How safety can make traveling with babies less safe

The first time I flew with my son, he was not yet two months old and I was terrified. My husband and I arrived early at the airport and, at the suggestion of a friend, ordered a beer each. We braced ourselves for an hour and a half of baby cries, apologetic mutterings and sullen looks.

We were lucky: our “lap child,” as the airlines call children under two who fly free in their parents’ arms, generally remained upbeat thanks to a combination of occasional breastfeeding and cuddling from mom and dad. If we had to secure him in a car seat, that would be a different story.

According to a recent
The Flight Attendants Association-CWA has lobbied Congress to require “a seat for every soul,” meaning parents of young children would be forced to pay for yet another plane ticket.

In other words, the union is petitioning the government to implement unnecessary regulations with little likelihood of affecting safety and a high likelihood of affecting parents’ peace of mind – and checkbooks.

In arguing for this increased government approach to safety, union president Sarah Nelson recalled the deadly 1989 plane crash that killed 112 people, including a baby in her lap.

But the appeal for the crash of United Airlines Flight 232 was based on the result of outdated and patently ridiculous guidelines that, in the event of an emergency, children on laps should be padded with blankets and placed on the floor instead of nestled in their parents’ arms.

The lap child who died in the crash, 22-month-old Evan Tsao, was sent to the back of the plane on impact and died of smoke inhalation. Flight attendant who survived the flight
that his mother “looked at me and said, ‘You told me to put my baby on the floor and now he’s gone.'”

The other three children in the plane’s lap survived.

There is
that children are not required to rest in a car seat on an airplane, but are required to use one in a car: “From 2015 to 2020, between passenger cars and trucks (light + large) there were a total of 62,101,894 crashes and a total 14,533,165 injuries,” the FlyFright website reports. “During the same time period, U.S. commercial air carriers had a total of 176 accidents and a total of 111 injuries.”

Even American Academy of Pediatrics president-elect Ben Hoffman, who recommends parents buy an extra ticket for their babies and car seats,
that this creates a problem. If struggling parents “travel by car instead,” he says, “they’re actually putting themselves at significantly greater risk because car crashes are far more common than plane crashes, whether it’s a crash or turbulence. “

Hoffman cites a 2003 study
the relative risks of driving versus flying, led the researchers to conclude, “Unless a seat for young children in safety seats can be provided at low cost to families, with little or no diversion to car travel, a policy requiring the use of safety seats , may cause a net increase in deaths.”

The likelihood that the government will implement this new regulation while providing a subsidy (read: taxpayer-funded donation) to parents who buy tickets for children under two is low. And even if it could, should it?

My husband and I have taken a total of eight round-trip flights with our now 13-month-old. While mommy travel bloggers will offer the parenting hack that airlines will sometimes let you bring your car seat on the plane for free if there are seats available, we’ve taken advantage of this resource more than once. We know from experience that once our baby is in a car seat, they don’t move a carhe will kick, scream, and beam his way to freedom.

If you think flying with toddlers on a plane is boring now, just wait until you get on a plane full of needy babies and toddlers who need to look their parents in the face but miss their touch. This is a recipe for incessant crying: an emotionally distressing experience for babies, parents and companions alike.

Many parents may find that they or their children prefer a lap child to be restrained in a car seat or other device during flight. And if it works for them, that’s great. But there is no mandate for the government to suddenly force parents to pay extra for a safety measure that is probably unnecessary, especially while flying is still vastly safer than traveling by car.

The safest and best option is to let the parents make this decision themselves. As in so many other areas, the government’s safe approach is not about safety, but rather the appearance of it, and only serves to make our lives worse.


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