Spirit Airlines kick breastfeeding mother off flight

Cancer researcher and concert pianist was kicked off a Spirit flight for “non-compliance” when she was nursing her son

“A baby crying is not a crime,” a woman who was booted from a long-planned trip with her elderly parents and a two-year-old son has said.

A breastfeeding mother was kicked off a Spirit flight with her parents for non-compliance — Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock
A breastfeeding mother was kicked off a Spirit flight with her parents and two-year-old son — Philip Pilosian / Shutterstock

According to The Washington Post, Mei Rui, a cancer researcher and concert pianist, was travelling with her parents and a two-year-old toddler from Houston to Newark where she was supposed to attend a clinical cancer study and a recording session.

The Spirit Airlines flight was repeatedly delayed due to adverse weather conditions with passengers stranded in the cabin, Rui says.

The trouble started at 6:30am when her two-year-old became restless because of the situation made. To calm him down and put him to sleep for the three hour flight she began to nurse him.

“Every parent with a young child can image, you don’t want to be that parent on the plane,” she told The Washington Post. “It would be very embarrassing. I was just trying to avoid that.”

Ruis says Spirit Airlines booted them off the plane when she didn’t immediately stop breastfeeding after the cabin crew asked her to place her son back in his seat.

She alleges that the plane’s door was still open and people were moving about the cabin when a flight attendant approached her and told her the baby had to be in his seat for takeoff.

“I explained to them both that giving me a couple more minutes to finish nursing him would prevent him from crying and disturbing the other passengers. Seeing that I did not stop breastfeeding him promptly, they went back and at that point must have called the captain.

“I didn’t want to cause any trouble, so I immediately pulled my son off and forced-buckled him into the seat, which set off uncontrollable crying for the next 25 minutes to the great dismay and earache of everyone on the plane,” Rui wrote in a now-deleted post on Facebook.

The crew evaluated her as a non-complying passenger and Rui and her family were escorted from the plane by the police while recording the whole incident on her phone.

Even though Spirit representatives promised a reimbursement, they stand by the decision to take Rui and her family off the flight.

“Our records indicate a passenger was removed from Flight 712 after refusing to comply with crew instructions several times during taxi to runway and safety briefing,” they said in a statement.  

“To protect the safety of our guests and crew, FAA regulations and airline policies require all passengers to stay seated and buckled during takeoff and landing. We apologise for any inconvenience to our guests.”

“As a courtesy, we’ve issued a full refund to the passenger in question.”

“They treated us like we were criminals,” Rui told The Washington Post. “A baby crying is not a crime.”