How to Prepare for Flying with Babies
Buy Your Baby His or Her Own Ticket
As tempting as it may be to save a few bucks by sharing lap-holding duties with your spouse or travel partner, you’ll do both yourselves and your fellow passengers a great service by buying your baby your own ticket.
A baby seated comfortably in their own seat designed specifically for their body will be much less restless and more comfortable on a flight than a baby forced to ride in your lap the whole time. Trust us, the extra expense will be well worth it.
Pack Extra Baby Supplies
When you’re flying with your baby, it’s vital to bring twice as much diapers, formula, baby food, and other baby supplies than you think you’ll need. This way, you (and your baby) will be fine if your flight gets delayed or even canceled. As you know, a hungry baby with a dirty diaper is not a pretty sight.
Don’t Forget Ear Protection
The pressure changes in the plane’s cabin are likely to cause a bit of ear pain for your baby. Prepare for this by packing earplugs that specifically designed for your little one’s sensitive ears. You may also want to ask your pediatrician for an ear pain drop prescription you could take on your flight.
Rent Baby Equipment
To make your life easier in the airport, rent baby equipment. You can get things like cribs, car seats, and high chairs delivered to your destination airport or hotel. There’s no need to deal with the hassle of bringing baby equipment with you when this service is available. Plus, you can save big on baggage fees.
Frequently Asked Questions About Flying with a Newborn
Does a 2-year-old need a plane ticket?
Infants, which are defined as younger than 2 years old don’t need a plane ticket as long as they are seated on their parent’s or guardian’s lap (see chart below for details about infant fares on the most popular domestic and international airlines).
However, once children reach the age of 2, they will need to sit in their own seat and need a ticket. Some airlines require you to purchase a full adult fare for children aged 2 and older, while others offer child fares that are drastically discounted.
Do babies fly free internationally?
To travel internationally with an infant, you may often be required to pay 10% of the adult fare, plus taxes and fees, even if the infant will be held in your lap. Your airline will have its own rules so check with them before booking an international flight.
How old does a baby have to be to fly?
Some airlines, like American Airlines, let babies fly when they are as young as two days old. Others, like Southwest Airlines, require newborns to be at least 14 days old. Check the specific airline’s website for details, as some require a physician’s sign-off depending on the age of the baby on the day that he or she will be flying.
What baby equipment can you check in and carry on?
Each airline will have its own rules regarding what items, if any, you can check or carry on in addition to the maximum allowances already in place (and without paying additional fees). United Airlines, for example, will allow those with infants and children to carry on the following in addition to the maximum baggage allowance: diaper bag, breast pump and a government-approved child seat, such as a car seat or infant-carrying seat. United Airlines also allows for gate-side checking of strollers.
Lap infants traveling on JetBlue, for example, do not need to pay a fare and therefore do not qualify for the checked bag allowance. However, they will allow the parent or guardian to bring a diaper bag, stroller, and car seat.
Again, each airline has its own restrictions and allowances for both infants (whether ticketed or not) and children aged 2 and older. Be sure to double-check the airline’s website well before your scheduled trip so you know exactly what to expect at the airport.
Airline Fees, Restrictions and Allowances for Infants
|American Airlines||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat||A passenger medical form is required to be filled out for infants less than 7 days old.|
|Delta Airlines||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat, traveling between countries or you wish to earn miles||If traveling internationally with a lap infant, the cost is usually 10% of the adult fare, plus international taxes and surcharges.|
|United Airlines||free if held in lap||International travel requires a purchased ticket and is subject to infant fares and taxes|
|Southwest Airlines||free if held in lap; infant fare when using an FAA-approved car seat||Infant fares are not available for purchase online, only through a customer service representative|
|JetBlue Airways||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat||Infant tickets are required for all international flights.|
|Alaska Airlines||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat||Lap infants are subject to fees for international travel|
|Spirit Airlines||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat||Taxes and fees may apply for the infant, depending on destination.|
|Frontier Airlines||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat||Lap children may not sit in any seat that has an airbag seat belt installed, which includes row 1 on most aircrafts.|
|Hawaiian Airlines||free if held in lap; ticketed fare if in reserved seat||For international flights, the lap child dare is 10% of the accompanying adult fare (plus taxes and fees)|
|WOW Air||Infants can travel for a fixed price||Infants have baggage allowance for one small bag/item, max 16.5 x 12.6 x 9.8in, including handles and wheels.|
|Norwegian Air||Domestic flights: free if held in lap; International flights: 10% of the adult fare plus any airport taxes||The infant discount does not apply to Premium and PremiumFlex tickets.|
|Qatar Airlines||Infant fare if held in lap; Child fare if traveling in a separate seat or car seat||Child fares are available on select routes. For all other routes, children must travel at the adult fare.|
|Air Canada||ticketed fare||Call Air Canada reservations. If traveling within Canada with an infant on your lap, you can buy their ticket online.|
|Aer Lingus||A flat rate of €20/£19 or equivalent (excluding taxes and charges where applicable) per one-way flight on all European routes or 10% of the adult fare on flights from/to North America will apply.||No baby/car seats are allowed in the cabin of the aircraft.|
|Icelandair||Infant fares and taxes, even if held in lap||Passengers can purchase seats for infants but they will need to hold the infant during takeoff and landing.|
Additional Tips for Flying with Babies
Realize Crying is Normal
One of the most important tips for flying with babies is to realize that crying is absolutely normal. In fact, you should expect it to some extent and understand that other passengers probably don’t care as much as you think they do. Of course, there may be one or two that roll their eyes and give you a “look” so you just have to do your best to ignore the haters.
Keep Your Baby Buckled Up
To keep your baby as safe as can be on a plane, keep them buckled snugly in their car seat. Of course, you may need to unbuckle them so they can get their diaper changed or stretch their tiny legs. Remember, that if you let them loose, however, they may want to stay in your arms for the entire flight, so keeping them buckled for as long as possible is the way to go.
Book a Direct Flight
If possible, book a direct flight when traveling with your baby. Yes, you may have to dish out more cash to pay for it but the convenience often makes it well worth it. If you can’t fly direct, book a flight with a longer layover so you can change a dirty diaper, breastfeed, and enjoy the nice non-airplane meal you deserve.
Keep Your Baby Distracted
When it comes to tips for flying with babies, keeping your baby distracted definitely makes the cut. While you may prefer to enjoy a magazine or doze off, reading books or playing games with your little one is important. The more distracted your baby is, the more likely they are to be happy during the flight.
While there are no guarantees with a baby, these tips for flying with babies are sure to make your travel plans less bumpy.