United Airlines flight 997 from Accra to Washington Dulles arrived with one more passenger on the manifest than when it departed after an expectant mother gave birth to a healthy baby boy with the help of a doctor and a flight attendant onboard who was also a nurse.

Baby Born On United Airlines Flight From Accra To Washington

UA997 took off from Accra (ACC) late Saturday night, with a scheduled arrival into Washington Dulles (IAD) at 5:30am on Sunday morning. One passenger onboard was about eight months pregnant, with her baby due at the end of February.

But the child came early. With several hours left in the flight and plane traveling at 34,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, the young mother went into labor. The captain called for medical assistance and Dr. Ansah-Addo, a Ghanian doctor who practices in the USA and was returning from vacation in Accra, answered the call of duty, along with one of the flight attendants onboard who also happened to be a nurse.

With two hours until landing in IAD, the baby was born, a healthy baby boy.

A United spokesperson called the birth “uneventful…other than being at 30,000 feet” and noted the mother and her son were taken to a hospital in the Dulles area, but doing very well. A team of ground staff met the aircraft and congratulated the mother with balloons and a card.

Nurse Flight Attendant Onboard Assists With Birth

I did want to point to one thing that I did not see mentioned in other outlets. Did you notice that one of the flight attendants was also a nurse and played a key role in delivering the baby onboard?

There’s a false impression amongst much of the traveling the public that flight attendants are uneducated trolly dollies who should be thankful for the impressive pay they receive to serve meals and drinks. I don’t subscribe to the to the “we’re primarily here for your safety” mantra, but would also never call a FA a glorified waiter or waitress, as it overlooks what a critical role flight attendants play in handling an emergency onboard, particularly if a need arises for a rapid evacuation.

But there’ another element: flight attendants are often well-educated professionals in other fields. Think nurses. Lawyers. Accountants. Professors. So why become a flight attendant? Because it is fun. For the travel benefits. Because it is a nice change of pace.

Next time you fly, don’t be surprised if your flight attendant has a long resume or a distinguished career in another field. Remember, the very first attendants were nurses.


This is a lovely story to start the week. Congrats to the new mother and I wish you and your son a wonderful life. I’m not sure how U.S. birthright citizenship works when a child is born on a plane over the Atlantic, but I’m sure they will sort it out!

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