After asking a woman to cover up while breastfeeding on a flight, KLM Airlines is facing criticism. Shelby Angel of Sacramento, California, claimed that a flight attendant approached her with a blanket for her to conceal her chest while feeding her infant. After she complained to KLM, she was informed that covering up while breastfeeding is the airline’s policy, because passengers must be “respectful of people of other cultures.”
Breastfeeding is permitted at KLM flights. However, to ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this.
— Royal Dutch Airlines (@KLM) 16 juillet 2019
However, some people are accusing KLM of discriminating against mothers. As reported by Reuters, Niki Kandirikirira, from the Equality Now lobby group, said, “Negative attitudes about breastfeeding in public stem from the over-sexualisation of women’s bodies. Breastfeeding is a totally natural process and women should have the freedom to do it wherever and whenever they want, rather than being forced to hide as if they are doing something inappropriate.”
Since 2018, mothers traveling in US airports don’t have to worry about finding a place to breastfeed while traveling. The Friendly Airports for Mothers Act, part of the broader Federal Aviation Reauthorization Act of 2018, requires all large and medium-sized US airports to provide a designated space in each terminal for breastfeeding or pumping. The space must also have a lockable door, table, electrical outlet, and be accessible to those with disabilities.