In the U.S., parents flying with children under the age of two can avoid having to purchase tickets for those children by agreeing to hold them in their laps during the flight. However, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently issued a Safety Alert urging parents to consider the many safety concerns related to children flying unrestrained before deciding against purchasing a ticket for their children.
The NTSB stated that in addition to the possibility that parents would not be able to prevent their unrestrained children from sustaining injuries during flight upsets or turbulence, that there have been instances in the past where unrestrained children were separated from their parents during survivable crashes and were unable to be located during evacuation procedures.
In a story detailing the NTSB’s alert, CBS News spoke to Jan Brown, a former flight attendant who has seen firsthand the tragic consequences of allowing a child to fly unrestrained. Brown was a crew member aboard United Flight 232 which crashed in Sioux City Iowa in 1989, killing 111 of the people on board. She recalled a mother aboard Flight 232 who had chosen to hold her child in her lap; during the crash landing, the child was knocked out of the mother’s arms. Sadly, the mother survived the crash, her child did not.
“It’s like playing Russian roulette to put [a child] on a lap,” Brown said.
We can only hope that the airlines will consider implementing some sort of rule requiring all children to be restrained in child seats or actual passenger seats aboard the plane. If passengers are told that all cargo brought onboard must be stowed securely, it makes no sense that the most precious of cargo should be left unsecured during the flight.