph above there are women that just take there breasts out for no good reason, and you don’t expect that when you are in a store or restaurant. I don’t think even breast feeding mothers should subject and make others feel uncomfortable. The reason your feeding your baby is so they are not causing discomfort rather to other passengers or any one else, so why would you want to CAUSE a discomfort? It’s to easy to avoid that. Some times mine doesn’t like her head covered, I cover up and open the top so she can look up at me and I down at her after that she is fine, and the cover does its purpose. If your going to breast feed some where be respectful, and classy. Don’t make it where now people can’t feed their babies somewhere because individuals wanted to cause discomfort to others. “You craw before you can walk.” Society is not ready for that yet, if you push to much it will hurt the cause more than help.

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