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Babies Born on Airplanes

Something that preys on many pregnant moms’ minds… what if I go into labor somewhere remote? Or in a traffic jam? Or on an airplane?

Going into labor on a plane is unusual, mostly because airlines restrict when pregnant women can fly.

Airlines generally don’t let women fly in their third trimester without a doctors letter, and don’t allow pregnant women to fly in their last month or two. And before the last month, airline check-in staff can refuse to let you board the plane for medical reasons, so if you are visibly pregnant and flying, it’s best to check to have a letter from your doctor just in case you encounter an over-zealous check-in agent.

Several premature babies have been born on airplanes, including little Pawan Deep Kaur, born six weeks early on a flight from Hong Kong to Adelaide, last week. Luckily for mom, who was traveling by herself to meet her husband in Australia, there was not just one, but three doctors on board to assist with the birth. Pawan Deep means “ocean air”.

Last year, a British mom gave birth at just 25 weeks in the skies over Germany on a plane bound for Greece. Baby Alfie weighed just over 1 lb and after an emergency landing in London, and several months in the NICU, he’s doing well.

Which leads to an interesting question. A baby born in German airspace, to British parents on a flight to Greece – what nationality does he have?

Actually, there’s a UN ruling that babies born on international flights, and on ships sailing in international waters, the baby receives the nationality of the country in which the airplane was registered in. So Alfie is a British citizen. But if he was born on a Greek plane, he’d have dual British/Greek citizenship.

There was excitement for Pawan Deep Kaur in Australia after his birth – have you heard the rumor that babies born on airplanes receive free travel for the rest of their lives? Turns out that’s just a rumor. You can imagine that some people might be booking flights near their due dates just in case they can score junior a lifetime of free tickets….

A Snopes.com article has two actual incidences of babies born on airplanes being given free rides, and a little more down to earth – a baby born on a BART subway train in San Francisco also reviced a lifetime pass for free rides on BART trains.


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