Friday, February 21, 2014

Delta Tweets That Moms Cannot Breastfeed on Their Flights - and What to Do About It

A mother tweeted Delta to ask about their breastfeeding policy, and was told that she cannot breastfeed on their planes.  You can read about it here on The Leaky Boob - including the apology that was issued since I first wrote this post.  

I feel your outrage - I am right there with ya!  

But before anyone says, "I wouldn't have asked!" please consider that the mother, if motivated to ask, must have had some anxiety about it, and she sought to allay her fears.  This is a smart thing to do, and not one that we as supportive mothers need to imply she handled inappropriately.

And before you add that you've never had any problem, and you've breastfed on Delta flights X number of times, please just clarify that you are disappointed in Delta's response, and you're glad you've never had a problem.  But DO bring on the positive NIP stories - mamas need to hear them when something crummy like this happens.

If you are so inclined, please contact Delta.  I would suggest expressing your disappointment diplomatically.  Rudeness does not represent the breastfeeding community well, nor does posting breastfeeding photos to their social media channels in a confrontational manner.  Also, saying you'll never fly with them again is not motivating - if they've already lost your business, there's no reason to appease you.
Tell them that they need a breastfeeding supportive (fully supportive) policy, and their employees need training regarding it.  Tell them that groups like Family Friendly Business Initiative exist to help businesses by providing resources.  Breastfeeding rights deserve sensitivity training.  And tell them that they would help the public relations problem they've created by doing these things and by publicly declaring support for breastfeeding legislation.

Please when engaging Delta, do not misrepresent the law.  They may just dismiss you if they themselves are clear on the statutes.  There is no law specifically protecting mothers to breastfeed on a flight.  Federal law applies to federal property and lacks an enforcement provision.  State laws may apply, but only while the plane is on the ground.  But the fact is, most state laws lack an enforcement provision, as well, leaving mothers with no recourse.  Some say we can breastfeed anywhere, but many (most?) don't say that no one can violate our right to do so.  It may sound nitpicky, but them's the facts.  I'm not a professional but from all I've learned about breastfeeding law in the past 18 months, the devil is most certainly in the details.

This is why, more than contacting Delta, I urge you to contact your legislators.  Tell them that when you fly, you want to know that you can feed your baby as recommended by major medical organizations without being harassed.  You can read more about influencing the creation of breastfeeding laws in my post on The Leaky Boob here.  

You can find your state’s law here.  And you can look up your state legislators here and your US Senators and Members of Congress here.

On Facebook Delta is here.  On Twitter they are @Delta.

Nursing Sweet Pea on a flight many moons ago.
We have no family in Texas, so this was one of many
times I've breastfed on a flight to see family - without incident.
One last thing - yes, there have been NIP incidents on flights.  But by and large, women nurse their babies on planes every day with no problem.  If you're breastfeeding and need to fly, feel confident that you are unlikely to have any issues.  Yes, there are anti-boob trolls out there - but nobody honestly wants to be on a flight with a crying, hungry baby.



  2. wonderful post. thank you for recommending measured and *effective* approaches.

  3. Thanks for the link to the laws. I have been freaking out that if court gets continued again, I will be in the courtroom with an infant as I will have no one to take care of her during the hearing. (My inlaws can barely handle the boys and live an hour outside town so I would be gone a min. of three hours) I'm assuming a courthouse is state owned property. (Not that I'll actually get to nurse this time either, but one can hope)