Taiwan’s Transportation Minister Chen Jian-yu has said that the mother who delivered a baby at 30,000 feet above the Pacific on a China Airlines flight bound for Los Angeles will likely be liable for the costs of diverting that flight to Alaska for her medical treatment.
Chen made the announcement during a session at the Legislative Yuan saying: “Compensation (to China Airlines) will likely be inevitable.”
Meanwhile, the airline has said that the new mother’s insurance company is currently calculating the costs of the in-air childbirth. The mother surnamed Jian was 36 weeks pregnant when she stepped on the plane.
Yesterday, a Facebook post made by one of the flight attendants who delivered the baby went viral. Lucienne Chen said that the mother failed to inform the airline upon purchase of the ticket, as well as ground staff upon check-in at the airport, that she was pregnant.
The flight attendant also wrote that when the woman’s water broke mid-flight and she started going into labor, she was advised by flight attendants to lie down and prepare for delivery. The woman, however, insisted she would deliver later, and kept asking, “Are we in US air space yet?”
Under Taiwanese aviation regulations, pregnant women are not allowed to fly without a fit-to-travel certificate from the doctor after 32 weeks. At present, however, Chen said that there are no restrictions in place to prevent just these kind of scenarios.
AsiaOne reports that China Airlines has said that “if pregnant passengers fail to provide proper medical clearance, deceive the company’s staff and thereby cause the flight to be diverted, insurance companies are required to pay compensation for passengers found liable.”
The Taiwanese government is China Airline’s largest shareholder and Kuomintang Legislator Lo Shu-lei is demanding that the Ministry of Transportation and Communication make the airline collect compensation from the woman.
Lo claims that diverting the plane to an airport in Anchorage cost the airline millions of Taiwanese dollars and affected the other 200 passengers on board.
Meanwhile other politicians are worrying that this kind of thing might happen again with China Airlines initially framing the story in a positive, heartwarming light.
Jian has been deported by US immigration authorities. Upon her arrival back in Taiwan, she was ambushed by the media. Covering her face with a jacket, she refused to answer their questions. She has been separated from her newborn child, now under the care of state authorities in Alaska.
She told Taiwanese aviation authorities that her daughter had been given US citizenship by the immigration department. Taiwanese officials did not confirm her claim, saying that they had not heard from their American counterparts.