On Wednesday, November 18th, Lion Air Flight JT797 traveling from Jayapura on Papua to Massakar on Sulawesi, Indonesia, made a brief stop at Pattimura International Airport in Ambon. The reason? It had acquired an extra tiny little passenger along the way.
Someone was in a bit of a hurry to join its fellow earthling travelers on Wednesday. Perhaps sensing that the best start to life would be at 36,000 feet, the unborn child of a Lion Air passenger decided it was time to join the world outside of the womb. While cabin crew are trained for all manners of emergencies, including births, as luck would have it there was a doctor onboard to assist in the process.
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Birth assisted by doctor took all but one hour
The Lion Air Boeing 737-900 took off from Jayapura’s Sentani International Airport at 13:25 local time. Close to an hour after takeoff, a pregnant woman, local to the point of departure on Papua, began to experience pain.
According to the Jakarta Post, her travel companion requested some hot water to ease the pain from what turned out to be contractions. Members of the cabin crew went to check on the woman. It soon became clear that she had, in fact, gone into labor and was about to give birth.
The senior flight attendant proceeded to call out for a doctor over the PA. One quickly made herself known and presented her credentials. The pregnant woman then gave birth in one of the rows furthest to the back of the plane. All went well, and rather quickly. Both mother and baby are reportedly healthy.
Detour for hospital drop-off
Having consulted the doctor, the plane’s pilot took the decision to land at the nearest airport. This was Pattimura International Airport in Ambon in the province of Maluku, located pretty much right in the middle between Papua and Sulawesi. The plane touched down at 15:49.
The woman and her newborn child (and, presumably, also her travel companion) were transferred to Dr. M. Haulussy Kudamati Ammbon Regional General Hospital for further care. The plane took off again at 16:40 and continued on its way to its original destination, where it landed at 17:15 local time.
Only one birth every 26 million passengers
Births onboard flights are a very rare occurrence. It happens only once in approximately every 26 million passengers. Meanwhile, it is uncertain how a twin-birth, such as the one on a Mongolian Airlines flight from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar earlier this year, counts in the statistics.
When they do happen, the airline often celebrates the event and perhaps hopes to nurture a natural inclination for air travel with some form of a gift. Carriers have been known to provide free flights for life, or at least until 18 years of age, or in the case of baby Haven, who was born on a Cebu Pacific flight from Dubai to the Philippines in 2016, one million air miles.