A woman went into labor today on American Airlines flight 87 from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare. The plane diverted to Reykjavik for the mother and child to receive medical attention. After just under two hours on the ground in Iceland, the Boeing 787-9 aircraft took off from the Keflavik airport bound for Chicago.
My flight to the Chicago today is currently making a surprise landing in Iceland due to a passenger going into labor
I hope your baby is safe and you are well 💕
Sending lots of love your way!
— JAMIE JO (@BananaJamana) October 23, 2022
According to American Airlines, the passenger “was transported to a local hospital.” A spokesperson offered, “We thank our team members and medical professionals on board for their professionalism and quick action.”
Oddly this was the same Boeing 787-9, registration N823AN, that found itself on the ground in Iceland a week ago with electrical problems while operating a London to Chicago flight.
A pregnant woman usually isn’t supposed to travel during her last several weeks of pregnancy. Sometimes, though, babies come early. Women don’t know that they are pregnant, or how long they’ve been pregnant. Babies are born in the air. (American’s pregnancy policy is to require a doctor’s certificate attesting to the mother’s fitness to fly for all travel within four weeks of the due date.)
Citizenship laws vary somewhat by country, but following U.S. law (noting that it works differently in Europe):
- If a baby is born in the sky above the United States, it is entitled to U.S. citizenship even if the baby has foreign parents and the aircraft is registered in a foreign country. So German parents, on a Lufthansa plane, where the mother gives birth above Massachusetts would see their child entitled to U.S. citizenship, in addition to German citizenship.
- If a baby is born while the aircraft is over water, and the citizenship of its parents can’t be determined or – as occasionally happens – the parents are stateless, then it is generally entitled to the nationality of the aircraft. So a baby born on an American Airlines flight over international water to a stateless mother would be a U.S. citizen, because American Airlines aircraft are registered in the United States.
What is perhaps crazy is that this isn’t the first baby to be born on an American Airlines plane recently.
Several years ago a woman gave birth on a Saudia flight to New York. They declared an emergency just as they were about to head out over the Atlantic Ocean, dumped fuel, and turned around heading for London Heathrow. The baby and her family were given a free trip.
A woman also gave birth on Jetstar Asia. She named the baby after the airline, and they gave her $1000 in baby supplies. Meanwhile a baby born on a Cebu Pacific flight was given 1 million frequent flyer miles. And a baby born was born on a Jazeera Airways flight — and was given 18 years of free flights. American Airlines does not provide incentives for giving birth on its aircraft.