Out of the many possible locations a woman could go into labor, I always figured "on an airplane" to be right up there with "the backseat of a taxi" in terms of comfort and, well, hygiene. Long story short: Not the best place to have a baby. But apparently it was as good a birthing place as any for the woman who delivered a son on a Philippine Airlines flight bound for San Francisco on Tuesday.
Amazingly, mom and baby are both doing well. I mean, at 35 weeks pregnant, 41-year-old Aida Alamillo was definitely pushing her luck by taking a long international trip ... or was she? Turns out some airlines are surprisingly well-prepared for in-flight births, while others might not even have allowed a woman in Alamillo's state to board the plane at all.
It's weird to me that such an important safety regulation isn't consistent from airline to airline. And it's not even like the policies differ only in random details or footnotes about legal responsibility.
Take Delta, for instance. There are no restrictions at all regarding pregnancy and domestic or international travel, though Delta does "advise" that women "consult their doctors."
Over on the other end of the cautionary spectrum, you've got American Airlines and restrictions galore. For domestic travel, a doctor's letter is required if you're travelling within four weeks of your due date; travelling within seven days of your due date requires both the doctor's letter plus clearance by an AA special-assistance coordinator. For international travel, you need a doctor's letter within 30 days of your due date (which must be signed within 48 hours of departure); an additional clearance by a special-assistance coordinator is mandatory for flights within 10 days of your due date.
Accordingly, on some airlines (usually on domestic flights), the only assistance available will be a flight attendant with a first-aid kid; on others, there'll be specially trained attendants and hospital-grade gear like forceps.
Still sounds pretty far from my dream birth experience, even if some babies born in the air get perks like free travel for life!
I've never flown more than around 6-and-a-half months pregnant, so I don't have too much personal experience to draw from on this topic, but I can say that I was fairly uncomfortable flying even that far along. So unless it was for some extremely urgent reason, I personally would probably avoid getting on a plane during my last trimester -- definitely my last month.
Would you fly during your last month of pregnancy?
Image via David Sanz/Flickr