Delta Airlines employee humiliates breastfeeding mother

Discussion in 'Delta Air Lines | SkyMiles' started by sobore, Aug 16, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979931096

    A Delta Airlines flight attendant humiliated a breastfeeding mother on flight 3926 from Indianapolis to Raleigh. The mom named Meaghan Larkn said that she and her husband were seated, and she began feeding her eight-month-old baby.

    When she noticed, the Delta Airlines flight attendant repeatedly asked the nursing mother to cover up or stop feeding the baby. The mother refused a blanket because it was 85 degrees on the plane and already very hot.

    The harassed mom said that she informed the flight attendant that the Indiana State Code afforded her the right to breast feed her child wherever she had the legal right to be. Unfortunately, the flight attendant did not let the issue go. She continued to bother the mother and child telling the mom that she would get in trouble for giving the flight attendant a hard time. The mom said she felt publicly humiliated by the argument over how she fed her baby.

    Read More:
    http://news.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979931096
     
  2. upgrade

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  3. mrredskin
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    while legal, mom should do that stuff in the bathroom before she gets on the plane, or when everyone else is seated and no one else paying attention or passing by on the plane
     
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  4. Travel2Food
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    I'm betting that if there had been ground AC, it would have been a non-issue. I'm also betting that the woman was pretty discreet. As for "in the bathroom before boarding", that may not be practical - for the very same reason that I sometimes don't get to sit and eat lunch/dinner at an airport restaurant before boarding.

    The only surprise to me is that the TSA didn't stop her for having more than 3 oz of liquid. :rolleyes:
     
  5. NYBanker
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    I take the opposite view.

    While the Indiana law cited is one of the least ambiguous laws I've ever read, we should remember that Federal laws supersede State laws, certainly as it relates to interstate matters. This being an interstate flight, I see no basis to assert that Federal laws wouldn't apply.

    I don't have a citation (but perhaps someone could provide me one?), Federal laws (or an FAA regulation, which the FAA is permitted under law to set and somehow has the same weight as law) require all passengers to comply with crew member instructions while on a commercial airliner.

    I've seen people removed from the aircraft (http://bit.ly/p1j6vf), though it was after the door was closed. I suspect the "follow crew member instructions" rule applies both pre- and post-departure (though if I'm incorrect, I'd welcome knowing). Assuming there is a Federal statute you could connect this to, the crew member would have been within their rights to direct the pax to stop an otherwise lawful action.

    Against that, it doesn't strike me as outrageous for a woman to breastfeed her child on a plane. While many women prefer to cover themselves, if this pax chose not to in light of the circumstances, it seems reasonable. If a pax sitting near the breastfeeder was uncomfortable, he/she could have discretely asked the FA to be re-seated (though there is no mention of other pax complaints in this case).

    The FA over-reacted on this one, but was within their rights to do so.
     
  6. Gargoyle
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    In general I tend to side with the mother on this, but, as with all sensational news stories, I wonder if there is anything that was left out. Was she in the window or aisle seat? Had boarding completed and the doors closed or were pax in the aisles? Was she actually being discrete, or was she a Lactation Activist who was deliberately being obvious about it?

    Basically, I think it's a 95% chance the FA was out of line, but there is also a 5% chance that the mother was creating a confrontation.
     
  7. upgrade

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    The Delta CoC (Rule 35.F(4)) imposes such an obligation, but given the public policy behind the state law, I rather doubt that Delta would succeed in arguing that by refusing to comply, the mother was in breach of the CoC, a trespasser, and therefore no longer in a place where she had a lawful right to be. (Allow that argument and malls & restaurants could kick out breastfeeding mothers, which is presumably the very sort of scenario the Indiana law is meant to prohibit.)

    There is a federal criminal statute concerning assault on/interference with a crew member, but that covers a much narrower range of conduct and doesn't, at first blush, appear to be relevant here.
     
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  8. mrredskin
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    exactly. who's to say that she didn't have it hanging out there in front of God and everybody? plenty of variables that are unknown. I'm just saying have some common courtesy for others around you, as well.
     
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  9. NYBanker
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    Thanks for the detailed post and links. Based on just these two citations (and there may be others that do clarify this), the statement, "Federal regulations require all passengers to comply with crewmember instructions," would appear to be incorrect. Perhaps this phrase is used liberally (and incorrectly), similar to, "that routing is illegal," which should more accurately be states as, "that routing is not permitted under our internal policies."

    I do think DL would have grounds to stand on here, but it isn't a slam dunk.

    Here is the applicable language:
    They list a bunch of examples (which aren't meant to be exclusive), including being malodorous and being barefoot. (Note to self: next time someone takes off their shoes next to me and their feet stink, refer the offending pax to the COC! ;) )

    I agree these are the type of scenarios that the Indiana legislature was trying to preclude. It doesn't however, afford breastfeeders any sort of protected class status, so a business could refuse to serve someone (just as they could refuse to serve anyone wearing a blue shirt). While foolish from a business point of view, nothing I've seen here would preclude either of these scenarios under law. The court of popular opinion, however, would probably let the business know quickly how it felt.

    I agree that many sympathetic Indiana state court judges would probably side with the pax, despite the contract that the pax agreed to when she purchased the ticket. If it came to it, however, DL would probably be successful moving the matter to a Federal Court, which I think they would find to be a more favorable forum.

    Before it got this far, though, I'm sure DL would offer to settle for 19,000 skymiles (roughly the same amount they typically give for broken IFE). ;)
     
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  10. sobore
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    Pray this never goes to litigation or we could see this:
    Effective immediately every aircraft will now be equipped with a mother’s room. Airlines will begin converting lavs immediately. :eek:
     
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  11. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    Wow, I'm naively shocked that anyone would take issue with a woman breastfeeding her infant on a plane, or anywhere else for that matter. When I was nursing my daughter, especially in public, I did use different cover-ups to keep it as discrete as possible. However, if my child was uncomfortable with the cover due to the heat (or any other reason for that matter), her needs would have absoutely come first. No one else is forced to look or watch. In fact, I'm sure most mothers would prefer that they did not. The US is crazy behind most parts of the world when it comes to breastfeeding, and attitudes that it is something that should have to be done in the bathroom or behind closed doors are a huge part of the reason why. It is a mother feeding her baby. It is not something to get bent out of shape over.

    I'm not going to get into all the benefits of breastfeeding on a travel forum, but suffice to say that it is far superior to formula in virtually every way. Would people rather the woman not feed her child on the plane and have a crying, hungry, child sitting next to them?

    I apologize if I am coming off as rude or "soap-boxy", but given the information we have, this just truly is crazy. I feel very bad for the woman, and hope that she does not let this incident deter her from traveling with her family.
     
  12. MSPeconomist
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    Was this mainline or DL Connection? It's a 3XXX flight number from focus city to focus city.
     
  13. sobore
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    I think this route is served by Pinnacle (DL Connection).
     
  14. MSPeconomist
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    I somehow would have guessed a badly behaving FA from either ASA or Comair.
     
  15. USAF_Pride
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    I was reading through this thread and then going to research this very thing. I knew right away that it more than likely wasn't a mainline crew. Had I been giving odds, I would have it 20:1 on it being ASA or Comair.

    This was a CRJ200 operated by Pinacle which should be scrapped anyways and WAS propbably very warm inside. We've all experienced the CRJ love before.

    Yet again another FA on a power trip IMO.

    http://flightaware.com/live/flight/DAL3926/history/20110810/2114Z/KIND/KRDU
     
  16. canucklehead
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    Not a parent, but I am siding with the mother on this one! If the plane was that hot (and if it was a CRJ, I am pretty sure that part is true), I would not want to cover up the child either. Also, feeding in the toilet would not be an option if it was a CRJ, one can barely take care of their own business in that cramped quarter.

    I also agree with mommypoints on the point that acceptance of breastfeeding in public is behind most of world.
     
  17. MSPeconomist
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    Exactly, although I can perhaps see the FA's point about using some sort of a cover--the mother should bring something light and summery but not see-through if she doesn't want to use an airplane blanket--especially if the aircraft were boarding. She might have been giving quite a view to kids waiting to go back to their seats and I can imagine parents not appreciating this.
     
  18. upgrade

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    In which case the FA would have demanded that the offending articles be stowed underneath the seat or in the overhead bin.
     
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  19. USAF_Pride
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  20. sobore
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    It appears Pinnacle has responded in the comments:

     
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  21. USAF_Pride
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    How long before we see the typical "Sorry letter, here is a voucher for a free flight and 3,500 miles"?
     
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  22. sobore
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    ....redeemable on United and United Express flights originating in the US. :D
     
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  23. Analise
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    What about the safety of this child assuming the mother were breastfeeding after the door is closed? If the argument is that the mother is doing what is best for the baby by breastfeeding her, what if there is extreme turbulence (more likely on a prop plane or RJ)? The baby ought to be in its own seat with a seatbelt. State laws prohibit passengers in cars holding their babies while cars are in motion because the baby will be thrown if there is an accident. What will protect the baby if there is strong turbulence in flight? So whether a breast is shown or not, for me, who cares? Why is a baby not required to be given safety precautions in flight like the parents are given? That to me is the bigger issue than a nipple being displayed for all to see.
     
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  24. USAF_Pride
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    How many times have you heard "Infant in Arms"? Although I do agree with you on the safety issue, statistically you are so much safer in a plane than a car, so it really isn't a good comparison regarding safety.
     
  25. upgrade

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    Perhaps, but current Delta policy expressly allows lap children.
     

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