Virgin Australia is under fire for forcing a woman off a flight after she refused to stop breastfeeding during takeoff.
Virginie Rutgers and her 10-month-old son were left stranded at the Gold Coast airport when she was forced off the flight and delivered to police.
Ms Rutgers started nursing her young son, who was sitting in a separate seat, during takeoff to soothe him, using a baby sling to cover herself, but was told it was a hazard and to remove it by airline staff, who she alleges became “quite abusive”.
When the mother continued to feed her son, she was forced off the plane.
“I was in a state of shock honestly. [The baby] was screaming because I couldn’t feed him anymore,” she told Seven News.
Though Ms Rutgers was not charged by police, she and her son were left stranded at the airport after being booted off the flight, and Virgin Australia refuses to compensate her for the cost of her hotel or cabs that night, though she has been offered flight credit.
Onlookers have taken to Virgin Australia’s Facebook page to describe the scene they witnessed, and it looks like there are a lot of people on Ms Rutgers’ side.
“Absolutely gobsmacked at how rude and offensive the staffs were – totally unprofessional,” Lauren Fairweather, who was seated nearby, wrote.
Virgin Australia insists that they do allow breastfeeding on board, but that Ms Rutgers had broken specific rules on her flight.
“We can assure you that Virgin Australia welcomes breastfeeding on board our aircrafts, as outlined in our policy,” they wrote on a Facebook post.
“The safety of our guests is always our number one priority and there are a number of CASA regulations that must be followed on board to safeguard this, including ones that apply specifically to infants.
“For privacy reasons, we cannot comment publicly on specific cases.”
Ms Rutgers has vowed never to fly with Virgin Australia again, returning home the following day on a Qantas flight.
Photo: Seven News