Social media exploded with criticism after a JetBlue flight attendant ordered a mother to the toilet if she wanted to pump her breasts for milk for her baby.
Molly Guy, the owner of bridal shop Stone Fox Bride in Manhattan, was on a flight from New York to Oakland, California, when she asked an attendant if she could sit in an empty seat in the back of the plane she could pump in semi-privacy. Though the space was vacant, she was told by a male attendant to go to the bathroom.
Guy told ABC News she didn't want to pump in her own seat next to an elderly couple. But when she asked to sit in the back, the attendant said for the "comfortability" of other passengers "could you go in the bathroom; I think it's best to go in the bathroom," she recalled.
Sitting on the toilet she posted an announcement on Instagram about her plight: "Writing this from a JetBlue flight where I have been banned from pumping in the back area due to the 'comfortability' of the passengers," wrote Guy.
"Ouch. Six hours from NYC to Oakland. Have you ever tried hand expressing eight ounces of breast milk crouched in an airplane bathroom with a line of passengers outside the door? ?#?notfun?. @jetblue"
The post quickly cadged 2,000 likes and triggered a torrent of criticism. "The US likes to tell everyone how important it is to breastfeed for a year and then make it ridiculously difficult to do so, especially for moms working out of the home. It is truly maddening," noted one.
JetBlue has since apologised to Guy for a "crew member's error."
"We have a clear policy on accommodating breastfeeding mothers that states any nursing mother wishing to breastfeed their infants have the right to do so in any public accommodation including the aircraft cabin," said JetBlue representative Morgan Johnston in a statement. "The policy also states that crewmembers may not suggest to the nursing mother that she use a blanket to cover-up or go to the lavatory for breastfeeding purposes."
An apology was cold comfort for Guy. "It's the first time I'm away from my kids," she told ABC. "I'm travelling with five freezer bags and six ice packs and a huge breast pump, and it's an added obstacle and embarrassing one to have to run into."