A Qatar Airways flight from Miami to Doha welcomed an extra passenger this week when a woman on board gave birth mid-air to a baby boy.
The unnamed woman was on the QR778 flight on March 22, which was diverted to Newfoundland in Canada when the crew learned she was in labor.
The flight had been due to depart Miami shortly before 9pm on Sunday, but was delayed by nearly three hours due to rain storms in Doha at the time.
Passengers on the flight reported that as the plane neared Greenland, there was an announcement that it was being diverted to Gander International Airport in eastern Canada due to a medical emergency.
The baby was born around 30 minutes before the Boeing 777 flight landed amid a snowstorm, according to a passenger who spoke to Doha News.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 23, 2015
A Dubai resident who was on the flight told Doha News that passengers first became aware of a situation on the plane when cabin crew began moving around, collecting blankets and towels.
“Then there was a call-out for any medical staff on board, followed shortly by an announcement that we were being diverted to Gander due to a medical emergency. They didn’t tell us what this was.
But a nurse who had been sitting near me had gone to assist. She came back later to say that a baby had been born at on the flight and that mother and baby were both well.”
A doctor who was on board is also believed to have assisted the woman, who cabin crew had taken to the back galley of the plane.
The passenger said that after the plane landed at Gander airport around 4:30am, it was met by an ambulance and emergency medical crew, and the mother and baby were taken off the rear exit.
Local newspaper the Gander Beacon reported that the paramedics were from the nearby James Paton Memorial Regional Health Center, and the mother and baby were transported to the hospital where both were said to be resting that afternoon.
The nearly-full flight remained at Gander for more than four hours while it refueled, before it took off again and landed in Doha, several hours late.
While the passengers on board were not officially told of the reason for their lengthy delay, the passenger said that the news quickly spread through the flight.
Nevertheless, many passengers were “very upset” at the delays, he added:
“Although we didn’t get many updates from the pilots, the cabin crew were great in their service. It had to be hard dealing with passengers who were tired, angry and uncomfortable.”
Words of welcome
The airport and other passengers on their flight tweeted their congratulations to the new mom and baby.
— Gander Airport (@GanderAirport) March 23, 2015
This just in: my flight yesterday was diverted because a woman gave birth on the plane. Mabrook to the new parents and to @qatarairways !
— Amy Hodges (@thehodges) March 24, 2015
Gander Airport’s safety manager Brian Hicks is quoted in the Toronto Sun newspaper saying his staff were used to dealing with emergency landings, as the airport is the easternmost major airport in North America.
But “a birth is a new one and I’ve been here 27 years,” Hicks said.
The nationality of the woman has not been confirmed. Nor is it known how premature the baby was. According to Qatar Airways’ regulations, women are not allowed to fly after the beginning of their 36th week of pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant with multiples or who have complications are not permitted to fly from their 33rd week.
Qatar Airways has not commented on the situation.