American Airlines

Breast-pumps not allowed on airplanes? Wrong.

DAWN AND ADY

 

Despite reassurances by reservation agents that using a breast pump at her seat was allowed, American Airlines passenger Dawnella Brahos says she was embarrassed on a recent flight from Minneapolis to Chicago when a flight attendant told her that plugging in the device was forbidden.

“She was speaking in a loud voice, reading a page from a manual and adamant that because it was not pre-approved medical equipment I could not use the pump at my seat,” said Brahos.

“I felt humiliated. Everyone pretty much knew my business at that point and she kept checking back and eyeballing me the whole time to make sure I wasn’t using the pump.”

On April 18, Brahos, a 38-year-old mother of three from Lowell, Ind., was on the last leg of trip to California with her husband. Her three kids, including one still on breast milk, were at home with her mom.

Before her trip, she spent hours on the phone talking to airline reservation agents and their supervisors, all of whom told her not to worry.

“I researched which airplanes had outlets at the seats so I could plug in my pump and I made sure that the type of breast pump I had – a Medela – was approved. I brought along a big Angry Birds blanket to cover myself with. And my husband and I even paid extra to make sure we’d get seats next to each other so I wouldn’t be sitting next to a stranger while using the pump.”

During three legs of the trip, Brahos had no problem using her breast pump during the flight and says helpful flight attendants even let her plug in the breast pump in the galley.

But on the final leg of the trip, Brahos said the flight attendant told her she could not use the galley nor use the pump at her seat. “She even said I was making up the fact that I had used the pump on previous flights,” said Brahos.

“A lot people are saying I should have used the pump in the bathroom, but airplane bathrooms are pretty disgusting places to try to use a breast pump. And even if I did choose to pump in the bathroom, we weren’t even allowed to get up from our seats because the flight was so rough.”

American Airlines issued an apology, saying it does not have a policy prohibiting the use of breast pumps in-flight.

“We apologize for the experience Ms. Brahos had on a recent flight. Our in-flight personnel are trained to handle these situations with professionalism and discretion… As with other devices that have an on/off switch, customers will be asked not to use them during takeoff and landing.”

“Our procedures advise our crews to ensure that mothers who are breastfeeding or using breast pumps have the privacy they need,” said American Airlines spokesperson Andrea Huguely.

La Leche League International encourages mothers to check with the airline if they plan to travel with a breast pump. Because “we clearly still have a culture that is not yet aware of the needs of breastfeeding mothers,” La Leche International spokesperson Diana West says it’s a good idea to print out and carry a copy of the airline’s rules with them when they travel.

Brahos received a $100 voucher from an airline representative at the airport after she complained about her treatment, but is planning on filing a formal complaint. For now, she says she wants the airline “to let moms do what they need to do.”

(My story Breast-pumping mom felt humiliated by flight attendant first appeared on NBC News

Travel contests: because you can’t win if you don’t play

prizes

I’m a big believer in “you can’t win if you don’t play,” so here are a few contests to enter with great travel adventures as prizes:

From now through March 8th, 2013 San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is celebrating Scandinavian Airlines’ (SAS) new non-stop service to Copenhagen with a Facebook sweepstakes (and a strange little video starring hamsters). Entrants choose their favorite destination from one of 12 European cities served by SAS and the winner of a random drawing will be awarded two round-trip Economy Class tickets on SAS to the destination they selected. Enter here.

Also through March 8, American Airlines is having a contest with four grand prizes that include a first class trip for two anywhere the airline flies, a year-long Admiral’s Club membership, Five Star Service (“To whisk you through the airport like a star”), a Samsung Tablet, Bose headphones, first-class pajamas, and a $1,000 gift card. Enter here.

And, to welcome the terracotta warriors to San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, Cathay Pacific Airways is giving away prizes that include a 10-day China tour and a chance to fly to Xi’an to see the iconic terracotta warriors in their homeland.  Enter here through March 18.

  • Grand Prize: 10 days/9 nights “Cathay Pacific Essence of China” tour, including a pair of roundtrip Economy Class tickets on Cathay Pacific to Beijing, Shanghai and a private sightseeing tour to view the real Terracotta soldiers in Xi’an.
  • 2nd Prize – A one weekend night stay at the Galleria Park hotel in San Francisco, plus pair of VIP tickets to see the Asian Art Museum’s “China’s Terracotta Warriors” exhibition
  • 3rd Prize – An Annual Family Membership at Asian Art Museum plus a copy of the official exhibition souvenir book

Good luck!

Travel tidbits: double miles, bonus points & more

American Airlines is sorry.

Sorry about a lot of things, no doubt, but definitely sorry about the service it’s been providing to passengers recently.

So in an effort to make nice, the airline is offering some nice bonus mile deals between now and the end of the year.

AAdvantage members will earn double miles on American Airlines, American Eagle or the American Connection carrier from November 16, 2012, through November 26, 2012 and earn double elite-qualifying miles and points for flights taken between now and the end of the year. You’ll need to register for the offer. Details here.

Want more bonuses?  Sign up for the “Thanks Again” program, which awards frequent-flier miles for parking, shopping or dining at participating merchants at the airports and at businesses in many towns. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport just joined the program and it’s a fair bet that your local airport has signed up too.  Do a search here to find out.

And here’s something fun:

This spring all Finnair airplanes will be decked out with special textiles and tableware bearing classic patterns from Marimekko, a Finnish design firm. Two of the airline’s long-haul aircraft will also be painted with a livery based on Marimekko designs. An Airbus A340 is already adorned with a floral print from 1964 and another plane will get its Marimekko marking in the spring.

 

Free museums & expensive luggage delivery

Photo courtesy Harvard Museum of Natural History via Flickr

I’m a big fan of “free” and a big fan of the Museums on Us program that offers free admission on the first weekend of each month to more than 150 museums around the country to anyone who has Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card.

The list includes museums, zoos and attractions such as Chicago’s Alder Planetarium, where general adult admission is usually at least $12, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, Mass. where adult admission is usually $9.

With the money you save, you might want to fly down to New Orleans and hop on one of the new riverboats  now cruising up the and down the Mississippi or buy yourself a meal at the new full-service Wolfgang Puck Express restaurant in Terminal 7 at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), where things like bacon-wrapped meatloaf and oven roasted salmon are now on the menu.

Or use your saving towards the new baggage delivery service being sold by American Airlines and BAGS VIP Luggage Delivery. Beginning Monday, Aug. 6, you can pay ($29.95 for one bag, $39.95 for two bags and $49.95 for three to 10 bags) to have the bags you check at more than 200 U.S. airports delivered to your home, office or hotel instead of having to go pick them up at baggage claim and tote them with you.

Passengers can purchase the service on-line up to two hours prior to departure and, for delivery locations within 40 miles of the airport, expect their bags to be delivered to their destination within one to four hours of arrival.

A good deal? For some, maybe. But keep in mind that the price for Baggage Delivery Service is in addition to the regular bag fees that need to be paid at check-in. And for bags that need to be delivered between 41 and 100 miles from the airport, there is an additional $1 per mile charge and an estimated delivery time between four and six hours instead of one to four hours.

No word yet on whether all fees are returned if your luggage goes missing or if delivery times are not met.

Tidbits for travelers: contests & an out of control flight attendant

The folks at Kansas City International Airport are pretty excited that Alaska Airlines has started service to Seattle. So excited that they’re having a contest to give away two round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines between there and Seattle, Portland, Vancouver or Anchorage. Enter here. Deadline: March 21, 2012.

As long as you’re entering contests, enter this American Airlines contest for a trip to Napa Valley, New York or Paris. It looks like you need to buy a ticket to enter, but if you go to this page, you’ll find an alternate no-purchase-necessary option.

The email I received about the promotion promised a once-in-lifetime experience, but on Friday a planeload of passengers got an unwelcome, once in a lifetime experience when a flight attendant had a serious meltdown before the flight took off.

Here’s a TV news story about the event.

The flight attendant is getting medical attention and we hope she’ll be OK. But, interestingly enough, I received an email today from someone who said he was on another American Airlines flight a while back where a flight attendant was exhibiting the same sort of behavior.

“On my flight we were also told the plane could go down, people will and do die of heart attacks, and as we would be travelling over water we could drown when the plane goes down. It was not the most pleasant trip I have ever taken because there was some concern the flight attendant could do something really stupid in mid-air, such as open the cabin door. Suffice to stay I remained on alert the entire flight time.”

It’s impossible to tell yet if this is the same flight attendant, but pretty scary either way…