A woman on a TUI flight from the UK to Spain wanted to breastfeed her six-week-old baby but the cabin crew told her it was not allowed to do so during takeoff and landing because it could make other passengers ‘uncomfortable’.
Chelsea Williams (28) from North Wales wanted to breastfeed her baby during takeoff because she had read it may relieve the pressure on the baby’s ears. “They came to check the harnesses and saw that the baby was strapped in and being fed,” Williams told UK’s Kennedy News and Media. “I was told that it was not allowed to breastfeed during takeoff and landing.”
Williams said she didn’t want to cause a scene by not cooperating, so she stopped breastfeeding. Worried about the return flight, her husband decided to ask the company a day before their flight home whether it was permissible for his wife to feed her baby during takeoff. “There are no official restrictions, but we wouldn’t recommend it because it might make other people feel uncomfortable,” TUI answered, according to a post by Williams on Facebook.
I didn’t want to cause a scene by not cooperating so I stopped breastfeeding.Chelsea Williams
Stung, Williams decided to share a screenshot of the conversation she had had with TUI customer on Facebook. The reaction from other users was almost immediate. Nearly 1,300 have been logged on the platform. “If other people are allowed to eat and drink in public, why is it not allowed to breastfeed our children,” a mother commented. “What a disgusting reaction.”
“Let’s face it, no one can see anything unless they are standing next to you,” wrote another. “I will boycott TUI in the future. This experience has put me off flying with TUI in the future unless they change something.”
TUI has since responded to the comments on Williams’s post. ”As a family-friendly travel company, we support breastfeeding on our flights at all times,” the company wrote. “We are currently conducting an urgent internal investigation and will ensure all colleagues are trained on our breastfeeding-friendly policy.”
Williams has expressed that she wants to follow up with the company to makes sure it delivers on its promises, namely the diversity, inclusion and equality training. “This experience has put me off flying with TUI in the future unless they change something,” Williams concluded.
According to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), during takeoff and landing, babies must either be “secured in a child seat on an aircraft seat” or “the infant may travel on the lap of an adult secured with a ‘child seat belt’”