Back to Squawk list
  • 46

Flight attendants want to ban lap babies on planes

When the seat belt light blinks on, every passenger buckles up except for one group of fliers: lap babies. Unrestrained children sharing a seat with their parents are exempt from the safety mandate, presenting a growing concern amid recent incidents of severe turbulence. ... Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “The G-forces are not something even the most loving mother or father can guard against and hold their child. It’s just physically… ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Didier Féminier 19
I was in Oklahoma City's FAA test facility representing the Canadian Aviation Safety Board when tests of infants restraint systems for babies on adults' laps were being tested. They used mannequins which had the size and weight repartition similar to that of an average infant. They also had a bladder inside the mannequin to measure the internal pressure. The idea at the time was to evaluate the "loop and strap" system that some airlines were already promoting and using as a safety device for infants on parents' laps. It consisted of a loop around the adult's seatbelt strap and a belt around the baby with a short strap attaching the loop to the baby's strap. After the tests, the anthropomorphologist who designed the mannequins was stunned: he had never seen a bladder made of thick rubber explode inside one of his mannequins! The baby was doomed two ways: the pressure that would destroy the internal organs, and the hull fracture against the bottom of the seat in front of the baby in the adult's lap. Furthermore, this adult would also be killed because of his/her body's belly violently wrapping around the baby's body. For the adult, the internal pressure wouldn't be survivable. I can't remember for sure, but I believe the tests were done in the late 80's, early 90's. Seems like I am the only one to remember ...!
Lynn Mccarthy 10
my daughter recently flew British Airways with her 6 month old snd they provided a seat belt extension as well as a baby seat with straps that was fixed to the aircraft. why dont all airlines do this.
ejjacob 8
The NIIMBY syndrome is alive and well. Why would we ever learn from the Europeans - and vice versa! BA is not the only European airline that enforces this sensible requirement. Aer Lingus does also.
And, another requirement that European airlines enforce is that window shades be open for take-off and landing. A small item - but it helps to orientate the passenger in the event a rapid evacuation is required. This requirement is simply given lip service - with no effort to ensure compliance in the US.
Why can't we all agree on safety requirements - especially those that make sense!
John Taylor 1
In the event of a forward impact, that parent's forward momentum would squish that baby into Jello.
matt jensen 1
On some Canadian carriers, there were cribs provided on the bulkhead seats - one high, one low. Babies never bounced out
bbabis 28
It's federal law and common sense that babies be strapped into an approved car seat anytime in a vehicle. Aren't airplanes vehicles?
John Taylor 7
And school buses too...
wayne holder 7
I like this thought but then the airlines would need to change the seats in order to have the child restraint anchors like the cars have
Jennie Lindqvist 7
You can use the lapbelt to attach any car seat. Just like in the car. Only thing we’d need is slightly wider seats and preferably a bit more space between rows to do a safe install.
John Taylor 6
If they won't change spacing for paying customers, they ain't doing it for babies.
Dale Ballok 3
Yes, but you don’t have to pay for using the seat in your car!
John Taylor 5
Then don't fly.
William Whitcomb 1
Unless somebody else is paying for you car you are paying for the seat.
Flora Brands 7
I started this fight back in the 80's as a flt attendant. When I had my own children I would strap them to my own seatbelt with a specially designed belt for baby and I actually had flt attendants tell me to unstrap them so they were free to fly about the cabin! What? It has always been an absurd idea to leave our most vulnerable completely unrestrained!
Sorak 1
When I worked on an ambulance we called unrestrained animals in the car puppy projectiles for this reason.
Ron Slater 19
While we are at it, please ban lap dogs too. I was in an F seat window seat, empty middle seat, and a rather large woman with a very excitable yap yap dog in the D seat. Right after take off, she gets the dog out of her carrier and put it on her lap. If we had to evacuate the aircraft all bets were off.
Tim Dyck 2
I would like to go back to the days were dogs were not allowed in the passenger aria.
Michael Morris 12
The laws of physics applies to babies as well as backpacks. Strap them in so they are not projectiles. There are ways to do this; let’s protect everyone, including the child.
Michael Penney 6
My two grand children have flown as infants in car seat on planes Facing back and as toddlers facing forward. Mom even found some straps to attach car seat to her rolling bag for the terminal walk.
Mark Bell 10
I thought babies went in the overhead bin...?
Tim Dyck 1
Do they count as a piece of carry on?
Susan Duquette 4
If a discounted ticket was offered to parents of young children, I believe they would like a second set. If tickets were purchased at the same time, identifying the baby/toddler, than a %50 discount could be claimed. It's the cost that stops parents.
Mike Mohle 8
Then there will be a lot of 7yo "toddlers", like all of the fake "service dogs". No one would abuse that!
William Whitcomb 2
I agree it is a financial decision by parents and even though I did it myself it is not a good decision. If you remove the option then the economic motivation changes. Most parents don't understand the risk, they mistakenly assume it must not be that bad or they wouldn't be allowed to do it.
John Taylor 4
I agree. Let's put 'em in the cargo hold so the rest of the passengers don't have to listen to them squawking all through the flight.
PS. Don't get your panties in a bunch, I'm only kidding for those of you who take life too seriously.
William Whitcomb 2
I think if you put seatbelts, heat and a little pressurization down there it would be completely reasonable to put a variety of passengers down there that are unable to get on the plane, sit quietly, get off the plane. Maybe put tethers like in a military transport.
Tim Dyck 1
I can think of a few passengers I have shared the cabin with in the past that could go down there. And no need for pressurizing or oxygen…
William Whitcomb 6
Sadly, I think it is an economic decision from the industry. If you had to buy a seat for babies some percentage of customers wouldn't fly. This lost revenue likely equals or exceeds the cost of killing an occasional baby. Since it is a civil matter, nobody is actually punished. It is paid by insurance, which is paid by your airfare. Your ticket price is the cost of doing business plus profit. Everything that goes wrong just becomes part of the cost of doing business.

Don't rely on the government and the airline to make you be a good parent. Buy a ticket and strap the kid in.
Marcus Giddens 1
This model is as you say, sadly that of many businesses. We are just number now.
Marcus Giddens 1
This model is as you say, sadly that of many businesses. We are just numbers to the. Sad.

Just flew back from a long trip through Turkiye and Austria last night, always sad to see the state of our infrastructure compared to "third world" and EU countries.
Tom Williams 3
It is about time. I totally agree with the flight attendants.
zahid major 7
The proposal is worth adpotion by the aviation industry and Airline Saftey Masters. Mother with a baby in lap may forget or ignore baby's safety in any emergent or unexpected turbulance which may be fatal for the infant baby by being pressed against elbows or arms of the mother or agains the seatback in the front. Only to save a seat (airfare), the life if a baby is being put to such a hvy risk which is against basic human right to live/safety. The proposal is strogly recommended for adoption as early as possible by the stakeholders includdive of Human Right Commission of the UN.
David Rice 4
Riiiight….the UN’s HRC should have ANY input to the FAA’s rulemaking…great idea. That ought to keep the moron community quiet. /s
John Taylor 3
Exactly. Like I want the UN mandating anything for America in any form.
Lee Smith 8
YES!!!I will side with the Flight Attendants. That weight of a small baby, not strapped in, is a deadly missile , once the child is launched into the air and comes flying down the aisle. Or even worse, under the seats.
Dan Grelinger 6
Wow. The bias in this article is amazing. Are the sheep falling for it again?

First up, "The tragedy that haunts Nelson occurred in 1989, when United Flight 232 crash-landed in Sioux City, Iowa. Following protocol, the flight attendants instructed the parents to wrap their unbuckled babies in blankets and place them on the floor. Three of the infants suffered injuries, and one died." I looked it up. "Of the 296 passengers and crew on board, 112 died during the accident, while 184 people survived." So 112 people died, including the one infant. How many infants would have died if they had been strapped into their seats like the other 111 poor souls whose seat belt did them no good whatsoever.

Next up, "In 1994, the debate reemerged when a little girl sitting on her mother’s lap died in a USAir crash in Charlotte." I looked that one up too. "There were 52 passengers (including two infants) on board. The crash and ensuing fire caused 37 fatalities and seriously injured twenty others."

OK, so the infant death rate was no worse than the adults strapped into their seats? Would the second infant have been less likely to have been carried out of a burning airplane if it was strapped to a seat.

Let's let REAL DATA drive this decision. The FAA and NTSB are extremely data driven. I suspect that the REAL UNBIASED data indicates that lives won't be saved by strapping helpless infants into seats that they have no way of getting themselves out of in case of an accident and fire.
William Whitcomb 4
Babies of the size that fall under this exception have no ability to exit an airplane on their own whether seat belted or not. I would think it would be easier to locate and take your infant with you if you didn't have to look for them first because they flew to a different part of the plane. I don't think that argument would be relevant.

Seatbelts, and most other safety features in a plane are designed around a survivable incident. Typically turbulence or events on the runway. Both flights you cite are not the type of events where a seatbelt will make a big difference but science would say keeping you secured in place will help if you should survive the impact or fire. If a plane drills into the ground vertical at 500 Kts or hits a wing and bursts into flame you are correct that a seatbelt may not help but it didn't harm either.

You could equally argue that 184 people on United 232 survived in part because they wore their seatbelt.
John DeMaria 4
Good luck finding a car seat that fits an economy airline seat.

Safest policy would be to ban children under two years of age on flights. All other children would be required to have their own seat.
Exactly. And this would reduce the screaming children of this age range.
Alan Dahl 2
Back in the 1960s the bulkhead row had fittings for a bassinet for passengers with babies. The baby then could ride in the bassinet and the passenger didn't have to hold it. I imagine from our perspective they weren't all that safe but one could imagine a rear-facing child seat that could be safely attached to a bulkhead somehow.
Michael Hawke 2
Safer yet if we just ban everyone from flying. Guess none should be allowed in cars since more people die by car crash in a day then airplane crashes in a year.
John Taylor 1
If you're too short to safely ride a ride in a friggin' amusement park, maybe being too small to fly might not be a bad idea. Your car isn't doing around 200 MPH like a jet at take-off and landing.
Jeffrey Weingrad 5
Good luck getting them to stay in their seat for hours and hours, or nearly a whole day, while the adults are sneaking their seatbelt off, or animals are roaming around. When they require this on city buses, trains, and so on I'll budge.

Also, lot of odd comments equating babies as projectiles as that's their only concern. So is your laptop.

I'm talking about this from a practical perspective, not as a right or wrong. People should be strapped in, but like the mask "debate", is it doable?
Jennie Lindqvist 4
Most kids actually feel safe in their car seats and are a lot calmer than semi strapped in.
Dan Grelinger 1
This article is about real infants. Not imaginary ones. And it’s also not about 6 year olds who might just behave as you suggest.
david fairchild 5
How about all these damned animals that are being brought into the cabins now? Last flight I was on, there were 3 dogs on board. They weren't strapped in either.
Tim Dyck 1
They should never have allowed that.
James Wilson 2
On a related topic, I was waiting for an uber ride at the BNA airport and noticed several families with babies and small children get into cars with no car seats. Sounds like a liability problem if there was ever an accident.
Christine Ghent 4
Agree ! 1. One body per seat. Children unable to be safely secured in a regular seat restraint should be required to use an FAA approved car seat or booster seat provided by the passenger.
2. If flight leaves not fully booked, refund partial cost of the seat.
3. Flying is statistically safer than most anything else that could harm a child, but one bad turbulence event can be life ending - kids and adults alike. Why risk it? Buckle up!
sparkie624 6
This would be good... Mothers are going to fight it, but it is for the best for the Child. If they truly love their Child, then that is what is best for them. If they are not in a seat properly secured and something happens, it is not the Airlines Fault... It is Selfish Parents not wanting to secure their children in a safe manor. All the child will do on the mothers lap is to cushion the mothers blow against the seat in front of them in a crash...
ImperialEagle 2
The airlines have fought this issue at every turn since WWII.
The mentality of "we pay a lot of insurance and we need to cash in on it from time to time" still prevails.
If the Aviation Insurance Underwriters took a stand on this issue the airlines would be forced to insist on the public buying a seat for a baby, and bring their car-seat.
The baby would be much safer. But, we are no longer living in a rational society.
The public would howl at the cost.
prudencio8 1
It's about time the airline companies provide baby passengers with some kind of a collapsible, lightweight, and durable airline seat for a fee ...or free depending on how business-minded the airline company is.
swanaero1 1
Yet the F/As at Air Canada/WestJet prevent the use of kelty packs. There was an accident in northern sask/Manitoba where they found the baby underneath the captains dash
cyberjet 1
That's because just like holding them in your lap, a kelty pack is a death sentence for the infant in a survivable accident. Read Didier Féminier's posting to this article, it's all right there.
Richard Phelps 1
This is a no-brainer. Of course implement such a ban. Period, end of story.
David Rice -5
Agree, lap babies are a danger induced by cheap parents. Parents of kids that small should either buy a seat and use a car seat, or simply not fly until their kids are older. Additionally, there should be a ticket surcharge on kids that young to encourage these parents to keep their kids at home while they’re that young.
elena psenicnik 3
This is seriously a narrow minded comment. How can you assume parents have the option of leaving young kids at home? Not everyone travels for leisure. My parents travelled for work and had to take us along. The reality is, children( as other members of society ) need to travel and and should do so safely.
Linda Stone 1
A cool thing called “the internet” and “Zoom” has come about since your parents traveled for work.
Michael Penney 2
Or a ticket discount to encourage safety.
Steve Taylor 2
So they'll drive, which is demonstrably much less safe than flying.
John Taylor 2
Puts the onus on the parent rather than the airline.
Mark Jenkins 0
I strongly agree that babies/toddlers flying unrestrained is an unconscionable act given the requirements for restraining them in other vehicles. Is it really the case that parents *must* fly, and hence must take their kids with them on a plane, yet they can't afford to buy the kids a seat? What happens when the kids are just slightly older and they have to have their own seat anyway? Somehow the parents either don't fly or can afford the seat them? The time window when parents can "save" money by not buying the kids a ticket is relatively short.

My kids didn't fly until my wife and I believed that they could do so safely, in an FAA-approved child safety seat, with their own ticketed seat. that meant that we didn't go places we had to fly to at first, and later that we only traveled by air when we could afford the kid's ticket(s).

The idea that flying is substantially safer than driving may be true on a passenger/miles basis, but don't forget that each round trip by air has two automobile trips on each end in what is probably the highest risk environment, getting from a home/hotel to the airport and back.
Brian Freeman -2
I think I'd rather have soft "lap babies" flying around to help cushion MY impact in a turbulence event. I mean, if a parent isn't smart enough to strap the kid down, the kid doesn't have much of a future ahead anyway. It might as well serve some useful purpose during its brief existence.
John Taylor 1
I see you're down voters don't have a sense of humor.
James Werner 0
I have to wonder how the worst-case-scenario of injury by the "loop-and-strap" restraint would compare to the injury consequences as an unrestrained projectile?
Alison Stephen 0
Why the EMS-C and other safety organizations haven’t gotten into thus I don’t understand. I’ve seen lap kids bounce against both the seats in front AND the overhead bins. Where are the rusk managers for the airlines??? You know those same parents won’t hesitate to sue when their child sustains injury.
Dinah Shaw -2
Good idea. They used to ban kids in First Class. I loved .
elena psenicnik 1
When was that ? I'm a Gen xer and was never banned from first class as a youth. Though I do remember not being able to sit at the bar in a 747.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.