Debunking the Myth: Airborn Births Fly For Free?

Perhaps you’ve heard the rumor: if a baby is born in-flight, free air travel for life is awarded to the kid by the airline. This is the reason, the myth goes, behind the restrictions airlines place on expectant mothers. So is it true?

Truth be told, I had never heard the rumor before coming across the article trying to get to the bottom of it. It turns out that the myth is just that; the researches at Snopes contacted various heavy-hitters in the airline industry to see what their policy was on letting pregnant women fly. Some didn’t care, some required notes from doctors, and some required the pregnant passenger to be accompanied by a qualified medical attendant. None of them had a policy in place to award mothers for giving birth while flying.

There is a hint of truth to the myth, however — since 1995 at least three babies (and likely a few more) have been born in-flight. On September 6, 1995, a lady prematurely gave birth on Thai Airway’s flight 641, and the airline awarded the child “special flying privileges,” and an educational scholarship. On May 23, 1996 — just 13 days after Asia Pacific Airlines went into operation — another child was born in the sky and here too the child was awarded a scholarship and free travel for life. More recently, an Egyptian woman traveling from London to Boston in September of 2006 went into premature labor on British Airways flight 215. Luckily for her, there was a doctor and retired midwife on board. No word on whether BA awarded the mother and child anything, however.

Coming up soon: what citizenship is awarded to a child who is born while flying?