Delta says the mother of infant conjoined twins need to buy an extra seat, because each child has her own set of lungs and needs separate emergency oxygen masks, then changes its mind when a reporter calls. So which is it? [AZ Central]


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  1. timmus says:

    Well, yeah, the kids ought to have enough seat space to use two oxygen masks, so that puts the clerk in quite a bind. I think the real question is whether the flight was almost full and whether the clerk could have granted a free seat without getting in trouble.

  2. mk says:

    I don’t understand. Kids under 2 can sit on your lap. So a “regular” kid under two can sit on your lap and you don’t have to buy an extra ticket. So doesn’t that mean you’re automatically short an oxygen mask?

  3. Trai_Dep says:

    Twins. As in two. Why is this even up for debate?

    If an airline decides to comp a seat for humanitarian reasons, they’re free to. Good publicity, nice warm feeling in their tummies, etc.

    But if they charge a seat for an infant, and they charge two seats for two, then conjoined twins are two people.

    On a related note, I think that anyone that’s “Pro Life” (/cough, but I”ll let it pass), who’s pregnant, even at the zygote stage, should have to buy an extra seat. After all, “life” is “life”, right? Or, is it only “life” when it’s convenient to them?

  4. boreddusty says:


    You had me agreeing with you up until your last “related note.” The airline is claiming that the conjoined twins (two people) require separate air masks, and thus two seats even if they only physically occupy one.

    As far as I know, a fetus in the womb doesn’t need its own separate emergency oxygen supply.

  5. SVreader says:

    That is a tricky situation. On one hand, I can see the mom not wanting to buy another seat, since the girls are going to sit on her lap, but what happens in the very unlikely event that the oxygen masks are needed? Are there two masks per seat (in the case of a child being on a lap)? In that case, if the passenger next to the mom wasn’t using both masks, I suppose she could use that one.

    I don’t really get the “adding that the airline told her ‘there needs to be (an oxygen) mask for everyone’ even though both girls would be sitting on her lap.” As far as I know, you need oxygen even if you’re sitting on someone’s lap.

  6. @melking1972: I suppose it’s one thing to share your oxygen mask with one child but it’s too risky to try to share one mask between yourself and two children.

    At least, that’s what I’m assuming happens in the “regular” kid situation.

  7. Sudonum says:

    I don’t know every “emergency procedure” exercise I’ve paid attention too tells me to put my mask on first and the childs mask on second. Doesn’t seem to indicate anything about “buddy breathing”. Wouldn’t you have to undergo extra-special training for that? All sarcasm aside can you imagine the liability from someone dying while trying to “buddy breath” with their child if the cabin were to depressurize?

  8. Canadian Impostor says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I think in the “regular kid situation” the kid is fucked if you need the oxygen mask since he’s probably not wearing a seatbelt or proper restraints for heavy turbulence anyways.

    If they would have charged her that seat if she had two not conjoined twins then I don’t see why she should be able to pay for one seat just because the conjoined twins arguably occupy less volume. Non attached small children could be sat more than one to a seat if you just crammed them in there.

  9. Canadian Impostor says:

    I’d like to add, at 40,000 feet you have enough oxygen in your blood for 10-15 seconds of “useful conciousness”, and there’s only one oxygen mask per seat.

  10. Trai_Dep says:

    The child-less guy asks, what are the rules for sharing seats? Basically, if the kid is young enough to sit on a lap the entire flight, then no charge? I thought that there was a change a bit back about that not being allowed anymore (child seats required or something?)

    If the former, and on a fully booked, transcontinental flight, I’d imagine that’d be insanely unpleasant. And, while I’d be okay with an infant using an unoccupied seat, just because, it seems unfair (“But captain, my waiflike model/girlfriend is sitting on my lap the entire flight… I SWEAR!” would be laughed at).

  11. Craig says:

    I’d like to know how many times those oxygen masks actually come in handy.

  12. Nighthawke says:

    I’m certain that they would qualify for this offering: Angel Flight. They cater to various patients, so I’m certain that they would be more than glad to offer them a lift.
    A light n easy Googling hit these little nuggets that’ll help them out.


  13. UpsetPanda says:

    Why would you ever fly with a child sitting on you the entire time? I’m not a parent, that much is apparent, but I imagine that to be extremely uncomfortable since you’d have a child right there on you the entire flight. To me, it’s worth the extra money to buy another seat.

  14. Miss Anthropy says:

    Actually, if you’d read the article, you’d see that it’s both. Delta is allowing the lap-sitting only for the portion of the trip when her companion is flying with her, but they still haven’t found a solution (other than purchasing an extra seat) for the portion of the trip that the companion can’t be on the same flight.

    Would it kill you guys to do a little bit of reading before you pass these things along?

  15. SadSam says:

    I don’t understand how its safe or legal for babies to fly on the lap of mom or dad. We don’t allow babies to sit on the lap of mom or dad in a car, what’s the difference. I think airlines should do away with the whole free lap baby program, its not safe and its not comfortable for other passengers.

    As for this situation, I feel for this family but I understand the airlines point. As far as I know the rule for lap babies is 1 per lap.

  16. infinitysnake says:

    If this airline had any common sense, they’d let the kids fly free and take out an ad about how carin g they are…

  17. jesirose says:

    @SadSam: Because you’re much more likely to get in a car accident than a plane one?

  18. cde says:

    Because, unlike a car accident, you are royally fucked regardless of a seatbelt when in an airplane accident. Not only are you traveling at how many hundred of miles per hour, but how many miles above the earth. Gravity + Distance + Sudden Stop = Seatbelts are useless. Seatbelts only help during emergency landings, with if not reduced speed, but the distance-to-ground factor removed.

  19. Sudonum says:

    Seatbelts also help during turbulence or any time you need to be firmly planted in your seat. Remember the Aloha flight attendant a few years back (maybe quite a few) who got suck out of the cabin when the plane suddenly became a “convertible” at 30,000 feet? []

  20. m. mangosteen says:

    @Canadian Impostor: Actually, ,most airlines have one extra oxygen mask per row. Last flight I was on a family of four (2 seats, 2 babies) had to split up because there were only 3 oxygen masks for two seats. []

  21. legerdemain says:

    I can understand the airline being confused. I’d be surprised if they actually have a policy on this. If they do have a policy, I’d really not expect it to be one of the policies that a large number of employees would remember.

    Maybe the airline should be better structured for the sake of letting a single person make the call, thus avoiding backtracking, but hey, it is a bit of a curveball, no?

  22. humphrmi says:

    @Canadian Impostor: Absolutely correct. Unless the pilot has the foresight to deploy the masks beforehand, you have almost no chance of surviving rapid depressurization at 30-40,000 feet. You won’t die immediately, but you likely won’t be able to put on your own mask, much less those of your children, before you pass out.

  23. Trai_Dep says:

    Humph –

    Why? Is it b/c it’s not merely holding your breath, but the extreme buffetting during decompression pounds it out? Or, is it like rising too quickly to the surface when diving? I’m curious. :)

  24. nardo218 says:

    It was tacky of the article to add that bit on the end about how the twins could be separated. How is that relevant to the issue at hand? I would think conjoined twins — who, btw, usually profess they don’t want to be separated — would be insulted that every aspect of their lives is about being twins and being separated.

  25. humphrmi says:

    @trai_dep: I’ve been trying to find an article about this that I read a while back. Semi Mea Culpa: Apparently oxygen masks are very effective in maintaining life support during decompressions at lower altitudes (as one might experience during take-off or landing, when most decompression accidents happen.)

    But the reason masks are not very effective at cruising altitude is twofold: The higher you go, the thinner the air is, and thus the less time you have to don an airmask before your brain runs out of oxygen and shuts down. Second, as you increase altitude the natural (exterior) pressure decreases. The plane is pressurized to offset this effect. The boiling point of liquids decreases at lower pressures such that most of your bodily fluids (including blood) will boil or vaporize at 40,000 feet. Unfortunately there’s not much an oxygen mask can do about that. I believe that pilots are trained to push the aircraft down to lower altitudes quickly if a cruising altitude depressurization occurs; whether this is effective or not, I don’t know.