Breastfeeding or pumping on a plane is no treat. There’s the challenge of maneuvering in whatever sliver of personal space you’ve eked out, the noisy pump to fumble with and the curiosity of strangers to contend with. That’s why when a mom was escorted up to first class and showered with snacks and kindness not once, but twice, on her Delta flight this past Saturday, she decided to share their kindness online in a post that’s quickly going viral.
The stories of airlines behaving badly when it comes to breasts and the things that come out of them sometimes seem common enough to become downright tedious. Delta Airlines in particular has drawn its fair share of criticism in the past for telling moms to cover up and calling it a “policy” and for even kicking breastfeeding moms off crowded flights. But perhaps the tide is turning. At least it did for one mother.
Jenna — according to a Facebook post she uploaded to chronicle the actions of three amazing Delta employees — is the breastfeeding mother of triplets(!), so you can imagine how important it is that she keep up her supply by pumping on time. It could have been a total nightmare for the mom, but in fact it was quite the opposite. She got to fly first class while she pumped and was given snacks and water to keep her energy and hydration up for the duration.
How cool that, instead of shaming Jenna, these three women went out of their way to make breast pumping on a plane as comfortable as possible, which is no easy feat. In an atmosphere where we essentially expect to be made to feel as though we’re inconveniencing or possibly even disgusting the people around us, sometimes the most we hope for is apathy from them. Being left alone instead of gawked at or scolded can seem like an absolute luxury.
But this isn’t that. This is the complete opposite, which is completely refreshing. We’ve got to assume that at least one of these women knows firsthand what an absolute pleasure it is to pump in a cramped space inside a metal tube at a high altitude, because this is totally Golden Rule-level stuff. If you absolutely had to pump on a plane, what would the ideal experience look like? The answer is in Jenna’s post, no question.
These women went above and beyond in Jenna’s case, obviously. There aren’t always going to be empty first-class seats or flight attendants who can sneak you extra snacks. This is the premium-level treatment that has at its core the one thing moms desire most (after a seat that actually reclines, of course), and that’s simple dignity. A little respect. No one’s asking for worship or even that people jump through hoops to make sure they’re pampered while they pump or feed or even just try to soothe a fussy baby who’s freaked out by his popping ears or just over flying.
Most moms just want what everyone wants — a modicum of compassion while they maneuver a challenging experience. Not every airline needs to take it to the limit that Delta did, but it would be nice to find that middle ground. Surely there’s a comfy point between “ew, put those things away” and pumping Queen of Sheba style, right?
Jenna also deserves some kudos here too. It’s nice to see strangers helping strangers, and we all love a story like that, but how often do we take the time to share them? They might not all be this epic, but surely we all experience some kindness that stands out to us from time to time. It would be awesome if we shared those moments as often as we shared our little gripes.
In the meantime, let’s hope that Delta can see how awesome people think this is and respond by making air travel for nursing and pumping moms a much friendlier experience.