Dutch airline under fire for asking breastfeeding mom to cover up to respect other passengers’ cultures
SAN FRANCISCO — A Dutch airline is experiencing some turbulence over its breastfeeding policy.
Shelby Angel says she was on a KLM flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam last month when a flight attendant gave her a blanket and warned her to cover up if she planned to breastfeed her baby.
“Before we even took off, I was approached by a flight attendant carrying a blanket. She told me (and I quote) ‘if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself,’ ” Angel wrote in a Sunday Facebook post.
“I told her no, my daughter doesn’t like to be covered up. That would upset her almost as much as not breastfeeding her at all.”
Angel continued, “She then warned me that if anyone complained, it would be my issue to deal with (no one complained).”
She did not respond to CNN’s request for further comment, but her account seemed to reflect KLM’s policy, which it clarified on Twitter on Tuesday.
“Breastfeeding is permitted at KLM flights. However, to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this,” the airline wrote.
Melkpunt, a Dutch group that supports breastfeeding mothers, criticized the airline Tuesday.
“Disappointing KLM! And a bit too easy to blame hypothetical foreign passengers, when no one has complained,” the group said on its Facebook page.
One mother tweeted the airline that other passengers can simply look away if they feel uncomfortable.
Where other airlines stand on breastfeeding
Other airlines say they support breastfeeding on their flights.
“Delta fully supports a woman’s right to breastfeed on board Delta and Delta Connection aircraft and in Delta facilities,” Delta spokesman Michael Thomas said, adding that employees do not ask women to cover up.
United Airlines said it supports breastfeeding or pumping in any customer facilities, including aircraft and its Admiral’s Clubs.
On the other hand, British Airways says it does not have an official policy but suggests that mothers ask a crew member on board if they need privacy.