Being born in midair is the stuff of legend. It isn’t just the kudos of being able to roll out the anecdote every time people ask where you were born. Babies born in flight get special privileges – good news for the unnamed mother who gave birth to a baby boy en route from Kochi to Damman in Saudi Arabia on Monday.
It has been a long tradition that babies born on flights get free flights from the airline who helped deliver them, but ‘free flights for life’ is the exception, not the rule. Nevertheless, when Jet Airways 9W570 made an emergency landing in Mumbai with one more passenger than it took off with, the new baby was granted free flights for life as the first passenger to be born on a Jet Airways plane.
Births in the air are rare because most airlines ban expectant mothers from travel beyond a certain stage of pregnancy, but they do happen. In April this year, a baby was born on a Turkish Airlines flight from Conakry in Guinea to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, though on that occasion, the airline was not forthcoming with a lifetime of free air travel.
Nationality for babies born in flight is more complicated. Under international conventions dating from the 1960s, babies born on ships and planes between ports take the nationality of the country where the airline or shipping company is registered, unless they get citizenship automatically from their parents. There are however exceptions – babies born in Canadian airspace automatically qualify for Canadian citizenship.