What Happens When Someone Goes Into Labour Mid-Flight?

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Photo credit: Fancy Crave/Flickr

Let’s talk about your regular in-flight entertainment options. Depending on the airline and the flight you’ve chosen, you can either:

A. Read the newspaper and catch up on current affairs
B. Binge watch any of the latest television series available
C. Get a little tipsy with the help of the in-flight alcohol selection
D. Wonder if any of the pregnant ladies on board will go into labour

But let’s take a look at option D today; especially with the Jet Airways incident over the weekend.

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While statistics in this area is a little sparse, there are five documented cases of women going into labour mid-flight last year in 2016, with three instances like it already having been reported this year. So, if you’re considering the possibility of selecting ‘in-flight’ as your birthing suite, or if you’re just a tad curious, here’s what happens when someone goes into labour on a plane.

Exciting arrivals (or not)

Pilots feel that it’s in the best interest of a baby to be delivered safely, you know, in a sterile environment by group of professionals on ground. However, if a passenger goes into active labour while the plane is airborne, the pilot typically opts for an emergency landing to get mother and child to hospital.

But if that baby starts popping out of momma anyway…

Flight UN-fancy

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Photo credit: moltods.com

As most airlines have restrictions for heavily pregnant women travelling, an on-the-fly labour generally means the babies are born premature. Couple that with the fact that cabin crews are not normally trained to deliver babies, things will be tense at best.

Even if the pilot does expertly maneuver the plane on ground without a hitch, as a fellow passenger, don’t expect the plane to be going anywhere anytime soon. The aircraft will need to go through the usual checks and balances, and maybe even refuel before taking off again.

Wait. What about the baby’s nationality?

Pregnant women have been flying for as long as women have been flying. So it’s not a stretch to say that women have been giving birth on board aircrafts for similarly as long. The question of a baby’s nationality when born aboard aircrafts and ships is a subject that has a long history with international laws. Often time, the child will just have the same nationality as their mother and/or parents, but some reports say that citizenship can and has been awarded based on the airspace that the mother was flying in, the aircraft’s nationality, or even various other citizenship laws which, as we know, differ from country to country.

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Photo credit: chuttersnap/Unsplash

(As you can imagine, things get a little complicated…)

Free flight for life!

Okay, not really. Only a fraction of the mile-high birth club has been offered free flights; like last Sunday’s incident saw Jet Airways promise the child born aboard their craft free flights for life. In other such instances, Virgin Atlantic granted one baby free flights until the age of 21 and Jazeera Airways offered a baby girl the cabin crew helped deliver free flights until the age of 18. While that’s probably more valuable than any stroller, cashmere blanket or sippy cup set, it’s probably wise to remember that other on-board pregnancies didn’t earn the mother or baby anything more than a free ride to the hospital.

When in doubt as to whether or not all this will be part of your pregnancy travel tale, consult your doctor before you make travel plans while expecting.

 

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Sue May
Wine drinker. Whimsy finder. Word writer. Sue May is a fan of big words and arcane definitions. Fascinated with stories, this honorary Geordie enjoys stumbling down well-trodden paths, roads less travelled by, and meeting new people. (Sometimes she writes about them.)

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