Apparently Nursing on a Plane is Still Controversial!

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It is no secret that during the summer many families take to the roads and skies with their kiddos to take vacations, visit family members, etc.  Not surprisingly, some of those families have infants who are traveling with them – infants who are still nursing.  So, it seems to be a developing theme that during the summer we hear about an unfortunate story of a mother who catches flak for nursing her baby on a plane.  Planes are small and confined spaces where you often can’t help but accidentally see some of what is going on around you, and thus a breastfeeding controversy is sometimes born.  I wrote a post about this regarding a mother on a Delta Airlines flight in August 2011, but this time it is American’s turn in the hot seat thanks to a “nursing on a plane” controversy.

Recent American Airlines Nursing Controversy:

I first noticed some bubblings of a problem while on American’s Facebook page yesterday trying to win free tickets to the movie Planes.  I didn’t win.  There were lots of angry comments on their Facebook page about nursing, so I did a little research and here is what seems to have happened according to this article.

In late July a mom reported that she was on an American flight in a window seat next to her husband, and there was an un-related pre-teen girl on the aisle seat who was busy talking with her friends in surrounding seats. As the mom breastfed her baby, she noticed a passing flight attendant glare in her direction. She mentioned this to her husband and they agreed it wasn’t a big deal because they really didn’t think it’d go any further.

The mom wrote, “A few minutes later, the same stewardess returned to our row, leaned over the girl in the aisle seat, and told me (after a bit of hesitation as she couldn’t find her words) that I needed to put a blanket over my son ‘because there are kids on this flight.'” Her husband declined, saying they preferred to not use a blanket, and the attendant offered to move the girl at the end of the row, who was completely oblivious to the fact that the mother was nursing.

For the rest of the flight, they reportedly received no drinks or any service at all, and the attendant refused to make eye contact with them.

The theme is that these sort of problems seem to emerge when a mom does not “cover up” while nursing.  For those who have never breastfed, covering up seem like a simple solution, and truthfully much of the time it is.  However, not every baby likes to be covered, and frankly in late July on an airplane it can sometimes be really hot.  Having a 98 degree human pressed against you can be hot by itself – add a blanket or nursing cover over that and it could be insanely hot for the baby and the mom.  Also if you have never breastfed, know that even without a cover it can be done pretty easily without displaying very much of what is going on.  For myself and every mom I have ever talked to, you are certainly not breastfeeding because you want someone else to watch.  You are doing it because your baby is hungry and you want to feed them with the most nourishing substance available – your milk.

American Airlines’ Response:

Fast forward to the family sending a complaint letter into American Airlines.  We all know it is possible to encounter an individual employee who doesn’t necessarily represent what the company as a whole believes.  Their response letter was posted to Facebook and reportedly concludes with the following statement:

“…because of the offense that may be taken by others within the close confines of commercial aircraft, we simply ask that breastfeeding be done with certain discretion and a sense of modesty. We believe it is reasonable to ask that the mother cover-up in an appropriate manner during the feeding.”

This seems to be what has caused some parents did get pretty angry with American Airlines.  An individual employee’s actions are one thing, but an official response saying that essentially they do think a mother should cover-up while nursing is another.  I breastfed Little C for several months, and while I did use a nursing cover when we were out in public, I also didn’t ever nurse during the very hot summer months.  I’m not sure how that would have played out in terms of being fully covered, but ultimately I would do whatever was best for my daughter, whether or not someone gave me an “evil eye” for doing so.


Here I am the first day I was home from the hospital trying to figure out nursing with the cover, the Boppy, etc. It wasn’t easy with or without all those contraptions.

Legal and Practical Implications:

When I nursed, I carried around a little card given to be at the hospital with the Texas law quoted on it that said I could nurse anywhere I was legally allowed to be.  I never needed to use that card, but I know some who did.  It didn’t say I was allowed to nurse anywhere I was legally allowed to be if I used a nursing cover.  Many states have a similar law, and I see no reason for that standard to change when you enter an aircraft.

Legal issues and health benefits aside, from a practical standpoint nursing is also perfect for travel and being on the go.  It comforts the baby, keeps them calm, and doesn’t require you to bring and clean bottles, prepare formula, etc.  You don’t need any gear to nurse – you just need you and the baby.  Cover, no cover, who cares?!  Well, obviously some people still do, but my opinion is they need to just grow up and get over it.  We’re not talking about a mom flashing the plane and handing out lap dances.  We are talking about a mom sitting in the window seat next to her husband nursing her infant.  Might it raise some questions from a curious child who has never seen a mom nursing before?  Absolutely.  But that is a great opportunity for a teachable moment about how and why babies nurse.  Travel is about lots of teachable moments, so this one seems pretty innocent to me.

Official Airline Policies on Nursing:

The website Nursing in Public compiled a list of official airline statements/policies on nursing on their planes.  Some including Jet Blue and Alaska state that their crew cannot request a nursing mom cover-up, where as some other airlines do suggest that mothers have and use a blanket or jacket so that other passengers are not “subjected to an uncomfortable situation”.  I recommend taking a look if this is an issue that impacts you and your family.

I used a nursing cover with C, and I personally recommend using them when you travel if it works for you and your baby just to avoid any potential issues.  Even though I was a fan of the cover for us, I don’t think that you should have to use a one, or receive lesser treatment if you choose to not cover your baby.


See how cool you can look with a cover and some ridiculous ugly sunglasses? Towel added as my child was a very frequent projectile puker.

What do you think is reasonable when on a plane or in another confined space?  If you are a nursing mother, what steps do you take to ensure a good experience when you travel with your baby?

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  1. I have traveled a ton with my 3 kids, including many plane flights while each of them were nursing. In fact, very few times have I traveled in the past 5 years when I have NOT had a nursing baby! Normally I am all for a mother’s right to breastfeed whenever, wherever, and however she feels she needs to. However, I think that a plane is a slightly different situation. We have to understand that in our society breasts are highly sexualized, rightly or wrongly. Breastfeeding makes some people very uncomfortable for this reason — usually people who have not been parents yet or people of the older generations. In any other situation I would tell the offended person to leave or move away if they are uncomfortable. But in a plane, that is not an option for them. While it is still their problem that an uncovered breast 6 inches away makes them uncomfortable, it is considerate not to put people in that position in the first place. One option is to wear a special nursing shirt with the lift up flap and slit that covers your breast while nursing. Another great option is those guaze muslin swaddling blankets — they are super thin and breatheable even on the hottest day.

  2. It’s an unacceptable and probably illegal request on behalf of AA.

    Let’s hope the management of American that wrote that official note is part of the team that is going to be replaced when US Airways takes over.

  3. I have nursed quite often on airplanes, both with and without covers. My babies and I prefer without covers! While my general feeling is that people can just get over themselves, I have informed the fellow travelers in my aisle that I would be nursing during the flight in case they wanted to try to move. Only once has anyone moved, and it was a teenaged boy who switched spots with his mom. More often than not, it strikes up a great conversation about babies! I am crossing my fingers everything goes as well for our upcoming trip to France!

  4. This annoys me. The purpose of breasts are to feed a baby. People who are offended by nature’s intentions need to get over themselves.

  5. Two issues I see here in the AA example.

    Right or wrong, it sounds like they refused to do what the FA told them to. They could have been arrested for that.

    Second, in this case there were two parents and father could have held up a blanket between him and mom to block view to appease the FA without the heat issue being involved. Some action like that is “using discretion.

  6. While obviously not having the personal experience of nursing a baby, I’ve lots of friends who have. As a healthy male with a healthy interest in unclothed women I’m here to tell you that there’s nothing particularly sexual about a woman you don’t know feeding her child.

    I find it bizarre at best that people would find anything “uncomfortable” with the process. Or that any adult would find the fact that there are kids nearby a valid excuse to object. Has our society devolved to the point where we don’t want children to understand why humans *have* breasts? We’re classed as mammals for a reason, after all.

    As for the person above who suggested that one use the restroom – yuck. It’s bad enough to be forced to use airplane restrooms for their intended purpose. I can’t imagine anyone would want to sit there nursing a child in that environment. Not to mention the fact that you’d be taking the restroom out of commission for rather longer than a normal restroom pit stop.

  7. I think that nursing mothers should be celebrated and not asked to hide. Why should you hide for doing what is best for your baby?

  8. @TTF – Flight attendants can obligate you to do things that impact the safety of the airplane, with the threat of arrest if you don’t comply. What world do you live in where you think that a flight attendant can issue arbitrary instructions and punish you with arrest if you don’t obey? As for “appeasing” the flight attendant, it’s not the passenger’s job to satisfy the FA’s weird fetish.

  9. I just returned from FL and I had to nurse my baby during a SW flight. To be honest I didn’t even thought about covering us. It was July, full plane and a very fussy baby. I was by the window and my husband besides me. I didn’t get any weird stares, but to be honest I was more concern about my son than some creep uncomfortable with nature’s way.
    Next week I am flying to Brazil on AA and I hope I can nurse in peace. I will be with a friend and her baby as well, so it is going to be TWO nursing babies 🙂
    I am going to bring a blanket just in case.

  10. Perhaps I’m old fashioned, but that would make me a little uncomfortable if I was sitting in her row. I wouldn’t complain about or be offended by it. I think that’s a key difference – it would surprise me and make me a little uncomfortable, but I would be tolerant and respectful of her rights.

    That being said, now that she has been through the process and knows that it makes people uncomfortable, perhaps she could attempt to be more respectful of people’s reactions (whether right or wrong) and attempt to cover/hide breast-usus. Sounds like she may have a chip on her shoulder.

  11. Tania said “I was more concern about my son than some creep uncomfortable with nature’s way.” Some creep?? If a person is uncomfortable, that does not make him/her a creep.
    I agree with everything MP posted. Just kind of shaking my head that you chose to post pictures of yourself. But a good post to stir up comments! Keeping us engaged. That is why I keep reading your great blog. Thanks.

    • David, photos are mainly to give folks an idea of what a cover looks like in use case they aren’t familiar. You obviously can’t see anything with the cover, but the idea was also to show that especially when you are new to it, the process can be complex with the props, cover, etc. Also, if I can be the smallest part of desensitizing a few folks to the process then that is an added bonus. Nothing remotely offensive is shown, so hopefully no one is offended. 😉

  12. When my son was nursing, I never once used a cover. My son’s head covered my breast – someone would have to really be trying to see anything they found offensive. I noticed that most people would immediately look away when they realized I was feeding my son. I took him on a plane at 3 weeks old and fed him on both ascent and decent – it took care of any potential ear pressure issues. Americans seriously need to get over their sexual hangups and realize that’s what breasts are for!

  13. Peeing is a natural bodily function. I’m going to start peeing anywhere I want. If you creeps can’t handle it that’s your fault!

  14. I am a heterosexual male and love me some women. I am not the least bit offended or disgusted by breast feeding. I am also not in the least bit titillated by it either.

  15. David,
    Maybe I didn’t express myself well.It was my first flight with my son and I didn’t think about covering us because when I nurse there not much skin showing.
    I understand some people are uncomfortable with breastfeeding but as a first time mom I was so caught up to make sure my son was fine. My apologies for the creep comment.I didn’t mean to offend anyone.

  16. My little one would absolutely not nurse with a cover ever, so I definitely nursed on planes without being 100% “covered.” That said, I was always considerate of others and tried to be discreet, and I’m pretty sure no one saw much of anything since I was using a good nursing top and a window seat (not to mention the baby covering most everything anyway). This sounds like what the woman here was doing already! Not sure why American says that it is “reasonable to ask the mother to cover up in an appropriate fashion” because that is wide open to interpretation and abuse by a rogue flight attendant who will think that means that a nursing cover is required.

    I was lucky in that no one ever gave me a hard time. The only time I was worried and a little embarrassed was when I was seated next to a 40-something business man when traveling alone with my daughter. I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, but ultimately, he could not have been more wonderful. Turned out he had three kids under the age of 5 at home and nursing couldn’t have bothered him less. He even offered to watch the baby in her car seat while I made a quick bathroom run mid-flight. Cutting your fellow human beings a break once in a while goes a long way.

  17. I think Paul’s comment is a little off base, but after thinking about it, I thought about people who pass gas on a plane. It might seem an odd comparison but there is nothing worse than someone in your immediate vicinity passing gas and having to deal with it. It’s a natural function of the body to produce gas and release it, but the smell is offensive to some. If you want to be polite and take others into consideration you basically have two options: 1. Hold it in and be uncomfortable or 2. get up and use the restroom. For the sake of people around me, I will do one of the two. Regardless of how you feel about it, people should always be aware that something they take for granted or feel is normal or not offensive might be offensive or uncomfortable to others. I say go ahead and feed but try to think of those around you.

  18. I think the FAs response wasn’t appropriate. Though, I don’t think that the full blame can be put on the FA. It sounds like the mother was in the middle seat and would have been less visible to others on the plane if she and her husband switched seats. Even though the girl in the aisle seat was oblivious to what was going on next to her, I highly doubt she is oblivious to what breasts are and breastfeeding.

    As far as the overall issue of breastfeeding in public, Americans are way too uptight about it and I wish it were more acceptable to do (cover or no cover).

  19. To the poster ?, we don’t ask adults to eat their food in a bathroom, so why should a nursing baby have to? That is disgusting.

    Look, I have never seen a woman sitting topless feeding their baby. I have never seen a woman whip out her entire breast and feed her baby. Moms are discreet, and I would bet unless you are sitting next to a nursing mom you wouldn’t even notice. Would you want to eat under a blanket? I wouldn’t. Many babies don’t want to.

    Regardless of all of that, legally aren’t women allowed to nurse in public? If the answer is yes then I don’t know how AA can enforce this archaic rule.

  20. OK, perhaps we should all acknowledge that there is a very big difference between breast feeding and peeing or passing gas. That is intellectually lazy, at best, generally silly, and at worst is just a hideous view of the world.

    Leaving aside the very obvious differences between feeding a baby and other bodily functions, there are these: If you pee on the plane somewhere other than the toilet you are abusing someone else’s property. You are possibly also getting your body’s waste material on other people. And passing gas, well that impacts a lot more people than breast feeding does. The altitude changes I have heard make passing gas more of an issue in a plane than elsewhere, so that is more excusable than peeing. HOwever, neither is anything remotely like breast feeding.

    So, please, stop coming up with every single possible bodily function and equating that to breast feeding.

  21. @The Sterling Traveler:

    She was in the window seat.

    “In late July a mom reported that she was on an American flight in a window seat next to her husband, and there was an un-related pre-teen girl on the aisle seat who was busy talking with her friends in surrounding seats. “

  22. I guess we were lucky my daughters had a built in cover. They both inherited my oversized head that would block a view of anything. (my wife says only a man would put lucky and oversized baby head in the same post)

  23. Shame on that flight attendant. Nursing is normal and natural. Some people are just uptight about the silliest things. Don’t look if you’re offended by the sight of a bare breast.

  24. @Cory,

    You’re right, I will limit my peeing to the outdoors (parks, trees on the street, patches of grass, etc).

  25. From a modesty or embarrassment standpoint, I wouldn’t have any issue with a woman breastfeeding in the seat next to me. What would bug the beejesus out of me would be if the child ended up half in my seat-space while reclined and nursing. With lap babies allowed up until age two, a nursing child could easily outgrow the width of mom’s seat. But for a situation where the nursing mom is next to a companion, or when the mom has the good sense to buy a seat for the baby, I can’t see having any issue with breastfeeding at all.

  26. The parents did what is best in the long term. If enough breast feeding mothers simply do their thing and demand people get over it, they will.

  27. Ughhh. This frustrates me! As having a two month old I’ve decided that nursing is the hardest thing I’ve probably ever done in my entire life, no exaggeration! I thought I’d never nurse in public but after a few weeks I found myself in the bloomingdales lounge nursing and not caring at all! I figure its there problem for being uncomfortable, not mine!

    While I have yet to take a flight with baby deals and am now primarily bottle feeding (with breast milk after weeks of hardship!) I fully support women breast feeding wherever they so desire. Typically the baby is covering most of the breast anyways! Okay there is my two cents on the topic!

  28. I’m a fairly modest person…the type that goes into the changing stalls at the gym locker room rather than getting changed in front of everyone. The last thing I would every want to do is “expose” myself. I breastfed both of my kids for well over a year each and fed them plenty of times on planes. Personally, I always felt using a cover brought more attention to what I was doing than not using one. I know for myself, and most mom’s that I’ve known who breastfeed, there isn’t any real skin exposure when you are nursing. I just looked like I was snuggling with my baby who was asleep.

  29. I see no issue with nursing on a plane (covered or uncovered). Our son, who is 13 months now, never took to a bottle (or pacifier for that matter). The only way he is was going to eat is if it was coming from his Mom. So, your choice is to either have a screaming baby for a couple hours, or allow the mother to feed the baby and you can have some peace and quiet. If it bothers you, don’t look.

    P.S. There are plenty of bathing suits that women wear that show more skin than what you’d see when a baby is nursing.

  30. did someone [?] seriously just suggest using the plane’s restroom to nurse a baby??!?!?! Clearly, this person has never been in a plane’s bathroom and/or seen/heard about/known anyone who has even breastfed. Lay off the crack, people.

  31. Setting aside the unsanitary nature of the suggestion, nursing in the restroom would monopolize a bathroom for an extended period of time. That has a much bigger impact on the rest of the people on the flight than discreetly nursing at your seat.

  32. TTF, while I agree the husband could have held up something for covering her breast while feeding, but not a blanket as American doesn’t have blankets any longer! Lol however, even though they did not do what the F/A told them, they would not get in trouble unless they created a scene and threatened her because it is AA’s policy that nursing mothers are welcome to do so. Most women do cover themselves in someway. I work for AA and I know and recommend mothers to breast feed for take off and landing as it keeps the baby from getting ear pain. I wonder if the Flight Attendant is new because this has been Americans policy for a long time. Also, I wonder if people would rather a mom feed the baby and he/she sleeps or not feed and screams for hours because its hungry or has ear pain???

  33. I have travelled frequently with my toddlers and have had to nurse/pump if my child is not with me. With long flights, and short layovers, I’m not afford much time at the airport to leisure do this in the airport’s baby room. Please cover up, especially if it’s a sloppy (if there’s going to be a boob flash). This society just isn’t ready for it yet.

    As for pumping, I did have to monopolize the plane’s restroom. Trust me, it wasn’t fun.

  34. @Paul, are you 12 years old or just act it? I don’t even know why you follow this blog if your just going to be a jerk. By the way peeing outdoors and if your coughs by police, you will be a registered sex offender. Please grow up and keep your ridiculous comments to yourself!

  35. Honestly… is this the most important thing you have to talk about. Someone gave someone a dirty look – get over it. I’m ashamed for taking the time to read this garbage.

    And guess what – most of the world finds it very unusual to show your breasts in public – for ANY reason. You are fortunate that you live in a country that is willing to evolve and get used to different ideas… don’t freak out every time something like this happens.

  36. It’s a natrual bodily function, there’s nothing sexual about peeing. It’s outrageous that the police would get involved about something so natrual! If people are upset by it they dont’t have to look. I’m with you Paul! Don’t listen to these closed minded people.

  37. Well, first to the person asking about a bathroom- let’s see you try and sit on an airplane toilet and nurse a child and see what you think then. Furthermore, nursing needs to be done during takeoff and delivery for the baby’s ears, so that would be illegal. And finally, nursing can take 30 minutes or more, do you want the bathroom occupied that long?

    Anyway- I have nursed my children many a time on a plane with no incident. I generally use a cover though. But really, on a plane, no one can see you except the FA and the person sitting next to you and maybe someone walking to the bathroom.

    Funnily enough, my last flight was with my 2 month old and we sat in first class next to a man who couldn’t have been nicer about it. He said that his sister was a bigwig in the La Leche League International, so he was very accustomed to nursing babies and that if she had been there instead she would have talked my head off about nursing.

  38. I really don’t see how it was unreasonable or controversial for AA to request a bit of modesty on their own aircraft. But none of us were there, so who knows what really happened. Perhaps the answer is somewhere in the middle.

  39. I’m going to agree with the people that said peeing is the same thing. You guys keep using the ridiculous argument that it’s a natural bodily function so we can too. To the person who said you see a lot more skin at the beach…that’s what people go to the beach for. It doesn’t belong on a plane. What if I brought a pornographic magazine, is that okay?

  40. We see semi naked ( or naked ) women all the time on TV, we see people fighting and throwing chairs at each other on TV also. But having a mother breast feed her infant son is considered obscene? What is wrong with some people in this country?

    Where I live in Miami Beach where sunbathing topless is allowed and on one particular beach, Haulover, full nudity is allowed. We have had tourist, usually Americans, who have complained to police about this. They have been told by police to go somewhere else if this behavior offends them. Basically to take a hike!

    But we can’t be reasonable and allow a mother to breast feed, shame on American….

  41. I agree with Carl and TTF. I am a mom who nursed both my children on planes. I believe you should be considerate of your fellow passengers and having your husband or someone else hold a blanket or covering up would be appropriate. As for airlines no longer having blanket -bring your own.


  42. I try to go out of my way to NOT let my son see naked girls at his age. I don’t let him watch R rated movies, I don’t keep porn in my house and I filter his internet. I understand breast feeding is NOT porn, but it’s still a BOOB. Not sure why women wear tops if showing them off is no big deal? How about you just think of others around you ladies and simply use a blanket. For one it shows respect to others who might not want to see your boob!

    • @Paul: Perhaps if you, and people like you, didn’t go out of your way to hide women’s bodies from your son American children might grow up understanding that bodies themselves are not inherently sexual. The most casual and relaxed beach I’ve ever been on was a nude beach in Austria with families consisting of people aged 9 months to 99 years enjoying the sun and water.

      And no – airplanes are not nude beaches. But a mother nursing her baby shouldn’t be something your son or anyone else should give a second thought.

      And, BTW, if your son is older than about 10 all the filtering and efforts on your part are meaningless. And if he’s a teenager I’d bet he’s experienced porn far more explicit than I could ever have imagined at his age.

  43. Just read through the comments again. I agree peeing is natural also, how about I just drop my pants and take a pee. You ok with watching that? Also it’s not just people seeing it fools, it’s peoples kids and they might prefer there kids not see a naked woman’s breast. It is NOT difficult to throw a blanket over your shoulder. Seems just as selfish not attempting to consider others as most of you making comments about dealing with it. My wife from the south would never ever act this way or expect other to see her doing that. But then again maybe she just has a lot better manners and consideration than most of you?

  44. MP I think what has chapped some folks is where you stated Texas law. What you have to understand that there are a lot of things that are legal on the ground that are not legal on a plane at 30,000 feet. I am not trying to state what is or what is not legal here I am just pointing out that you can not make a blanket statement like that and not have some of the reactions that are posted above.

    I think something that even you have pointed out in the past MP is those folks that take there shoes (and socks off) mid flight and prop them up such as on the bulk head. Not everyone around them on board with someone that has done that act. This not exactly the same as breast feeding but it mirrors the idea that it is something that is done every day in different conditions but when done on a plane becomes something that tends to offend some people.

    Being on a plane is just a very different experience. You don’t get to choose who you sit by unless you have enough family/friends that you occupy whole rows. You are in really tight quarters (tighter every day it seems due to aircraft squishing more seats in).

    The issue is not allowing a mother to breast feed, it is their given right. It is simply the manner in which it is done in the unique situation of an aircraft cabin.

  45. Texas law is simply given as a starting off point, but a baby’s needs don’t change in the air and there no safety issues surrounding breastfeeding that would necessitate a change from the norm in the air…well at least not beyond what you get from having a lap infant. I think some are missing the point a bit when the focus goes off the kid. My child was fine with a cover, as was I. However, this is not always the case with all babies. I also totally respect the point of view of not wanting yourself or your kids exposed to “boobs”, but you really don’t see anything when someone is nursing with or without a cover. You see a baby over a mom’s chest. It is possible that there could be a brief glance of something as the baby is going on or off if the mom isn’t careful, but even that can easily be avoided.

    Airlines have afforded a place to pee while at 36,000 feet. However, there is no nursing lounge at 36,000 feet. All you realistically have to work with is your seat, so you have to make due with the best you have. For some a cover will be a no-brainer, but for others that solution simply doesn’t work.

    One thing is for sure, even in 2013, the wheres and hows of nursing are still quite divisive.

  46. Mommy Points – Thank you for covering this topic – I think it is important for your readers to understand what they may experience if they choose to nurse their child on an American Airlines flight. As a mom of two daughters (2.5 and 3 months), who travels frequently and also breastfeeds, I find American Airlines “policy” absolutely ridiculous. If breastfeeding is allowed on a plane, you cannot put stipulations on “how” it must be performed. Feeding your baby should never be considered offensive.

    I recently took four long flights on United (IAD > LAX, LAX > LIH, LIH > SFO, and SFO > IAD) and nursed my 3 month old daughter on each flight. I did not use a cover as it was very warm on the plane and it would have been quite uncomfortable. On each flight, the flight crews were absolutely outstanding and went out their way to accommodate my family. Never once did I get strange looks from other passengers or encounter ANY resistance whatsoever to nursing without a cover by the flight attendants. In fact, they were absolutely supportive and appreciative of the fact my infant was so well behaved. We had an excellent experience on United and it was largely due to the outstanding flight crews.

    So, if you are nursing mom, I would highly recommend boycotting American Airlines and flying another carrier instead!

  47. It doesn’t bother me; I embrace it! Women should expose themselves more often! Ignore the prudish creeps!

  48. I have two young kids. We have traveled with them so many times all over the world that I have lost count. My wife breast fed both of them and when we were in public or on an airplane, we always threw a thin blanket over my wife’s shoulder to cover up the “action”. It’s not hard, and not a burden. And before anyone claims heat…I live in Central Texas and my daughter was born in July…so obviously, some of us can cover up just fine despite the heat.

    Take some responsibility folks and go the extra mile. It’s hot in many Muslim countries, but that doesn’t mean you be sunbathing topless there even if your breat are a thing of nature….at least you wouldn’t if you had a modicum of cultural sensitivity….

  49. I think a blanket should be used to cover up the breast. You don’t need to cover up the entire child.

  50. I have a 10 month old that I have nursed since day one, and let me tell you — it’s easy to cover them up when they’re a newborn. I nursed for an entire 2-hour flight when she was four months old, under one of those lovely lightweight bamboo blankets. Not one person on the plane knew she was there, let alone that we were nursing! But try keeping an active, squirmy, 10-month-old covered up! It’s actually really, really difficult. I know some babies just lie there peacefully (my sister in law used a cover up for my niece and she lay perfectly still up to 1 year old), but my baby likes to do baby gymnastics while she feeds. And if you try to cover her up, she makes a big fuss and fights the cover. It’s actually more discrete for us not use the cover. Just something to think about.

  51. I’m a childless mid 40’s male so I have not been around nursing mothers that often. I’m fine with nursing in public or even on a plane (it’s really none of my business anyhow). I would think that it’s not too difficult to mention it to me if you are my adjacent row mate and will have the need to nurse. It’s simply common courtesy to bring it up, and if you do so I will of course say it’s fine and be a gentleman and look away at the appropriate time. Perhaps I can pretend to be asleep as I am good at that when I sit next to a chatty passenger.

  52. I’m surprised to see so many moms are so ….
    How hard would it be to cover up? I think exposing yourself to the public is very inappropriate,, no matter you are nursing or not.

  53. I see things I’d rather not see everyday. If I have to tolerate the fat, sweating man down the street mowing his lawn with no shirt on, then for heaven’s sake a woman should be able to breastfeed her child with or without a cover.

    And I second Heather’s comment. My son was never the calm, still baby. If I put a cover on him, you better believe he was going to yank it off every time. I’m a pretty shy person, so I tried to find someplace private or cover as best I could when breastfeeding. But there are times you have to feed your baby and things just don’t work out where you can cover (don’t have a blanket, baby won’t cooperate, too hot).

    Really, would you rather have a woman breastfeeding beside you or a hungry, screaming infant? Just read a magazine and get over it.

    I think when it comes down to it we need to give moms the benefit of the doubt. They’re not trying to make you feel uncomfortable. They’re not flaunting their ability or right to breastfeed in public. They’re just trying to take care of their baby. Being a mom is hard. Breastfeed is super hard (if it wasn’t, a lot more moms would do it). Give moms a break and let them take care of their kid.

  54. Reading these comments makes me want to reiterate that if you’re going to ask women to cover up when breastfeeding a child you need to also ask every shirtless male walking around in public view to cover himself. We don’t necessarily want to see you playing basketball, running, mowing the lawn, working on your car, whatever–shirtless either. We wear a shirt ever single day of our lives. You can too.

  55. Where on a plane can an airline employee express milk for later use by their child? California has a requirement for employers to have such a space that is not a bathroom. Are airline exempted or not required federally?

    • @ A traveler: there was a lengthy discussion on FT about this sort of thing… expressing breast milk and what to do with it when traveling. It went into some thinkings that women should not travel for work because if they fly somewhere and have to express the milk, then good luck in getting it home in tact! one gal even went so far as to get a money belt like thing and have it around her waste as she went through security so she could bring it on with her. this was before the liquids ban and today’s full body scanners, but the idea was that it was far better than trying to pack it in luggage that must be checked because that sometimes sits in luggage carriers outside on the tarmac in the hot sun or can get lost or damaged.
      bringing it with you was a better option but you often could not bring things like baby milk unless there was a baby with you! Soooo, either dont express milk (as if THAT is possible to not do if you are a woman and you have to) or throw it away (yeah right! This stuff is like gold!) or dont travel (so if you have a corporate job and you are a woman you should leave it).
      You can see how STUPID all of it is! There REALLY needs to be a better way!

  56. To suggest this women go the the toilet to do this is just plain stupid………..and let’s call a spade a spade….the stewardess was a @@&!…..pure and simple! And the women was on the window with the husband shielding her from everyone one………And it doesn’t surprise me that the prudes in Arlington, Texas want to give this family a little sermon……….Thanks AA we’ll take our Lifetime Gold and sit it on the windowsill for a while……….

  57. You know.. all those who are uncomfortable next to a woman feeding without a blanket, is it really hard to very kindly, with a smile and manners, ask if she might consider a blanket? I bet you’d be surprised if you don’t find most women would try to make you more comfortable if it’s within their power.

    I can understand the idea that some would be uncomfortable, but I don’t think there is any seats on a plane that force another human being to LOOK right at a breastfeeding woman. Most people bring something to occupy them on a flight, and there is always looking away, conversing with someone on the other side of you, closing your eyes and so on if you can’t muster the ability to ask her that question or she is unable to accommodate you (in case of a baby who won’t tolerate a cover).

    I once encountered a mother who, in effort to try to cover up for those around her, ended up having her squirming infant pull off the breast and then pull the blanket off exposing more breast than she would have if she had discreetly used her clothing and no blanket at all. I agree that you almost never run into a mother who is feeding her child purely to make a point on an airplane or to make you uncomfortable. How many times have sensitive people had to sit by someone wearing perfume? Yes it’s not the most comfortable.. but we cope right? At least in this case there is a cute infant that could be either contently feeding, or fussing right next to you and in actual pain if they get ear pain while changing altitudes. Planes are notoriously close quarters for everyone involved, but we give latitude to a lot of people for various reasons.. the man who is drooling because he’s disabled and cannot help it… the woman with too much perfume.. the girl with the obnoxious giggle… I think looking a different direction is probably easier than dealing with most of those situations and it’s really not hard.

    As for the ideas of children seeing breastfeeding – I think it’s a good thing for them to know what it is, and how babies are naturally meant to eat.. when you go to a zoo you are going to find mammals of all kinds feeding their babies too. Most women do this with a great deal of decency whether it involves clever shirts, or practiced ability to hide everything behind the baby’s head, or even a cover of some kind. The guidelines of AA state the word “discreetly” and this is not exclusively meaning “use a blanket”, It means do the best you can. I think we all need to learn a little more tolerance and kindness for one another in all directions.

  58. I’ve often thought that the solution to this problem was simply saying to be FA that “you’re right, you know what’s best. I won’t feed my baby,” then turn to the few rows around you and announce that you apologize for what’s about to happen but the FA doesn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable so you won’t be doing ANY breast feeding for the next 4 hours, and then sit back and enjoy the show. 15 minutes in and all your neighbors won’t care if you strip naked to feed.

    For everyone offended by breast feeding or the comments here, get a life. I think it’s hilarious that the one part of the breast the woman are supposed to cover is the same part man have (albeit non-functional).

  59. There are some terrible analogies here. Feet, farts, pee = all smell bad and you cannot avoid it. Even if you’re “offended” by a nursing mother (which is dumb, yes very, very dumb) you won’t even notice a nursing baby unless you’re looking for it. There are just a bunch of people in this country running around looking to have their delicate sensibilities offended.

    P.S. love the “I guess I’m old-fashioned” comment. You know what’s old-fashioned? Mammals. Look it up.

  60. I can’t believe how prudish some of the comments here are. The American taliban is alive and well.

    @paul, you are way out there with your comments. How do you make it through the day with all the things you and your kids must see? Oh the horror, you saw a little skin while creepily staring. A boob, oh my god, it burns.

    I think lots of obvious, very non discreet breastfeeding feeding in public would quickly desensitize people to it.

  61. The solution is to get society to wake up to the FACT that nursing IS a part of life (and that half the naysayers were probably nursed too) and that this is a very natural and normal human development process that should never be messed with–whether a mother chooses to do it or not, and that everybody else should shut up and keep their laws or even thoughts off her body… Then again we all know she should be as discrete as possible too– if possible…
    This is yet another example as to why my family section idea as discussed in another of your blog posts should be available on flights!

  62. Saw this on the local news yesterday since the flight originated out of BWI and I’m in DC. They held a “nurse-in” at the airport yesterday to support the woman.

  63. Paul, FYI, women are allowed to feed their babies on planes. It’s POLICY!!!! It is NOT POLICY for you to do your “bodily functions” like peeing on board unless in a lav. I hope you do drop you’re pants and whip it out and pee as you will end up with a felony, go to jail, and pay fines up to at least $10,000. I suggest you stop with your immature comments and maybe take a bus instead of flying in the future.

  64. I breastfed 3 kids on and off planes. I don’t think it is a “sexual” thing at all. I believe Americans think they are so “evolved” as a species that they don’t know basic biology. Bottle feeding isn’t nature’s way of feeding her offspring. With that said, I have been around a lot of breast feeding women and I generally look away and give them privacy. I even had a friend who was very much into having children, but thought breast feeding was gross. Um… so being nourished the way nature intended us to be is gross? If you have ever had a child or been there for someone who has I guess you’d have to agree that there is a lot of gross stuff involved in child birth. Don’t worry for those who don’t know it hurts too much generally to care. Was the lady standing up asking for an audience? Nope she was feeding a baby, something all adults were at some point.

    • @3kids. Agreed totally. Bottle feeding is fine for some, breast feeding for others. We all wouldnt even be here if it werent for breast feeding because, well, bottles like we use them today didnt even exist more than 100 years ago now did they? So it’s not gross but if people dont wanna see it, just dont make a big stink about it and move on. If you are parked in the seat next to someone who does breast feed, well, read a book and wait. Sometimes that person has to hear you snore or wish you’d move your elbow out of the way on the shared arm rest! lol
      While on planes, unless we pay for first class or our own private jet, we all do actually have to share with other people who could be different than us. GASP!

  65. Such a disappointing response both by the AA FA and American. My son was one of those that refused to have any cover over him, so I was fortunate that on the UA biz class flights I took with him the crews and my seat mate were very understanding. Most moms will be as modest and discreet as they can, but mandating a cover when a baby refuses it and won’t feed with it is unfair to mom and baby, and will only result in disruption for the cabin as a whole in the form of a very cranky, hungry baby.

  66. You are correct Paul on my commen misspell. The ONLY thing you’ve said that makes sense out of that brain. You can spell……wow! I guess if that’s all you have to respond, then you must agree in what I said otherwise. Thanks for “manning” up. 😉

  67. I pointed out the fact that you don’t know the difference between your and you’re because it was humorous that you were calling me “kinda dumb”.

    I already responded to your points but clearly you have issues with writing and reading so allow me to do so again.

    Peeing is a natural bodily function. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to pee outdoors in public. You should be fighting for my ability to pee just as you are crying about the ability to nurse while sitting next to someone on a plane. Animals pee outside, there is no greater impact on me peeing outside (health or smell-wise) and as everyone mentioned above there is nothing wrong with seeing the human body perform natural functions in public.

    I hope this helps.

    • I know that this is clearly a touchy subject that people have strong feelings on. I love the debate, but I have to call it on the name-calling. I’ve edited some of the harsher ones out already, but keep it civil, please. 😉

      • Paul. In some parts of the world, dropping trow (sp?) and letting fly is fine or at least not shunned upon. It is a matter of personal decency however and so I get the feeling you are trying to compare the two… breast feeding in public vs taking a leak.
        I dont think they are the same at all and here’s why:

        1) breast feeding for both the mother and the child is not a choice. As the growth of the child continues, they either accept or deny the mother’s breast. In the old days, those that denied it probably died. Everybody else accepted it. The mother expresses milk and pretty much has to until a certain point, and the baby wants said milk and pretty much has to until a certain point. This could be months or years. It is said to not even really be healthy to give the baby other types of milk until certain ages. Now I am no expert at this because I am a male and am not in the medical profession but I am a father and a husband so I kinda get it. Even if I have some of this wrong, the point is the baby really has no choice when it wants–rather, NEEDS milk! The mother also has little choice as to when she is going to, well, leak. If boarding a plane we can only hope as parents our children are well fed and have used the potty and had something to eat, and we can only wish our babies will sleep the whole way, not cry and not need anything, but if they do, we have to deal with it. It’s hard enough to do that WITHOUT people glaring at you because they think something you are doing is not right (or not the way they would do it). A plane is a hard place to be for anyone with disabilities, mental issues or children. period. But sometimes that’s how ya get to where you are going!
        Spelling and grammar should matter less in a public blog because it’s a bit like texting. Sure we wanna get things right but maybe the other writers are on a phone or have English as their second language. As well, maybe they are using only one hand because the other is holding up a baby who is breast feeding now! lol. My point here is two-fold… try and see things from the other view and not just your own: Your taking a leak on the side of the road is something you may need to do, yes, BUT as an adult (or pretty much anyone over the age of like 2-3 years old even) you can in fact CHOOSE to do that elsewhere or later. And as you get older and wiser you can elect to use the smelly tiny bathroom on the plane if you really need to go. But a mother with a baby has a harder time doing that and it’s not healthy for the baby to be in there anyway. Babies are more sensitive to things than we all are. They need their mothers close and they need what they need. People have to get over that. No mom is trying to like show off her boobs or anything but hey, even if they were, we should get over that too! Why be so darn freaked out over a part of the human body! If you are, then the problem is possibly with you and your own notions of said body parts, not the mother or her kid.

  68. ha ha closed minded people of the USA in Europe and most of the world is perfectly normal to breastfeed in public without a cover and nobody cares is just natural and nobody stares. Please let the mothers breastfeed their babies and mind your own business.

  69. Rob-

    My son is 5 not a teenager. How I raise him is also my problem not yours. For the record he was reading at 2, plays tennis 3 days a week, has southern manners and is happy and sweet 100% of the time. I think my decisions on him not seeing boobs is going just fine.

  70. Shannon It’s also policy I can fart. I’ll try not to do that. They almost always ask the women to cover up. it is so easy to cover up that the only possible reason NOT to do it is to be rude and try to prove some point about showing your boobs. I remember the lady 7-8 years ago who was kicked off a plane for doing it. The kid was 1o years old…lmao.

  71. Paul, By not letting your son see boobs, you are raising a kid who will have hangups about the human body. And reading at 2? Highly unlikely. Most likely he’s parroting books you have read many times. You should really get with the times…and southern manners aren’t a badge of honor, either.

  72. Anyone who sees a mother breastfeeding and finds that sexual in any way is a “PERVERT” and should not be flying . The airline concerned should be ashamed and held accountable !!

  73. Reading some of the comments it is no wonder that the saying of “Only In America” is almost common language . What is it with the Americans ?? All I can say is “They Walk Among Us”

  74. Disgusting. Hope to God I never get stuck next one of these overly proud creatures on one of my flights. Any empty restroom would surely be fine.

  75. There is NOTHING bad or indecent about a Mother nursing her baby. I have no problem with it and it does not bother me to see it. It is a perfectly natural thing. If you are bothered by it, don’t look……

  76. On behalf of thinking males everywhere I want to go on record and declare Paul a dimwit… that nice enough Mommy Points? Sometimes thinking males have to stand up to the chimpanzies among us and say no that is not that way it is…………’s not more complicated than that…………go to the back of the plane and take the middle seat on the Asiana flight and then call us with further comments……….

  77. Plenty of times, when you’re trying to latch a hungry (sometimes screaming or crying) baby, the stars are aligned, so to speak. My boob is discreetly covered by my shirt, lifted just enough for the baby, but not enough to show any skin. If I then throw a blanket into the mix as a cover, my baby will throw a fit, tossing the blanket and likely exposing my previously covered breast.

    And really, when it comes down to it, would the other passengers and the crew rather see me nurse, or listen to my screaming baby? “No really, YOU choose,” is what I would say in that situation!

  78. I can’t believe I have to explain this.

    The reason why people aren’t allowed to pee anywhere they want is because that would get urine everywhere. Urine has a strong odor and is unpleasant to clean and deal with. We have bathrooms so that people can get rid of urine in a way that minimizes contact with it. The bathrooms are closed off because urine and feces often have unpleasant odors.

    A woman who is breastfeeding is not spilling milk everywhere. She is not squirting her milk onto the seat. There is no sensible reason for her to be segregated.

    It’s obvious that people who say “a woman should just cover up” have not bothered to actually read the rest of the comments here. Not all babies will tolerate a cover. Let me say that again. NOT ALL BABIES WILL TOLERATE A COVER. Not all women have a handy husband to ‘hold up a blanket’ for her – and my arms hurt just thinking about how uncomfortable it would be to try to hold up a blanket that long.

    I also have yet to see any of the naysayers admit that they would RATHER have a screaming baby than an uncovered woman feeding a baby on their flight.

  79. One more thing Paul, on post 46 you misused “there.” The possessive form is spelled THEIR.

    Hope this helps.

  80. Paul, farting and taking you penis out of you pants are different. Yes, they are both bodily functions, but one is lewd and against the law. How do you know what happens on most flights when it comes to Flight Attendants asking to cover their breasts up? I’ve been one 16 years and I let them be unless others are complaining and I ask the mom to cover but tell her she doesn’t have to. All of them comply and have no problem with it! But if you dropped your drawers and peed in the galley or aisle, you would go to jail on my flight. Generally only drunks do stuff like that. I sure hope my spell check worked this time……lol

    A lot has changed in policy in the last 7-8 years. Do you fly 3-4 days a week with up to 4 flights a day? I don’t think your qualified to say what happens on ” most flights”

  81. FINALLY!!!!!! Thank you “just sayin” and “Kelly”! Poor Paul just wants to argue about things he know nothing about!!!!!

    • I get the feeling people are getting their jollies on busting on one another rather than having intelligent debate. Sorry but no matter what side of the issue one is on, that is just plain unprofessional. Please stop it.

      • As the husband of a dietitian who once worked with a WIC program the idea of promoting breast feeding is something all educated human beings should embrace…….for many families the idea of breast feeding is economically advantageous to them versus the purchase of formula………..and as a passenger on many a flight where infants were screaming uncontrollably with no seeming effort to calm them I soundly welcome any Mom on a flight who offers her breast to her child for the sanity of all around…… eyes can turn elsewhere if necessary but my hears are hard to turn away from a crying infant………….but Paul the next time you are on a plane sitting next to a Mom with a screaming infant you should should stake out your ground and calmly state to the Mom “Don’t you even think about whipping out that breast next to me”……..and then sit back and enjoy the symphony…………..

  82. Sincere thanks, Marathon Man, for the gentle reminder. However I felt the need to bust P because of the ludicrous and anti woman attitudes he espoused.

    • Yes Kelly I see your point, but we don’t want to stoop to someone’s level anyway. At this conjecture I think he’s razzin you (plural) to “get your goat” so the best thing to do is to not respond. It only fuels his fire and frustrates you.
      Sadly, across the world (not just in America) this type of person exists and they cant often be changed by force. A more graceful, responsible manner must be sought out to get them to come around if possible. If we puff our feathers, put our hands on our hips and try to show them a thing or two it may just make them MORE like the way they are around us–if only to mess with people.
      This person represents or is a sort of microcosm of a lot of people who strangely share backwards beliefs and senseless values. They exist… oh well, so how are we going to work around that?
      While it’s seemingly more work ahead for the rest of us, maybe what we need to do is find better methods of educating those with closed minds and also look at ourselves to make sure we never have a closed mind too.
      Finally, have you noticed that our somehow challenged friend Paul has yet to have an intelligent debate with the likes of me to this point? He’s only going after the women who he feels are getting continuously upset. But i’m no better than any of you… Don’t let him do that. In my opinion, Mommypoints is supposed to be a friendly blog where one learns the pleasures and pitfalls of traveling with kids and family, and while she knew this topic would generate some noise, we gotta keep it, well, kid/family friendly.

  83. With that eloquent statement by Marathon Man, I humbly bow out of the discussion, acknowledging the truth of what MM said.

    Thanks, MM, for representing thinking men everywhere.

  84. Steven (post 87): Restrooms are places to expel bodily waste. They are not places to eat or drink (at least not where I’m from).

  85. @marathon man, thank you for the reminder not to be so mean. It’s just that Paul doesn’t know anything about this topic. It especially made me upset when he said “how he raises his child is his PROBLEM” I don’t think raising children is a problem. If that’s how he feels then he shouldn’t have any.

  86. @Shannon: sorry Shannon but there are two or more Pauls posting here. I didn’t MISUSE the same word, I haven’t posted in this thread since I made fun of you for not being able to speak English while calling me dumb. Got it, bitch?

    Mommy points, if you are going to let her speak like she’s been speaking (she’s called me a jerk, dumb, etc), with no editing of her posts, don’t edit my posts.

  87. Also, I obviously was being facetious (google it Shannon) when I say I want to pee everywhere. It’s to show that you all are hypocrites when you talk about a natural human function and turn around and say things like peeing is “lewd”. The fact is simply putting a light weight towel over yourself does nothing harmful to you or the baby and yet prevents people who don’t want to see your breasts from having to.

    Honestly, I could care less if I see your breast or someone peeing, I live in Manhattan and not much shocks or bothers me. I was just pointing out how hypocritical you all are and how when it comes to stuff like this people become completely irrational.

    • Paul and all, sorry I have not been monitoring comments as closely the last few days as we were on vacation. No one should be name calling (do I really have to say that?)! You are correct about some of those comments, so I’ll go back through and edit what I see, but name calling by anyone is not supported here…but I can’t promise I catch every comment when I am away from the computer.

      Along those lines, I am fully supportive of constructive debate about this and all issues. However, this one seems to be taking a turn toward just arguing and name calling. I’ll leave comments open for now, but am close to closing them on this post as they no longer seem overly constructive, and I’m not able to continue to be a good referee on the exchange.

  88. Paul, I will pray for you and your inability to just plain “get it”! I apologize to Mommypoints for my name calling. However right before your post about name calling, It was immature for me to let him get the better of me and push my buttons to the point of name calling. He also in the same post commanded Mommypoints to not delete his posts. I’m done with you Paul. Bty,there is only one Paul I have been posting to and you know it’s you. If you read all the people in this thread, they are all speaking to the same you PAUL! I know because it just so happens that ALL Paul’s agree and post the same type of comments!

    Parenting advice…….. If you truly want to shield your children of such horrible things out in that big bad world, I suggest you home school then. Especially in NYC…… Good luck in life, your gonna need it with your attitude!

  89. Some points to help you out:

    I hate to break it to you but there are at least two Pauls that have posted in this thread. This can be verified through IP addresses.

    We disagree on the topic at hand obviously but you were the one that started with personal insults (probably due to your lack of intelligence) in post #37. In fact I never personally attacked anyone who first didn’t attack me simply because they disagree with me. So stop crying that I’m insulting you now. I was simply pointing out that if the mod was going to delete insults she should take a closer look at all of the posts not just mine.

    • Paul, all 3 Paul’s are using same verbage (google it). I apologize for the name calling to you. Calling me names takes it to another level. Please don’t reply, I’m having a great day and no matter what you say will not ruin that! Again, I hope you get through the “problem” of raising your child.

      Bty, it’s easy to get 3 different IP addresses and 3 e mails, it’s been you the whole time. Have a nice life! 🙂

    • I have admitted to not keeping a close eye on these comments while on vacation, but I have edited posts from several commenters now (including today) and am not able to continue refereeing this thread. I think more tolerance is desperately needed both on this thread, as well as toward breastfeeding mothers. This should not be this controversial of a topic. Babies need to eat, and the best thing they can eat is their mother’s milk. Sometimes it is very simple to use a cover during that process, but it doesn’t work for all moms/babies in all situations. Sometimes a cover would create more problems than it solves and I would hope that others could be respectful of that situation.

      I’m sure I will post on this topic again at some point, but for now closing this thread to comments seems the best course of action. Thanks to all who took the time to thoughtfully share their thoughts.

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