Mother ‘gobsmacked’ over TUI customer service advising her not to breastfeed on flight as it ‘makes people uncomfortable’

The mum-of-two was 'shocked' at the travel company's response

Tui plan split layout with woman breastfeeding a baby on plane
(Image credit: Getty)

A mother was left utterly speechless after she was advised against breastfeeding her baby on a plane by TUI customer services.

As millions of families prepare to jet abroad for some sun, sea and relaxation for the remainder of the summer holidays, mothers travelling with babies also have the added considerations of packing the best travel strollers and best breast pumps.

But when mum-of-two Chelsea Williams and her husband Thomas, flew to Almeria in Spain with their five-week-old baby and two-year-old daughter, they had an unexpected shock.

The Williams' family told the Metro, that after experiencing a stressful flight on the outbound flight from Manchester Airport, before returning home, Thomas asked TUI customer services whether his wife could breastfeed during take-off and landing.

He explained that Chelsea had read that, among the many breastfeeding benefits, it can help prevent babies from experiencing ear pain.

Baby crying

(Image credit: Getty)

Why was the outbound journey so bad?

Describing the stressful outward journey where their baby was already crying as they boarded the plane but settled as soon as she sat down to feed her, Chelsea recalled, "We had the baby buckled on the infant buckle that went on my seatbelt and she was feeding at the same time – this was working fine. 

"So I was thinking “she’s not going to bother anyone and she’ll be fed and she’s happy”. So I was starting to feel a bit of relief at this point.

"Then they came to do the belt check and I was told that I couldn’t feed for takeoff and landing. It wasn’t permitted."

Not wanting to cause a scene, the mum, from Conwy, Wales, stopped feeding and thought 'maybe she missed something' in the safety policy.

But her baby was 'drastically' crying after she cut off the breast milk mid-feed, and as a result her toddler started crying because the baby was upset.

Chelsea said, "I was sweating, I was on the verge of tears. I felt like everyone’s eyes were on us because obviously the baby was screaming and I obviously looked not great at that moment."

She waited until the seatbelt lights went out to resume breastfeeding, but the ordeal left her anxious about the return flight which is why they contacted TUI customer services for some advice.

But the response from TUI customer services left her speechless.

What was TUI's 'shocking' response?

A screenshot of the messages show TUI's 'shocking' response, "Hello Thomas, Thank you for contacting TUI. There are no official restrictions however we would not recommend it because it could make other people uncomfortable..."

Chelsea said, "I didn’t expect that response at all. I expected to hear some policy maybe or a safety regulation. But they made the comment which is obviously just discriminatory against breastfeeding babies and mums.

She added, "I wasn’t sure what to do with that. I didn’t reply to that, I was just honestly gobsmacked. So then I went the whole way off really anxious that someone was going to say something again."

Chelsea fed the baby without asking permission on the flight home.

TUI has since apologised and confirmed it 'supports breastfeeding on flights' and has said it is conducting an 'urgent internal investigation'.

There are more breastfeeding features like how to increase breast milk, or learn more about lactation cookies online. 

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)