Traveling with a Child: What you Need to Know

24 Dec

Traveling with a Child: What you Need to Know

Traveling with your infant or any child below two years old can have its own set of problems: Can you check in the stroller at the airport? Does the airline allow preboarding if you have kids? Can you use a baby car seat on the plane?

baby and mother on airplane
traveling with baby

With airlines changing their policies ever so often, it is always advisable to call your agent or check their website before checking in to ensure that you are in compliance with all polices.

Standard Practice for US Airlines

Most American airlines will have polices similar to the following though it i always critical to check their website before purchasing that all important flight ticket:

  1. Most airlines specify that your child needs to be at least a week old before they can fly. Some airlines are more lenient requiring a written doctors permission for children younger than 7 years. Some will only allow two week old infants and older to fly.
  2. If your child is younger than two, they can fly for free on your lap though you may need to have proof of their age. This could save you quite a bit of money though you are only allowed to have no more than two infants less than two years on an airplane. Nonetheless, you need to take into account that the child will be safer flying in an FAA Approved car seat usually labelled “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
  3. Always book ahead since while the airline might allow the use of a car seat on board, they cannot guarantee that you would find a seat to install the seat on if you did not buy a ticket for your child.
  4. According to FAA recommendations, you cannot use belly belts or supplemental lap restraints. In this regard, you may not use harness vests or booster seats in-flight or during landing take off or taxiing as they are against regulations.
  5. Toddlers or infants may get a special discount on some airlines if you purchase a seat for them especially if you are on international flights.
  6. When flying with children, you need to find an FAA approved car seat for them so that they can be comfortable on the plane. You need to remember that while the National Highway traffic Safety Administration has its own recommendations on the safe usage of car seats, these may not necessarily apply when it comes to airline travel. One important difference to note is that you should install your baby car seat in a middle or window seat and not the exit rows.
  7. Children aged two or more need to have their own seat and hence you need to buy a ticket for them.
  8. You are allowed to check in your collapsible stroller upon boarding and collect it when leaving the plane. Some airlines may require you to check in your non collapsible stroller at the ticket counter. As such it i always advisable to check the airline’s website for their policy before checking in.

First Time Travel Guide

If it is your first time traveling with your child on a plane be sure to read reviews of the top FAA-Approved car seats on this site before you embark on your journey.

How to Travel on a Plane with a Baby


FAQs Before You Embark on Your Flight

Different airlines will have different policies for flying with children . Some rules including whether you are allowed to preboard when you have kids may be left to the agent at the gate. I always advice that you call the airline before the D Day and ask the following questions to avoid any surprises at the boarding gate.

  1. Can I get discounts for my children aged 2 or older? I f yes by how much?
  2. Will I be required  to provide evidence of the age of the child and if so what kind of evidence?
  3. Is it possible to book seats in the bulkhead row?
  4. Can I use bassinets on the flight? and at  what time should I reserve it?
  5. Do all the seats on the plane have extra oxygen masks (important if the child does not have their own seat).
  6. Do you offer preboarding for all families with children under two and do when do we preboard?
  7. Do I get extra baggage allowance for the child?
  8. Will the car seat or stroller be counted as a carry on and reduce my baggage allowed?
  9. Does the airplane have a diaper changing station and necessary facilities for kids?
  10. Will you provide children centric meals and if so what are they and do I need to order in advance?
  11. Will I be able to warm my child’s bottle on the plane?
  12. Do you provide video or audio entertainment for kids in flight?
  13. Do you allow my spouse to come with me to the departure gate in case I need their help with the kids?
  14. Do I get help from airline staff when making connecting flights and navigating through the airport and if so, how do I organize for that?