American Airlines Supervisor Demanded to Know ‘How Many Boobs’ Breastfeeding Mom Has

Back in December Spirit Airlines defended themselves for kicking off a woman who breastfed her two year crying old child. That same month a mother was forced to ditch her breast milk when American insisted she pay $150 if she wanted to bring it with her.

It wasn’t that long ago that United sent a woman to the pet relief area to pump breast milk and scolded another woman inflight.

So while it’s true that airlines have tens of thousands of employees, and some make mistakes,

  • Issues around breastfeeding aren’t new.

  • There’s no reason to dig in when making a mistake, humiliating customers. If there’s a disagreement, check out and see who is right. Especially for a supervisor. Too many employees just blindly back up other employees.

American Airlines allows you to bring “[d]iaper bags (1 per child), soft-sided cooler bags with breast milk, child safety seats, strollers and medical or mobility devices” on board the aircraft and these do not count against your carry on or personal item limit. That’s black letter on the website.

So when a woman flying Los Angeles to Chicago on Sunday on AA1243 was told she couldn’t bring her breast pump (a medical device) or her cooler with milk on the plane because she was over the carry on limit — that she’d have to check a bag — American was wrong.

And when the supervisor condescended to her about the amount of milk, “how many boobs do you have?” that was beyond the pale.

While American says “It’s difficult enough to travel as a breastfeeding mom.We want it to be easier, not more difficult” they reportedly initially offered the woman a $75 voucher as compensation for failing to abide by their own carry on rules. That might have been appropriate for forcing her to gate check a bag she shouldn’t have had to check, but is nowhere close to making good on the behavior of the gate agent.

(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Are these gate agents direct employees of AA, or low pay agency hires?

    It seems we never had such problems before the airlines outsourced their airport labor force.

  2. What’s the right compensation here — clearly not $75, how about $750? $7500? $75000?

    I wonder whether the pax has any damages? Not sure what they could sue for and the PR damage is already done so not sure how AA is incentivized to do anything but wait until we forget this next week.

  3. I have dealt with that exact supervisor (Juliette) at LAX before—she is a nightmare. Definitely the most potent combo of not understanding anything and aggressiveness that I’ve seen at American.

  4. For many women breast feeding is stressful enough, they don’t need any of this garbage added onto that stress.

    This discussion also needs to include how open breastfeeding moms have gotten, and assertive in their rights to do so. My wife breastfed our children, even in public places. But she was extremely discreet about it, being well covered and quiet about it. No one, not even in a cramped place like a plane, ever complained about her doing it. Certainly a combination of acceptance on the part of others and discreteness on the part of the moms should be the norm. This opinion does NOT, however, condone the behavior of either the gate agent or the supervisor, both of them deserve a formal writeup and discipline.

  5. I forgot to say that aggressive gate agents and disrespectful flight attendants have pushed me nearly completely away from AA…I only fly them now when schedule demands it.

  6. The agent needs to be suspended pending retraining and the supervisor needs to be dismissed. Enough mealy mouthed corporate speak and trivial compensation. The problems start at the top of the airline’s culture and are deeply rooted. (I accidentally typed “rotted” the first time and corrected myself – perhaps should have kept it.)

    But @Sam I’m curious how you would know who the supervisor was when they must have multiple bad ones at LAX.

  7. @DaveS the facebook post mentioned that her name was Juliette (unless LAX has multiple horrifically-behaved supervisors named Juliette).

  8. Seriously – W.T.F. Supervisor needs to fired immediately. That comment was unforgivable , esp for someone in the customer service industry.

  9. Advice to Gen X, Y, Z, or anyone else that might try this type of humor or insult: Forget about Gum Control, and worry about Arms Control. Look out for the fist of the husband/son/grandma/or worst of all… the lady herself. Or else, when you wake up, the gate area will be empty, the plane gone, no witnesses around that saw what happened. Even the security camera may only pick up a blur with no definitive footage showing why you dropped like a rock while otherwise routinely scanning boarding passes. The lawsuits and Dale Carnegie refreshers will seem much more preferable to the way your mouth feels for the days and weeks afterwards, assuming your jaw isn’t wired shut. But, on the bright side, you get to keep your job because nobody wasted their time filing a complaint and the airline keeps their reputation for safely transporting customers from point A to point B, which is, first and last, their prime objective.
    Fortunately, these “errors” are becoming the exception, as customers document these events in real time with real names, functionally alerting the airlines that care (not) that their gate agents know the rules of what can or cannot be brought on board and how to treat and accommodate their customers.

  10. OMG I know her too. She had a screaming fit at an elderly woman who was clearly not a frequent flyer trying to get on a flight a couple months ago from LAX to PHX. The gate agent decided the woman’s carry on was too big, but just by a tiny bit. Ok fine. The women was concerned about checking it, would she have to pay a fee, would she need to get it for her connection, or something, that supervisor showed up and proceeded to threaten her with not flying unless she immediately checked the bag and scolded her for trying to bring a bag that was too big. I remember because I wrote down her name and emailed AA that I thought she was very rude to this lady who was just a nervous flyer. She has zero customer service skills.

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