I’ve talked about flight attendants wanting permanent mask mandates and no food or drinks onboard. Turn outs out there is another issue that I was previously unaware of: flight attendants also want lap infants banned.
Flight Attendants Want Lap Infants Banned (Requiring Babies To Have Their Own Seat)
In her testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation, the Association of Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson also warned of the dangers of lap infants:
If you visit the FAA’s website today, you would learn that federal safety officials consider the use of child restraint seats (CRS) the safest way for infants and small children to fly. The website is explicit that “[y]our arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.” However, the use of CRS remains a recommendation, 20 years after the American Academy of Pediatrics first called on the FAA to require CRS. Infants and children under the age of two continue to fly on laps without their own seat. It is past time to mandate flight protection for our youngest passengers, and as we consider social distancing and mask concerns it is certainly time to implement this regulation for the safety of our smallest passengers and everyone on board with them.
Admittedly, I had no idea the was even an issue. I get her point…but like so much in life, it seems to be a risk/benefit analysis and the cost of purchasing an extra seat for an infant might 1.) only add a marginal safety improvement and 2.) be financially burdensome or even prohibitive on families traveling with children.
Discerning the cost versus safety value is not something I am competent to do here, but I am interested in a discussion.
Do any of you, dear readers, actually buy an extra seat for your infant so that s/he can be placed in a CRS?
I will say that I’m fairly confident I can carefully hold my 11-month-old daughter in the case of turbulence, even severe turbulence…
The president of the nation’s most powerful flight attendant union has called for a lap infants ban, noting that it is unsafe. Does she have a point or is the risk simply not worth the cost and other safety concerns of placing infants in their own seat?
Yes, please ban them!
Any way we can ban flight attendants? I’ll gladly take responsibility for my own “safety”. I’ll even help others if I feel like it.
Am waiting for Sara Nelson to testify about the need to ban all paying pax as a safety measure…
Yes, ban flight attendants for all flights under so many hours. We seem to do ok when we hop on a Greyhound bus and are able to read the exit signs and put our seat belts on.
There’s a special seat belt that attaches to the existing seat belt, meant for lap babies. I’ve seen it used on international carriers, however I have yet to see it on any domestic carriers. It would be a simple solution that takes up barely any space, and would be a lot more customer friendly, instead of an outright ban.
Here’s an example – https://www.flyingwithababy.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/IMG_0606-1024×768.jpg
Wasn’t there a child harness that someone developed years ago that attaches to the torso, specifically designed for airplane use? I don’t know if it ever got approval, but I’m guessing it wasn’t. IMHO, that would’ve been (or would be) a decent alternative to a seat for an infant that balances safety, risk, and cost (and maybe even comfort, allowing hands/arms of the adult to be free).
If the cost of an extra ticket leads a family to drive rather than fly then the child is less safe. Indeed, such a policy will lead to more accident deaths. This is known as ‘statistical murder’.
You may be retarded. Just FYI.
BA called it a “belly belt” and it’s not approved by the FAA. It’s also completely useless. In an accident, it guarantees you crush the child. And no, in an accident, you cannot hold onto your child. This is gruesome, but if I remember correctly, in the UA SUX DC-10 crash, not a single infant survived. They all became unguided missiles.
Matthew may be able to hold an infant in severe turbulence but there are two scenarios this doesn’t cover. Crash landing, which is rare, and the onset of sudden turbulence. I was once on a flight that was very smooth then, suddenly, my butt floated out of the seat about 2-3 inches! Somebody in the lavatory reportedly hit their head on the ceiling. Of course, an infant seat would help only if being used at the exact moment.
On the other hand, the alternative is having the rule and then having deaths due to the family driving instead of flying. Such reasoning has been a part of the FAA’s previous decision making.
There’s no clear cut answer. In a way, there have been decisions like this for cars. All cars need tire pressure monitoring system, front and side airbags, back up cameras, traction control, and a bunch of other stuff that significantly increase the price of a car.
Lorenzo, above, is correct. UA232 had 4 lap kids. All died,
At the time of UA232’s crash, the standard “crash position” for lap infants was to put them on the floor in front of your seat. That is what the FAs instructed the parents to do. Of course, none survived. It was shortly after that the position was amended to have them remain on your lap, while the parent assumes the brace position, and simultaneously cradling the child with one arm, and still remains as the accepted position to this day.
Infants on planes is a touchy issue for many frequent fliers. As a childless person, I don’t think we should ban lap infants in economy. As long as there is one adult per child and they are willing to hold the child throughout the flight then I have no issue. I do thing we should stop allowing it in premium classes. As infants often cry (understandably) and create smelly situations if not potty trained (also completely understandable) , my opinion is if those parents are comfortable with possibly disturbing people who have paid for a comfortable flight then they should at least pay for the privilege.
Try listening to some interviews with Jan Brown, who was the Purser on United Flight 232 and her trying to tell panicking parents of four children to “hold on tight.” Three had injuries. One died after flying from his mothers arms.
Yes we bought a ticket for our infant daughter pre-pandemic. She sat in her car seat… We bought a CARES device for our Hawaii flight next week.
“be financially burdensome or even prohibitive on families traveling with children…”
Children are expensive. If your lifestyle includes traveling, take that into consideration.
Sara Nelson is a menace to society.
Sorry but as a 27 year flight attendant I have to agree with Sara on this one: buy a seat for FAA approved car seat or DONT fly. You will NOT protect your child in any lap child situation in any emergency . Matthew, shame onyoufor arguing anything’but.
One more time. A belly belt is a guaranteed child killer. You will not hold onto your child in an emergency, Buy a ticket for a child seat or dont fly.
Hi Lorenzo, see Gary’s comment above — there’s risk in everything. It’s a risk I am willing to take.
“I’ve talked about flight attendants wanting permanent mask mandates and no food or drinks onboard. Turn outs out there is another issue that I was previously unaware of: flight attendants also want lap infants banned.”
No, you’ve talked about what Sara Nelson wants, not what flight attendants want. Stop denigrating us by tarring us with her brush. She’s a politician, not a flight attendant. When was the last time she put on a uniform and picked up a bag of trash?
Ok, that’s fair enough.
My kids have been flying since they were just months old, we’ve always bought them seats and taught them as young as possible to stay buckled up. Matthew, I very sincerely hope that you never have to learn firsthand the dangers of a kid being held vice buckled in during a flight incident. That’s just a risk I’ve never been willing to take, the probability is very low, but the consequences could be very severe. Wrong side of the risk analysis chart for me.
We flew with Ashok once before he turned two, and yes, we bought him a separate ticket and put him in his car seat onboard. It was a PITA but I never was comfortable with the lap child concept.
That being said, we could afford the extra cost. I realize some can’t, and the alternative would be driving. Yes, infants would be safer in car seats onboard – but I don’t think there’s any dispute that the statistical risk profile is better with two parents and a lap child on a plane than two parents and a child driving if the family is priced out of air travel. So with two less than ideal options, what do you do? I can understand why the FAA keeps punting on the issue.
Would you travel by car to the airport with an infant child in your lap.? I think not. Your infant child is nothing more than a projectile in an aircraft during bad turbulence, aborted take-off or other aircraft incident. Buy another seat and buckle your child’s car seat into the the seat. That is the only safe option for your child and the other passengers that do not want to be struck by your projectile child.
The shaming of Matthew by some for choosing to fly and hold his infant child is not cool. In the middle America in the 1980s, my parents and most of my friend’s parents allowed their kids to ride in the back of pickup trucks and smoked in enclosed spaces with their kids. They were not bad neglectful parents (I would actually argue they raised less neurotic self -centered children). Can we keep the discussion on airline policy and safety, And not how individuals choose to raise their children or what they consider to be acceptable risk? Airline emergencies are extremely rare. If you are in the aisle or lav during severe turbulence you could hit your head and die of a brain injury. Should we pass a new FAA regulation requiring that passengers and flight attendants be seated and buckled in for the whole flight? Are you the same type of people who approach a smoking stranger in the open air and lecture them on the dangers of smoking?
Let’s face it: Sara Nelson and her lazy-a$$ed colleagues would like to ban passengers altogether — or have the passengers actually serve them drinks throughout the flight. That’s what you get with unions and that’s why airlines without unions don’t suck quite as bad.
The airlines should just recruit a bunch of frequent flyers like myself. We can do the announcements, operate the doors, &etc. We’ve seen it more than most of the FAs. The only payback is we get fly for free.
Voila! No more need for lazy loser flight attendants.
Matthew, maybe I’m not willing to have your kid slam into my head. Ever thought about that when weighing risks?
Maybe you should just stay home, safe in your bedroom, and throw the key away. #safetyfirst
Yes, I always paid for a seat for baby, including intl, for this reason.
Annoyingly for me but probably preferred for most readers, as child seats cannot be used in first or business that precluded me from flying those classes.
Gary’s comment is spot on. You’re more likely to get injured or die on the way to the airport than on your flight. The risk of something drastically happening on a plane is statistically insignificant.
I just flew two long international flights within the past 3 weeks with an 11 month old and felt completely safe letting her sit/lay on us and on open seats. If this was an actual concern, all other pax would be forced to remained seated with their seatbelts on for the entire flight. If people don’t feel comfortable with their child on their lap, then they are more than welcomed to buy a seat, but claiming that putting your child in a CRS is absolutely necessary is a total BS argument.
I always purchased a seat for my children and placed them in car seats when they were infants/toddlers. I did it mostly for comfort, because it’s very uncomfortable to hold a 12mo old for 4+ hours in an economy seat. The only times I did not purchase a separate seat for my infants, were when they were just a few weeks old and I wore a sling holding them.
Are lap infants regularly getting injured during turbulence? I’m not aware of any major reports of this ever really happening. Is this an actual problem Ms. Nelson is trying to fix, or is it very very theoretical?
We used to have hang on crib carriers on overheads for infants. Traveling with small children is not easy. I have been there and done it so has my wife traveling with 2. The current system and rules have worked. Time for the prunes to retire.
@Aaron, you write that no lap infant on board UA232 survived, this is not true. 3 of 4 survived – better odds than adults.
This doesn’t mean a safety seat wouldn’t be better – one would probably have saved the fourth child.
But taking UA232 as evidence that lap child are in danger is wrong. During a crash everyone’s in danger.
Watch the movie “Fearless” and you will realize that the laws of physics make it impossible to just hold a baby during a collision or accident. As in cars, any object in the car not fastened will continue to fly at the same speed as the car was going. Same with planes.
We started out purchasing a seat for our 7-month-old daughter, but after a few flights, we stopped. Most of the time my wife was holding her out of the car seat in order to feed her (especially during descent to avoid ear pressure issues), and it was tough to keep her sleeping and quiet in the car seat. Another complicating factor is not knowing if the rear-facing car seat will actually fit on the plane. We purchased a smaller car seat that is supposed to fit in all seats, but we have been forced to check it multiple times due to space issues and airbag seatbelts. We know that we are taking a risk, but right now it seems like a very small one. We will probably reassess once she is a bit older.
Weighing in: My daughter’s first flight wasn’t until she was 3. It would have been nice to avoid paying for her seat, but in consideration, if I could afford to fly with my wife and myself, the cost of the seat for my daughter wasn’t a severe financial imposition. It’s like one of thing things where someone says they can’t afford to tip waitstaff: If you can afford to eat out, you should be able to afford to tip.
I sat next to a woman with an lap-“infant” (basically just short of 2 years toddler) and it was an imposition for all three of us. Sometimes he accidentally kicked me while he was sleeping and the mother didn’t appear comfortable. It didn’t seem a pleasurable way to fly. I am guessing that many “lap infant” parents secretly hope a spare seat is available and to snag it (or get upgraded like Matt. 🙂
Regarding full safety chairs: Asking parents to bring them seems as silly as, say, asking passengers to bring their own safety belts. If a passenger has booked a flight with a small child, the airline should have a harness available to provide. Simultaneously though, when flying I nearly always bring a car seat for the taxi which I check as free baggage so why not just have us bring that on the plane?
Regarding child-safety seats for toddlers, there’s statistical evidence to suggest that they aren’t terribly more safe than perhaps a seat belt adjuster:
Regarding “banning flight attendants”. It’s an interesting proposal in that flight attendant’s may welcome a role of being an “attendant” (or warden) and cutting down on the customer service role which, I believe, is one of the few aspects of their role that is difficult to automate away.
I’m surprised that in hyper security times, airlines and governments don’t mandate putting cameras on planes, and combined with AI and face recognition, etc, could keep tabs on human cargo better than a paranoid UA FA over Matt’s photo snapping. 🙂 Sensors in seat backs could detect alcohol level in peoples’ breath. Beverages and snacks could be loaded by automat onto rails along the ceiling and ordered via seatback.
The primary role of FA, as warden, should perhaps go to someone specifically trained in that position similar to police and military. Even then, this begs the question as to how many are needed to make a flight safe. 1? 2? A dozen? Or just automate their role too:
Matthew you are rude and ignorant. This is not a discussion, it’s a fact that infants do NOT survive on impact. So you have kids?
It’s no cost benefit analysis, it’s your child.
The parent holding them crushes them, or they go flying like a projectile and can injure another passenger or get slammed into the ceiling. They DIE.I ALways bought a seat for my infants. If families cannot afford another $300 then they, not Sandra Dudley, should stay home. That goes double for you.
No thanks. I’ll take my chances.
Same people who say it is too unsafe to hold children also advocate for liberal abortion laws. Stupid hypocrites. They are the murderers.
I was the first flight attendant on the Sioux City DC-10 crash in 1989 and have advocated for abolishing the ‘lap child’ policy ever since. Flight attendants #1 responsibility is passenger safety….that applies to all passengers 2 years of age and older. Are children under two years of age not worthy of safety accorded other passengers. One ‘lap child’ of 11 months survived when she flew into an overhead bin and an escaping passenger heard her cries, located her in the smoke & fire filled cabin & took her out of the wreckage. Can you imagine how her parents felt when they met in the cornfield and neither had her, until the rescuer found them. Another mother also could not hold her 22 month old son & was stopped from returning to the burning wreckage to look for him, telling the flight attendant that she was told to hold her son on the floor and he was gone. Should flight attendants be placed in that situation: able to direct passengers in safety but nothing for the ‘lap child’, our most vulnerable passengers and most in need of protection. I can tell you the shock and devastation of that mother. Who will take responsibility for the lack of child safety: that these infants & toddlers are not worth the price of a ticket? Allowing children to fly for free by sitting on a parents lap renders the impression that it is safe. I can tell you from experience that it is NOT!
Don’t worry about dying on an airplane; you and your lap infant will be transported a thousand years into the future by Cheryl Ladd.
Jan Brown has the definitive testimony here…I recall the SC crash, too, and those horrific stories. I know a childhood injury specialist very well, and she is convinced that it is not safe for children of any age to travel on laps on planes, any more than they should be on laps in cars….
Matthew: You may be willing to take the chance – but the child isn’t getting a vote on that. In a crash the child’s mass may be 10 times normal due to g-forces, and now you are trying to hold something that has a force of 100 pounds or more. You basically can’t. Even if the child lives, if his or her head is injured, the consequences may be lifelong – and what will the child think when it gets old enough to know what happened?
I do not believe some of the absolute stupid comments here. I wonder if any of these people have been in an aircraft or vehicle crash and have any idea of the energy that is transmitted to a human. One will is not able to hold on to an infant! BRACE FOR IMPACT!….think about this some of you people!
Jan – thank you for sharing your story! Enough said everyone needs their own seat!
Did people not see what Gary Leff mentioned about “statistical murder?” There are so many “just one life” cultists who don’t realize that what they advocate would likely cause more harm than good. Childbirth is dangerous, folx. Ban pregnancy. Follow the science.
FA’s have been saying this for at least 30 years now. And, it is a very touchy subject. For many young parents, paying for a seat for a baby is an extra cost that’s hard to swallow. Because of the care that infants (in particular) need, giving one his/her own seat (and placing them in the infant safety seat) may or may not work. FA’s love to cite safety regarding this issue, yet there are many cases of lap infants surviving crashes that other did not. So, the correlation there is murky.
There is, however, a lot of abuse of the policy with some pretty big “infants” claiming lap status. This needs to be cracked down upon. So, I can see both sides of this.
It is a complete lie that on the UA DC-10 crash all lap children died. 1 out of 4 lap children died and 112 out of 296 passengers died. The other 10 children who died all had their own seat.
I find myself unsettled and disturbed by this topic and thread. First, it just defies common sense that an infant could be kept safe (let alone free of injury) in a flight emergency like severe turbulence, a crash landing, or a ditching.
Matthew (if I may) – I just can’t get over the cavalier tone of “No thanks. I’ll take my chances” … by not paying for a seat (and seatbelt) for an infant or toddler and jeapordizing his or her safety during a flight that you do not really HAVE to take. The now-questionable security of child car seats aside, I can’t understand how you, the FAA, or any reasonable person could deny that strapping a kid into an airline seat has to be significantly safer than holding him or her if there’s trouble. Let’s consider simple physics and the first-hand experience of FAs. “I’ll take my chances”? Really? I guess you’d be comfortable “taking your chances” by not buckling your seat belt during takeoff, landing, heavy turbulence, or – God forbid – an even more serious flight emergency. I’m sure you didn’t intend to convey dismissiveness, but your stated position here sounds downright dismissive.
The safety argument for fastening small children securely into airline seats shouldn’t be debatable. The current permissive policy is just plain stupid (listen to the FAs). The economic argument for allowing “lap children” isn’t sound, either. A family of two adults who can’t afford a third seat for their under-two child probably can’t afford airfare for the trip in the first place. If they CAN afford the airfare for two, then it’s just plain silly to assume that buying a third ticket is out of reach. If it is, find another mode of travel or stay home.
My third point in favor of banning “lap children” involves customer service and consideration for fellow passengers. If you’ve ever shared a row with a parent and a “lap child” or sat in an adjoining row, you know you could be in for a very unpleasant flight. Rick (above) already made this point very persuasively. Families traveling with small children have every right to patronize airlines, but should a small (and helpless) human being fly for free while his or her parents impose on other (fare-paying) passengers as they struggle to care for a baby or toddler in a cramped airplane seat? The crying, fussing, wetting, etc. are all bad enough if a kid has her own seat. The disruption to other passengers is even worse when the poor kid is confined to an adult’s lap. Parents of babies and toddlers: Please, please, please just pay for the d*** seat!
Please, read thoroughly the comments that oppose your view and think about it.
Here i post two short videos for you to watch:
Infants are more safe in car seats that are made for air travel. Whenever they sit on adults lap (with belt or without belt) they are in more danger.
As a car seat technician and mother of four I always buy my children their own seats and have since 2011 when I encountered severe turbulence unexpectedly during a flight. I was so grateful to have had my baby in her own seat when the flight attendants yelled at us all to “BRACE! BRACE! BRACE! BRACE!”
I’ve been advising against lap infants ever since. Aside from the safety issue, it’s just more comfortable and less stressful for everyone. And cleaner. Baby is in their own familiar seat.
Another point is that you cannot safely check or gate check infant seats. Just like seatbelts, child seats are single impact only. They are only meant to hold up to the pressures of a crash one time and then they are spent. Anybody who travels has heard of or seen luggage being thrown from planes. My stroller was once completely shredded. If you’ve had a car seat in the belly of a plane you simply have no idea what sort of crash forces it’s been subjected to. And then if it’s lost what are you to do? You’re stuck in the airport with a baby, tired arms and no way to leave.
I agree. Lap infants need to be banned