The union representing flight attendants across the country is making another push to end the policy of infants being allowed to fly on the lap of an adult.
The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) and its nearly 50,000 members are pushing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines to require all passengers to have their own seats on flights, regardless of age.
Current rules set by most airlines allow children under the age of 2 to ride for free if held by a parent or other adult in their lap throughout the flight.
That policy, the union said, has led to safety issues on several occasions.
“We’ve seen airplanes go through turbulence recently and drop 4,000 feet in a split second,” Sara Nelson, international union president, told the Washington Post. “The G-forces are not something even the most loving mother or father can guard against and hold their child. It’s just physically impossible.”
Nelson referenced a flight out of Dulles International Airport in Washington earlier this month in which seven people were injured due to turbulence, including an infant that flew out of its mother’s arms.
FAA Safety Summit
The union has tackled this issue for more than 3 decades, and it resurfaced again this month as part of the FAA Safety Summit — a gathering that brought together flight attendants, pilots, and air traffic controllers, as well as officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Department of Transportation.
The summit focused on, among other items, safety loopholes involving airlines.
According to a statement from the AFA-CWA, its officers raised concerns about violent passenger assaults, increasing severe turbulence events, and the need for a seat onboard for every passenger.
Turbulence is “especially dangerous for flight attendants, where turbulence accounts for three out of every four flight attendant injuries,” said Jennifer Homendy, NTSB chair.
“We issued a report in 2021 to prevent turbulence-related injuries. It had 21 new recommendations and four that we reiterated on weather reports, increased sharing of turbulence events, the need for flight attendants to be seated with their seatbelt buckled during certain phases of flight, and the need for parents to secure children under 2 in their own seat with an FAA-approved child restraint system,” she said, according to the release. “All 25 turbulence recommendations remain open.”
A Long-Standing Issue
The issue of eliminating infants on laps has existed since a 1989 United Airlines crash in Iowa led to the death of one infant and injuries to two others.
“Sadly this has been more than a 30-year priority for our union,” Nelson said, according to Airways Magazine. “We must have children’s seats on the airplane and in their seats with a proper restraint device to ensure it never happens again.”
The AFA-CWA believes the time is now to make the change.
“It’s time for action,” the union said.
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