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AA Crew Accused of Shaming Mom For Pumping in Lav

A new mother says she was subject to public ridicule from an American Airlines crew member for pumping breast milk in the airplane lavatory.

Mariana Hannaman says her ordeal started after she went to a lavatory for privacy while she pumped breast milk for her four-month-old-daughter during her three-and-a-half-hour American Airlines flight from O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).

Hannaman told ABC News that despite warning other passengers in line behind her that she would be using a breast pump and might be in the lavatory for some time, a flight attendant began pounding on the restroom door after about 10 minutes.

Hannaman says only a few more moments passed before the flight attendant ordered her to open the lavatory door. “I opened the door, with the pump still attached to my breasts and she looked down and then said ‘What are you doing, you can’t do that here. You’re taking too long, there’s other passengers,’” Hannaman recalled.

Hannaman says she felt “diminished” by the incident which unfolded in full view of other passengers. Video shows Hannaman confronting the flight attendant after the encounter:

American says the flight attendant’s actions did not keep with the airline’s policy and officials have reached out to apologize to Hannaman.

“Our policy is that women can breastfeed or express milk at any of our facilities, seats and in lavatories on the plane,” said American spokeswoman Leslie Scott.

Scott added that it’s always a good idea to let the crew know if a flyer needs to be in the aircraft restroom for an extended period of time, pointing out that a flight attendant’s first responsibility is passenger safety. “They’re there for safety and security, that is their role on the aircraft. We have instances often of people having some sort of medical emergency in the lavatory.”

American says it will be using the incident as a teachable moment to remind its employees of the airline’s policy regarding nursing mothers.

[Photo: KNXV]

Comments are Closed.
clbish October 10, 2015

I can understand the flight attendant being upset/concerned with someone in the lav for 10-15 min. The mother should have said to the flight attendant, "I need to pump, where should I do this? Lav or seat? Also, maybe she could have contacted the airline ahead of time. They could of had it noted as a "special need" and possible they would have made arrangements for her at a specific time during the flight.

AsiaTraveler October 10, 2015

PS. Taking 5-6 minutes tops? It can take half that to get all hooked up and get let down going.

AsiaTraveler October 10, 2015

Pumping moms have a tough time. Pumping discreetly in public is waaay harder in my book than nursing. I've done everything "right" when planning my pumping, only to have things go wrong. This was a 3.5 hour flight, and her daughter is 4 months old (plus you have to add on at least 30 minutes on either side of that for getting on/off the plane). When my daughter was that I age, I nursed her in the morning, pumped two hours later, and then nursed her about an hour and a half after that. So even if she had done it beforehand, she may still have needed to do it in flight. And if you've never been a nursing or pumping mom, you might not realize that you can't necessarily just put it off; if you do, you may wind up with plugged ducts, infections, and repercussions for days/weeks afterwards (notice that I'm using the words 'may' and 'might'...every lactating woman is different and will have different intervals, tolerances, etc). I agree that she should have alerted the staff before tying up the lav, but I'm also pretty sure that if she had pumped in her seat, there's a pretty good chance we'd be having a different conversation about a FA directing her to use the lav or a seatmate complaining or something.

pdsales October 9, 2015

celsius1939 is correct, the lavatory is one of many shared spaces in the plane. No one person gets exclusive use of those shared spaces. The reason that there are two (or three) lavs in the plane is that somebody figured out that for the number of people on the flight, that is the minimum number. If one lav was enough to service that passenger load, there would only be one lav. Nursing mom should be welcome to express milk back in her assigned seat. Anyone who has a problem with that, well, too bad. Failing that, she should have taken 5-6 minutes tops. Then returned the lav to service, get back at the end of the line, and take another turn after other pax get their turns.

miffSC October 9, 2015

I think part of the fault here is with the flight attendant. She is rude and snarky to the mother and refuses to supply her name. Totally uncalled for. I agree the mother should have informed the crew that she was going to be in the lavatory for at least 10 to 15 minutes thereby allowing the crew to direct passengers to the forward lav (or rear lav) if necessary. But with mothers being sent to pet areas, supply closets and who know where else in order to feed their baby/pump milk... I can see why she just may not have said anything. She did, at least, inform the other passengers although I think that she could have let them go ahead of her.