A mother claims she was kicked off a flight for breastfeeding her son.
Mei Rui said attendants on a Spirit Airlines flight from Houston to New York ordered her to stop feeding her son Lucas and put him back in his seat, even though the plane had not yet left the airport.
Rui, who is a Grammy-nominated concert pianist, said she started nursing her two-year-old son when he became restless after a three-hour delay.
She told the Washington Post that the plane was still at the gate and that other passengers were walking around when she started feeding her son.
Attendants told her to put Lucas back in his seat and refused to listen when she asked if she could finish breastfeeding.
Shortly afterwards, all passengers were told to disembark the aircraft. Rui and her family were barred from re-entering the plane, when everyone was told to reboard the flight.
Rui told IBTimes UK that the airline did not offer any explanation as to why she was not allowed back on the plane. "I repeatedly asked them for an explanation and said that if they could offer me an answer I would be happy to rebook. No explanation was given," she said.
"This was an even more traumatic morning for us than when Harvey destroyed our homes," Rui wrote in an emotional post on Facebook. "My dad almost had a heart attack and collapsed on the floor. I had never imagined something like this could happen to our family."
"I am heartbroken that I could not protect my old parents and Lukas from this cruelty!"
Fellow passenger Holly Barton expressed outrage at the airline crew's treatment of Rui.
"Absolutely DISGUSTED with how this woman was treated on my flight this morning," she wrote in a Facebook post. "After a 3.5 hour DELAY where we were stuck on a plane for a majority of the time this woman's child started to cry and not want sit in his seat. Flight attendants were so rude to her and tried to kick her off, even though the plane wasn't moving or even about to move."
Spirit Airlines denied Rui's account that she was barred from entering the plane because she was breastfeeding. The airline claims that she refused to put her son in his seat after the cabin doors had been closed, an account she disputes.
"The reports from the crew indicate the door was closed at the time of the incident," Stephen Schuler, a spokesperson for Spirit Airlines, said. "The passenger failed to comply with crew instructions by not being safely buckled and secured for takeoff after being asked repeatedly to do so."
Spirit Airlines refunded the family's tickets but refused to deliver their luggage. "It arrived two days later and we had to drive to the airport to pick it up," she said.