Mother criticizes TUI for asking her to stop breastfeeding infant during take-off due to passenger comfort concerns

A new mother, Chelsea Williams, has accused TUI of ‘discrimination’ after she alleges being told not to breastfeed her six-week-old baby during take-off due to concerns of making others uncomfortable.

Chelsea, 28, was on a TUI flight to Alicante, Spain, with her family on July 26 when the incident occurred. Despite wanting to ease her baby’s ear discomfort, Chelsea says a cabin crew member informed her that breastfeeding during take-off and landing was not allowed.

She mentioned that she ceased nourishing her infant to prevent ‘causing a disturbance,’ yet this decision left her with apprehension about the upcoming journey back home with her family.

Thomas, her 28-year-old husband, took the initiative to inquire through the airline’s app a day prior to their scheduled return about the possibility of his wife breastfeeding their newborn during takeoff.

However, they were taken aback by the airline’s reply, which advised Mrs. Williams against breastfeeding on the plane, citing the potential to ‘discomfort others,’ despite the absence of any official regulations in this regard.

Dad's visit to her daughter following the birth becomes a viral sensation
Dad's visit to her daughter following the birth becomes a viral sensation

Mrs. Williams, hailing from a vicinity near Conwy in North Wales, recounted her experience, stating that their aim was to ensure a travel experience devoid of stress. She mentioned conducting prior research, which suggested breastfeeding during take-off and landing.

During the belt check by the crew, they observed her baby securely fastened and nursing. She was subsequently informed that breastfeeding wasn’t permissible during take-off and landing.

In a moment of uncertainty, Mrs. Williams decided to comply, discontinuing the feeding. Despite her initial plans and research, she chose not to nurse to avoid causing a disturbance.

She refrained from breastfeeding during take-off, resulting in an escalation of her baby’s discomfort and noticeable cries. This drew attention, making the situation challenging for her.

After the seatbelt sign was turned off, Mrs. Williams resumed feeding her baby. As the night before their return journey loomed, she began feeling anxious about the upcoming travel and breastfeeding situation.

Upon her husband’s suggestion, Mrs. Williams reached out to TUI customer service through the app. Her husband messaged them, seeking clarification on the permissibility of breastfeeding during take-off or landing.

The response from TUI was unexpected and left her surprised. She had anticipated receiving policy information or safety guidelines, not the advice she received. This added to her confusion and contributed to her decision not to breastfeed during take-off, under the assumption that she might have overlooked something.

‘I didn’t reply, I was honestly gobsmacked,’ she said.

Dad's visit to her daughter following the birth becomes a viral sensation

‘I went into the travel day home really anxious that someone was going to say something to me again or not let me feed my baby. I didn’t ask [if I was allowed to feed her] on the flight home at all. I just fed my baby, and thankfully nobody said anything about this flight.’

She remarked that her willingness to fly with TUI has been dampened until changes are implemented.

‘I had been on aeroplanes before with my toddler [when she was a baby], and I’ve been able to breastfeed with no issue, but we haven’t flown as a family with TUI before,’ she stated.

‘This experience has made me less likely to fly with TUI in future unless they make changes. Change some policies, train some more people, and obviously improve their attitude towards breastfeeding mums and breastfed babies.’

She posted a screenshot of her exchange with TUI’s customer support online, where she criticized the airline for displaying ‘blatant discrimination’ against breastfeeding mothers.

TUI’s complete response reads: ‘Thank you for contacting TUI.

‘There are no official restrictions, however we would not recommend it because it could make other people feel uncomfortable. Let us know if you have any further questions.’

Mrs. Williams mentioned that TUI later issued an apology through Facebook Messenger and informed her that they are initiating a ‘further investigation’ into the matter.

A TUI spokesperson stated, ‘We are really sorry for the distress caused to Ms Williams and her infant. As a family friendly travel company, we support breastfeeding on our flights at any time.

‘We are currently conducting an urgent internal investigation and will be making sure that all colleagues are retrained on our breastfeeding friendly policy’. 

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