A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER was forced to make an unusual diversion yesterday. The flight from Doha to Bangkok made an emergency landing in Kolkata, India after the number of passengers increased by one. At 3am, a baby boy unexpectedly joined the travelers at 35,000 feet.
A baby boy
The birth of a baby is always considered a miracle. But one particular baby made a spectacular entrance to the world while traveling above it. A 23-year-old Thai woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy at 3am on a Qatar Airways flight to Bangkok.
The aircraft landed safely in Kolkata in India at 3.09 am after the pilot asked for a priority landing due to a medical emergency. An official at Kolkata airport confirmed that,
“An unscheduled flight from Doha to Bangkok QR-830 landed around 03:09 am at Kolkata airport in medical priority landing. The pilot of Qatar flight had asked SOS to ATC for medical priority landing. The flight landed safely, the airport team with the doctor was attending the concerned.”
The Independent is reporting that a doctor also on board the flight and able to assist with the birth. It’s not known exactly how premature the birth was; Qatar Airways’ policy is not to allow pregnant mothers to fly after 36 weeks. The woman was transported to a hospital in India and is said to be doing well. An image of the woman and her new baby has been circulating on local media outlets online.
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The flight then continued to Bangkok arriving just 2 and a half hours late. The airline apologized for any inconvenience and said it was doing its best to help passengers make connecting flights. In a statement, the airline said,
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the diversion. All passengers were assisted upon arrival into Bangkok to ensure smooth onward connections to their final destination.”
When babies are born in the air, the question of citizenship is often one of the first questions asked. There are several factors that may affect the new baby boy’s citizenship. Generally, the nationality of the parents will determine the baby’s citizenship. This happens in 99% of cases, no matter which country’s airspace the actual birth took place in.
But what are the exceptions? Some counties grant jus soli, which means the right of the soil. In these cases, a baby born in this country, in its airspace or in its nautical boundary would be granted citizenship. The USA is the most famous country to have this right.
While we don’t yet know where exactly the baby was born, it seems India is the most likely contender. While neighboring Pakistan operates jus soli, India abolished jus soli in the 80s so the baby would not be granted citizenship.
However, in some cases, a baby born in the sky has previously been granted the nationality of the country where the aircraft is registered. Under international law, a ship or aircraft registered in a specific nation carries the nationality of that nation. If the registered country does not grant birth nationality as a part of jus soli, then whether the baby was born on that country’s soil, or in that country’s aircraft would make no difference to the baby’s citizenship. The only exceptions to this are if a child would be stateless.
While we do not yet know the baby boy’s name, we know that he has joined an elite club. And whatever his nationality, we wish both mother and baby a speedy recovery.