United Airlines Has A Problem With Breastfeeding Moms

VETERAN’S ORDEAL GOING VIRAL … Breastfeeding is a very personal thing, and every mom has to decide for herself whether she is going to do it.  At this point it’s pretty well established that breastfeeding benefits infants, but it remains a personal choice – and we don’t begrudge mothers who chose not…


Breastfeeding is a very personal thing, and every mom has to decide for herself whether she is going to do it.  At this point it’s pretty well established that breastfeeding benefits infants, but it remains a personal choice – and we don’t begrudge mothers who chose not to do it.

One thing we do loathe?  Governments and big corporations which demonize breastfeeding – or put roadblocks in the way of mothers who make the choice to breastfeed.  Take United Airlines, which did a number on Elisabeth Keturah – a medically retired veteran with a nursing daughter who was traveling to visit her family this holiday season.

Keturah specifically chose United because of its baggage allowances for military personnel, however the airline refused to provide her access to her suitcase during a layover – leaving her without her breast pump for sixteen hours.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal, does it?

No … but if you are a woman who breastfeeds, you know it’s a huge deal.  Aside from being incredibly painful, it can lead to an inflammation of the tissue known as mastitis.  Which is dangerous.

Oh, and all this after Keturah specifically refrained from checking her bag so that she would have access to it during her layover.

“I was told that the only way to get (the pump) would be to exit security, put a request in at the baggage service and wait for retrieval, which would take an estimated hour,” Keturah wrote of her ordeal.  “(The attendant) informed me that the wait to get back through security was more than an hour, and I would miss my flight if I went to get it and United wouldn’t be responsible for that.”

Here’s more from Keturah’s letter to the airline …

Did you know that I’m a breastfeeding mom? Do you realize that breastfeeding also includes pumping because some babies can’t nurse? My daughter is one that cannot nurse and she was hungry at this point.

My pump and all its parts, bags, and extra bottles were in that bag you checked and didn’t tell me. Also my wallet with all my money, and our carefully prepacked snacks among other necessities.

When I told your customer service representative what was in the bag and that it was medically necessary for me to have it she said I shouldn’t have checked it.

I DID NOT CHECK THE BAG. It was taken and I was told I would get it back at the end of the flight!

It’s all good, though, because United apparently gave Keturah two $7 vouchers for her trouble … that’s right … fourteen dollars.

Sheesh …

We’ve seen how United treats the rich and powerful – and rewards its own.

Now we see how it treats the rest of us … and our infant kids.


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huh December 22, 2015 at 2:58 pm

Who packs their wallet in a suitcase? And then allows this suitcase to be checked?

Mom December 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

And why didn’t she pack the pump in her purse? Sounds more like poor planning to me.

soxinsc December 22, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Pumps, bottles, tubing, and the other necessities take up pretty much an entire purse. Portable models usually come with their own purse-sized bags.

Mom December 22, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Yeah. So what is more important to have on your person if you are a nursing mom. Been there. Done that.

soxinsc December 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm

If you read the article, you will see that she carried on her supplies. What isn’t clear is how they wound up being checked for the next leg of her flight.

Real Mom December 22, 2015 at 8:49 pm

Reading truly is fundamental.

For the four know-it-all geniuses, i.e., “huh”, “Mom”,”soxinsc”, Keturah DID pack a bag with her breast pumps and related equipment and said bag was taken from her AFTER she had boarded her flight. She was told by the flight attendant that the bag would be returned to her upon landing. Unfortunately, the flight attendant took it upon herself to check the bag, which contained Keturah’s wallet. As such, the only way to retrieve the bag was as Keturah outlined in her letter.

Keturah is completely without blame in this instance, given the actions of an overzealous flight attendant.

huh December 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

And once again I say who packs their wallet in a suitcase? I have done a lot of traveling with a baby in the past and I never put my wallet in a suitcase. I did click the link and read her whole account of what happened. She was allowed a carryon, personal item (backpack, purse etc) plus a diaper bag & safety seat I also read an article on United’s baggage policy and issues. She came late to the gate and overheads were are full. So she had to check the carry on. That still left her with a personal bag, diaper bag and safety seat. She couldn’t fit a wallet or nursing kit in one of those 2 items.

Each traveler can bring on board one carry-on bag plus one personal item free of charge.

You’re also allowed to bring the following items on board, in addition to your one bag and one personal item limit:

FAA-approved child restraint system or safety seat
Diaper bag
Breast pump

Mom December 22, 2015 at 11:56 pm

If Real Mom had ever flown on a commercial airline, she would know that. Women most always keep their purse as one of the carry-ons bc it contains important personal info and tampons if for nothing else. When traveling with a baby, the number one consideration is having formula or breastmilk (delivered by whatever means). Even if the overhead space is full, everyone has space under the seat in which to place her purse.

Angela Hartfelder December 23, 2015 at 12:33 am

she didn’t put it in a suitcase. She had it in a bag with her. There wasn’t room for the extra. Just because you are “allowed” to bring those things on, it is still subject to if they have room. If they run out of room, you have to “gate check” it. This is what happened to this mom. They ran out of room to stow it. They told her she would have to gate check it. She did. The flight attendant decided instead of gate checking, to baggage check. So instead of being pulled off with the rest of the gate check stuff, it was handled with the suitcases that went to baggage claim holding for the connecting flight. She also didn’t arrive late to the gate. The flight didn’t have family/child preboarding. She opted to rather than getting up and down with everyone trying to get up over and around her infant, she let the baby toddle around and then boarded. I’ve been on multiple flights that we were told before even boarding that they didn’t have room for carry-ons and everyone would have to check their carry on bags. I’ve even had one airline try to tell me I would have to take my strapped in son out and check his FAA approved safety seat and hold him on my lap because they were short seats. I told them I had paid full price so that he would have a seat and that they would never suggest an adult unbuckle and sit on someones lap because we are short, so unless they were going to pay for all of us to have fully compensated tickets, I would not be unstrapping him and giving up his seat I paid for, simply because they oversold the flight.

Bible Thumper December 23, 2015 at 12:31 am

“United Airlines Has A Problem With Breastfeeding Moms”
I guess, in today’s world, the use of the word “Moms” was necessary. We must make the distinction from Breastfeeding Dads. I guess the use of “Moms” draws more simpathy.

More to the point, this had nothing to do with Moms or Breastfeeding, but everything to do with security. A simple test would be if the same thing happened to a man, but in this case it was his catheters that had been checked.

Bible Thumper December 23, 2015 at 1:15 am

Side note: Keturah is a rare surname. Ancestry.com shows just one in the 1920 US Census. Keturah was the third wife of the Biblical patriarch Abraham. (Genesis 25:1–4, 1 Chronicles 1:32–33) She is called “the most ignored significant person in the Torah”. Sarah and Hagar get all the attention by commentaries, but Keturah gave Abraham six sons. She was not part of a polygamous marriage either. Sarah had died and Hagar was a concubine who was forced to leave.

rjriediger December 23, 2015 at 9:54 am

Why does it take an hour (or more) to go through security? Maybe TSA also has a problem with nursing moms. But corporations have to respond to customer concerns in a way that TSA does not, so no point in emphasizing their role in this drama.

Speak D Truth December 30, 2015 at 8:50 am

It sounds like her carry on bag was larger than what was allowed by airline policy. Maybe she should have read the requirements, prioritized what she needed during the flight, and packed accordingly.


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