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Breastfeeding mothers on KLM airlines may be asked to cover up if some rando gets offended

Breastfeeding mothers on KLM airlines may be asked to cover up if some rando gets offended
[Photo: Oskar Kadaksoo/Unsplash]

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is under fire on Twitter after posting details about its breastfeeding policy. While breastfeeding is permitted on its flights, the airline tweeted that it may “request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.” The reason, KLM said, is to ensure that “passengers of all backgrounds” feel comfortable on board.

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The post is not going over well. Although a handful of folks cheered on the airline for protecting their precious eyes from an extremely natural act, many more people around the world have weighed in to express their frustration over a policy that allows some random offended person to dictate how and when a mother can feed her hungry child. In other words, KLM is getting ratioed.

If you’re wondering why so many people feel so strongly about this, it’s because:

  1. Breastfeeding mothers are just trying to feed their child with the tools nature gave them.
  2. Women shouldn’t have to think twice about feeding a hungry or upset child.
  3. Mothers are exhausted and don’t need one more thing to feel exhausted about.
  4. Women are tired of men policing their bodies.
  5. If you’re offended by breastfeeding, it’s really easy to just watch the seat back in front of you and leave the mother to her work of ensuring the continuation of the species.

This thread offers many reasons why women may not want to or be able to cover up, first and foremost being that many, many babies—like many, many humans—don’t want to eat with a blanket over their heads. It also seems likely that the people who would complain about a woman breastfeeding would be the very same people who would complain about a crying baby. Talk about snakes on a plane.

As the Twitter pile-on continued, at some point, KLM’s social media team seemed to realize they had waded into a quagmire and started replying to commenters with a slightly different tune. In response to one tweet, they replied, “By no means is the mother obliged to cover up herself or her child. And we absolutely don’t want to make the mums of our youngest passengers feel judged about.”

For their part, some of KLM’s competitors have jumped into the fray. EasyJet seized the opportunity to ensure moms that they can feed their children on its planes whenever they want.

It’s not just KLM, of course. In 2015, United Airlines was in a similar position after a flight attendant allegedly tossed a blanket for a breastfeeding mother in an attempt to get her to cover up; last year, American apologized to a breastfeeding mother after a flight attendant stopped her from boarding with a milk cooler and a carry-on bag; and this year, Delta was accused of not accommodating a breastfeeding mother who wanted to pump in first class after plugs in her cabin didn’t work. Southwest and Delta both say they welcome breastfeeding mothers on board.

We reached out to KLM for comment and will update if we hear back.

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