Posted on 10/07/2015

A woman who flew from Boston to Washington says she asked staff with United Airlines at Dulles Airport where she might go to pump her breast milk. Liz Meagher Cooper says she was told she could use the bathroom, which Cooper rejected as unsanitary – and they next suggested the pet relief area.  
Cooper is the mother of a 4-month-old. She told WFXT-TV in Boston that after she left the plane early Monday at Washington's Dulles Airport, she asked a woman at the counter where she could pump. Cooper says the airport refused to let her in the club area and said the "Pet Relief Area" was her only other option. "There was a red fire hydrant in there for dogs to relieve themselves," she said. "That's obviously not where I'm going to pump my breast milk for my baby."

Instead, Cooper says she sat in the public terminal. She says this is a choice no mother should have to face. "And people just don't get it, it's 2015 - it's not like I'm a pioneering breast pumping woman, there are a lot of working moms out there who need to pump their breast milk. This is not groundbreaking," Cooper said. A spokesman for Dulles says the airport does not have dedicated nursing areas but is working to develop such lounges.

A spokesman for United says the airline will reach out to Cooper to apologize for not providing “more suitable accommodations.” Undoubtedly the pet relief area was an inappropriate suggestion, but there are quiet spots in most terminals that Cooper could have found – and presumably did find - to do what she had to do? That’s not groundbreaking either. But … isn’t it a sign of the times that Dulles has a pet relief area but not a place for human privacy!