Kelsey Myers was boarding a flight from Los Angeles to Chicago with her breast pump and cooler last week, when an American Airlines employee stopped her at the gate.
According to Myers, the employee, Daniel, was concerned that the nursing mom had too many carry-on items and told her they needed to be checked. However, when she argued that American Airlines' policy clearly stated that medical devices (e.g., her breast pump) were an exception to that rule, things got a little heated.
“I explained to him my breast pump is a medical device and the small cooler was breast milk. And he still told me I need[ed] to check my bag,” Myers, who has an infant son, wrote in a Facebook post, directed at the airline.
“I continued to tell him I read their policy online and knew what I had was all allowed to be carried on,” she added. “He told me to step aside and said he was calling a supervisor.”
Myers said the supervisor, Juliette, did not ask any questions about the incident. Instead, she quickly advised the mother that she needed to check a bag.
“I again told her it was a medical device and I needed to carry it on,” wrote Myers, and that’s when Juliette allegedly started yelling. “In a condescending tone, she screamed in front of about 50 people waiting to board the flight, ‘How many boobs do you have?'”
Myers wrote that she has never felt more harassed, disrespected and humiliated in her life. Eventually, she caved and checked her bag.
“I’m shocked that a supervisor would show such disrespect,” she concluded. "I’m also very surprised that a supervisor would have no knowledge of what seems to me like a simple policy.”
I’m shocked that a supervisor would show such disrespect.
Myers told Mom.me she was traveling home from a bachelorette party in L.A. when the incident took place.
“My son was not with me. That’s why I needed to pump,” she said. “We had a wedding two weeks prior in Providence, Rhode Island, and my son was also not with us for that weekend of travel. I had the exact same items with me on that trip and flew Southwest with zero issues.”
Myers added that she’s gotten a lot of "heat and mean comments from people" since her post went viral last week, but that has only motivated her to help prevent incidents like this in the future.
“I was very hesitant to speak out when I was first contacted by the media,” she said. “I only did in hopes of preventing this from happening to other mothers or people with medical issues.”
She added that situations like these will likely discourage breastfeeding moms from traveling.
“When I got on the flight, I was so frustrated and thought to myself that I would never travel again while breastfeeding to avoid the drama," Myers said. "Once I had some time to cool down, I knew that this incident wouldn't stop me from traveling and enjoying my life.”
American Airlines told Yahoo Lifestyle that they acknowledged their mistake (and by “acknowledged,” we mean a $100 voucher and an apology to mom) and are working with team members to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. Still, that wasn’t enough for Myers.
“I don’t care about the money,” she told Yahoo. “I do care about the individuals being held accountable.”
Myers said she’s glad the issue was being addressed and hopes it will encourage American Airlines to properly train its staff on the rules, especially when it comes to showing respect for customers.