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Health, etiquette concerns raised after mom changes baby's diaper at seat during flight
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 4:42PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 6:39PM MST
An Edmonton-area woman is raising concerns after a mother sitting near her on a recent flight changed her baby’s diaper at the seat instead of in the bathroom.
Gillian Linard is a frequent flyer, and says she was shocked when, on a recent flight, a woman sitting in front of her chose to change her baby’s diaper at the seat.
“I thought, ‘why hasn’t she gone to the bathroom like everyone else does?’” Linard said.
“The lady next to me was rolling her eyes and you could just tell, people were shocked… I didn't say anything but the people around me were visibly disgusted also."
Linard claims the mother did not wash her hands after she changed her baby’s diaper.
She couldn’t believe the airline didn’t force the mother to use a bathroom and she’s concerned about potential health risks.
“The bathrooms are there for a reason,” Linard said.
“I think it’s a health issue. They don’t allow adults to do it in their seat… Fecal matter is fecal matter and it doesn’t matter if it comes from a little baby or an adult.”
Many airlines don't have diaper change policies
CTV News contacted several Canadian and U.S.-based airlines that fly out of Edmonton to see what their policies were on in-flight diaper changes.
None of the airlines that were contacted – including Air Transat, West Jet, Air Canada, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Delta, have an official policy that bans diaper changing at the seat, but, most said they encourage passengers to use the airplane’s washroom.
“While we do not have a hard and fast rule, the vast majority of parents travelling with us use the aircraft lavatories to change their babies and dispose diapers,” Air Canada said in a statement to CTV.
“We do offer fold-down changing tables in the restrooms onboard our aircraft, however parents may choose to change their baby's diaper in their seating area, if they want,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement to CTV.
Linard hopes that changes.
She’s tried contacting her local M.P., and Service Canada to see if policies can be put in place, but admits she hasn’t had much luck in her efforts.
'Infringing on other people's space'
Meanwhile, when it comes to social etiquette, Joanne Blake, an etiquette consultant, says changing diapers at the seat is inappropriate.
"I think you are infringing on other people's space and it could dirty the seat, the smell is an issue, for example,” Blake said.
But Blake says passengers should be mindful of what parents may be dealing with.
“As a passenger, it’s a hard thing to ask a parent to take their kid to the bathroom. That’s where I think you would enlist the help of the flight attendant,” she said. “It’s hard to do it on your own.”
Local mother Melissa Sullivan has a 19-month-old baby, and admits when baby Makayla was a newborn, she was changed at the seat on flights.
Now that she’s older, Sullivan uses the bathroom.
"You have to be respectful and that's going to the bathroom with the children,” she said.
With files from Laura Lowe