Yesterday, I wrote about a baby born in-flight. A lot of the reporting was based off a witness’ account of the birth who ended an Instagram post by cheerily declaring that the airline (Cebu Pacific Air) is going to give the baby free flights for life.
This item got picked up by a lot of news agencies. For example, Condé Nast’s headline read, “Woman Gives Birth on Cebu Pacific Air, Baby Gets Free Flights for Life.”
From their reporting on it:
The flight rerouted to India so that the mother and newborn daughter could receive necessary medical attention before continuing on to the Philippines—but not before the baby was given free Cebu Pacific flights for life, according to Umandal.
This didn’t seem credible to me. First of all, the article comment and headline was solely based on what a witness in flight said. Secondly, no one in flight would have had the authority to give the baby free flights for life before the flight even landed (again, according to the witness’ account).
I surmised that this may be been a misunderstanding of an announcement–perhaps one announcing that flight was free–or an assumption based on an old wife’s tale.
According to Snopes, this is a frequent false story that circulates after a baby is born in flight. It shows up in a lot of news reports, but is rarely actually confirmed by the airlines. In the cases where it is confirmed, it revolves around special circumstances–the baby being named after the aircraft, the baby being the first birth in flight for the airline, etc.
In this case, the airline finally spoke up to say that no, the baby does not get free flights for life. They did, however, offer the baby a very generous gift of one million frequent flyer miles. The miles won’t expire.
“We are happy that both mother and daughter are doing well, and would like to commend our flight and cabin crew for handling the situation with utmost professionalism and efficiency. We also express our sincerest gratitude to the two volunteer nurses who helped ensure the baby’s safe delivery,” says Lance Gokongwei, CEB President and CEO.
“To celebrate this momentous occasion in the life of one of our passengers, CEB awards Baby Haven one million GetGo points, which she can use to fly with us for free,” he said. GetGo is CEB’s lifestyle rewards program. The baby’s points have no expiry, and may be shared with her family.
The press release also pointed out that this is the first baby born on a Cebu Pacific flight, suggesting that they wouldn’t have had any policy in place for what to do in this situation. My guess is that they received so much press over the free flights for life, they wanted to give some sort of gift to the baby.
Either way, congratulations to the healthy mother and child!