Here’s a story that breaks the recent trend of awful airline public-relations nightmares.
A Phoenix, Ariz., woman and her family were given 21 years of free flights on Spirit Airlines after she gave birth, mid-flight, to a healthy baby boy.
Cristina Penton was 36 weeks pregnant when she boarded Spirit flight 971 from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas with her other children. During the flight, she unexpectedly went into labor.
“Everything started happening very quickly,” Penton told WGNO. “I didn’t think I was having the baby because it was too soon, but after a few minutes I knew I needed medical attention. The flight attendants contacted doctors on the ground and they advised the flight attendants to see if there were any medical personnel on board. As it turned out, there was a pediatrician and a nurse. Soon after that, it was clear I was having my baby, and I was in pure panic.”
A spokesman for Spirit said that while a baby being born during a flight is “very rare,” flight attendants are trained to handle medical emergencies and can communicate with doctors on the ground with the plane’s in-flight communication system. When it was clear that Penton needed help, these flight attendants leaped into action.
Fortunately, there were some medical professionals on board to help – a pediatrician and a nurse. A fellow passenger on the plane, Shelley Hedgecock Starks of Fort Worth, captured the whole thing on video. She was sitting behind Penton when she went into labor, Fox5 News reports.
“I just asked her, ‘Do you want me to video this so you have a memory of what's going on here?’” she asked Penton. “She's married, apparently. But her husband wasn't there. Her children were in shock so they weren't in any situation or wanted to video that.”
Nurse Rhondula Green helped deliver the baby.
“I was asking for gloves, and the pediatrician was like, ‘They don’t have any gloves,’” Green said in an interview with Fox5. “And I was like, ‘They have to find some gloves.’ And then by the time I was getting my gloves on, the head was starting to crown.”
“A few seconds late[r], the head comes out. And the mom is like, ‘Take it! Take it!’” Green recalled. “He popped out, literally. Like, we barely caught him and then we just gave him to her.”
Penton’s baby, Christoph Lezcano, was born weighing seven pounds and measuring 19.5 inches long.
As Green went back to find her seat, the passengers on the plane clapped and cheered. “It was an awesome moment,” she said.
“The Spirit crew was very attentive and took care of me throughout the flight,” Penton said. “They helped make what could have been a terrible situation as good as it could possibly be.”
In addition to the free airfare, Spirit paid for a rental car to drive Penton and her family back home and presented baby Christoph with several gifts, including a onesie that says “Born to fly.”
Please do not be encouraged to go into labor aboard a plane after reading this story.