Outrage over KLM diktat to cover up while breastfeeding in flights

A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 737

A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 737

Dutch airline KLM faced criticism Wednesday for policies that "shame women's bodies" after a breastfeeding mother said she was told to cover up in case other passengers were offended.

The airline deleted the tweet about 12 hours after it was posted, according to The Washington Post, and later tweeted an apology.

California native and new mother, Shelby Angel, says she felt disrespected while breastfeeding on her latest flight to her home in the Netherlands - and now the airline is justifying its actions. She told me (and I quote) 'if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself, ' " Angel wrote in a Sunday Facebook post. Ms Angel declined, noting her daughter did not like to be covered while feeding.

Meanwhile, EasyJet's official policy says that it "supports breastfeeding mothers", and passengers are welcome to feed their babies on board "at any time". "Never has this been an issue, not for me, nor for any of my colleagues". "That would upset her nearly as much as not breastfeeding her at all".

The mum began by explaining she nurses her baby to calm her in transit and make her feel more comfortable.

KLM's response has not won the airline many friends.

When she complained to KLM "I was told that I needed to be respectful of people of other cultures and that this flight attendant's response was in line with company policy".

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The airline, which is part of the Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM company, was criticized online, including by Dutch breastfeeding promotion group Melkpunt.

Which is mighty gracious of KLM.

"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". How hard can it be to just cover up when someone asks you politely? Photo: Thomas Widmann via Flickr. "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".

However, Ayala Ochert from British campaign group Better Breastfeeding said breastfeeding in public was accepted in the "vast majority" of countries and the company was out of step with social norms.

"If they are offended by a child's life being sustained by their mother they can put a blanket over their own head so as not to see".

One might also assume that the crowd in the cabin of an worldwide airline on an global flight are cosmopolitan and sophisticated enough to handle the sight of a breastfeeding mother, no matter where you happen to come from.

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

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