Explained: What if a baby is born mid-air on a flight? FAQ

What if a baby is born on a flight? Though it might sound like a very odd situation, it has been the case a few times. But coming back to the same question, what about the baby’s citizenship? Suppose you are flying from India to the USA and have a baby on board. Is the baby a citizen of India or the USA? We have answers to these questions.

How frequent is this situation?

Vaguely we can call it a sporadic occurrence. But what do the stats say? As per a report, one in twenty-six million passengers have a baby while flying. These stories are so rare that news organizations feature their account.

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Another story that the numbers tell is that among the 350,000 to 400,000 babies born, typically 50 of them are “skyborns”. This situation occurs when the babies are prematurely born. Though the airlines try to minimise this occurrence through their policies, it still happens.

What happens in these situations?

Though rare, there have been reports of the “skyborns.” Even children have been born to people of Indian origin in flights of IndiGO and Air India. When these situations occur, generally, the flight attendants take care of the situation and try to seek help from the doctors on board (if any). In some of these situations, a flight might even be diverted so the pregnant woman can receive the help needed.

This can be better understood by an incident in February 2020, when a baby was born on a flight. A Bangkok-bound Qatar Airways flight had to change the route to land in Kolkata to get immediate assistance when a baby was born prematurely. In these situations getting professional attention is of utmost importance as most babies are premature.

What about citizenship?

Though the airlines generally celebrate these situations by awarding benefits to the newborn, they also are confused regarding the baby’s citizenship. But certain rules solve the confusing situation. 

If a baby is born on a flight, the nationality is awarded, keeping in mind the airspace of the nation in which the flight was at the time of birth or the parents’ nationality. If both these factors do not provide the solution, then citizenship is awarded after checking the nation where the plane is registered.

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