Occasionally we hear about the rare occurrence of babies being born on planes via social media or in newspapers. The latest delivery being a baby girl born on a Turkish Airlines flight on 7 April this year. How often does this happen? What nationality are they assigned? We take a closer look at flying while pregnant and the risk of delivering on board.
The history of babies born on board
In 1990 on board a British Airways flight from Ghana to the UK, a British woman gave birth to her daughter Shona Kristy Yves (Initials SKY) while flying close to London. Nearly a year later, on the same flight another British woman gave birth flying over Paris. In 2015 a woman flying with her spouse from Calgary, Canada to Tokyo, Japan for a holiday didn’t even know she was pregnant when she went into labour mid-air. Double the shock we can imagine!
In the past there have been cases of women wanting their babies to be born in other countries in order to get citizenship, which lead to in-flight births requiring medical staff and causing discomfort to the mother and inconvenience to fellow passengers.
Is it legal to fly while pregnant?
Flying when pregnant is legal, however, you are not allowed to fly after week 32 of the pregnancy (sometimes later depending on the airline). Some airlines require a ‘fit to fly’ document issued by a doctor for women wanting to fly after week 28 of the pregnancy. There is always a risk of babies being born prematurely, therefore airlines urge passengers to consider carefully whether or not it is safe to fly.
Which nationality is assigned to babies born in the air?
This can sometimes be difficult to determine. In most cases, babies born in the air will be assigned the nationality of the airspace the airline is in at that moment. For example, babies born in US airspace will receive an American citizenship. If the country does not allow this, the baby will receive the parents’ nationality or the nationality of the country where the airline is registered.
Free flights for life
Unfortunately this is a big myth. There have been airlines awarding their plane babies with free flights, but that is not the case for most of them. Although sometimes they give you a free trip to your favourite city, or they name a plane after you. Which isn’t too bad either, right?!
If you are considering flying while pregnant, always consult your doctor and check the rules of the airline you want to fly with. The last thing you want while pregnant is to deal with the stress of being refused on the flight!
Photo ©: Airlines.net