Anger over airline's response to breastfeeding mum

A mother was told to "cover up" while breastfeeding her baby daughter on a plane. (Posed by models) Photo: Getty Images

A breastfeeding mum has taken to social media after being told to “cover up” on an aeroplane.

Shelby Angel was travelling on a KLM Airlines flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam with her one-year-old daughter when the incident occurred.

In a post written last Sunday on the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Facebook page, Angel explained she was breastfeeding her daughter when a flight attendant approached her with a blanket.

After the mother refused to cover her daughter up (on account it would upset her), she was told it would be her “issue” if a fellow passenger complained.

“Instead of standing up for and protecting breastfeeding mothers and our children, already under the duress faced by flying with our young children, KLM would rather hold up antiquated values that shame women's bodies,” she wrote on Facebook.


In line with policy

After Angel complained, she was told the flight attendant’s behaviour was “in line with company policy”.

The Amsterdam-based airline has maintained its stance.

In a statement responding to the Facebook post, a representative wrote: “We would like to emphasise that breastfeeding is permitted on KLM flights.

“However, we strive to ensure that all of our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable onboard.

“Therefore, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.”

Angel’s post didn’t just attract the attention of KLM Airlines – it has also sparked interest from many fellow users, including parents who say they will avoid the airline in light of the allegations.

“Omg and i thought KLM was more modern thinking. Sorry you have felt this way,” one person commented under the post, while another said:

“I am astonished. I've been a flight attendant at KLM for up to 21 years now and I've seen so many mothers breastfeeding their child. Never has this been an issue, not for me, nor for any of my colleagues.”

A third person wrote to KLM on Facebook asking for clarification on the policy and was told, “as an international airline company, we transport passengers with a variety of backgrounds.”

“Not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity... to keep the peace on board, in such cases we will try to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone and that shows respect for everyone’s comfort and personal space.”

Contrary to Angel’s experience, one mother shared in the comments that she has previously had no problem breastfeeding on the same airline.

“I've flown with KLM several times when breastfeeding and never had an issue,” the user wrote.

KLM Airlines did not immediately respond to Yahoo UK’s request for comment.

Words by Francesca Specter

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