The mother of a 13-month-old child says she was given the choice of leaving her son’s nourishment behind or paying a $150 fee to bring her own frozen breast milk on the plane.
The breastfeeding mother of a 13-month-old child claims that an American Airlines gate agent offered her a humiliating Sophie’s Choice before a recent flight home from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). According to Sarah Salow, the airline representative presented the equally unpleasant options of paying a $150 bag fee or leaving the breast milk that she froze for her baby behind at the gate.
Salow says that things started to go wrong only when she and her family approached the kiosk to have their tickets scanned for boarding. She says that in total her family had two allowed carry-on bags, a stroller and the small cooler containing breast milk with them.
“When we approached the counter to have our tickets scanned, the women at the counter told us we had too many bags and we would have to check one,” the frustrated mom wrote in a Facebook post recounting the unfortunate incident. “One of the women told us it would cost $150 to gate check our cooler when they were doing so as a courtesy just moments ago to other passengers. We were shocked. They told us we could condense our bags but unfortunately, the frozen breast milk needed to stay frozen and we didn’t have extra space in our other bags.”
Salow wrote that the young family couldn’t justify the exorbitant last-minute bag fee and had no choice but to leave the cooler containing the breastmilk behind. To make matters worse, she says that when the family eventually boarded, it became clear that the aircraft was not at all full and there was plenty of overhead storage space available.
The family says that American Airlines has since reached out to them. While Salow says she appreciates the apology and offer of compensation, her main concern is the hope that her ordeal can be used as a teaching tool to help save other air-traveling moms from similar indignities in the future.
“They definitely can’t compensate us for the precious milk lost, the embarrassment and pain they caused us but I’m open to hearing how they will try,” she told Cafe Mom. “If we can help educate their employees to save the next mom in line, then I’m okay with that! I’ve sincerely appreciated all of the support we’ve received.”