The mother of a 4-month-old baby said she was told by a United Airlines employee at Washington’s Dulles International Airport to go to the pet-relief area to pump breast milk.
Liz Cooper asked to be shown to a private place where she could pump milk. When she was advised to use the restroom, she objected that doing so would be unsanitary, Daily Mail reported.
An employee subsequently led Cooper to the pet-relief area, which contained some fake grass.
“There was no door, and there was a red fire hydrant in there for dogs to pee,” Cooper told WCVB. “It’s pretty much ridiculous in the year 2015 that we have to talk about this.”
Cooper posted a picture of the pet-relief area online. “Thanks Dulles Airport and United for having no area for breasting moms to pump," she wrote, according to Daily Mail. "Employee offered me this location!”
“Did United at Dulles Airport just tell me to pump breast milk in the bathroom or pet relief center? Yes! #fail,” Cooper added.
Cooper was traveling from Newton, Massachusetts, to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for a conference. It was the first time she was traveling without her child.
Cooper said she asked to be allowed to use the United Club area, but her request was denied because she is not a member.
“I’m not looking for free drinks, I don’t want a free meal, I don’t want your Wi-Fi, I don’t want anything,” Cooper said to CBS Boston. “I just want a secure private location for 15 minutes to express my breast milk then I will be on my merry way.”
“And people just don’t get it,” she added. "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!"
A spokesman for Dulles Airport confirmed that no areas designed for nursing mothers are currently available, but added they intend to establish four later this year, the Daily Mail reports.
“Although many of the airport terminals where we operate do not have dedicated private spaces, we welcome nursing mothers to breastfeed or pump on our aircraft and in our facilities,” a United Airlines spokesperson told WCVB.
United contacted Cooper on Oct. 6 to apologize for how she had been treated, CBS Boston reported.