A California mom is warning other women to avoid KLM Airlines after she claims a flight attendant insisted that she cover up while breastfeeding, in accordance with the airline’s policy.
Shelby Angel cautioned other moms against choosing the Dutch airline in a lengthy post on the company’s Facebook page.
“Here’s a warning to all breastfeeding moms: do NOT fly with KLM!” Angel wrote, before explaining that she was nursing her 1-year-old daughter on a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam when the flight attendant tried to cover her with a blanket.
“[She’s] a busy toddler who doesn’t like to be covered,” Angel said of her daughter. “I do my best to be discreet, but sometimes some skin shows. Before we even took off, I was approached by a flight attendant carrying a blanket. She told me (and I quote) ‘if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself.’ ”
Angel said she refused and explained that her daughter does not like to be covered up while nursing, and the flight attendant said that “it would be my issue to deal with” if any of the passengers complained.
Angel said that no one complained about her decision to breastfeed, other than the flight attendant.
“The rest of this flight, that flight attendant would not so much as look me in the eyes,” she said. “I felt extremely uncomfortable and disrespected.”
The mom says her frustration grew when she contacted the airline.
“When we arrived home, I issued a complaint to KLM. I was told that I needed to be respectful of people of other cultures and that this flight attendant’s response was in line with company policy,” Angel said. “So instead of standing up for and protecting breastfeeding mothers and our children, already under the duress faced by flying with our young children, KLM would rather hold up antiquated values that shame women’s bodies.”
In a tweet, KLM confirmed that this is their official policy.
“Breastfeeding is permitted at KLM flights. However, to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this,” they said. “…As an international airline company, we transport passengers with a variety of backgrounds. Not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff.”
PEOPLE has contacted KLM for further comment.
Commenters on Facebook and Twitter were almost entirely in support of Angel, and questioned KLM’s policy.
“If they are offended by a child’s life being sustained by their mother they can put a blanket over their own head so as not to see. Outrageous policy,” wrote one Twitter user.
“This so called policy would have left my daughter unfed as she hated covers. If anyone is offended your policy should be that they close their eyelids and use their necks to turn their heads,” added a mom on Facebook.
And another flight attendant chimed in on Twitter, saying that they’ve never heard a complaint about mothers breastfeeding onboard.
“My role is Senior Cabin Crew Member for a major international airline. I’ve been flying for 35 years and have never received a complaint from any customer regarding a mother breastfeeding her child.”
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