This week, a Turkish Airlines cabin crew helped deliver a baby mid-flight after an expectant mama boarded the plane 28 weeks into her pregnancy. The airline tweeted that the baby girl came into the world safe and healthy — and the arrival was certainly exciting. (All's well that ends well, right?)
The fact is, it's up to the airline to be the final say as to when a woman is too advanced in her pregnancy to fly, but most set this limit at 24 to 28 weeks. (The Mayo Clinic says it is OK for women without high-risk pregnancies to fly as late as 36 weeks). Passengers can bring a doctor's note OKing them to fly — although not all airlines accept this.
But take heed if you're prone to walking (flying) on the wild side: Most travel insurance plans will not cover your care if you break the rules of flying within eight weeks of your due date.
Aside from the precautions to avoid such situations — which are statistically very rare — some surprising things happen when moms do go into labor and deliver at cruising altitude. Such as:
1. Airlines go to great lengths to avoid it.
If a passenger is in active labor, pilots will typically immediately opt for an emergency landing to allow the mother to deliver safely on the ground. But if that baby comes...
2. The nationality is in question.
As stated on the KLM blog, often times the determination is pretty basic and the child will just have the same nationality as the mother. But, CNN reports that the actual nationality really could be dependent on the airspace the mother is flying in. It's different for every country. Citizenship is not automatically conferred to those born in Britain (or U.K. airspace), but in the United States, even a child born in the country's waters or airspace is a U.S. citizen by birth. As you can imagine, people have been accused of flying heavily pregnant in the hopes of achieving desired citizenship for their offspring.
3. Contrary to popular mythology, the kid doesn't always get free flights for life (but might).
According to CNN, it has happened, but it's not the norm. Thai Airways, Asia Pacific Airlines, AirAsia, and Polar Airlines have all given babies lifetime free flights in the past. Virgin Atlantic granted one baby free flights until the age of 21. And that's way more valuable than any burp cloth or rattle on the gift table at a baby shower.
Photo: Turkish Airlines
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