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Thursday
Dec092010

Holiday Travel: Government Says Babies Should Be Buckled Up on Airplanes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the holiday travel season quickly approaching, the federal government, flight attendants and airlines are urging parents to buckle up their babies on airplanes instead of holding them in their laps, even if it means shelling out money for an extra ticket.

A special forum on child safety in Washington on Thursday brought together representatives from the NTSB, the FAA and the Association of Flight Attendants. Everyone agreed that a young child is safer when buckled into a safety restraint on an airplane, but after decades of debate, tickets still will not be required for children under age two. The FAA has concluded in the past that such a requirement would discourage air travel and put more cars on the road, where the likelihood of harm is statistically far greater.

"Adults experience the same crash forces as children and no love in the world can hold onto that baby in severe turbulence or if you're in a crash," said Debbie Hersman, the chairwoman of the NTSB.

In a document on its website, the FAA has spelled out its safety recommendations to the public.

"FAA strongly urges parents and guardians to secure children in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size," the agency writes. "Keeping a child in a CRS [Child Restraint System] or device during the flight is the smart and right thing to do."

Parents still will be allowed to hold children under two years of age in their laps, though critics say the practice not only puts the child at risk but other passengers as well. In a plane crash, a 20-pound baby can fly with the force of a 100-pound missile.

"We are trained that in an emergency, loose items can be dangerous if flying through the cabin," said Pat Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, in prepared remarks. "A lap child has the potential to be one of those loose items."

The AFA-CWA is lobbying the government to require restraint devices for children.

The FAA has issued the following recommendations for children:

--Children under 20 lbs. use a rear-facing child restraint system

--Children from 20 to 40 pounds should use a forward-facing restraint system.

--Children weighing more than 40 pounds should use an airplane seatbelt.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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