Ever wondered what are the boarding facilities for an extra passenger that happens to show up mid-air? What is it like to have a co-passenger who has just entered the world at a height of say some 20000 or 30000 feet in the air? What are these humans called? Are they sky babies? Though, it is a rare sight to catch and it would not be a great idea to travel for long distances, when one is expecting, there are concerns and events people have to attend to, and that makes the travel bit necessary. As per a research, there are around 50 babies born mid-air, on an annual basis. It is a rare happening and hence there is a lot of questions and myths attached to it. Let’s take a look at what the entire issue of free visa travel and being born in mid-air, all about!
The aircraft is not the desired place for a parent to deliver their new-born, and similarly the airlines is not a maternity ward. Also, there might be complications in the process of delivery which cannot be rightfully dealt with at a height of 20000 feet or more from the ground.
Different airlines have capped the number of weeks for pregnant women, Indigo does not fly women who are over 36 weeks, while Jet airways does not fly them if they are 38 weeks or more. Several other airlines ask for a doctor’s certificate stating if the expecting mother is fit enough to travel.
Secondly, the crew might not be equipped and trained to deal with more than first aid medical emergencies, not delivering a child specially. It is not just expensive for the airlines, but it might be a little dangerous too. Considering the space constraints and the equipment, and the treatment the child needs when it is born, is not available in the aircraft. Mid-wifing is not a task of substitution. But in certain cases, mid-air babies are a phenomena.
Well, there are a whole lot of misconceptions about this topic, a lot of us for some strange reason think, that babies born in mid-air are sky babies indeed! Inferring from this, that they are entitled to free visa and can travel anywhere in the world without one. But that is not the case exactly. There have been times when airlines have awarded babies born on flight, with free travel, like Jet Airways did in 2009, but not necessarily free visa for life! Air Asia did it once too. But not all airlines might follow in the steps, and there is no such stated rule for them to do so.
Talking about the fact that, what nationality would the sky babies claim when they grow up? Well the child cannot be called a citizen of the world, for sure. Well, that’s what most of us assume, and dearly wish we had been born mid-air too!
If the child is born above international waters, the citizenship of the child will be the same as the mother. Interesting to note however is the fact that countries like US offer citizenship to any child that is born in its airspace, and 66 other countries do the same.
But India, North Korea and several others do not follow suit. It is perhaps easier to accept that the child bears the not so complicated right to bear the citizenship of one of the two parents. While being born mid-air is a fascinating tale to listen too, but everything attached to it does not have to be necessarily fairy-tale like.
Another intriguing fact is that, while countries might own air space, no one really owns the international waters. So, what happens to the fate of a kid who happens to be born on a German plane while flying across the waters. There is actually a perceived solution to that too, you see the baby born at that moment of the flight, might as well fall under the laws of the airlines and the nation, the airline belongs to. Makes sense, eh?
The fly-by babies is an actual occurrence, because one cannot accurately predict just when the baby would enter the world. While they totally do not get free visa or flights for a lifetime, or a worldwide citizenship- it largely depends on the generosity of the airlines, if they want to gift the new-born with a birthday surprise.
Well, we all have heard the story of the stork delivering the baby from the sky, and the concept of sky babies can very well be explained to small kids, with this reference. Now, while you are toying with this idea of mid air birthday thingy of your onset little one, just FYI- some airlines prefer landing at the nearest halt, to admit such cases to the nearest hospital!