There’s no getting around it — traveling is stressful, especially when you’re flying. It’s hard enough to get from point A to point B with luggage, laptops, and the ID you accidentally left back at security. But when you bring along something that varies from the norm and airline staff doesn’t handle it well, your stress level can skyrocket in a matter of seconds.
Just ask Once Upon a Time actress Emilie de Ravin who recently had a less than ideal encounter with an American Airlines employee at LAX. De Ravin was traveling with her breast pump, which the AA employee assumed was an extra carry-on. In a tweet, de Ravin said the employee “ripped” de Ravin’s bag from her hands.
“I was grabbed forcefully,” de Ravin tweeted, before calling for American to “kindly dismiss this woman from @americanair employment.”
American Airlines responded to de Ravin’s tweets and told The Huffington Post that they’re looking into the incident. A representative stated the following in an email:
“We are still looking into the situation internally and following up with the customer. Passengers are allowed to have two carry-on items, and breast pump is considered a medical assistive device that can be brought on board in addition to carry-on items. The pump was eventually allowed on board. We apologize to the customer for the inconvenience.”
While de Ravin communicated that the pilot helped her and apologized for the incident, this sort of thing is unfortunately all too common. Instead of taking the time to figure out that de Ravin’s “extra” carry-on was, by American’s own policy, a medical assistive device, the employee simply took matters into her own hands, shaming the actress in the process. And she’s not alone. Everyday, women go through similar experiences.
I remember being terrified of what would happen to my breast pump when I once took it on an international flight. Would the employees know what it was? Would they dismantle it, making it inoperable? Would I have to somehow prove that it was a real breast pump and not just disguised to look like one? It seems silly to think about now, but those concerns were so real to me then. I needed that pump to feed my twins. I couldn’t afford another one if anything happened to it. I couldn’t leave it at home, as my milk would dry up if I didn’t pump when I was away from my babies. I had no choice but to bring my pump, and yet I still somehow felt like I was doing something wrong in having it with me.
Fortunately, I didn’t have the same experience that de Ravin did, but others have. The difference is that when famous people like de Ravin speak up, the powers that be usually listen. She, and other celebrities who have had similar experiences and spoken out about them, give voice to the little guys (or girls) who go through this sort of thing all the time. Many times that attention eventually brings about change. Nursing mothers don’t want special treatment; they just want a little understanding and compassion. Like all of us, they just want support in the choices they have made, as to how they feed their babies — not harassment over something that should be a non-issue. If more women, celebrities or not, speak out about incidents such as these, they will hopefully soon become a thing of the past.More On