US Flight Attendants Demand Lap Infant Ban
Airlines Industry Safety

US Flight Attendants Demand Lap Infant Ban

DALLAS — The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) of the United States is again demanding a ban on unsecured infants on laps. The union has cited several recent incidents of severe turbulence in which passengers have subsequently been injured. For this reason, they believe that all passengers, regardless of age, should have their own seats.

The AFA is the largest union of flight attendants, representing nearly 50,000 members from around 20 US carriers.

The International President of the union, Sara Nelson, told the Washington Post, “We’ve seen airplanes go through turbulence recently and drop 4,000 feet in a split second. Its G-forces are not something even the most loving mother, or father can guard against and hold their child. It’s just physically impossible.”

Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

Ban Lap Infants

The 78-year-old union, started by flight attendants working at United Airlines (UA), raised the issue at the FAA safety summit in Virginia. The Union has submitted a list of suggestions, including “a seat for every soul,” to Congress. US lawmakers are forming the FAA reauthorization bill, which will expire this September. 

Veteran United FA Jan Brown started the quest to ban unsecured infants on laps after the tragedy of United Airlines Flight 232 on July 19, 1989. Brown was the chief FA that fateful day, and onboard the flight were 285 passengers, including 52 children, whose families were taking advantage of United’s ‘Children’s Day.’ The crash landing at Sioux City, Iowa (SUX) led to the death of one infant, Evan Tsao and injured two others.

Nelson continued, “Sadly, this has been more than a 30-year priority for our union. We must have children’s seats on the airplane and in their seats with a proper restraint device to ensure it never happens again.”

N171US American A321 SAN KSAN (Airlines Combo)
Photo: Jinyuan Liu/Airways

FAA and IATA Advice

Today, a child under two does not require a ticket and is free to fly. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and IATA only recommends that parents purchase a separate seat and that they are secured in an approved safety restraint. 

However, AFA requests the authority to mandate the rule, requiring all passengers, including infants, to get an individual seat. This is not the first time they have demanded this amendment in the rule, previously recommending the lap infant ban in 2018.

The FAA’s “Flying with Children” overview says, “The safest place for your child under the age of two on a US airplane is in an approved child restraint system (CRS) or device, not in your lap. Your arms can’t hold your in-lap child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence, which is the number one cause of pediatric injuries on an airplane.”

While the IATA’s Best Practices Guide states, “If the responsible person does not provide an approved infant restraint system, or if the CRS is not accepted by the airline’s policy or State regulations, the infant should be held by a responsible person.”

The attempt by AFA Union to mandate the seat for infants can improve their safety. Parents can also stay assured that their child is safe during heavy turbulence.

Feature Image: United Airlines.

Aircraft maintenance engineering graduate and Aviation enthusiast with more than four years of experience in running a successful aviation startup.

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