Sunday, August 2, 2009

Yes, We Bought an Extra Seat. Yes, We're Bringing the Car Seat On the Plane.

This is why I'm going to suck it up and deal with the annoyances (and cost) of bringing Paloma's car seat on the plane:
Turbulence, sudden stops and emergency landings present a huge risk to the lap child. First, in severe turbulence, it is unlikely that the parent would be able to hold on to their child. It is very likely that the child would be tossed around the passenger cabin and sustain serious injuries or even be killed. Second, in emergency landings, parents of lap children are instructed to wrap their child in blankets and place the child at their feet. Children have died in survivable landings when they were thrown through the cabin. Unrestrained children also pose a hazard to other passengers - when a 20 lb child is thrown through the cabin in an accident, he would have a force of 1000 lbs (at only 50 mph, much more at higher speeds) when striking another person or object. Third, parents who are able to hold on to their children in a sudden stop or collision will very likely end up using that child as a "human air bag". Children have actually been "crushed to death" by the parent on whose lap they were sitting.
And here's a letter from a flight attendant, written to the Dear Abby column:
I am a flight attendant for a major airline, and while the captain does not usually "jam on the brakes" we DO hit unexpected turbulence. Planes can drop 500 feet in a matter of seconds. Guess where a small child who's not in a seatbelt goes? To the ceiling!

I write this out of sheer frustration with the uneducated - or perhaps lazy - parents. The FAA does not mandate that a child UNDER the age of 2 be in his or her own seat. This is shameful and absurd. We, the flight crew, are required to ensure that all carry-on luggage is safely stowed, yet our most precious cargo, these little human beings, can be on an adult's lap. I applaud parents who pay the extra money and purchase a seat for the child, and extra kudos when they bring along a car seat. If there is an extra seat available, I ALWAYS move other passengers so "lap baby" can have his or her own seat, explaining to parents that it is safer. Guess what? They give me a blank stare and say: "Oh, she won't sit still in her own seat. She'll cry. I'll just hold her"

Let me offer this graphic thought: Parents, if the plane DOES crash and your baby is on your lap, the baby becomes a human air bag for you. Your baby will die instantly. I had a passenger tearfully tell me that this happened to her. She is now crippled, and her only child (who would be 9 now) was killed.

I urge all parents and grandparents to write to Congress and insist that every passenger - even babies - be in a seat. The FAA's argument that families will not pay for the extra seat because the cost is prohibitive is unfounded. Most airlines offer a lower rate for children. The FAA says that people will turn to driving, which will cause more road accidents. This is conjecture.

I've flown A LOT in my life, and I have been on planes with really heavy turbulence... planes that had to bank sharply or pull up violently to avoid other planes. Would I be able to keep my grip on a baby in situations like that? Who can say. So why risk it?

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