Using airport's baby-feeding room as a spittoon

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 July, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 July, 1999, 12:00am

Amidst the current publicity surrounding breast-feeding in Hong Kong, I wish to publicise my very disappointing experience at Chek Lap Kok Airport recently.

On July 16, I went to meet some houseguests at the airport and needed to feed my baby.

I explained to my guests that breast-feeding is not publicly accepted in Hong Kong so whilst they went for a coffee, I would shut myself off in the uncomfortable and unclean baby room.

The baby-changing/feeding room on the arrivals level was out of service and so we trekked to the departures level, and I used the baby room near the check-in row G at around 3pm.

I had just started feeding - not discreetly, since I believed I was in a 'safe' place - when two local workmen appeared beside me! I jumped in surprise, which caused my baby to vomit and start crying.

These workmen were on their way through the baby room to an airport service duct. Since one of them was very surprised to see me (though why, considering he was in the only operational baby-feeding room at the airport?) and apologetic, I assumed that they would not return through the baby room or, at least, would knock first so I knew they were coming.

My baby and I settled down to feed again but, a little later, both workmen, without warning, reappeared from the service duct and trekked back through the baby room. Before they had exited, another airport worker entered and one of the three noisily cleared his throat and spat into the sink behind me - a charming accompaniment to breast-feeding.

Before we had left the baby room, there was another throat-clearing/spitting session by another airport worker who entered the room.

It is bad enough feeling uncomfortable breast-feeding in public places in Hong Kong, without feeling 'tricked' into using an 'appropriate' place and then suffering such an unpleasant experience.

From this experience, I can only conclude that the baby-feeding room is no more than a spittoon for airport workers and a corridor for workmen to enter and exit the service duct.

Would the Airport Authority care to explain? ELIZABETH BARNES Pokfulam