An airplane bathroom is one of the grimiest areas in an aircraft, second to the tray tables. With roughly 50 people to one bathroom, it’s an easy way to pick up an infection.
So when a representative of Air Canada informed a mother flying with her infant she’d have to use the airplane bathroom to breastfeed, she was furious.
Stephanie VandenBerg, a physician in Calgary, called Air Canada prior to her flight to arrange flying with her infant son. She didn’t expect to be told that she’d have to breastfeed in the bathroom, an area that only gets a deep cleaning about once a month. However, according to Air Canada’s website, the airline is “happy to support breastfeeding on board our aircraft, whenever safety permits.”
VandenBerg took to Twitter and called out the airline.
Dear @AirCanada: It is never okay to recommend a woman breastfeed her infant in an airplane lavatory. Nor would I like to be referred to your medical line to discuss this further. If you would like to eat your dinner there, by all means, but my infant son will not be joining you
— Stephanie VandenBerg (@StephVDBG) March 4, 2019
The tweet immediately received a response from Air Canada informing her they’ll look into the situation, but those outraged of the encounter and in support of VandenBerg were not satisfied with the response.
One tweet called for better training amongst all representatives:
That's great that you "support" breastfeeding onboard. But don't forget, you are legally mandated to allow a mother to breastfeed in any place that mother is permitted to be. Such as, the seat she paid for. A pledge for more active training would be best.
— Maeve (@PragueorBrno) March 5, 2019
Another user reminded Air Canada that the encounter is a violation of one’s human rights:
@AirCanada The right to breastfeed in public is protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is also explicitly spelled out in the Human Rights Code of ON and BC. Until you train your employees properly, you are at risk of a lawsuit.
— Milo Shandel (@MiloShandel) March 5, 2019