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Mom Kicked Off Plane For Breast Feeding

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File this one under– you’ve got to kidding.
A New Mexico mom says Freedom Airlines kicked her off a flight for breastfeeding her daughter on board the plane. The plane was waiting to take off from an airport in Burlington, Vermont, when 27 year-old Emily Gillette says a flight attendant asked her to put a blanket over the baby’s head. Gillette says she refused. That’s when a Delta ticketing agent asked Gillette and her husband and daughter to get off the plane. Freedom was operating the Delta flight between Burlington and New York City.
Now, imagine for a minute you are a passenger on this plane. Which would you prefer– (a) or (b). (A) listening to a screaming, miserable baby on your flight, and maybe, by chance, feeling a little odd about the slight potential that you could see a little bit of the mom’s boob. Or (B), contentedly– in silence– reading your trashy novel, working on your lap top, listening to your iPod, or trying to meditate to transport yourself away from the sardine box in which you are all crammed. I’m sure most of you picked (B), thinking, “Just feed the poor child and make the crying stop already!!” And if you picked (A), think about how you would feel if the flight attendant said, “Sorry, no pretzels for you on your flight today.”
But back to the story at hand…
Here’s what a Freedom Spokesperson had to say about the incident to The Boston Globe:
“A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way,” that doesn’t bother others, said Paul Skellon, spokesman for Phoenix-based Freedom. “She was asked to use a blanket just to provide a little more discretion, she was given a blanket, and she refused to use it, and that’s all I know.”
Gillette has filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission as well as Delta and Freedom Airlines. She told the Burlington Free Press she’d like to see the airlines change their policies. In addition, she’d like the airlines to make a donation to an organization of her choice and give her another trip.

14 Responses to “Mom Kicked Off Plane For Breast Feeding”

We’ve recently traveled to and from Hawaii where an airline seperated my husband and I- not the way we purchased the tix. The plane was 100% full and I did not want to sit next to a stranger to nurse my 10 week old. He would have to nurse at least 2x on the 6 hr. flight. Well, much to the discomfort of several people I moved things around so I could sit next to my husband. I was not the most popular person on that flight! When will people get over themselves and realize that breast-feeding is natural and wonderful and NOT something to be hidden? Thanks for speaking out!

I hope that flight attendent feels like a big jerk now.
I think the big issue wasn’t so much that she was breastfeeding, but how old the baby was. Not that it matters to people like us – we’re exposed to it by breastfeeding ourselves, or being part of online or offline groups where many parents nurse their children well into their toddler years.
Soon enough, I hope to see a better understanding from the general public on the matter. I’m confident by the time our children are having children, breastfeeding will be widely accepted.
Call me an optimist :)

This is the letter I sent to our local newspaper, “The Albuquerque Journal” in reaction to this incident. They haven’t published it yet, and I came across this site in trying to find an email address for Emily Gillette to tell her Good Luck in her suit. I’m passing the letter along because I found it so outrageous and reprehensible that this woman would be humiliated by a latter day Phyllis Shlafley the same week that a drunk (who had been blotto on board a plane) wiped out five members of a family.
To Whom It May Concern:
Somehow I think it’s likely that I’m not the only one who’s noticed the pathetic irony of one airline booting a breastfeeding mother off of a plane within 48 hours or less of another airline putting up no obstacles to loose a drunken menace on New Mexico’s highways unchecked.
Even given the challenges of being first a public defender and then a prosecutor, I breastfed both my daughters — the first was not weaned, by choice, until she was two, and the younger one more-or-less weaned herself shortly after her first birthday. I nursed my daughters in restaurants, in an occasional courtroom (on breaks), and at the UNM Law School during a trial advocacy training. I also became intimately acquainted with an electric breastpump — that also got used in courthousee breakrooms, in my own offices at two different District Attorney’s Offices, and in-flight several times when I was attending and then returning from an advanced seminar on prosecuting vehicular homicide cases, held at the National District Attorney’s College in South Carolina. And it was a law school classmate, Marc Lowry, who graduated at the same time I did, who was key in getting legislation passed in New Mexico protecting women’s right to breastfeed publicly.
So one can imagine my shock and outrage at reading about a fellow New Mexican, Emily Gillette, being asked to cover herself with a blanket in Vermont and then being asked to get off the plane when she refused. Good God, have people forgotten that the principle purpose of those two particular appendages is to feed a baby?
With my first baby, I tried privacy screens sold for breastfeeding moms. The baby hated it, even in winter, and simply would not nurse when covered by it; she would pop off the breast and wail in protest. So, despite a mild case of cerebral palsy that made the first few weeks of discreetly unhooking and rehooking a nursing bra challenging, I quickly became adept at tucking the baby into the crook of first one arm and then the other, partially concealed by my shirt, with neither breast exposed (but a bit of my still-slimming tummy) any more than what would be the case with a modestly low-cut top. She would then suckle away happily. With my second child, I didn’t even bother to try the privacy screen and simply went with the arrangement I’d learned with my first.
Luckily, no adults ever fussed when I breastfed my daughters. As a lawyer versed in civil rights law as well as the criminal law, I think I might have bitten anyone who dared. I have heard horror stories of women asked to breastfeed in bathrooms, or having barbs leveled at them within earshot about certain activities being private.
But I felt almost physically ill when I read first about this woman and her family being mistreated and humiliated by latter-day puritans, and then reading in the same edition of The Albuquerque Journal about Dana Pabst being so sloshed on a different commercial airliner that he had to be stopped from trying to exit mid-flight.
Luckily for me (and my baby) the one trip during which I needed to express milk while traveling by air, the stewardess — on a Delta flight — was an absolute doll. I’d brought a battery backup for my breastpump, but she was kind enough to point out where I could instead use an electrical adapter so that I wouldn’t use up the battery, brought me extra water so I would stay hydrated, and even rinsed out the nursing cups with hot water so I wouldn’t need to race to a washroom before making my connecting flight. She chatted for a bit and explained that she too had breastfed her children, and as far as she was concerned, it was an important public health issue to find ways to encourage women to nurse their babies. She was an angel, and a walking commercial and enlightened emissary for that company.
Our society as a whole would be a damn site better off if more people, especially petty bureaucrats, concerned themselves with putting up both social and actual roadblocks to prevent grown-up “bottle babies” from driving drunk and killing other innocent folks than with policing how much skin a breastfeeding mother exposes and shunning those who put their children’s health, comfort, and happiness above other’s misplaced and often pretended modesty.

I find the sight of breastfeeding mothers in public places disgusting and offensive. A breast is a breast no matter the circumstances. A private part must remain private.
Being a foreigner, the child-centric culture in the United States just boggles the mind and frankly, has gone out of hand. Considering that what’s driving this child-centricity are the parents who do not have the time and resources to be the parents and role models that they want to be and thus impose their shortcomings on others. Such as TV and film ratings and censorship and God knows what others these parents can think of. Now it’s the traveler’s duty to help a mother take care of her child by taking in this disgusting sight.
Does putting a blanket over her child’s head to cover her breasts pose a threat to the life of her child? No. I’m sure the child can still breathe. And drawing parallels between a baby eating with that of an adult is completely misguided and is again a symptom of this ridiculous child-centric culture in the United States.

Perhaps we should ask you to put a blanket over your head while eating? Or, perhaps while speaking?

Geri, you rant about people “who do not have the time and resources to be the parents and role models that they want to be and thus impose their shortcomings on others” in a forum about women who would prefer to spend time and resources (ie milk from their own bodies and not a cow) breastfeeding and bonding with their children. What are you on!
Further, I don’t see how feeding your children can make anyone “child-centric” as you put it. I would rather think it is a normal part of life for humans. Where you able to look after youself from leaving the womb?
I say get over it.

It is only after reading people like Geri, that one can really understand the problem of breastfeeding. These people, who are disgusted by the sight of a breast do exist.
We are foreigners too (I guess from a different country); we have an 8 months old, who is still breastfeeding, yet my wife is sometimes embarrased of doing it in public. I have not witnessed any situation where she was close to uncomfortable, but, truth is, Geri, and Delta’s flight attendant exist.
This is a great place, but, sometimes a few are able to impose some less happy options unto many.

Well said Lisa.

You have got to be kidding that this person even purports to hold a higher degree: ESQ. What are you so disgusted about? Last I checked both male and female had breasts. It’s a natural occurrence. Do you go to public pool or place where men are shirtless or does this repulse you as much, Geri? What country or culture on this green earth do you hail from that you think of a breast when feeding a child as disgusting? Mars. ‘Cause you know women are from Venus.

It makes some people uncomfortable because they do not want to see a woman’s breast exposed. I’m sick of all these women who tout the “natural and wonderful” aspect of breastfeeding like that makes it okay to expose your breasts to complete strangers. Peeing and pooping are “natural”, too, but I don’t want to have to watch anyone do it.

I think it is absolutely disgusting to breastfeed a child that is nearly two years old. If the kid is old enough to walk up to the mother and unbutton her shirt, it is waaaay too old to be breastfed. That Delta momma is white trash for doing this. And the whole thing about refusing a blanket is just rude. She was looking for a lawsuit and some free dough.

my wife breast fed all 4 of our children,people did look, some for lust some for curiosity,some for rightousness,cheering her on,and others,for discust,since i know we are living in a lust driven world and men ,have forgotten all the things the breast is for /or all about,it is natural to see the different opinons,women were made by GOD to have breasts,to satify their husbands,sex drives,and wants,( according to song of songs in the bible ,and other passages,,and when children came as a result,from that,the children must be fed,it is in these much later times,/since the invention of bottles,that breast feeding has taken a back seat,to natural occurances,men who are not use to this/will find it awkward at first,but as he sees it more and more,then he will realize it is the most natural thing to see.bottles are really most unnatural,things,( they can stink,grow bactria,),etc,but not moms( a mothers), breast and her milk,the milk is what GOD made for the new born child through age of weining,it has antibiotics,and natural fat for the babies brain,to develope,but cows,milk and man made milk,is far short of what a child really needs,to all the moms who,breast feed,a thumbs up to you,i hope we can see more of this,and get our babies back to good health,for a lifetime,breast feeding has been going on since the beginning of time,about,6500 years,according to the bible,bottle fed babies have been around for 100 years?.so ladies,and some gentlemen,give your babies what God has asked of you,,the right food,,,THE NATURAL FOOD THAT THEY MUST HAVE TO GROW AND PROPERLY DEVELOPE–!

You guys are all sooooooo weird. Fighting about breastfeeding. LMAO It’s like saying now that there are test tube babies, there should be NO natural conception. And generally people do look for privacy to breastfeed, for their own comfort but if/ when they prefer to be more open , look away.Dont question breastfeeding itself!

[...] many times have you heard about a mom being told to cover up her nursing child on an airplane or at an amusement park or at a store or at a restaurant or even asked to leave or had the police [...]

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