United Airlines attendant angers breastfeeding mother

A mother from Burnaby, B.C., says she was embarrassed by a United Airlines flight attendant when she started breastfeeding her baby on a recent flight.

Kristen Hilderman says attendant threw a blanket at her husband, with orders to 'help her out'

Burnaby, B.C., mother Kristen Hilderman is angry after she was told to cover up while breastfeeding her five-month-old son aboard a United Airlines flight from Houston to Vancouver. (Kristen Hilderman)

A mother from Burnaby, B.C., says she was embarrassed by a United Airlines flight attendant when she started breastfeeding her baby on a recent flight.

Kristen Hilderman says she and her husband were on board a flight from Houston to Vancouver on Sunday when their five-month-old son started to cry.

"[The] cabin pressure changed. He started to cry and I thought OK, I don't want to make anybody uncomfortable with my crying baby so I'll start feeding him now and to stop him from crying," she said.

Hilderman says a male flight attendant asked her husband if he was with her, and then tossed a blanket at him and told him "to help her out."

The comments and attitude were wildly offensive and very embarrassing, she said.

"I went beet red and the passengers around us stared with their mouth agape," she wrote in a post on Twitter.

"It made me feel like I was doing something wrong. It called into question feeding my son in public. I started thinking should I not be doing this? Should I have a blanket over myself? Are people offended by this?"

Hilderman says she tried to question the flight attendant, but he walked away.

"I whipped around as the flight attended walked down the aisle behind us and I said, 'Help me out with what?' He ignored me," she said.

Twitter post sparks United apology

Since Hilderman, who is on maternity leave from her job as an assistant editor at BC Business magazine, posted her story on Twitter, it's been widely shared, and Hilderman says a United Airlines representative contacted her and offered what she called a vague apology.

United Airlines says it welcomes all nursing mothers, but asks them to be mindful of passengers seated near them. (Skinnylawyer/Wikimedia Commons)

United Airlines confirmed the company has reached out to Hilderman and welcomes all nursing mothers, but asks them to be mindful of passengers seated near them.

"United welcomes nursing mothers on board and we ask that crew members do their best to ensure their comfort and safety as they do with all customers," said the statement from the airline.

"We also ask nursing mothers and passengers seated near them to be mindful of one another’s space and comfort."

But Hilderman says the apology is not enough and she wants the airline to ensure this doesn't happen again and to find out if the flight attendant was reprimanded.

Read Kristen Hilderman's twitter post

Read United's tweet to Hilderman


 

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