Airlines get a lot of bad publicity; they’re always doing something wrong. But Spirit Airlines is breaking that trend. When Cristina Penton—a pregnant mother traveling with her two other children—went into labor during her flight to her home in Phoenix, the flight crew did whatever they could to help her.
“Flight attendants huddled around Cristina Penton, handing her wet cloths to keep her cool. One massaged her shoulders, and another told her to stay calm — everything would be OK,” writes AP.
Fifteen minutes into her flight, Penton’s contractions were five minutes apart; once her water broke, she knew her third child was entering the world nearly four weeks early.
“He did what he wanted,” she said at a news conference. “We were just along for the ride.”
Luckily for Christina, there was a pediatrician and a nurse on the plane, who came forward to help her deliver. She placed her feet up against the wall in front, and she pushed only three times before delivering a healthy baby boy, who she named Christoph Lezcano.
Laughably, people in the plane were telling her not to push—to hold the baby in until they could get to a hospital. “Anyone who’s had a baby knows it’s not an option,” laughs Penton.
The plane took a detour to the nearest city, New Orleans, and Penton received emergency care before being transported to the hospital ten minutes away. “Doctors at a New Orleans-area hospital confirmed both Penton and her newborn were healthy,” reports AP.
Penton, who was 36 weeks pregnant, says she felt comfortable flying because her other two children were born full term. “Her husband, who drove to meet her in New Orleans, later said ‘I told you so,’ after warning her not to take the trip,” adds AP.
Some airlines require women who are far along in their pregnancies to have a doctor’s note to fly, but Spirit doesn’t have that policy. The airline didn’t get mad at Christina for the mishap. Instead, they helped her all they could during the labor, and they went one step further.
Paul Berry, a spokesman for Spirit Airlines, says that Penton and her family can fly Spirit for free once a year to celebrate Christoph’s birthday—all the way until he turns 21. They also gave the baby the airline also gave Christoph a onesie that reads “born to fly” and “early arrival.”
Other airlines should take note!