A woman has accused Air Canada of telling her she would need to breastfeed her baby in the toilet on an upcoming flight.
Emergency physician Stephanie VandenBerg tweeted about her encounter with the airline on 3 March, writing: “Dear Air Canada: It is never okay to recommend a woman breastfeed her infant in an airplane lavatory.
“Nor would I like to be referred to your medical line to discuss this further.
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“If you would like to eat your dinner there, by all means, but my infant son will not be joining you.”
The tweet quickly went viral, and has more than 15,000 likes and almost 3,000 retweets at the time of writing.
Air Canada’s social media team responded to VandenBerg the following day, saying: “We can confirm we support breastfeeding onboard our aircraft and you are welcome to nurse your baby wherever you feel comfortable onboard.”
However, she claimed she was given the recommendation to breastfeed in the loo by an airline representative over the phone.
“To clarify, this was a telephone conversation with an Air Canada Representative to arrange flying with an infant,” said VandenBerg. “I have reached out to Air Canada on multiple fronts (direct through website, facebook direct message and Twitter DM) and am waiting to be contacted.”
The tweet sparked fierce debate, with many outraged by the alleged recommendation.
“Wow. This happened to me repeatedly on Air Canada when my girls were little but I refused and fed them in my seat even when flight attendants threatened to remove me,” commented Deirdre Ayre. “My girls are adults now. I assumed the policy had changed.”
Safety expert Chris Goudge added: “Well this is highly disappointing. I hope Air Canada will take the necessary steps to prevent this sort of ignorant, discriminatory recommendation from ever happening again.”
However, Sandeep Sawakare wrote: “For the sake of discussion, I’m not sure how strong an infant’s senses are and how it associates lavatory with dirtiness.
“After this analogy (of dinner), it seems awful for a baby to be breastfed in airlines lavatory but is it really so for the baby? We would never know!”
On its official Children and Travel page, Air Canada states it is “happy to support breastfeeding on board our aircraft, whenever safety permits”.
The Independent has contacted Air Canada for comment.
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