Just found out during the week that there’s a chance I might be flying to Melbourne some time this month for a meeting. Which naturally got me thinking:
If I were 37 weeks pregnant and my meeting was in Malibu instead of Melbourne, what would Blobette’s nationality be if she announced her arrival on the plane?
Believe it or not, I had dedicated half a blog post in the past to this rivetting topic. And because that old blog’s pretty much dead at the mo, I’ll let you have a peek:
The one about the airplane birth
It was reported a few days ago that some woman gave birth to a baby on her flight from Germany to Atlanta. That sparked a few “me toos”, not the least of which was a Brazilian woman who gave birth to a baby girl while on a flight from Auckland to Santiago on Good Friday.
Which of course raises the most obvious question. What kinda passport is airplane bubba entitled to? And does that get determined from the time the baby emerges, or when the umbilical cord gets the snip?
“What is the baby’s nationality?” “Oohhh Australian! No, no wait… Indonesian! No wait hang on… Singaporean – well, what a wasted effort that was! Shoulda stayed home!”
And a few others:
- Aren’t there regulations against heavily pregnant women flying?
- Geez… how often does this kinda thing happen.
- No epidural. I don’t care how far down those seats claim to go. That must’ve hurt.
So here are some answers:
- Nationality: It all depends. But the United Nations considers a child born in-flight to have been born in the airplane’s registered country.
- Regulations: Generally, yeah. Even un-clucky moi has heard that pregnant women are not advised to fly in their last trimester. But in the case of Good Friday’s Brazilian woman, she emphatically denied she was pregnant – even when her water broke. What’s a jaga to do?
- Frequency: British Airways reports about once a year. Freak out.
- Ouch: Not going there.
So does that mean Blobette might get an English passport if she was born on board a Virgin Atlantic flight? Or how about American citizenship after a gruelling American Airlines flight? Quite possibly. (Although from what I’ve heard about the airline, perhaps choosing to fly with AA remains the bigger and stranger question.)
In 2009, a Malaysian woman had apparently scored free flights for life with AirAsia because of her special delivery on board a flight from Penang to Kuching. But if you think that’s an interesting way of getting free international flights for life, think again. British Airways doesn’t have the same headline-stealing policy, and neither does Air Canada.
Different airlines also have different regulations regarding pregnant women and flying. Apparently, Qantas requires a “fitness to fly” doctor’s certificate for pregnant women up to the 35th week. Thereafter, preggers can only be cleared to fly by Qantas’s Director of Medical Services. Singapore Airlines generally accepts all pregnant women up till their 35th week unless there are multiple births involved, in which case it goes down to the 32nd week.
As for me and my doctor, he tells me short trips are a-ok and he was cool with international flights up until 8 months. But I’ll personally be steering clear of long-haul flights, mostly because I can’t afford the time away but partly because the idea of a 15 hour trip all up is quite the turn-off. So sorry, guys – won’t be visiting Singers this year.