Yes, there may be sensible extenuating circumstances. There's my disclaimer.
In the plane to Atlanta a baby was crying. Bigger baby--one year old, maybe as old as two. Screaming after a while, and the mom was saying shh, shh, shh, and trying to comfort her but the baby was louder and insistent, and it wasn't pain and it wasn't air sick. It could have been boredom. But it seemed a repeated attempt to appeal to the mom.
After a while I over heard her say to someone "She wants to nurse." So I hoped the person she was talking to was advising her to just DO IT already. But it got worse, and after a while she said louder "She wants me to nurse her." So nurse her! Oh, that was my voice. Three rows up on the other side looking back, into the faces of people agreeing with me, nodding at me and saying, Right, why doesn't she just nurse her? So others said too, "Nurse her," and "poor thing." I said "Nurse her! Nurse her! Nurse her!" like a chearleader, and though others didn't take up the cheer, they were cheered by it. I asked if she needed to borrow a blanket, but I don't know if she heard me.
After maybe ten more minutes of the same sad, repeated scream, the baby got quiet. I didn't look back. I wanted to imagine that the mom had given up and nursed her, rather than that the baby gave up asking.
I've nursed babies in airplanes. Three of them. It's the wonder of biology that a child can be nursed to sleep with happy hormones and the mom can feel content to sit for an hour or two or three. And as moods are contagious, the peace of a sleeping baby can spread.
As moods are contagious, today that child's frustration, indignation and increasing confusion and fear spread. I don't see any downside to nursing a baby. Maybe she was trying to wean her. Okay, not a good day for it. Maybe she wasn't wearing clothes that made it easy to nurse. Mom-problem, then. Maybe she was on medications she couldn't nurse the baby with. Then she should've had a bottle.
If anyone reads this who knows the mom and wants to explain or defend her, there's the comment field. Go ahead. I DID feel sorry for her, but I felt sorrier by far for the daughter. And next, I felt sorry for the others in the plane who had no control over the situation at all, and were helpless. At least the daughter was trying to help. She was trying to reason with her mom.
I hope she's not on the connecting flight. But more than that, I hope she found a place and let her daughter nurse herself into a peaceful stupor. The problem is that some of the peace of their dyad is harmed now. That much screaming isn't good for a baby even in the total absence of witnesses or passengers locked in the same very small cabin.
Be nice to your babies, please, everyone! It really does add to the peace of the world.