Mother calls out airline who told her to 'cover up' while breastfeeding

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
A mother was told to "cover up" while breastfeeding her baby daughter on a plane. (Posed by models) [Photo: Getty]

breastfeeding mother-of-one has taken to social media after being told to “cover up” on an aeroplane.

Shelby Angel was travelling on a KLM Airlines flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam with her one-year-old daughter when the incident occurred.

In a post written last Sunday on the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Facebook page, Angel explained she was breastfeeding her daughter when a flight attendant approached her with a blanket.

After the mother refused to cover her daughter up (on account it would upset her), she was told it would be her “issue” if a fellow passenger complained.

READ MORE: Half of new mums feel breastfeeding guilt

“Instead of standing up for and protecting breastfeeding mothers and our children, already under the duress faced by flying with our young children, KLM would rather hold up antiquated values that shame women's bodies,” she wrote on Facebook.

After Angel complained, she was told the flight attendant’s behaviour was “in line with company policy”.

The Amsterdam-based airline has maintained its stance.

In a statement responding to the Facebook post, a representative wrote: “We would like to emphasise that breastfeeding is permitted on KLM flights.

“However, we strive to ensure that all of our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable onboard.

“Therefore, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.”

Angel’s post didn’t just attract the attention of KLM Airlines – it has also sparked interest from many fellow users, including parents who say they will avoid the airline in light of the allegations.

One user wrote: “Thank you for sharing. Almost booked KLM for a long-haul flight this summer. Now very glad we didn’t, and will not be considering them in the future.”

Another added: “KLM’s response is disgraceful - I will be making sure that I never fly with them again.”

However, one mother shared in the comments that she has previously had a positive experience of breastfeeding on the same airline.

READ MORE: Mum addresses 'abuse' faced for breastfeeding seven-year-old son

“I've flown with KLM several times when breast feeding and never had an issue,” the user wrote.

A representative for KLM Airlines responded to Yahoo UK’s request for comment.

They said: “Of course, breastfeeding is permitted on board KLM flights. However, not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff.

“To keep the peace on board, in such cases we will try to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone and that shows respect for everyone's comfort and personal space. This may involve a request to a mother to cover her breast.”

Breastfeeding in public has proved a contentious issues globally.

Earlier this summer, a mother reported feeling “angry and embarrassed” after being told to stop breastfeeding her baby on Ryanair flight.

And in February, a third of mothers admitted they had expressed milk in a work toilet, pointing to a lack of support for breastfeeding in public.