Airline breastfeeding scandal concludes: Freedom Airlines apologizes... sort of

BlogHer Original Post

Four days after Emily Gillette was removed from a Delta/Freedom flight out of Burlington because a flight attendant was "uncomfortable" with her nursing her daughter, Freedom Airlines announced that the flight attendant was "disciplined" for her actions.

(If you need some review, check out my original coverage and follow-up post here at BlogHer.)

So this is good news, right? Freedom did the right thing?

Well, there are at least two problems here.

First, Freedom Airlines and Gillette disagree on what happened:

Skellon said that after the flight attendant ordered Gillette off the plane, the captain of the Delta Air Lines flight being operated by Freedom apologized and asked her family to reboard, but they refused.

Gillette, however, said the airline never offered her a chance to get back on board the New York-bound plane. "I would have jumped at the opportunity," she said.

Delta paid for a hotel room and rebooked the family on a different airline the next day.

Now, I'm certainly open to the possibility of the "wronged" party not always being truthful. But in this case, I have a hard time entertaining the possibility that Ms. Gillette is lying, even if only because no sane person accepts an unexpected delay on a trip with a toddler in tow if it can be avoided. I call foul on Freedom and its too-little, too-late attempts at damage control.

Second, no one seems to know what the disciplinary action involved. Was it a "nudge, nudge, wink wink, take the week off until this blows over" sort of thing? Failure to disclose the actual consequence suggests fear of further backlash. If Freedom was so sure they were responding appropriately, I think they'd be more forthcoming with what exactly was done.

Meanwhile, Burlington Free Press reports this official statement:

In his Friday response, Skellon had this to say: "To clarify our policy, Freedom Airlines firmly supports a mother’s right to breast feed a child. We understand that air travel presents particular difficulties to a nursing passengers. Moreover while blankets are available for passengers convenience, we do not expect (and will not in the future request) that nursing mothers use a blanket to cover their child while nursing. My comment in the original article to the contrary was not an accurate statement of our policy."

Yeah. Um, Mr. Skellon? I think you missed a little bit of that egg there on your face. And by "a little bit" I of course mean "all of it."

BlogHer Contributing Editor Mir also blogs at Woulda Coulda Shoulda and Want Not.

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