The birth of a baby boy on board a Southwest flight departing from San Francisco on Tuesday morning was not only a surprise to the mother but to passengers as well.
Ken Marshall, who said he was a passenger on the morning flight, told the L.A. Times that passengers aboard Southwest Flight 623 didn't realize the woman was in labor until they heard the baby crying and her husband calling a flight attendant for help.
She then told the surprised flight attendant: "I just had a baby," he said.
Moments later, a doctor and a nurse who happened to be aboard the flight scurried to help the woman, whom Marshall described as quiet and humble.
The flight crew scrambled to gather blankets to cover the baby and asked passengers if they had something sharp to cut the umbilical cord.
A female passenger searched her cosmetic bag and offered a pair of beauty scissors, which they used to cut the cord, he said.
Soon after, the pilot announced that the woman had given birth to a baby boy, at which point the passengers, who had been mostly quiet, cheered aloud, he said.
The 6:24 a.m. flight was heading to Phoenix, but it was diverted to Los Angeles after he said a flight attendant told the pilot the plane needed a cleaning.
Before she gave birth, he and other passengers knew something was amiss because there was a strong odor in the dimly lighted cabin, he said. They later saw a puddle of blood.
"Something was not quite right," Marshall said.
The woman, who had been wearing pants, apparently remained seated in her window seat in the upright position while she gave birth, he said.
"It was very shocking," said Marshall, who sat two rows in front of the woman.
The doctor and nurse remained with the mother, her family and the flight crew until they arrived about 7:30 a.m. in Los Angeles, where paramedics took over.
Paramedics boarded the flight and provided immediate medical aid to the mother and newborn, LAFD spokesman Erik Scott said.
The family was transported to an area hospital and mother and child were in good condition, he said. Marshall said the baby is the mother's second child.
The remaining 111 passengers were to continue on to Phoenix on a new aircraft, an airline spokeswoman said.