Southwest Flight Forced To Land After In-Flight Entertainment Turns Out To Be A Live Birth

A Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago to Salt Lake City was forced to land in Denver this morning, after a passenger on the flight surprised everyone by producing a baby in mid-air.

“We were fortunate to have a couple of doctors on board, and a couple of nurses as well,” [airline spokesman] Chris Mainz said.

The mom was moved to the back galley where she was assisted in giving birth, Mainz said.

“This is not the first time a baby has been born on a flight,” Mainz said, “but it doesn’t happen every day.”

Our tipster Lareign adds, “Sadly, a passenger had to be bumped mid-flight to make up for the extra person.”

“Southwest plane lands at DIA after in-flight birth” [Denver Post] (Thanks to Lareign!)


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  1. Patriot says:

    There’s a reason you’re not supposed to fly past 7 months of pregnancy. In fact, I thought most airlines prohibited it.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Babies are born early sometimes you know…

      • Julia789 says:

        Yep. My son was born four weeks early very unexpectedly and very suddenly I went into labor…(Despite being four weeks early, he was still 8 pounds 9 ounces. BIG BABY. They calculated on ultrasound he would have been 13 pounds if full term. HAPPY he was early!)

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        They are indeed! I was born three months early and if it hadn’t been in a hospital, I wouldn’t have lived. Fortunately for me my mother knew there was a risk and stuck close to home.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      A woman can still give birth at 7 months and the kid can live. Maybe they should reduce it to 4 so it’s called a miscarriage instead.

      Flying is actually pretty safe and unless it’s a high risk pregnancy there’s no reason not to fly. Flying within a week of your due date might be a bad idea however.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I think his point is:
        A) you shouldn’t fly near the end of your term of pregnancy to avoid risks of giving birth on a flight (plus stress can induce labor, which flying can very much be) and
        B) giving birth on a plane, while “safe,” cuts you off from potentially necessary life-saving procedures and expertise. I’m not saying you need a doctor present to give birth, but it’s not a bad idea.

        • thisistobehelpful says:

          Yes but my point was that end of term is 40 weeks and babies can come MUCH earlier than that including at 7 months and that it is not rare. There was a baby born at around five months that survived. Survival rates at 7 months are pretty high.

          Also I didn’t say giving birth on a plane was safe I said flying while pregnant is considered safe for a normal and healthy pregnant woman. A doctor present at birth is considered extraneous in many other western countries. Loads of women are given midwives instead and doctors are just on call in case. Cuts down on the cost of births and doesn’t cause a rise in infant mortality.

          If you really wanted to cover all bases pregnant women would not be allowed to fly at all. But considering we let them drink I doubt that legislation will be on the table any time soon.

          • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

            “Cuts down on the cost of births and doesn’t cause a rise in infant mortality.”

            Not ENTIRELY true … that assumes that the mothers receive adequate prenatal care and screening to identify high-risk pregnancies and to ensure the healthiest possible mother and baby. It also assumes highly-qualified midwives; in the U.S., home births are typically attended by “direct entry” midwives who are not as qualified as nurse midwives.

            Also, demographics matter w/r/t pre-term and high-risk births, and US demographics are considerably different than European demographics.

            “But considering we let them drink I doubt that legislation will be on the table any time soon.”

            Oh, how generous of you to let me make decisions about my own health, body, pregnancy, and child!

            • thisistobehelpful says:

              Uh… you want to drink and have a baby there’s really not much I can do about it nor would I have the intention of telling you to knock it off unless you were family or friend. It was an example of a more sensible rule not in place than the original poster’s 7 month idea. I may not defend your right to drink and gestate but I also won’t vote against it. I was trying to use hyperbole to illustrate why a flying ban would be kind of pointless since it would only be 100% effective as all instead of something or nothing. Kind of like the hilarity of abstinence only sex ed.

              I was actually thinking mostly of Canada not Europe. Canada’s about 80% white as well with a lower mortality rate. But while we’re at it UK is 90% white also with a lower mortality rate. Those would be the only two countries which I have any sort of decent understanding of health practices as I know multiple people from each and have family in one. Both countries use midwives before doctors and both countries have lower infant mortality rates. It makes you wonder WHY we would have more high risk pregnancies. The two groups of people that are significantly represented here but not in Canada or UK are hispanics and blacks. And from what I can find despite different slightly different demographics, the rate seems to be roughly the same between races in each country.

              Must remember, sarcasm in this font doesn’t come through so well.

              • 47ka says:

                You do realize that a number of other factors, which would be more significant than midwives, would have to do with making a pregnancy and/or parturition uncomplicated, such as maternal health, nutrition, access to care in the first place, infections, etc. Pointing to midwives as the reason for lower infant mortality is a fairly ignorant comment.

                • thisistobehelpful says:

                  I didn’t say it was the reason for a lower mortality rate. I said it wasn’t a reason for a higher one as a an extension to a comment being necessary or not. You did not read the original comment.

              • sybann says:

                Gotta remember making any kind of comment about what a woman does with her own body – even in jest – is dangerous.

                Additionally, there are studies that small amounts of beer and wine at various stages of pregancy can actually be beneficial.

          • yesteraeon says:

            “doctors are just on call in case”

            Here’s the important point of your post. Yes, of course it’s possible to have a normal birth without a doctor present. In fact, it’s likely assuming it’s an uncomplicated pregnancy. However, it’s not a good idea to be cut off from the potential of receiving medical care for mother or child if necessary. Don’t forget historically childbirth has been a potentially deadly event.

        • mythago says:

          Good grid. 7 months and one day is not “near the end of your pregnancy”. Getting on a plane is not such extreme stress that it would induce labor in a woman having a normal pregnancy.

    • stanner says:

      Nope. For American it’s 4 weeks before due date. For Delta, there is no restriction. I don’t know about others.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      The article did not state how far along the mother was.

  2. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    “Would you like the chicken or baby? Err, fish?”

  3. colorisnteverything says:

    I thought you could only fly up to a certain point if you are pregnant. I am guessing that someone either lied or belongs on “I didn’t know I was pregnant”.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      What do you do if its an emergency??

      • trujunglist says:

        what emergency would that be that puts you, a plane full of people, and your baby at risk?

      • colorisnteverything says:

        I am not saying that you shouldn’t fly, but here is SW’s policy

        Even if someone died, I do not think I would get on a plane in that state of pregnancy because it would put everyone at risk. I think it is good, however, that SW has not gone apes*t on this lady, though, as that would be overkill. Their policy is not explicit, which I guess is good for her, but potentially not good for the rest of the people in the plane if something happened.

  4. wickedpixel says:

    I’d be curious to know whether she was full-term, premature, or one of those crazy “I didn’t know I was pregnant” cases. The original article doesn’t say. Isn’t there some sort of cut-off date for flying while pregnant?

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      I guess this is a good reason to have those full body scanners. The TSA people could have asked when she was due!

      • Alvarez says:

        You mean like on Total Recall? I just imagined some airport security person trying to stop her for being “too pregnant” so she makes a run for whilst pulling the baby out as it transforms into a gun. I think I watch too much TV.

    • humphrmi says:

      Isn’t there some sort of cut-off date for flying while pregnant?

      The FAA does not set any specific rule but instead “recommends” that airlines prohibit flying over 36 weeks, which is basically 8.5 months … pretty risky really, anyone can have a baby two weeks early.

      Most airlines set limits of about 7 months, but of course the rules are enforced by people who are generally standing behind a counter and can’t see how pregnant the person in front of them is.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        Full term is 40 weeks — you count from the date of last menstrual period, not conception. So the baby is 38 weeks old when born full term, but the PREGNANCY is 40 weeks along, if that makes sense.

        So at 36 weeks, you’re still 4 weeks from full term.

  5. Red Cat Linux says:

    Hope the guy that got bumped was given a courtesy parachute.

    And a free round trip ticket good for his next flight.

  6. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Oh, a woman has a baby, and there just happens to be Dr.’s and Nurses on board. Yet when I want to have a sexy party on a plane in the lounge, I apparently get on a flight with Puritans.

    • Chumas says:

      I had a flight like that from Ny to Berlin. Whole plane, nothing but dour faced Germans. The only fun one there was a little old woman from Estonia who kept saying she’d have to marry me into her family since her current son in law was far too skinny to make good grandchildren. lol

    • mythago says:

      Me too. Why do none of us ever end up on the same plane?!

  7. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    …the question is how long it’s going to take for the mother to recieve a bill for the 2nd ticket on the flight…

    • vastrightwing says:

      No, she’ll be arrested for theft of services. The child will end up in “protective” services. Yes, this won’t end well.

  8. thisistobehelpful says:

    “NEW BABY FEE” Nice. Well it IS an extra last-minute passenger.

  9. metsarethe... says:

    How much was the new baby charged for their seat? Does southwest have a “delivery” fee?

  10. korybing says:

    I’m with the other commenters wondering about flying when you’re that far along with the pregnancy. I would like to know if the baby was unbelievably early or not. I thought you weren’t supposed to fly past a certain point during the process.

    • floraposte says:

      As is previously noted, there’s no hard and fast rule, just an FAA recommendation and airline policies; what’s more, babies tend to come when they please, so its arrival doesn’t necessarily indicate that she was flying against policy.

    • EdWedig says:

      My wife was on that flight. From what she told me, the baby was born 4 weeks early. The mother’s whole family was there with her, so we assume that they were either returning from Thanksgiving vacation, or were going to a funeral/hospitalization, etc.

      She probably thought she was safe being 4 weeks before her due date, but like was said elsewhere, babies come when they want to.

  11. mwwilk says:

    Thankfully, it was not a “Baby of Size”

  12. henrygates3 says:

    Well, it’s cheaper than the $25,000 it would have cost her to do it in a hospital bed.

  13. cmdr.sass says:

    You aren’t supposed to fly late in a pregnancy without being cleared by a doctor, but that requirement can sometimes avoided such as in the case of a family emergency (like a dying relative or something).

  14. d says:

    No one was ‘bumped’ off the flight. According to TFA, the mom/newborn left the plane to go to the hospital in Denver… so there should have been an empty seat… Even if they couldn’t land, I don’t know of too many mothers who wouldn’t be holding that newborn in their arms…

  15. msbask says:

    Flight 441 leaves Chicago at 8:40am. The baby was born at 10:45.

    Assuming that she wasn’t already in labor when she got on the plane, that means that start-to-finish, her entire birth process lasted only about 2 hours (maybe 3 hours if there’s a time zone change to consider).

    Lucky her!!

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      For some people baby pops right out. After all, it is DESIGNED to work that way, its just that everyone is different.

    • Charmander says:

      Yes, it happens. I was in labor with my second child for just over one hour.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        One of my old roommates went into labor 2 1/2 months early. The labor lasted a total of 54 minutes, start to finish.

        They lived an hour from the hospital.

        She’s in the back seat screaming, “DRIVE FASTER! DRIVE FASTER!” and her husband’s in the front seat shouting, “Do not have the baby in the car! DO NOT HAVE THE BABY IN THE CAR!”

        They beat the baby to the hospital by less than a minute.

      • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

        Same here. According to my mom it took her 1.5 hours to have me and no indication of labor leading up to that.

    • Kuchen says:

      She also could have been in early labor and not known it. It took me a good 4 hours to realize that my contractions weren’t going away, and I was actually in labor. I even fell asleep for almost 2 of those hours.

    • Awjvail says:

      A colleague of mine had her first child, and she was in labour 40 minutes, from the first signs of it right up until birth.

      Second one, 25 minutes from the beginning of any strange feelings, it was done.

      She’s pregnant for her third kid right now. She’s concerned she’s not gonna get to the hospital in time.

    • Viciouspixie says:

      holy crap.. and here i was 22 hrs o’ fun.

      Well it was more fun after the epidural. That was after 10 hrs of wanting to peel paint off the walls and hurt the evil nurse who didn’t want to call the doc to administer the epidural.

    • Sanveann says:

      I don’t know … both of my labors were about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, and they were still no walk in the park :D

      With my second, I basically woke up in hard labor — absolute no indication up till then that he was imminent. I went to start timing my contractions and had two before I even had a chance to get the laptop (I was going to use!). That was around 2 a.m. We headed straight to the hospital, and baby was born at 4:45 a.m. Whew!

  16. Kid Awesome says:

    The live birth was then followed by 20 people compaining of “that crying baby” in the back.

  17. Charmander says:

    You know, I really hate when babies ruin a flight for everyone. What’s wrong with that mom, letting her kid be born on a plane? Some people just have no control over their children.


  18. UlimaLibizzle says:

    This has got to violate TSA regulations in more way than one. Let’s start with the fact that the baby was on the plane despite having not passed screening. Then there’s the whole lack of ID thing. And the liquids?

  19. johnnya2 says:

    I wonder who will be cleaning up the placenta, and other fluids from this. This one turned out to be a happy ending, but imagine there was a medical emergency and there was no doctor on board. If the baby died, I can see the next headline being SWA lets babys die in flight, and a multi million dollar lawsuit.

    • Patriot says:

      Even with the doctors being on board, there wouldn’t be a whole lot they could do to save the baby or the mother if she or the baby was in distress without proper medical equipment only found in hospitals.

  20. mrmcd says:

    I hope this kid grows up to be a badass. That way when people ask where he’s from he can reply “FROM THE SKY MOTHAFUCKA!”

  21. Woodside Park Bob says:

    What jurisdiction issues the birth certificate in a case like this? And what is the location of the birth on the certificate…. “somewhere over Nebraska”?

    • lehrdude says:

      I hope there wasn’t someone with the kid’s name on the “No Fly List”…That could cause some SERIOUS problems over at TSA…

    • BenChatt says:

      Actually, turns out the State and County in which the plane lands to let off the mom and baby are responsible for filling out the cert, but each state has different laws on how exactly it’s filled out. Chances are it’ll just say Denver, Colorado though. Sad.

    • johnnya2 says:

      So if a woman gives birth over the Atlantic Ocean and lands in England, the birthers can claim the baby is not a US citizen and will not be allowed to be president

  22. Keep talking...I'm listening says:

    Her name was ‘Bertha’ wasn’t it. I knew it.

  23. umbriago says:

    man, on a plane? Wonder what that smells like.

  24. AngryK9 says:

    And now for my next trick…

  25. MisterE says:

    Does the baby get airline miles?

  26. scoosdad says:

    At least the tipster wasn’t speculating whether or not the mother and baby’s health was worth the extra stop in Salt Lake, unlike an earlier airline tipster here on another Consumerist post today.

  27. SG-Cleve says:

    The place of birth on the Birth Certificate is noted as the state and county where the flight landed and the child is removed from the plane.

    Here is an article with more details about the pregnancy and birth:

  28. 47ka says:

    So that’s how you get more than 3 fl. oz on a plane.

  29. Rachacha says:

    This would be a very interesting story if the mother anounced that the child was conceived at 32,000 feet.

  30. mythago says:

    I get the impression a lot of people skipped the part of their biology class that described what happens after the mommy and daddy love each other very much.

    In the third trimester women routinely get false contractions that don’t lead to anything. Labor can be very fast – especially if the mother has had children before. Add that to the length of time it takes to get from point A to point B by plane even on a really short flight (drive to the airport to arrive early, security line, waiting around, sitting on the plane…) and it is absolutely not a shocker that, once in a while, somebody who didn’t know she was in labor when she got on the plane is going to find herself in labor en route.

  31. KittensRCute! says:

    sometimes in this self age, people need to think about OTHERS. people flying to see dying relatives would miss a last moment with someone they love, and many other problems caused by this choice. i fail to understand why its so hard to have a little consideration these days before we put others on a plane with us…

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      How do you know that she wasn’t flying out for a similarly pressing matter? She declined to give an interview, so there’s no way of knowing.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      …by this choice…

      What makes you think she had the baby on the plane on purpose? WTF?

  32. Skeptic says:

    Sarah Palin flew 8000 miles RT from AK to TX and back only a day or two before deliering Trig.

  33. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I’m surprised that the TSA didn’t confiscate the fetus at the aiport. You never know, it could have been one of those explosive babies

  34. Lowcifur says:

    I hope Homeland Security detained her for smuggling a person onto the plane.

  35. suburbancowboy says:

    Was it Sarah Palin? Oh wait, she only flies on private jets during her “bus tour”.

  36. vladthepaler says:

    Lucky this happened on Southwest; I wouldn’t be surprised if other airlines charge a fee for this sort of thing.

  37. MOPS Mom says:

    I was on board that flight. Baby wasa boy and born 4 weeks early. Her water broke in flight very unexpectly with less than 2 hours in labor. She went into labor about 1 hour into the flight and then her water broke and she notified the flight attendant. She knew she was pregnant and did have the baby belly. Baby boy was about 4 pounds and was put on oxygen at birth. Mom and baby did well leaving the flight and all was cleaned up by a special crew brought on board (hazmat team) and plane was on the ground about an hour then left to Salt Lake City. Her husband and her two other children were on board with her when she gave birth. Just lucky medical personnel was on board at the time.