FAA will study how to make flying safer for kids, families

Photo of Atlanta airport
Photo of Atlanta airport(Atlanta News First)
Published: Jun. 3, 2023 at 12:04 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Friday, Taylor Hardge stands by the baggage claim carousel juggling a handful of suitcases and kids.

Earlier in the day, she and her three kids flew from Florida back home to Atlanta, returning from a quick vacation.

“A little turbulence,” she says, as her youngest squirms in her arms. “But other than that, just a typical flight.”

Typical is about as good as any parent can ask for a flight. But for any parent, safety is the priority and is for Hardge too.

She was pleased by the news that Senator Jon Ossoff, (D) – GA, and Rep. Nikema Williams, (D) – GA, introduced legislation compelling the Federal Aviation Administration to undertake a study looking into ways airports and airlines can make travel easier and safer for families, especially those with younger kids.

“There’s always things that need to change,” Hardge says.

Each year, an estimated seven-million kids fly alone to their domestic destination. A recent study by the group Pediatric Emergency Care found that infants and children flying in their parents laps accounted for over 35% of in-flight injuries, usually caused by turbulence.

Ossoff and Williams’ newly-introduced Kids Fly Safe Act will recruit the resources of the FAA, along with the Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to identify new, sustainable methods that will ensure the health and well-being of children who are traveling on commercial airlines in the U.S.

“We think about all kinds of safety procedures for cars – car seats and so on. We need to take a closer look at commercial aviation,” said Sen. Ossoff. “Right now, what we need to do is understand the full scope of potential hazards, risks, and threats to young children in commercial aviation and then in terms of the specific policy measures that follow, we’ll take it from there.”

The study will look at getting through security with kids, getting to and from the aircraft, and once on board, how to best protect children flying alone or in laps.

“Maybe a seatbelt for a little lap child,” said Hardge, “something that connects to the parent.”

“I think there is certainly an age where they’re getting quite big for laps… but they’re not old enough yet to require their own seats,” said another mom, hustling through the airport with her daughter in a stroller. “If there’s turbulence and you have a medium sized child on your lap it’s really hard to control that and also keep yourself safe too.”

Click here to read the Kids Fly Safe Act.