One Mom’s Ordeal Is A Call-To-Action for Airlines – Will Things Improve?

Breastfeeding is the proven best source of nutrition for infants, as well as being inexpensive and convenient for mom.

But while public breastfeeding is legal in all fifty states, there are some people who still don’t make it as comfortable and accessible as it should be for all mothers.

Such was the case for one nursing mom on a recent – and very long – flight.

Alix Anfang was flying home to New York City following a trip in Nice, France – a nine-plus hour flight.

With her was her 4-month-old nursing baby.  Any mom will tell you that travel throws off schedules like feedings and nap time – especially across different time zones — and this was no doubt what Alix was dealing with.

She had brought her breast pump on board with her in order to pump her milk but ran into a serious snag.

Although public breastfeeding is the law, many moms are modest and still like to cover up or nurse or pump in a private space.  (Especially since it’s more difficult to cover up when pumping, along with the associated noise of the motor.)

Alix wanted to pump privately instead of in the very cramped quarters of her economy seat on a Delta Airlines flight – but the electrical outlets in the restrooms were not working.

She called on the flight attendants for help, even offering a reasonable suggestion.

Her in-laws were on the same flight in first-class and agreed to temporarily switch seats with her so that she could have more room and privacy – as well as a working outlet – in which to pump.

The flight attendants told her no – she was not allowed to switch seats, even for a brief time.

Alix was frustrated and reached out via Twitter to Delta, telling them of her plight.  Instead of understanding the need for scheduled pumping for her baby’s next feeding, Delta tweeted back that they would alert maintenance about the power outlets on her flight.

They also told her that temporarily “borrowing” a first-class seat was against regulations.

And Delta’s responses to Alix seem contradictory at best.

They contacted maintenance aboard her flight who claimed that they found the power outlets to be working properly.  But in their public statement after Alix’s story went viral, they said, “Unfortunately, the power outlets on board this aircraft and in general are not equipped to operate a breast pump or other similar medical devices,” according to NBC News New York.

Delta also made the claim that they had found and offered Alix a solution that she immediately accepted. “Delta’s flight attendants aboard flight 413 from Nice to JFK worked directly with her to provide a number of options and found a private alternative to enable this customer to pump during the flight,” according to their statement.

Alix denies that any solution at all was given to her, and comments on Twitter overwhelmingly supported her in her frustration.

While Alix was able to at least take her pump on board with her, other moms have been met with resistance from flight attendants and airline agents.

The TSA’s website says that breast milk and breast pumps are approved for carry-on bags or as a personal item on all flights, but then add a disclaimer that passengers should check with their individual airline to confirm.

And it appears that there is a different protocol for nearly every airline, making pumping breast milk on board a frustrating experience.

Breast pumps are considered medical devices on airlines, and the regulations vary.  Some require notice in advance for “approval” of the medical device.

Others allow them with no restrictions, however, a breast pump may be considered your one allowable carry-on item.

Some airline sites state that on-board power outlets are compatible with medical devices, others state they are not.  Many only allow battery-operated pumps due to concerns over the use of power outlets.

It’s confusing, frustrating, and ridiculous.

The best course of action is to contact your airline prior to booking your flight to get specifics on breast pump regulations.

Although no mom should have to be inconvenienced for simply trying to feed their child, planning ahead will save you frustration and difficulty on your next flight.

Alix is pleased that so many people commented on her post, agreeing that this important issue needs to be addressed.  Delta has said they will use her experience to improve their customer service in regard to pumping on board a flight.

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What do you think of the contradictory statement made by Delta and the fact that Alix was not permitted to temporarily switch seats with her in-laws?  Leave us your comments.