Ailing Indian aviation celebrates new life mid-air: What the implications are

IndiGo has offered a lifetime supply of free tickets for the child

Ailing Indian aviation celebrates new life mid-air: What the implications are
The baby boy born on IndiGo flight 6E-122.

At a time when the entire aviation sector is fighting to survive, there still emerges some moments to cheer. On October 7, pictures and celebratory videos of a newborn went viral on social media after he was prematurely delivered by her mother mid-air on an IndiGo Delhi-Bengaluru flight.

IndiGo said in an official statement, “We confirm that a baby boy was delivered prematurely on flight 6E-122 from Delhi to Bengaluru. There are no further details available.”

A message from Capt Sanjay Sharma ex IAF, who was the captain of the Indigo flight in which a premature baby way delivered yesterday- such a heartwarming read!

Via Usha Narayanan/FB

— Nandita Iyer (@saffrontrail) October 8, 2020

The miraculous mid-air delivery is quite a rare incident as the less-than-36-weeks pregnant woman experienced labour pain in the two-hour flight between Delhi to Bengaluru. Incidentally, there were two doctors aboard, who with the help of the airline crew, helped the woman delivering the baby boy.  

As soon the flight landed in Bengaluru an ambulance was ready on the tarmac. The airline's ground teams prepared a poster and congratulated the mother and infant at the airport. Both mother and child were reported to be doing fine.

The airline staff did their best to ensure safe delivery and were successful.

The uncommon event has also raised several questions about rules for travel for pregnant women, citizenship of the child if delivery is on an international flight and free lifetime travel privilege. Plane Vanilla digs deep to know what are the common practices.

Rule for pregnant travellers 

Expectant mothers may be permitted to fly on domestic flights till the end of 32-36 weeks of pregnancy, provided there are no prior complications.

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A 'Fit to Fly' certificate from the treating obstetrician dated not more than seven days before the date of travel is required only if the pregnancy is between the 33rd and 36th weeks. This is the common practice but rules may vary from airline to airline.

Citizenship of kids born mid-air 

As this incident took place on a domestic flight, the question of citizenship does not arise. So here the boy will be an Indian citizen as his parents are Indian. However, babies born on international flights may have citizenship questions depending on where they were born. The answer is actually a little complicated and depends on many factors. Usually, the baby will have the same citizenship as their parents regardless of where they made their appearance.

The newborn at the Bengaluru airport

However, sometimes these 'sky born' or 'air born' babies do have citizenship claims to the country whose airspace they were flying over when they were born.

Also read: Indian planes carrying mark of British rule even after 73 years of freedom

Some countries, such as the US, consider all births in 12 nautical miles of their airspace as being US citizens, under jus soli.

Lifetime free travel

IndiGo has offered a lifetime supply of free tickets for the child. 

There is no set rule for any airline anywhere in the world that automatically qualifies ‘sky babies’ to free air travel. Some airlines, like IndiGo, in this case, go an extra step and offer the baby free flights for the rest of their lives to celebrate the unique event. 

Jet Airways had offered a baby born on one of its flights free flights for life in 2017, as did Air Asia in 2009. Another baby born on Cebu Pacific Air received 10,00,000 miles! Earlier this year, a baby girl born on a Cairo-London EgyptAir flight, which had to be landed in Munich due to the emergency, received free tickets for life on Munich flights. However, such perks are not guaranteed.