New FAA Recommendations for Transport of Children on Planes

Reported on ABC News by Tanya Rivero, and in an article written by Lisa Stark and Jordyn Phelps in ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer.

The current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policy, allows children under the age of two, to fly free, if seated on an adult’s lap; the adult is safely restrained, the child is not.

As recently as March 2011, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), changed many parameters for the safe transport of infants and children when it recommended new guidelines for age, weight and seat orientation for safety seats in cars. (See the article on the Pediatric Safety website here).

On May 24, 2011, Randy Babbitt, an FAA administrator, announced at a press conference in Washington, DC, that the FAA has come up with a new set of recommendations for the airline industry, regarding the transport of children on airplanes, who weigh forty pounds-or-less. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) has concurred with those recommendations.

Focusing on the safety of child passengers on a plane, the FAA believes that it is much safer to transport a forty-or-under pound child if he/she is secured in a FAA-approved safety seat that is properly attached to an airplane seat of his/her own, than if that child sits on an adult’s lap during flight.

Although the FAA clearly stated its recommendation, it will not make it a requirement, at this time, because of the concern that cost issues (the purchase of an additional seat) may deter families from flying. They also maintain that It is still safer for the child to fly while seated on an adult’s lap, than it is for that child to be a safely-restrained passenger in a car.


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