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Mother Says She Was Left Drenched in Her Own Breast Milk After Delta Air Gate Agents Refused to Let Her Take Breast Pump On Flight

Mother Says She Was Left Drenched in Her Own Breast Milk After Delta Air Gate Agents Refused to Let Her Take Breast Pump On Flight

a plane flying in the air

A mother is suing Delta Air Lines, claiming she was left in agony during a four-hour flight due to breast engorgement because gate agents made her gate check her breast pump despite her pleas to let her take the pump onboard as a ‘personal item’.

Erika Geraghty claims she was left drenched in her own breast milk “gushing from her breasts” because she was unable to pump during the flight to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, on June 30, 2023.

In a recently filed lawsuit, Geraghty is suing Delta for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as negligence and civil rights violations, after she was left humiliated and traumatized by other passengers staring at her.

According to the civil complaint, Geraghty attempted to board her flight with two bags full of breastmilk and a breast pump, but gate agents told her she would have to gate check one of these bags before she was allowed onboard.

Geraghty says she pleaded with the agents to let her take both bags onboard with her but was ultimately forced to make a decision over what to leave behind.

“Naturally, driven by material instinct, Plaintiff preserved the breast milk by removing the breast milk that was in the breast pump bag, putting it in the other bag, and sacrificing the pump the airplane’s cargo hold – a notorious abyss where luggage is discarded and often damaged,” the complaint alleges.

“Plaintiff endured not only the physical agony of breast engorgement but also the emotional trauma of public degradation of her dignity,” the suit continues. “Seated and drenched in her own milk gushing from her breasts, which soaked her blouse in front of other passengers and coworkers”.

To add insult to injury, Geraghty says that when she retrieved her bag from the baggage carousel, she discovered that the breastpump was “shattered in pieces” and it was several more hours until she could get her hands on a new pump.

Geraghty is seeking economic and punitive damages, as well as civil penalties and statutory penalties. Attorneys acting on behalf of Delta have rejected te claims made by Geraghty who is seeking a jury trial.

In 2021, a new mother lost more than 140 ounces of pumped breast milk after airport security agents refused to let her take the milk onto the plane as hand luggage. 

Sarah Morrow of Knoxville, Tennesse, was made to check the milk as hold luggage, but the bag ended up getting lost by the airline, and all the milk went to waste.

The incident occurred when Sarah was travelling back to the United States from Mexico, and unlike in the US, the Mexican authorities don’t exempt breastmilk from liquid restrictions.

A similar incident happened at Heathrow Airport in 2016 when security agents forced an American woman to dump 500 ounces of breast milk, which she tried to take through security in her hold luggage.

At the time, Heathrow defended the action of its security officers, saying exemptions for breastmilk could only be applied if the mother was travelling with her child.

Liquid restrictions are, however, due to be lifted at Heathrow by next year with the introduction of next-generation security scanners.

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