SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Dutch flag carrier airline KLM has run into a Twitter storm by suggesting breast-feeding mothers may be asked to cover up to protect other passengers’ sensibilities.
Earlier this week, mother Shelby Ange said on Facebook she had been told to ‘cover over herself’ on a flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam last month by a crew member who approached her with a blanket.
Angel said in the post that she tried to be discreet but that her daughter did not like to be covered. ‘She told me (and I quote) “if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself”,’ Shelby said. That post prompted Twitter user Heather Yemm to ask the airline directly what their policy was.
The KLM tweet has generated over 2,500 comments so far, criticising the policy and calling for boycotts.
A KLM spokeswoman told the BBC that breastfeeding is permitted but that the airline is ‘trying to keep the peace’. ‘However, not all passengers feel comfortable with breastfeeding in their vicinity, and sometimes these passengers complain to the cabin staff,’ the spokeswoman said.
In these cases, the airline will ‘try to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone and that shows respect for everyone’s comfort and personal space’, she said.