Dutch flag carrier airline KLM has run into a Twitter storm by suggesting breast-feeding mothers may be asked to cover up to protect other passengers’ sensibilities.
Earlier this week, mother Shelby Ange said on Facebook she had been told to ‘cover over herself’ on a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam last month by a crew member who approached her with a blanket.
Angel said in the post that she tried to be discreet but that her daughter did not like to be covered. ‘She told me (and I quote) “if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself”,’ Shelby said.
That post prompted Twitter user Heather Yemm to ask the airline directly what their policy was.
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.
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) July 16, 2019
The KLM tweet has generated over 2,500 comments so far, criticising the policy and calling for boycotts.
Great message there @KLM – come to the Netherlands where there’s a red light district and dope is on tap, but god forbid a woman feed a baby in public – now that really is beyond the pale….#jogon https://t.co/WRQ2swdFFe
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) July 16, 2019
This is outrageous, KLM. I know you’re trying to be fair, but this is not the way to do it. You’re pandering to those who would control women’s behaviour, prioritising their feelings over the process of nurturing an infant.
— Paul Milnes (@nonklatink) July 18, 2019
I have breastfed without a cover on many airlines! I nurse for take off, landing, to help baby fall asleep & when baby is hungry. Flight attendants have told me that they love #breastfeeding babies bc they are quiet so they don’t bother other passengers. #normalizebreastfeeding
— Healthy Mama (@HealthyMama7) July 17, 2019
A KLM spokeswoman told the BBC that breastfeeding is permitted but that the airline is ‘trying to keep the peace’.
‘However, not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity, and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff,’ the spokeswoman said.
In these cases the airline will ‘try to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone and that shows respect for everyone’s comfort and personal space’, she said.
DutchNews.nl has contacted KLM for comment.
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