Flight Attendant Union Implores Industry to Implement ICAO Guidelines for Child Safety Seats Nearly 30 Years After United Flight 232

(Washington D.C., July 19, 2018) Twenty-nine years after the tragic crash of United Airlines Flight 232 claimed the lives of one infant, dozens of passengers and one fellow Flight Attendant, the Association of Flight Attendants –CWA (AFA) continues to advocate for the use of child safety seats for all children under the age of two:

“On July 19, 1989, the heroic actions of the Flight Attendants and crew onboard United Flight 232 saved the lives of 184 passengers in one of the worst crashes in aviation history. Through their professionalism and dedication, our colleagues showed the world the crucial role Flight Attendants have onboard the aircraft each and every day.

“As first responders, Flight Attendants must secure all items onboard an aircraft to comply with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, but infants and small children are considered an exception. The use of child safety seats is about the safety of our smallest, most defenseless passengers as well as the safety of those around them.

“After the devastating accident in Sioux City, AFA intensified efforts to ensure safe air travel for all passengers regardless of age. For decades, AFA has advocated for the mandatory use of child safety seats during takeoff, landing, and turbulence onboard aircraft. While child safety in motor vehicles has advanced significantly over the years, the same cannot be said for aviation.

“Flight Attendants are responsible for the safety, health and security of all occupants in the cabin of commercial airplanes. For our youngest passengers, we believe there is only one safe way to fly, and that is the reason for AFA’s steadfast support for requiring child safety seats for passengers under the age of two. 

“The safest way to secure an infant or child on board an aircraft is in an FAA approved child restraint system (CRS), in a dedicated seat, appropriate for that infant or child. The FAA should make this mandatory and airlines have it within their power to implement this policy today. This would also remove highly publicized incidents where confusion over the policy led to conflict on the plane and potentially unsafe conditions for infants. As a country we advise parents how to safely protect children riding in a car. It should be no different in the air.

“AFA took part in promoting written guidelines from the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), which declares ‘proper use of restraints is one of the most basic and important factors in surviving an accident. It is not possible for a parent to physically restrain an infant or child, especially during a sudden acceleration or deceleration, unanticipated or severe turbulence, or impact. The use of CRS provides an equivalent level of safety to infants and children as that afforded to adult passengers wearing seat belts.’

“Today, we reflect on the important lessons of United Flight 232 and continue to remain thankful for our flying partners whose actions 29 years ago continue to serve as an important reminder that Flight Attendants put their lives on the line every day to ensure passengers arrive at their destination safely and securely.

“As we remember the events 29 years ago, Flight Attendants especially hold close the memory of United Flight Attendant Rene LeBeau who lost her life in the crash. We will also pause to pay tribute to the crew that performed miracles to save 184 lives.”

United Flight 232
Flight Attendant: Janice Brown-Lohr
Flight Attendant: Georgeann Del Castillo
Flight Attendant: Barbara Gillaspie
Flight Attendant: Donna McGrady
Flight Attendant: Virginia Jan Murray
Flight Attendant: Timothy Owens
Flight Attendant: Yeoung (Kathy) Shen
Flight Attendant: Susan L. White
Flight Attendant: Rene LeBeau
Captain: A.C. Haynes
First officer: William R. Records
Second officer: Dudley J. Dvorak
United DC-10 flight instructor: Dennis E. Fitch


The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 72 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

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