Plane Crash Sparks Debate About the Future of 'Lap Infants' Aboard Airlines

Christie Haskell
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I recently went on a plane trip with my baby daughter, and after taxes and baggage fees, my $300 plane ticket ended up costing closer to $500. I was really amazed at how ridiculous the fees had gotten. Had she not been able to sit on my lap, there was no way I could have gone.

Now, I'm aware that in an actual airplane emergency, my arms are pretty useless to secure my kids. That's exactly what the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is addressing when, after a plane crash in which seven children were killed, they made their recommendation that lap babies no longer be allowed, and all children -- even the under-2 crowd -- be required to have their own seat and be secured.

I understand their logic, but let's face it ... with plane costs the way they are right now, could anyone afford to fly with children if each child needed a seat?

That's the FAA's argument as well. They acknowledge, too, that children are much safer restrained on an airplane, but that if they required it, the prohibitive cost would force people to drive more often, which is riskier than a flight.

The Associated Press reports: 

Earlier in the decade, the FAA considered changing the rule, but decided against it, citing statistics from 2004 that showed nearly 43,000 people died on U.S. highways, compared to 13 fatalities on commercial flights.

The agency estimated then that a child-restraint requirement could result in 13 to 42 additional highway fatalities over 10 years.

I know I personally couldn't afford to fly the majority of the time, and often do not have the time for a road trip. For example, my recent trip was to Tennessee (to meet other CafeMoms!) for three nights, well, two ... one was spent on a red-eye flight. Remember I'm all the way up in Washington state. If I'd needed to drive instead, I would have had to leave my house three days in advance, and returned three days later, turning a three-day trip into a nine-day one -- not very likely!

When Rowan was a baby and my husband would deploy, I'd often fly to see my parents for a month or two, and sometimes I would bring his seat when he was under the age of 2, but not always. Then again, costs were a lot more realistic back then.

So, while I'm left with the understanding of the NTSB's position of safety aboard airplanes and did bring my son's seat when it was affordable, I also very much understand the FAA's point -- the cost would be incredibly prohibitive, especially now when there's practically 30 percent of your ticket cost again in taxes and fees.

Do you support the NTSB or the FAA?

 

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