You see them on almost every flight—a sleeping baby or bouncy toddler sitting on their parents’ lap. The recent stories about turbulence injuring flight attendants and travelers, the pilot who got disoriented and sent his plane into a dive, and lap children being the most unsafe passengers on a plane have got me thinking. What’s the deal with lap children?
First, the reality. Buying an extra ticket is expensive. Car seats often don’t fit into small airplane seats. And even if a child does have his own seat, will he really be buckled in the whole flight? Or will his parents set him up on the floor where it’s more comfortable?
Anyone without a seatbelt on, at any time, is risky. Turbulence can happen at any time—it’s not only for takeoff and landing. And if there is an impact, regardless of how much a parent my try to protect their lap child, the laws of physics could make it impossible to keep them safe.
Why are lap children allowed in the first place, if there are so many risks? It all harkens back to an FAA regulation passed in the fifties that said everyone on a plane had to have a seatbelt—except for children under 2. Of course, as the Time article states, in the fifties there were no car seats in cars either, so it may not have seemed such a big deal . But now that there is such an emphasis on safety, especially child safety, many wonder why the rules don’t change. According to the FAA, they have done the math, and if they change the regulations it will make families less likely to fly and more likely to drive, which is statistically more dangerous.
Readers, what do you think? Would changing safety regulations regarding lap children solve anything?
(For safety tips from the FAA, check out their new child safety page.)