Two weeks ago Baby Em and I (+ Aunt M) flew to Minnesota to visit our family. It was my grandmother's 75th birthday and she really wanted Baby Em to be in attendance.
I'll have more on the vacation in a later post but first, I need to start out by saying Thank Goodness!!! for Southwest and their two bags fly free because packing for a week long trip with a baby requires a lot of stuff. Baby Em's stuff was packed into the large suitcase while I took the smaller one. There was also a car seat, a stroller and a diaper bag. Forget about my personal carry on--it was all about Baby Em. Luckily, Grandma was able to borrow a Pack-N-Play so ours didn't have to make the trip.
Baby Em has proven to be a very good traveler, whether in the car or on a plane (haven't done a train yet). I think she takes after her Dad in that respect. As soon as we get on the plane Baby Em falls asleep. Her Dad does the same thing. He can sleep anywhere. To help keep her asleep on each leg of the trip, I wrapped Baby Em in the Moby (cradle hold). She wanted to come out on the leg to MN so I spent the whole flight just holding her in my arms. On the way home she was sound asleep by the time we got on the plane and stayed that way while everyone was boarding. Right before take off I was told by a flight attendant that this carrier wasn't a FAA approved safety device and I needed to take Baby Em out. I think I gave her a look of disgust because she said "Don't shoot the messenger. I'm just following regulations." I told her that hopefully regulations require her to rock Baby Em back to sleep after she wakes up--sort of--Isaid it under my breath but I was very annoyed.
Apparently, according to the flight attendant, carrying Baby Em in that matter would inflict more harm on the baby than just having her in my lap during an on-flight incident--like having to stop suddenly or strong turbulence. I still didn't understand her explanation because my thinking is that having Baby Em close to me would provide more security than just holding her on the lap. What if the turbulence caused me to let go or the deceleration threw her against the seat in front of us and me against her. I wouldn't be able to stop because my hands would be around her. However, annoyed as I was, I did take her out and just held her for the rest of the flight.
I've done some research into this issue because I was still wondering what the FAA regulation said. What I was able to find was that, first, it seems this regulation is very antiquated. It was set for situations a long time ago when seat belts were different and airlines were trying to prevent parents from buckling their lap baby in with them. Second, the regulation only requires that during take-offs, landings and taxing that the baby not be restrained by the seat belt or by any type of carrier (unless FAA approved). However, during the remaining portion(s) of the flight it is OK. So, what I should do is wrap the baby to get on the plane, unwrap the baby for take-off, wrap the baby back up, and then unwrap again for landing. Yeah, right. Never gonna happen.
I wonder if Baby Em had not wanted to get out on the flight to MN if that flight attendant would have said the same thing to me. It seems, from reading similar posts, that some attendants will say something and some will not. Either because they don't fully understand the regulation themselves or maybe they just don't notice.
I think the people making these regulations need to better understand baby wearing and the carriers we use. I still plan on carrying Baby Em in a carrier next time we fly. So far it's been the best thing for both us. She can get to sleep and I can read a book. We'll just leave it to the luck of the draw and hopefully our next flight attendant won't say or notice anything.