Flying the boob-hating skies

A breast-feeding mom is kicked off her flight.


Katharine Mieszkowski
November 16, 2006 3:41AM (UTC)

Paging the lactivists: The Associated Press reports that the mother of a 22-month-old has filed a complaint against Delta Airlines and Freedom Airlines for kicking her off a flight because she was breast-feeding.

On Oct. 13, Emily Gillette, 27, of Santa Fe, N.M., was seated in the second-to-last aisle, in a window seat, next to her husband, on a flight operated for Delta by Freedom Airlines. She started breast-feeding her child before the plane left Burlington, Vt. While Gillette claims no part of her breast was showing, a flight attendant gave her a blanket, and asked her to cover up. The mom refused the blanket, and told the flight attendant that she had a legal right to feed her child. Soon, a Delta ticket agent approached the family, and asked them to leave the flight. Not wanting to make a scene, they complied.

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"It embarrassed me," Gillette told the AP on Monday. "That was my first reaction, which is a weird reaction for doing something so good for a child." The airline defended its action: "A breast-feeding mother is perfectly acceptable on an aircraft, providing she is feeding the child in a discreet way," a spokesman for Freedom told the AP. "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." Gillette has since filed a complaint with the Vermont Human Rights Commission, which will rule on whether discrimination occurred, but the mom has not filed a lawsuit.

Maybe the flight attendant proffering the blanket has spent too many off hours watching "The View," where Barbara Walters famously complained that when she and her hairdresser sat next to a breast-feeding mother on a flight, it made her "very nervous" and "uncomfortable." But we have to ask: What's really more bothersome to fellow passengers? Catching a glimpse of a baby suckling on a mother's breast, or listening to a hungry baby, denied the boob in the name of discretion, crying to be fed during a long flight?

We'd rather take our chances with exposure to a naked mammary gland, thanks.


Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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