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The Days of Free Infant Flights Could Be Numbered

Travel with baby and infant seats

Lap days could be over

The question of whether children under 2 should be required to have their own seats is about to come to a head, with a forum December 9 held by the National Transportation Safety Board, reports The New York Times.

The Federal Aviation Administration has always acknowledged that buckling little ones into seats is safer than having them on your lap, but it has continually turned down requests to change the regulations and require a seat bought for every passanger, regardless of age.

But the pressure from federal agencies is on, and other organizations like the Association of Flight Attendants are making strong statements that might just tip the scales and change the game for family travel. Here’s what they’re pushing for:

“Every single thing on that airplane down to the coffee pots are required to be properly restrained except children under the age of 2,” said the president of the Association of Flight Attendants. And the safety board cites numerous accidents recently in which children in car seats were protected and ones without belts were injured or killed.

But the FAA is hesitant to make changes, because they say the added cost to families (who are used to flying with infants for free) would make more of us likely to drive instead of fly. Driving is notoriously more dangerous, so in the end, injuries and fatalities would go up.

As someone with a new family, I’ve appreciated being able to eke out a few trips without buying an extra seat. Then again, it’s absolutely true that if strong turbulence hit, you would never be able to hold onto a baby tightly enough to keep her safe. How often that scenario arrises (as opposed to crashes in which everyone would die, regardless of seat belts) is a question for the FAA.

We’ll see what comes of the December meetings, stay tuned. Which side of the lap-kid debate do you fall on? And are you planning to take your under 2 little one on your lap for holiday travel this season?

Image: flickr/kosifinedays

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