Mom Takes Down Delta After Breastfeeding Spat
A breastfeeding mother’s open letter to Delta has gone viral, prompting the airline to issue an apology for forcing her to risk spoiling her breast milk.
Vanessa Urango of Houston, Tex., was traveling for work this month, spending 18 days away from her family, including her 4-month-old daughter. In a Dec. 19 letter to Delta Airlines that she posted on Facebook, Urango explains that she pumped at least four times a day while on her business trip in order to maintain her milk supply. Before heading home from the trip that day, Urango says, she contacted Delta customer support and was told to pack the milk in dry ice in a cooler and to check it at baggage claim.
STORY: Moms Shamed for Needing to Pump Breast Milk During Plane Trips
She did that (despite it costing her more than $85 to pay for travel to Target while on the road and buy a cooler and dry ice), but Urango says Delta employees at the ticker counter were unfamiliar with the protocol she’d been following. “When I showed up to your ticket counter at [Newark Airport], the ticketing agent told me that I would have to pay $150 to check the $25 cooler because I already checked two other bags. In addition to this, he had no idea how to handle my cooler with dry ice. In fact, he acted irritated by it, and got two other agents involved,” Urango wrote in her open letter. “To say they were rude and completely lacking empathy is an understatement. Long story short, they told me I could not take the breast milk on the plane… They, of course, offered no suggestions and just left me standing helpless with a cooler full of frozen breast milk and dry ice.”
Vanessa Urango with her husband and two daughters. (Photo: Facebook/Vanessa Kasten Urango)
Ultimately, Urango says, she was able to dump the dry ice and take the cooler full of breast milk on the plane as a carry-on. “So…here I sit waiting to board your plane…with a cooler of frozen breast milk WITHOUT dry ice,” she wrote. “Who knows if it will even still be frozen when I arrive home in 8 hours; which basically means two weeks worth of breast milk will have to be thrown away. I wasted so much time and money for nothing. Thanks so much to your staff for their complete lack of compassion for a tired mom who really just wants to get home to her babies.”
STORY: Breastfeeding Mom Harassed on United Flight
In updates to her post, which has been shared more than 4,400 times and features a photograph of Urango’s many bags of breast milk, the mother of two girls says that Delta has reached out to her and apologized. The day after her post, the airline emailed an apology and offered her a $25 gift card. By Dec. 21, Urango posted that Delta contacted her again by phone and “acknowledged that employees should have been aware of Delta’s dry-ice policy and acted incorrectly.” Urango wrote that, “they are sending me $150…better than nothing but still a long way to go toward making traveling a pleasant, hassle-free experience for [breastfeeding] moms and anyone traveling with children.”
It’s not the first time Delta has found itself in the hot seat for its treatment of breastfeeding mothers. In January, a traveling mom received an apology from the airline after she was forced to check her breast pump rather than carry it on. In February 2014, the airline came under fire after telling a breastfeeding mom she could not nurse on board without a nursing cover.
Other airlines have gotten similar heat for mistreating nursing moms. In March, United apologized to a mother who said she was harassed by a flight attendant for breastfeeding on the flight. Another United Airlines flier said she was shown to the “pet relief area” when she asked for a room in which to pump while waiting for a flight in October. She eventually received an apology from the airline. And a mother traveling on American Airlines that same month said she was mistreated when she took a long time pumping in the airplane lavatory.
Urango says her goal is to see her story, which was met with plenty of support and commiseration by moms who’d had similar experiences, help fix the problem. As she wrote on Facebook: “Hopefully, sharing all these stories is the first step toward change!”
Top photo: Facebook/Vanessa Urango
Please follow @YahooParenting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Have an interesting story to share about your family? Email us at YParenting (at) Yahoo.com.