How Many Babies Are Born On Airplanes Each Year?

eaf6f2971f71c0d38e10be860bdb92cc adorable babies beautiful babiesIn this article, I will not only tell you what I found to question ‘How Many Babies Are Born On Airplanes Each Year?‘.
I will also tell you everything about the crazy case when someone gives birth during a flight. Because it can also have some interesting consequences for the nationality of a baby!

Unfortunately, there are is no data on how many babies are born on airplanes each year. A questioned flight attendant stated, that his company had not more than 10 cases in the last 25 years. Other sources state, that there are just about 60 cases in commercial aviation history.

And in this sense, welcome to part 2/3 of the flight special (click here for part 1)!
We will tell you what to know about flying pregnant, cases were women gave birth on a plane (this article), and tips for traveling with your newborn.

So, to come back to the topic of this article, what else is there to know about babies that are born up in the air? Let’s dive in and let us check out, what goes along with this rare event of landing with one more passenger than the plane started with.

First of all, a little view over the edge of the table.

How many Babies are born worldwide?

So let’s have a look one some statistics.

It is estimated that for every passing second, 4 new babies are born into this world. That makes roughly 131.4 million per year.

And how many people take a flight in one year?

The most recent data that is available (2014) is from the International Air Transport Association. They stated that on average 8 million people took a flight on a daily basis, which would make about 3.1 billion passengers in 2014.

But more and more people are actually able to take flights around the world. So this data is unfortunately pretty outdated.
Nonetheless, it gives us an idea of the huge numbers of passengers every year.

How many flights are available in one year?

In the United States alone, there are 5000 commercial airplanes in the sky at any given moment. Worldwide this number goes up to an average of 10,000!

Again, there is only research data available from the year 2014. Back then, a total of 37.4 million flights were scheduled worldwide. Which made it an average of 102,465 flights per day.

Airline Restrictions

Alright…enough of those numbers now. They give us an idea of what is going on up in the air. And it is impressive! But it doesn’t really tell us anything about how many babies are born on a plane each year.

First of all, most women renounce taking a flight when they are close to giving birth. And second of all, a lot of airlines have some strict rules about pregnant passengers.
So it always depends on the specific rules of each airline if there actually is a chance at all for ‘air-babies‘.

Some demand a letter from the doctor, stating in which month of pregnancy the passenger is and that the date of birth is still far enough in the future. Also, if it is a healthy pregnancy so far.
The doctor has to give the green light here.

Others simply won’t allow pregnant women to fly with them after a specific time into pregnancy (often after 36 weeks).

Some internet research or a direct call to the airline’s hotline will give you the information you need, in case you want or you have to take a flight during pregnancy (see THIS article about flying during pregnancy).

Giving Birth During The Flight – What Would Happen?

Giving birth to a baby is, of course, nothing that the crew members are prepared for. It is not included in the medical training each crew member has to go through. So most likely, they would ask all passengers, if there is anyone that is experienced with labor.

If lucky and there maybe is even a doctor on board, the crew would do the best they can, to provide space and the best possible circumstances for the woman giving birth.

The pilot most likely will try to prepare for an emergency landing. But there is, of course, the chance, that there is no airport close by and instead there’s only water around (regarding that 71% of our planet is covered with water.

And then there would be no other chance than doing it in the plane during the flight.

born on plane1

Real Life Examples

If you search on the web you can find many stories about recorded incidents, where a woman went into labor during the flight.
Maybe the baby came earlier than expected or maybe the mother tried to reach the destination just before giving birth. In some of those cases, the mother stated that she wasn’t even aware that she was pregnant.

Here and here you can read about the well-documented case of Debbie Owen, who gave birth to her daughter Shona Kirsty Yves (the initials ‘SKY’) on a flight to London.

Although airlines don’t officially keep track of the data on how many babies are born on their flights, here you can see a list that has been put together by a very motivated researcher.

What Nationality Can A Baby Have If It Is Born On A Plane?

Interesting question, right?
You might assume it is obvious, that the newborn would be automatically the same nationality as at least one of their parents. And in most cases, this is true. But surprisingly, not always!

So, which citizenships is given if a baby is born during a flight?
Most commonly, there are two different ways to handle it.

‘Jus Sanguinis’ – The Law Of The Blood System

Just as mentioned, most countries follow the ‘Jus Sanguinis”. This is a Latin term and basically means the law of the blood system.
It means that if parents are from a country with this system, the baby has the right to claim the same citizenship. And most of the time, this will be the only option at this point.

‘Jus Soli’- The Law Of The Soil

In this system, a newborn baby has the right to claim citizenship of the country it was born in.

In special cases, this could mean, that if a man comes from country A and a woman from country B and both nations are jus sanguinis, but their baby is born in country C which is jus soli, that this baby would have the choice of three different citizenships.

Most nations have a mixture of both rights though. So if you are interested in a specific country, check the web for more details. As a first step for further information, you can check pages for jus sanguinis and jus soli on Wikipedia. They also tell you which nation has which system.

What Does This Mean For A Baby That Is Born On An Airplane?

There are 3 different possibilities:

  • the newborn will have the same citizenship as one (or both) of its parents
  • it has the right to claim citizenship in the country where the airline is registered
  • it will become a citizen of the country where the plane was flying at that time (air territory)

Interestingly, if a person from another country gives birth in the air (or even at sea) territory of the USA, the baby will really be born as a US citizen!

There is a story about a woman from Taiwan which was pretty big in the media for a while.

Did Taiwanese woman try to have baby in U.S. airspace?

As you can see in the video, the lady gave birth to her baby on the way from Taiwan to Los Angeles. It was a strange case since the mother was denied to enter the US, while the baby was granted citizenship.

The woman was accused to have lied to officials about her pregnancy and that it was her plan all along to give birth to the baby in the US, so it could get a citizenship there.

Even in her home country Taiwan, she had to face some legal issues.

Free flights for babies born on a plane?

During my research, I often heard read about the statement, that if a baby is born during a flight, it would get free flights for a lifetime from that airline. It would kind of be law.

Of course, this is just an urban legend. There are no rules for that.

BUT, even though it is mostly not the case and of course not a must-do for the airline, surprisingly there are some cases where this really did happen!

I will give you some examples.
In the past, women were in labor on flights of Thai Airways, Asia Pacific Airlines, and AirAsia and they were given free flights for a lifetime on that respective carrier. Virgin Airline once granted an ‘air-baby’ free flights until the age of 21.

In the cases of the Asia Pacific Airways and the Thai Airways flights, the áir babies’even received an educational scholarship from the airlines! How lucky!

In other cases, the airline gave a limited number of free flights, a trip to a city of their choice (or more precisely their parents choice), or they named a plane after the baby if it was born on one of their flights.

Closing Words

As you can see, it really does happen from time to time, that babies are born on flights. But it is not often and a specific number is impossible to find.
But is a very unique event and can even have consequences (or benefits?) for those babies and their families.

If you are looking for something to make yourself, your baby and your family members and friends happy and laugh, check our shop for funny baby Onesies and other cool, useful and smart things you can get for your little one.

See you in the next article! 🙂

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