Could you imagine being 21, not pregnant, of average build, and asked for a medical clearance to stay aboard a flight in front of all the other passengers?
Actually, especially among mothers, the incidence of being asked about a pregnancy when not actually pregnant is something that has humiliatingly happened to the majority of child-bearing age females at one point or another — whether it is in the awkward post-partum period or just during some premenstrual puffiness that always seems to strike on yoga pants day.
But the public pregnancy accusation nightmare happened to 21-year-old New Zealand woman Kelsey Hughes in one of the most mortifying ways imaginable. Hughes — a woman of average size who does not look to be pregnant, much less at such an advanced stage of pregnancy that flying on an airplane becomes questionable — was approached by cabin staff while boarding her JetStar flight and asked for clearance to prove she wouldn’t go into labor and make the flight awkward for everyone else.
Hughes was boarding a flight from Wellington to Christchurch when she says the embarrassing exchange occurred. A local news source quotes the young woman as she describes being mistaken for a pregnant lady:
“‘[A Jetstar staff member] came over to me, holding up the whole queue, and said: Excuse me, ma’am, do you have a medical certificate to fly?
“‘I said: A medical certificate? No, why?’, and he said: You need a medical certificate to fly with your pregnancy.'”
Take a second to cringe on behalf of the poor girl. Go ahead.
Hughes said she then informed the man she was not actually pregnant, and she says:
“‘He said: Oh. Really? Oops. Sorry!’, then just turned around and walked away. He just brushed it off as though it was a simple mistake that anyone could make.'”
The woman, who explains she was “absolutely humiliated at the gate in front of god knows how many people,” requested an apology from the Jetstar staff member who made the remark. A customer service agent replied to Hughes:
“I can confirm that the staff member involved is very sorry for any embarrassment this has caused and didn’t want to inflame the situation any further by discussing this again with you mid-flight … He feels terrible about this and feels for you as he can imagine the embarrassment and hurt this must have caused.”
In addition to an apology, Hughes was offered a $100 voucher for future travel. Have you ever been asked about a pregnancy when you haven’t been pregnant, and found it mortifying?