A Houston, Texas, mother is seething after Delta Airlines really outdid itself on the whole “Being Awful to Breastfeeding Moms” award all the major airlines seem to inexplicably be vying for.
If you’re getting ready to fly for the holidays, you’re probably already anticipating the headache that is the airport and its colorful cast of characters. But if you start to get too discouraged this season, keep this story about Vanessa Kasten Urango handy, and the perspective it provides might just do wonders for your nerves.
The mom from Houston took to the airline’s Facebook page to detail her nightmare interaction with ticketing agents who refused to allow her to bring a cooler of breast milk onto the plane:
This is not a case of one passenger doing whatever they want and expecting the world to bend to their whims. Instead, Urango called the airline a full week before she departed to ask how to best transport her two-week supply of pumped milk, and followed the instructions a customer service representative gave her to a T, making multiple extraneous trips in an unfamiliar city to make sure she wouldn’t run into trouble later.
But run into trouble she did, because — and try not to gasp so hard in shock that the sudden intake of air sends you into unconsciousness — not only are airlines notoriously the worst at all times, but they especially suck when it comes to mothers and their breasts.
It seems hardly a month goes by where a mother isn’t being shamed, cajoled or escorted off a flight for something breast or breast milk related, and this is no different. For an industry that deals exclusively in moving people through the air in a gigantic metal vessel, they’re surprisingly backward when it comes to this stuff.
As the situation escalated, with the ticketing agents apparently acting out an awful SNL-style sketch with their apathy and ridiculous, open-ended directives (one of them told her she would have to leave the airport to dispose of the dry ice but wouldn’t tell her how to best accomplish this and still get on a flight), Urango got more and more upset and eventually ended up in tears.
Of course she did. Ever accidentally spill a few ounces of painstakingly pumped breast milk? Now imagine the prospect of two weeks of the stuff slipping down the drain.
It got bad enough that two airport police officers got involved, helping her dispose of the dry ice, though she still had to sit on a plane for eight hours with no way to cool the milk properly, so there’s that.
It’s really difficult to imagine what else Urango could have done in this situation. She called ahead. She followed instructions. She anticipated having to explain the situation. She was open to suggestions. In the end, Delta sent her through a bunch of hoops and then pulled the old “JK you’re super screwed, sorry” routine that we’ve all come to expect from the glorified SEPTA buses of the sky. Once Delta got called out, it offered her a $25 gift card as a show of goodwill in case she ever wanted to, we don’t know, check half a bag or something. Once she called the airline out on that, it upped it to $150, but it’s really unlikely that Urango a) cares about money in this particular situation or b) would ever fly Delta again.
Flying with breast milk (or breasts, for that matter) shouldn’t be this hard. It’s not supposed to be this hard. There is no maximum limit to the amount of breast milk a passenger can carry on, and if the airline had been so inclined, it could have easily offered to replace the dry ice with ice packs or just plain ice, as either would have kept the milk fresh. Or Delta could make more of an effort to let its ticketing agents know that it allows milk to be transported this way.
Instead, the airline decided to react with infuriating apathy. With Urango’s post being shared over 4,000 times now, we can at least hope that if old-fashioned compassion doesn’t cause Delta to change its ways, maybe embarrassing publicity will.