Woman gives birth at 9,000m on long-haul China Airlines flight

A baby girl was born last Thursday (Oct 8) on board a China Airlines flight from Taipei to Los Angeles, after her Taiwanese mother unexpectedly went into labour.

The woman, whom the carrier said was not yet 32 weeks pregnant, informed the crew six hours into the 19-hour flight that her water had broken.

According to the China Post, the pilot immediately diverted to Alaska's Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport but the woman, who was alone, gave birth 30 minutes before the plane landed.

A doctor who happened to be on board helped to deliver the baby.

Mother and baby were sent to a local hospital in healthy condition, while the plane refueled and continued its journey, arriving in Los Angeles three hours behind schedule.

Passenger Amira Rajput posted a minute-long video of the birth on her YouTube channel, which has since racked up close to 300,000 views.

A flight attendant was seen holding the newborn wrapped in a blanket, while her colleagues huddled around the mother. Passengers could also be heard in the background clapping and cheering.

Ms Rajput, speaking to ABC News, said the mother was "tough as nails" and bit down on blankets to prevent herself from screaming.

"It was super chill. People were super quiet and calm so that this woman could have a stress-free experience," she said.

China Airlines reportedly sent its staff to visit the woman in hospital, and presented a red envelope to wish the pair well.

But questions have been raised over the carrier's decision to allow such a heavily pregnant woman on the flight, which could have put her in danger.

Ms Rajput, who first spotted the woman in a bathroom at Taipei's Taoyuan International Airport, had noted: "She was huge. I thought, what is she doing flying?"

There is also the question of the baby girl's nationality: The Civil Aeronautics Administration said that as she was born in US airspace aboard a Chinese plane, whether she becomes a US or Chinese citizen will hinge on the birth certificate issued by the hospital.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.