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Travel nightmare

Here’s the “pet relief area” where one mom says airport workers told her to pump breast milk

By WITW Staff on October 8, 2015

A woman traveling between Boston and Hershey, Pennsylvania, said she was told by an airport staff member at Dulles International airport to use a pet relief area to pump breast milk during a layover on Monday. Liz Meagher Cooper was on a business trip and she has a 4-month-old baby boy, Cooper, back at home whom she’s breastfeeding. She needed to take a break and pump and said employees from the airport and United Airlines both told her to use a pet relief area to pump her breast milk. However, a United spokesperson said Cooper misunderstood the employee. Instead of telling Cooper to use the pet relief area, the spokesperson reportedly said, the employee said that the pet relief area was one of the only truly private spaces at the airport. Cooper posted photos of the pet relief area on Twitter and mentioned both United and Dulles in her tweet, saying, “Did @United at @dulles_airport just tell me to pump breast milk in the bathroom or pet relief center? Yes! #fail.” And Cooper says a co-worker witnessed the whole thing, and that when she expressed doubt about whether the pet relief area was a suitable option, the employee responded saying, “There haven’t been a lot of dogs in the airport today.” Cooper’s ordeal illustrates a major shortcoming with the airport: its lack of accommodations for moms who need to pump breastmilk. In an apology, the group that runs the airport said it’s in the process of constructing eight nursing lounges that will be “available later this year.” The airport operator also said it “regrets that a mother was unable to find a suitable area for nursing at the airport, and we apologize for her experience.” Cooper ended up pumping in a public section of the airport that was sparsely populated at the time, as her co-worker shielded her from view. She said she can’t believe that in 2015 an major airport isn’t equipped to help breastfeeding moms, but was hopeful her ordeal would inspire change. “I think this is a teachable moment for people who don’t understand,” she said.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.