After a scary airplane incident, the top US air safety official is asking parents to make sure their babies are safely buckled up. National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendyat is urging parents to buy seats and FAA-approved carriers for their infants when flying. This comes after the recent midair blowout on an Alaska Airlines flight renewed fears over what could happen to an unsecured baby.
Mr Homendyat emphasized that even small bumps during the flight could lead to injuries, so it’s better for children to have their own secured seats instead of sitting on their parents’ laps. While airlines may charge for infant seats, the cost is worth the peace of mind for parents and, most importantly, the safety of their little ones.
Last week, a Boeing 737 from Alaska Airlines carrying 171 passengers and six crew narrowly avoided disaster when a door plug ripped off at 16,000 feet. The resulting rapid decompression caused the cabin to open to the night sky, but luckily, all aboard survived. Two phones, a seat headrest, and a teenager’s shirt became airborne and were later discovered scattered across Portland backyards and roads. Experts believe the tragedy was averted due to the plane just taking off and passengers being strapped in.
Three passengers aboard the Boeing 737, however, were not wearing seatbelts.
“On the plane were three babies held in the laps of caregivers,” National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters at a Sunday press conference.
According to the New York Post, babies under the age of 2 can fly for free and do not need a separate plane ticket in the US. Instead, they can be held in the lap of their parent or guardian, but that means the only thing keeping them in place is that adult’s arms.
“If there had been a passenger holding a kid close to where that panel blew off, the explosive force was such that the kid being held would have been torn from the hands of their parents, and they would have been sucked out of the plane,” Kwasi Adjekum, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota’s Department of Aviation, told the Washington Post.