Breastfeeding Mom Says She Was Kicked Off Flight: 'I Wasn't Holding a Gun'

Health - Deborah Hastings

A Texas mom says she was booted off a Spirit Airlines flight after breastfeeding her 2-year-old son.

Mei Rui, a concert pianist and cancer researcher, was on a business trip with her child and her elderly parents. The flight from Houston to Newark, N.J., was delayed several times because of weather and Rui's son was tired and crying, she said.

"I started nursing him so he could fall back asleep," Rui told Wednesday. A crew member told her to immediately buckle the boy in his seat. The plane was still at the gate and the cabin door was open, she said. 

"I said, 'Please give me a couple more minutes,' so he would be in a deeper sleep," the mom said. "I think she wasn't happy I didn't immediately buckle him in."

Rui said she did strap her boy into his seat, but 20 minutes later, she and her family were thrown off the plane.

Shaky cell phone footage shot by Rui shows her asking a Spirit representative why she was ordered to leave the jetliner.

She initially thought it was because her son was loudly crying, she said.

The agent told her it was because she failed to comply with the flight crew.

In a statement, Spirit supported the flight attendants' decision. 

"Our records indicate a passenger was removed from Flight 712 after refusing to comply with crew instructions several times during taxi to runway and safety briefing," the statement said. "To protect the safety of our guests and crew, FAA regulations and airline policies require all passengers to stay seated and buckled during takeoff and landing."

"I was very embarrassed," Rui said. "I don't know why it was necessary to get the captain or police involved. My parents were terrified because we've never experienced anything close to this."

The airlines refunded their tickets, she said, but she will no longer fly with the carrier.

"I was a mother holding my toddler. I wasn't holding a gun," she said. "I don't know why they had to remove us."