Kate Aulette was "livid" after security didn't let her into an Ariana Grande concert because of her breast pump. And now she's speaking out.

By Rebecca Macatee
April 16, 2019
Ariana Grande
Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock

April 16, 2019

For Kate Aulette, a working, breastfeeding mom of two, a kid-free night out happens once in a blue moon. That's why she was really looking forward to seeing Ariana Grande in concert last Friday. But when she finally got to the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan, there was a problem: Security wouldn't allow Aulette to bring her breast pump into the venue.

Aulette's Facebook post about the frustrating ordeal has gained a lot of attention, and for good reason. For one thing, a breastfeeding pump is a medical device, meaning it should be allowed through security checkpoints. But on top of that, Aulette says she called guest services at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday to confirm bringing her pump wouldn't pose any problems.

A representative for the venue verified she "would be allowed to bring [the pump]" even though it wasn't in a clear, plastic bag. Grande and her team only allow clear, plastic bags at her shows following the tragic Manchester bombing that took place in 2017. Aulette said she was "not against this by any means" and understood how the rule made things "safe and more efficient for everyone."  

When she got to security with pump in tow Friday night, a security guard told her she couldn't bring it into the concert. "I explained that I called ahead and was told this an approved medical item and would not have any issues," she said.

Aulette said the guard "[searched] everything...and then [proceeded] to tell me no, it's not a medical device and refused to let me in." She asked to see a manager, who then said, "that I was not allowed to bring this device in unless I had my baby with me."

Obviously, if Aulette had her 7-month-old baby with her, she wouldn't need to bring the pump! She tried to explain it was necessary "to express milk" when she's not with her infant, but the employee still didn't let her in. Aulette said she asked to speak to this gentleman's supervisor and got the same response. "I was livid," she said, "and so were several other people from my group that this was happening once they realized what the hold up was."

According to Aulette, the employees told her she could check her pump with guest services at another venue, but if she needed to use it before the end of Grande's show, she wouldn't be readmitted to the concert.

Fortunately, the bus Aulette and her friends rented wasn't parked too far away. She was able to pump there and then return to the arena. Yet the whole experience really put a damper on the evening.

"Honestly if I would have known ahead of time that I would not be allowed to bring my pump I would have made other arrangements to pump," Aulette wrote. "It wasn't right that I was turned away with my pump, it's something that I need to carry with me when I am not with my baby."

After her post went viral and was covered by multiple media outlets nationwide, Aulette posted an update. "[Little Caesars Arena] reached out to me and felt terrible that this was my experience," she wrote. "They were embarrassed and their facility is equipped for nursing/pumping mothers. They offered to make it right and bring me back, but for me it wasn't about that. All I asked is that they have better communication between all staff members and to be [educated] on breastfeeding and pumping so another fellow momma doesn't have to go through this."

In a statement to Parents.com, the company confirmed: "Our staff at Little Caesars Arena is committed to providing a first-class guest service experience and we appreciate our guests’ feedback. We spoke with the guest and satisfied a concern regarding the admittance of breast pumps from last Friday’s Ariana Grande concert. Little Caesars Arena has a policy that allows guests to bring breast pumps and other medical equipment into the venue, and provides a Mothers Room, located on the concourse for use by nursing mothers. This policy has been reinforced with the guest service staff to avoid any future misinterpretations."