Baby Carriers on Airplanes Not Allowed?

Updated on June 15, 2008
J.O. asks from Vacaville, CA
35 answers

I'm going to be flying with my daughter for the first time in August. She'll be three and a half months old then. After seeing a news story that United is now charging for all checked bags (grrr!), I was looking on their website to see if we were now going to have to pay for her car seat, which previously appeared to be free of charge. Didn't find an answer to that question, but I saw that front carriers like my Baby Bjorn are not allowed on the plane *at all*! I'd heard that they were not allowed during takeoff and landing. From the website:

"The following child restraint devices may not be used on board the aircraft: booster seats, belly belts which attach to adult seat belts only, and vests or harnesses which hold the infant to the chest of the adult."

This puts a bit of a kink into our plans. My daughter likes the carrier quite a bit. She prefers being upright and likes being up against my chest, so she settles in quickly and goes right to sleep. Our plan has been to use that when moving around the airport so we don't have to take the stroller, thinking that she might be happier in it during the flight as well. So I was just wondering if anyone knew WHY carriers are not allowed? It would make more sense to me to have her strapped into her carrier (as opposed to simply being held) if the worst happened.

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M.F.

answers from Salinas on

wow I used my carrier on the plane all through my daughters infancy, it was a lifesaver, I would make a huge stink if they don't let you use it... I mean about 3 minutes of a screaming baby should convince them, if nothing else, bring it onboard in a bag and put her in it as soon as you take off... hope that the stuardess is a mom!

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L.G.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't know if there have been any changes since I last flew in May. The carriers are allowed through the airport and even on the plane. The baby must be removed and held in your arms during take off and landing, but you can still have your Bjorn on you. Then put her back in once you have completed take off. I was able to check the car seat for free. I was also told that even as a "lap child" we were allowed an extra bag to check for her. Check on that one in case that changed. The more you can check the better, because toting carry-ons and a baby around the airport are tough. But traveling is great, and I have never had problems with my daughter, and she has flown 5 trips already. Enjoy!

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S.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi J., we took our 3-month old to Hawaii in May, and I've learned a lot since then regarding flying. We did not purchase an extra seat for her, but decided in the future that we will splurge and do it, because that is truly the safest way to have your baby on the airplane (should the worst occur). As far as the extra baggage, we also flew United, and on the departing flight we were able to take our carseat on the plane (since we lucked out and the seat tnext to us was emplty), and we checked the stroller at the gate without any problmes and without paying extra. On the return flight, we were told that the seat next to us was not empty, so we checked both the carseat and the stroller at the gate without any problems or extra charges. They will give tags to put on your stoller (and stroller pieces) at the gate. Just make sure you ask about that.

I don't know the rules about Bjorns, etc., but here's somethjing to consier. If your flight turns out to be extremely late, will you wish you had the stroller in the airport? We almost did not take the stroller either (and were also planning on using the bjorn in the airport), but we were so thankful we just the night before decided to take the stroller as our United flight was delayed over two hours. It was also dealyed on the return flight for over an hour.... Good luck, and have a great time!!!

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K.W.

answers from San Francisco on

J.,
I understand your frustration. I am a Flight Attendant for another airline and I can tell you that all airlines won't allow you to use the carrier for taxi, takeoff and landing. I know it seems more safe to have her in the carrier rather than on your lap with nothing but the "forces that be" have decided that you can't use it. Now, after takeoff while you are in the air, it could be used, but then she would have to be taken out for landing (but at least you would have it for the airport, etc.)

As far as the car seat, I think that the rules are changing daily on the carry on baggage and could change again before you fly, but I would call United and ask them about it right before your flight. I'm assuming that you didn't buy a seat for her and were just hoping that there would be an open seat (doesn't happen too often these days, but If that is the case I would book your and your other flying parters seats as the window and aisle and leave the middle seat open because others won't go for the middle seat first, then if it stays open, you have it for her in the seat, if it does get taken then you could let that passenger take the aisle and you could sit at the window and have some privacy holder her.

I hope that helps a bit (kinda lengthy), let me know if you want any other information. Just remember, the airlines just don't have much to offer on the plane anymore, so come prepared!!!

K.
[email protected]____.com

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J.S.

answers from Stockton on

I'm not sure why they don't allow the carriers. They had a fit when I flew with my son when he was about 13 months old because I wanted to buckle him in with me in the seat belt. I do know that American Airlines now even charges 15 bucks for the first bag checked on (first piece of luggage). That means if you went with your daughter and you both had a suitcase it would be 30 bucks extra and it's 25 bucks for a second piece of luggage. PLUS this is one way,you have to pay it again coming back. It's insane. I'm planning a trip with my son who is six this summer but I definately won't be going American Airlines because of their luggage policy. Delta and the other airlines only charge for a second piece of luggage. That seems more reasonable. I don't think the first suitcase should have a charge since I don't know many people who travel without a suitcase at all.

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M.B.

answers from Sacramento on

I had to deal with this about a year and a half ago when we first flew with my son. The rules back then were as you stated, not during take off or landing. It did not make sense to me either at the time, my thoughts being I would want my son "attached" to me if something happened. I later found that the reason is that if something happens you are very likely to severly injure the child by smashing them if they are attached to you. I would think that you should be able to bring the carrier in your carry on to use in the airport, but contact the airline ahead of time to be sure.

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K.L.

answers from Sacramento on

You can use the carrier until they close the doors. My understanding is that in an emergency situation lapchildren need to be placed on the floor while the adult bends over her knees to brace for "crash position". According to the flight attendant I talked to, this is the safest position for both mom and child and having the baby in a carrier may not give enough time to get into that postion. Also, several times after takeoff I've had no problems walking the aisle with either of my children in the baby bjorn or the sling when necessary.

Also, don't be surprised if you are asked to remove the carrier to go through security. This seems to depend on the airport and the person working. Good Luck!

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A.E.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.,
I've never used the bjorn on the plane myself, but have seen other moms who have. You just can't have them strapped in during take off and landing. What I saw these moms do was leave it on, but they unhooked the part that holds your baby in. That way your baby thinks she's still in it. You should be ok bringing yours. Good luck.

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C.V.

answers from San Francisco on

So, I've been told they don't allow the carriers during take off and landing because that's when "problems" are most likely to occur and that if you were hurt and unable to escape and your baby was in the carrier, the flight attendants wouldn't necessarily be able to get her out of the carrier quickly. But, that being said, it's rarely enforced. In fact, in the 8 flights I've taken with my daughter (now 10 months) it's only been enforced once. I have always flown with her in her Bjorn and now that she's older/bigger, the Ergo Baby Carrier. It's wonderful and I would totally disregard anything online that says they're not allowed. They totally are - at least in practice. Good luck!

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A.L.

answers from San Francisco on

I think the statement you found simply means you cannot have your baby strapped to you during take off and landing. You can totally wear your baby in the airport, through security (you don't even have to take off the Bjorn!), onto the plane, etc. I have done this and I have seen many other mothers do so was well. Really it is the only way I can carry all my belongings - especially when traveling alone. Wearing my baby is a must. Once i am in my seat, i take him out of the carrier and don't put him back in until we de-board. However, i have seen mothers walk the aisle of the plane with their babies strapped to them - no problem or hassle.

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K.L.

answers from Portland on

i don't know why they're not allowed - but we recently flew with our 10 week old and i simply held him in my lap on the plane. it was no big whoop. and we had him in the stroller going through the airport (doubles as a carrier for misc bags!), which we checked right at the gate (along with the car seat - since we used a snap-n-go).

when we arrived, the stroller was right there as we got off the plane. all-in-all, very easy.

enjoy your travels!

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J.R.

answers from Redding on

Hello J.,

I flew with my 7 weeks old baby 1.5 months ago . . . I was carrying my baby in a Moby wrap. I could carry my baby against my chest through the inspections gates (security check points) no problems, did not have to remove the baby from the wrap (it might be different for a carrier). However, in one of the airplane that we used (1 out of 4), I had to remove the baby from the Moby wrap during the takeoff and landing. I could put the baby back in the wrap once landed or once at our traveling altitude. I also did see a 2 years old toddler seating on a booster seat.

And I totally agree with you that it makes more sense to have the baby strapped to us instead of in our arms if something happens. Not sure what their logic is!!! My suggestion would be to bring the carrier in the plane, and see if they comment. Like you, my baby loves being in a upright position and we had a very good experience with the whole airport thing since our baby pretty much slept most of the time.
By the way, we opted not waking up our baby during landing and takeoff (instead of feeding him) and the baby did not even react through the process (his ears did not bother him).

Good luck,
Josée

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A.H.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.,
I flew a few months ago with my then 8mos old son and was able to take my stroller/carseat thru inspection and check it at the gate before my flight. In regards to using a sling, I had my son in it while we got on the plane, took him out upon taxing and then put him back in it for the long 5hr flight. Like your daughter he too likes to sleep on his stomach in it so it was much of a relief for the both of us. I do find it strange that they won't let them stay in it from being to end but I guess safety is their #1 concern for all passengers no matter how big or small they are. Check with the airline as it gets closer to your flight date, in the mean time good luck....

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L.S.

answers from Sacramento on

From what I have heard talking to friends that work for United...strollers and car seats are still allowed to be checked on to the plane w/ no additional charge. You are allowed to use your bjorn onto the plane but while sitting they would like you seat belted in and your child free from the bjorn on your lap. Hope that helps and happy travels

S.M.

answers from San Francisco on

Isn't she just going to be a lap child? I found it was easier just having my son on my lap the whole time... especially that young. I flew to Germany with him as a lap child. I think that they are worried that you are going to use it as a restraint. Ask if you can use the bjorn til you get to the actual flight attendant and then ask to side check it. Like you would with an umbrella stroller. And then pick it back up as you are leaving the plane. I did that with a backpack I had for my son. I also have the cares restraint system for my son now and I love it but your child has to be 22 lbs. Gosh I fly a lot. :) I agree with you though on the whole carrier thing though. Who knows why they have those rules. Good luck.

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J.C.

answers from San Francisco on

I just flew on United Express and did not have to pay extra to check or bring my son's car seat and stroller. We also did not have to pay for our 1 bag/person that we checked but was told that they charge $100 for heavy bags (over 50 lbs). She said it was cheaper to pay the extra bag charge than the extra weight charge. As far as the carrier goes, you may want to call United and find out exactly what their policy is and whether or not there are times you can use it. Good luck! And happy travels!

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K.S.

answers from San Francisco on

i know that when my best friend and i flew from california to texas when our girls were3 mos. and 5 mos. old we used our baby bjorns to tote the girls around and let me tell you it made the whole trip a great experience because they are both "snugglie babies" too!we had noproblems of having the babies in the carrieres(that was almost 2 years ago) so apparently the rules have changed.........go figure,every nickel and dime they can get out of you-huh?!!!!anyways-they should not charge you for her car seat-i believe with infants you do get an "allowance" of items that can be checked(by the way if you have'nt already,inveest in the eddie bauer car seat cover for travel-it fits car seats up to the big boosters for when you have to check their seats!the only logical reason i can guess for not allowing the baby bjorn is that the infant could get squished........( if i remember correctly-we might have had to take the girls out of the baby bjorns during take-off and landing but after that it was ok to have them in the carriers)but i like you believe that it is safer to have them basically strapped top you for safety and comfort of the baby.who knows the logic of anyone's"rules" anymore......i would try to contact the airlines directly and speak to someone though-maybe they can come up with a "good reason....or excuse (haha!) for the rule!ps-traveling tip with a newborn-make sure you have a pacifier and small bottlewith either formula or breastmilk ready to goat take off and landing-if the baby has something to suck on it will help with the pressure on their ears.......our girls did not make a peep the whole flight-we got a round of applause for having the quietest babies on a flight!!!!!!!!!(they slept the the whole way!)good luck!!!!!!!!!!!

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S.M.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi J.,

You can use the Bjorn while getting on/off the plane. You just can't keep the baby in the carrier while you are in flight. I would definately take it with you to ease your travelling. I always take a carrier for in the airport/etc. I don't know how may times in the last year it's saved me! I flew recently and was still able to take the carrier so there shouldn't be any problems. Just take the little one out as soon as you have your bags settled and you will be fine. Have fun!

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J.K.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi J.,
I flew with my son when he was 4 months old and I also did the frontal carrier instead of the stroller. What the airline had me do was unstrap him from the carrier but he was still able to stay against my chest and feel safe. We didn't have any problems with him. You might also want to know that the TSA requires that you put the stroller and the car seat through the x-ray machine and take your babies shoes off. However, they let me keep Nathan in his frontal carrier when we went through the metal detector. If your baby does well in her frontal carrier than I would put her in that but keep the stoller as a back up.

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A.C.

answers from Sacramento on

Hi J.~ Bring the Bjorn, it can be used through the airport and even on the plane. Just not during take-off or landing. Call United just before you leave and double check to see if you can check the carseat w/out an additional charge. Hopefully they won't count it as an additional charge...I heard on the news yesterday that the first bag is $15 and the second is $25 (sheesh!), starting in August when you are flying. Bummer!

Personally, I'm a proponent of buying the extra airplane seat and using the infant car seat. I figure that if I need to be strapped into my seat at all times for sudden, unexpected and sometimes violent turbulence, then so should the babe. I know if the baby is a snuggler and does better in your arms this could be a problem for you and the people around you, but safety trumps comfort.

Either way, bring the Bjorn and call the airlines just before you leave to get a straight answer on what you'll have to pay for the seat, should you check it.

Have a good flight!

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T.S.

answers from Sacramento on

Call the airline and find out. Maybe their issue is that in an emergency you may need to have more choice in where you put your baby, so having her stuck to your chest (where you can't say, quickly move her to safety) could be dangerous. On the other hand... it could be that they just want you to know you can't use the Bjorn as a child restraint (like instead of a carseat) in which case you can still put her in it and walk the aisles or whatever.

Good luck in your search for answers.

T.

PS plan to have your girl nurse (or take a bottle) on take off and landing... it will avoid any painful ear issues.

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S.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi J.,

I'm pretty sure that the new regulations mean that you cannot hold the child in your lap (or in a front carrier) during take off and landing. I believe that they have to be strapped in to a car seat next to you now. I'm sure you can use the front carrier to walk around the plane etc. during the rest of the flight. Hope that helps.

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A.L.

answers from San Francisco on

What horrible idea to charge for checking in the first bag! Now everyone will try to carry on luggage and they will not have enough room for them. :( I hope stroller and carseat does not count if you check in at gate. I've been over the baggage limit in the past (the good old days) and told by the luggage check in counter that if I check in the car seat and stroller at the gate, they will not count it towards my limit.

I've been told not to have the baby in a carrier for the take off and landing but been able to use it other than that. I have an Ergo and have been using it on American, United and Southwest. Take it with you and see what happens. Good luck!

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L.M.

answers from Sacramento on

We have traveled extensively with our two year old, both domestically and internationally and both when he was an infant and now that he is a toddler as well. My best advice is to call the airline directly, explain your situation and get VERBAL information on what is and what isn't allowed at the time of travel and what suggestions they have for you. I have even gone so far as to write the name of the operator down and quote them at the airport in case they decide to change the rules on you when you arrive!

Unless this policy has changed (???) it is like you said: only during take off and landing they make you take the baby out of the carrier (some airlines make you stap them into a seatbelt that hooks to your own during that time). Beyond that, I don't know. I have always seen babies in front carriers and I don't understand why they would change that. I am thinking that whatever you read must relate to a child with a paid seat and not a "lap child" that is being secured by the parent.

On one flight we requested the bulk head and a bassinet (it attaches to the bulk head and has a zippered band across the middle that keeps them from falling out, I think only available on international flights, but you should check) that our baby was able to sleep in. This is a GREAT OPTION if your flight is a long one!! They did make us take him out of it when the seat belt sign went on during turbulance, but even then our flight attendant worked with us to keep him in there as long as possible. It seemed that they were trying to make everyone as comfortable as possible. Hopefully they work with you too.

When my child was an infant I would stuff the Bjorn into my carry-on and take him in the airport in his carrier (infant car seat) set into a Baby Trend Snap-n-Go Stroller (also awesome for travel, very small and light weight). They would check in the stroller and carrier at the gate then I would get the Bjorn out. Of course this used to be free and the stroller was not counted as part of the luggage limit. I know that they are much tighter now so ask what the new policy is.

If you don't want to take the car seat you can rent one with a rental car if you are going that route, or ask the people you are visiting to borrow one or buy one at a second hand store...then you don't have to have lug the one you've got. In some cities there are also baby equipment rental businesses, so check around.

Sorry so much...we have just traveled so much and have really stream lined how we travel. Hope some of this helps.

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K.V.

answers from San Francisco on

Because they aren't approved for planes by airlines. Just hold her in the same position as you would in the Bjorn. Still bring it for the airport but I suggest also bringing a light weight stroller. You can check it at the gate. I say this cuz you can use the stroller as a means to transport other things like your diaper bag or small pieces of luggage. Or, you may need to acrry luggage which may be awkward w/her in the Bjorn so you could then put the baby in the stroller. Hope this helps & good luck.

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C.L.

answers from San Francisco on

You would have to buy her a ticket if you were going to use the car seat. I would call and ask specifically if they will charge you to check it and make sure to get the persons name and id in case you get any flack at the counter.

As for the Baby Bjorn, you just need to hold her during take off and landing and then you can use whatever you want during the flight.

Happy travels!

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S.B.

answers from San Francisco on

It isn't federally regulated so it is up to the airline. I would call them & talk with a customer service agent. I just flew Southwest & they did not charge me for checking a car seat and it was considered a "free" item-- it didn't count toward the number of bags I had.

I had my child in a sling & was told I had to remove her & hold her for taxi, take off, & landing. That also seemed strange to me. But otherwise I was able to keep her in the sling.

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T.D.

answers from San Francisco on

I have parents bring child car seats on the plane and put them in the plane seat just like you would a car. You might want to call the airline and ask. If you do decide to do that you will need to purchase an extra seat for the baby regardless of age because your are taking up a seat. Hope that helps. Good [email protected]

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T.J.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't know why they aren't allowed exactly, but I would still get on the plane with it. My guess is that they will not say anything, and if they do, then at the least you'll use it at the airport, get on the plane with it, and then just take it off once you are seated. We took our baby on board in a sling and kept him in it, and no one said anything to us.

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I.S.

answers from San Francisco on

When I flew I had DS1 in the sling while I wheeled our carryons to the gate in the stoller. Then we gate checked the stroller and carried our baggage while he was in the sling. When it was time for takeoff or landing he was not allowed in it but in between he was a nurseaholiic and cozied up nicely in it. You can wear your daughter in an upright position in the sling while you are seated and she can either face forward with her legs crossed or she can sit sideways and rest her back and head into the supports of the sling and your arm. Good luck and Happy Travelling!

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T.V.

answers from San Francisco on

FYI, you are allowed to bring your Baby Bjorn on the plane. You just can't have your baby in the carrier while the plane is taking off and landing due to safety concerns. They are afraid that you can crush your baby.
I used my Baby Bjorn with my first baby every time I flew with him. The only time that questioned my use of it was when we were taking off. They asked me to remove him from it.

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I flew a few months ago, and they only told me I couldn't have my son in his ring sling when we took off and descended. It seemed much safer to me to have him winched in during those times, but maybe they were worried about the parents mobility in case of emergency. In any case, I'm pretty sure whoever made that rule was a 60 year old man with no kids.

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C.U.

answers from Modesto on

I'd call the airlines...and ask to speak with someone who KNOWS about this information in particular otherwise you can get some BAD info sometimes. Good luck. You'll do just fine! We have flown ALOT with our daughter since she was very tiny. They get used to it real fast.

G.K.

answers from San Francisco on

I've used a front carrier or sling EVERY time we've flown, and the only time I've been asked to take it off was on take-off and landing. One airline (and it was the ONLY time we flew them; I think American) told me I had to complete take the sling off of my body...

From what I've read on the airline sites, car seats are not counted as a 2nd checked bag. I don't know the policy for the airlines that charge for the 1st bag, and rest assured I WILL NOT fly those airlines unless/until all airlines have the same policy!!

Anyway, we use the Ergo now, and like others have said, some flight attendants won't say anything to you - even for take-off and landing... especially if the baby is young, sleeping, or had a rough flight and just fell asleep like 20 minutes ago. My son (now 19 months) has been on numerous flights and is a GREAT flyer! He loves it, and so do I and the other passengers....

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J.H.

answers from San Francisco on

Been on 5 United flights in April & May - my son was born in January. I practically memorized United's website and called several times. I of course received different answers to the same questions - very frustrating! I was travelling w/ my Mom and did not pay for a seat for my son. My strategy was to book a window seat and an aisle seat, figuring anyone in the middle seat would be happy to move if stuck next to a baby! It worked 4/5x. The last flight was overbooked! I also arrived early and talked to the counter folks asking if I could bring my car seat on board (pretty please w/ a look of despiration in my eyes) if they weren't fully booked. Worked 4x and it was sooo nice not to have to hold him. I used my frame stroller, so if the infant car seat had to be checked w/ the stroller, it was not charged and was considered a part of the stroller. As far as the carrier, I say bring it and try it! If you're told to take it off for take off/landing, so be it. My opinion is it just depends upon the staff on your flight and how accommodating or uptight they chose to be. Since I was travelling across the country, I brought Ghirdelli chocolates in plastic jewelry bags (from craft store) with a set of earplugs and a ducky sticker and handed them out to passengers saying it was baby's 1st flight and I hoped he was quiet...but just in case. In summary, the flights weren't far better than I imagined! Best of luck and happy flying!

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