NY Times Blog re: Lap Babies

Morganthe

New member
An excerpt from the NYT Blog follows. Please click on the NYT link to view the full text.

(reader comments on website)
December 19, 2007, 5:43 pm
The Safety Hazard on Your Lap
By Betsy Wade

[Correction Appended]
As to reckless aspects of air travel, I put the situation of the lap babies at the top. And at this time of year, don’t ask how many there are.

Lap babies are children under the age of 2 who travel free with adults on planes, but without tickets, with no seats of their own, without identification in the airline files or indeed any safety protection whatsoever. These infants and toddlers are the only passengers or crew members who are exempted from being latched into safety belts on takeoff and landing. They sit in parents’ laps and those parental arms are all that keeps them from hurtling through the air in turbulence or a crash landing.

A United Airlines plane that crashed in Sioux City after mechanical failure on July 19, 1989, was carrying a large number of children and lap babies. With a lot of luck and heroic work, 174 passengers of the 285 survived, and all but one of the 11 crew members. The pilot later wrote, “One of the survivors started climbing out of the aircraft and heard a baby crying; he went back inside, found the baby in an overhead bin where she had been tossed, took her out of the aircraft and brought her to her family that had been driven out by the thick smoke.”

Adults’ arms are no match for gravity, even in moderate trouble. When I was writing the Practical Traveler column for The Times, I visited the Civil Aeromedical Institute, operated by the Federal Aviation Administration in Oklahoma City. In a lab were two dummies, each the size of a 6-month-old. One weighed 17 pounds, about average. The other weighed 51 pounds, what the same baby would weigh at 3G’s, a pull three times the force of gravity.
 
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ADS

JerseyGirl'sMama

New member
Another great example of 'just because you can, doesn't mean you should.'

I wouldn't think of traveling, by any form of transportation, without my DD's carseat. If the carseat wasn't allowed, I wouldn't go.
 

groovymom2000

New member
:thumbsup:

Now if we could just get the blasted airlines to stop harassing parents who have purchased a ticket and brought their child's seat on the plane!!
 

minismom

New member
Great article! I just saw two lap kids in BUSINESS CLASS last night. what's their excuse? And I have friends who buy 3 FIRST CLASS TICKETS: mom, dad and the nanny, who then holds the baby! :mad:

But seriously though, since it's the NY times, perhaps an article about lap babies in taxies would be in order! I've never seen anyone installing a carseat in a cab in NYC!
 

Melizerd

New member
The whole lap baby thing always amazes me when people say "But I can't afford a ticket" Well how the heck are you going to fly after they are 2? Is there something magical about babies under 2 that makes them okay to not be restrained? Something must happen on that 2nd birthday to change it huh? :confused: It's so frustrating.
 

Starlight

Senior Community Member
The comments are truly appaling, and many show a complete lack of knowledge of the airplane system.

This one is irritating to me:

"Another risk for lap children is the lack of an oxygen mask for the child should the cabin lose pressure. If the flight is fully booked, that child would have no recourse."

ummm... seriously. Do you not think this has been considered? Why is there a limit on the number of lap children per row? Why can infants not sit on [seat3] in this combination?

[seat1][seat2] [aisle] [seat3]

Because THAT seat has only 1 oxygen mask. The other side has 3. Ugh. Secure your mask, than assist your children. Not, secure yours, then watch your lap baby die because you obviously didn't love them enough to buy a seat. Ugh.
 

lizajane30

New member
Why not use a harness vest that loops onto the parent's seatbelt? The Baby B'Air by Baby Bjorn is what we've used with our son. (Unfortunately it's not FAA approved for landing/takeoff, but we strap him in as soon as the flight attendants are seated.) I'd much rather have DS safely harnessed on my lap than be fumbling with getting him out of his carseat in an emergency evacuation.

I'm not trying to ruffle feathers here, just genuinely wondering why this isn't a reasonable option for lap babies. No, there's nothing magical about the age of 2 that makes us as parents suddenly able to afford an extra ticket; we'll be making fewer trips to see family when it costs half again as much to do so.

-Linda
 

mommy2env

New member
Great Blog. Well written.

I think they should lower the fare for younger children :)

ITA, they should do the half price ticket. Im not quite sure, but didnt they do that years ago?

I agree that if a family is going on vacation for a week, they should be able to "afford" a seat for their child. No doubt about that.

But, what if a family has a sudden death. Their loved one is on the other side of the planet, and they are broke? Would you not go see your mother or father before they are burried? In many countries the person is burried the following day. No time to save up for a seat. :(

I can understand if someone really doesnt have the money to buy a baby a full price seat, and just hopes there is one available. It sure doesnt make the situation any safer, but it is possible to be stuck in that situation. :twocents:
 

skiersnowboarder3

Senior Community Member
ITA, they should do the half price ticket. Im not quite sure, but didnt they do that years ago?

This wouldn't hold up financially. It costs roughly the same amount to allow you to sit on your seat as it does to allow the one year old to seat in the seat beside you. If I remember correctly, airlines used to drastically reduce infant tickets before 9/11. But since then with the combo of air travel going down and gas prices going up, airlines have had to increase their prices. I believe that a few airlines have claimed bankruptcy along the way as well. I agree with you from a humanistic view and I wish that all children would get a discounted price, but I don't think it will happen.

As an aside, I also wish they would serve meals on domestic flights again. And movies, I wish they would show movies. They used to serve a meal and show a movie any time the flight was over a few hours. But, I don't think that will happen again either.
 

Melizerd

New member
Why not use a harness vest that loops onto the parent's seatbelt? The Baby B'Air by Baby Bjorn is what we've used with our son. (Unfortunately it's not FAA approved for landing/takeoff, but we strap him in as soon as the flight attendants are seated.) I'd much rather have DS safely harnessed on my lap than be fumbling with getting him out of his carseat in an emergency evacuation.

I'm not trying to ruffle feathers here, just genuinely wondering why this isn't a reasonable option for lap babies. No, there's nothing magical about the age of 2 that makes us as parents suddenly able to afford an extra ticket; we'll be making fewer trips to see family when it costs half again as much to do so.

-Linda

If I remember correctly we've had the discussion about the Baby B'air and the fact that the parent's body becomes the most dangerous thing in the airplane then because your body can crush the baby.

Some one explained the physics of it before, hopefully someone has it worded well.
 

Morganthe

New member
The comments are truly appaling, and many show a complete lack of knowledge of the airplane system.
ITA! In fact, reading the comments was actually more informative than the original Blog. Let's see, there were comments about

-Article is proof how our society has become entitled spoiled Americans.

-- This is a stupid write-up since the mortality has been less than 5%, so why worry about this issue when there are more pressing ones.

-- shouldn't fly with kids anyway due to exposure to germs, public annoyance, etc..

-- Flying isn't a right, it's for those who can afford it.

:rolleyes:

But I did find the comments from foreign travelers about the baby seatbelts that hook on to adult belts helpful. Some were actually horrified that US carriers had nothing similar.

Oh and how some complimented the inexpensive Baby B'air system not realizing it's not for landings or take-off. :thumbsdown:

When I first saw the CARES system, I wondered why airlines were not purchasing them. Now I know they figure that securing children safely is a parental responsibility. Honestly, that's asnine! :mad:
Imagine if they took that view for ALL their adult passengers too.
BYOS -- Bring your own Seatbelt. :thumbsdown:
Why are children exempt from having proper safety measures taken for them by airlines & govt regs? Oh, that's right, they don't vote or pay taxes. :cool:
 

Morganthe

New member
As an aside, I also wish they would serve meals on domestic flights again. And movies, I wish they would show movies. They used to serve a meal and show a movie any time the flight was over a few hours. But, I don't think that will happen again either.

I'd rather have more comfortable seats with real padding and slightly more leg room so that the entitled person in front of me reclining, isn't laying on my knees.

I can bring my own food & provide my own entertainment, thank you very much. In fact, I actually prefer it to the tasteless meals and idiotic movies I've experienced in the past.
All I want is to arrive without chronic back spasms and a numb legs. :(
 

Morganthe

New member
ITA, they should do the half price ticket. Im not quite sure, but didnt they do that years ago?

I agree that if a family is going on vacation for a week, they should be able to "afford" a seat for their child. No doubt about that.

Back then, you'd pay half price for a child, but full fare for an adult is over double what it is currently. So it still evened out to be pretty costly. Air travel now, with inflation factored in, is the cheapest it's ever been. Sure, it's still expensive, but per mile, less than driving if you're going long distance across the country.

Trust me, I know what it's like to put off seeing family due to ticket costs. I wanted to take dd to see my parents last summer and in April-May 08. Each time, I just can't afford the $650 combined airfare for two seats + rental car for us to do so. Just too much money with all the other issues factored in. (Kennels, food, living expenses, etc. )

I'm hoping that we'll be able to afford something around Sept-Oct combining with seeing dh. Either he flies from Korea to McChord or we go from Seattle to Korea. It's triple the cost from Dallas than from the PNW. Cheaper to fly to Seattle, hang out with parents, and then go across the pond. Then follow the same route back. I just don't want my dd to experience an entire year without seeing her beloved daddy. :(
 
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keri1292

Well-known member
Why not use a harness vest that loops onto the parent's seatbelt? The Baby B'Air by Baby Bjorn is what we've used with our son. (Unfortunately it's not FAA approved for landing/takeoff, but we strap him in as soon as the flight attendants are seated.) I'd much rather have DS safely harnessed on my lap than be fumbling with getting him out of his carseat in an emergency evacuation.

I'm not trying to ruffle feathers here, just genuinely wondering why this isn't a reasonable option for lap babies. No, there's nothing magical about the age of 2 that makes us as parents suddenly able to afford an extra ticket; we'll be making fewer trips to see family when it costs half again as much to do so.

-Linda


I think that the Baby B'Air is better than nothing. But, barely. From what I've read, the majority of survivable plane accidents occur during takeoff/landing. When baby can't use the vest. :scratcheshead: Even if you are using it on takeoff/landing, you'd probably crush the baby on impact since you are only in a lap belt. Just look at a car crash test video of a lap belt only. Now, picture a baby strapped to the dummy. So, not to be graphic...BUT...I picture a child on someone's lap flying forward to the front of the plane, or wherever and the parents trying desperately to FIND the baby amongst the mad choas of passengers trying to escape. In the Sioux City crash, one of the babies ended up in an overhead bin. :eek: And hopefully the panicked passengers don't trample the baby to death. The parent of the seated infant only needs to pivot slightly, unbuckle the kid and run. I can unbuckle and remove my kids in less than 5 secs in a non-emergency. I'm sure I'd be even faster in an emergency.

So, I think the Baby B'Air would be helpful for turbulence but nothing else. :twocents:
 

Starlight

Senior Community Member
The Baby B Air is no different than a sling used in flight - parental airbag. It means mom or dad is more likely to be able to hold on to the baby in turbulance, but it means that if anything real starts to happen, baby will become the airbag.

Neither "device" is allowed during take-off or landing.

Oh, and I got to use the belly belt and the bassinett that the European carriers use. What a joke. The bassinet is a duffle bag w/ padding, and my 9 month old didn't fit in it.
 

Jeanum

Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus
Staff member
Thanks for sharing this timely link given the busy holiday travel season. :thumbsup: I moved it over to the News Article forum and edited to excerpt because posting the full NYT text poses copyright issues.
 

lizajane30

New member
Even if you are using it on takeoff/landing, you'd probably crush the baby on impact since you are only in a lap belt. Just look at a car crash test video of a lap belt only. Now, picture a baby strapped to the dummy.

I hadn't really thought of that... I just know that when DS was young, I wanted to nurse him during takeoff/landing to keep him from being too distressed, and the rest of the flight he wanted to be in my lap/in the Ergo. I guess there isn't an easy answer here (since requiring babies to be harnessed in seats would likely result in a lot of crying, and frazzled parents) except the one that seems fairly harsh: no flying until they're older. I know that wouldn't go over well with my in-laws!
 

minismom

New member
I hadn't really thought of that... I just know that when DS was young, I wanted to nurse him during takeoff/landing to keep him from being too distressed, and the rest of the flight he wanted to be in my lap/in the Ergo. I guess there isn't an easy answer here (since requiring babies to be harnessed in seats would likely result in a lot of crying, and frazzled parents) except the one that seems fairly harsh: no flying until they're older. I know that wouldn't go over well with my in-laws!

I don't think you'd be required to keep the baby in the seat the whole flight. I think the rule would be the same as for everyone else. Buckled up during take off and landing or when the seat blet sign is on. And of course, any other time is a plus. I have to say my dd does very well in her seat in the plane. I try to travel at night so the plane is dark and quiet (red eyes are ideal if you can) and she usually sleeps most of the time. If it's a day flight and she's all awake I'll take her off to play a little, but I'll put her right back if the seat belt sign goes on and just offer her a new toy as a distraction. It's not perfect, but it works fine. For sleeping time I', pretty sure she'd hate to be on my lap and would cry even more, since she's not used to sleeping like that.
 

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