Flight attendants call for ban on babies on laps after recent severe turbulence episodes
Flight attendants have renewed calls to ban babies from sitting on adults’ laps during flights after several recent incidents of severe turbulence.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) union, which represents more than 50,000 flight attendants across 20 airlines, has called on legislators to require all passengers to have their own seats on a flight, regardless of age, for safety reasons.
At present, most airlines currently allow children aged under two years old to fly for free on their parent or guardian’s lap.
However, Sara Nelson, the leader of AFA-CWA, argues that this is not safe and that the issue has been a concern for flight attendants for decades.
“We’ve seen airplanes go through turbulence recently and drop 4,000 feet in a split second,” she told the Washington Post.
“The G-forces are not something even the most loving mother or father can guard against and hold their child. It’s just physically impossible.”
The union raised the issue at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety summit in Northern Virginia last week and has submitted its list of priorities, including “a seat for every soul,” to Congress.
Current guidance on the FAA website echoes this position.
On its “Flying with Children” advisory page, the agency states: “The safest place for your child under the age of two on a US airplane is in approved child restraint system (CRS) or device, not in your lap.
“Your arms aren’t capable of holding your in-lap child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence, which is the number one cause of paediatric injuries on an airplane.”
The call come after a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt from Austin, Texas, had to be diverted to Dulles International Airport in Virginia just outside Washington DC after experiencing major turbulence.
Seven people were injured and taken to hospital, while an infant flew out of its mother’s arms.
One passenger told the paper that the plane went into “free fall” at the beginning of the dinner service and that both people and food “went flying into the air, hitting and even damaging the ceiling of the plane”.
Lufthansa told The Independent in a statement that the flight “encountered brief but severe turbulence about 90 minutes after takeoff. The Lufthansa flight made an unscheduled landing at Washington Dulles Airport as a precautionary measure”.
“After the Airbus A330-300 landed, affected passengers received medical attention,” a spokesperson said. “Lufthansa ground staff at Dulles are currently attending to the well-being of passengers and rebooking them accordingly. The company is currently reviewing the exact situation together with its own staff and with national and international authorities.”
“Lufthansa regrets the inconvenience caused to passengers. The safety and well-being of passengers and crew members is Lufthansa’s top priority at all times,” the airline added.