The Essentials of Flying with Babies and Children
For most parents, flying with a baby or child isn’t something they particularly look forward to. However, good preparation goes a long way. The first step is figuring out the basics: ticket, seat, and luggage arrangements. Because airline policies vary, it is important to check the specific regulations of your airline. But to give you an idea of what to expect, this blog provides an overview of the most important rules you should know about. That includes the following topics:
From what age can babies take flights?
Some airlines allow babies to fly when they are as young as two days old. Others allow babies to fly after two weeks. In some cases, for example after a Caesarean section, you may need medical clearance. As always, check with your airline first. Doctors generally encourage parents to wait with flying until babies are at least six weeks old, to give their immune systems time to develop.
The ideal travel time
From a parenting point of view, the ideal age to travel would be between three and nine months. At that age, the baby’s immune system is strong, but the baby is usually not heavy yet. Plus, they are usually still sleeping a lot instead of crawling about, making them easier to handle on an aircraft. Besides your baby’s needs, it is important to consider your own. Travelling with a very young child can add stress to traveling, which can be stressful at the best of times.
Separate seat versus lap seat
If your child is under two years of age you can decide to either travel with your child on your lap as an infant ticket or pay for a child's ticket and then a seat will be provided for the child. You may decide to bring an approved car seat on board for the baby to sit in, but you must check that your seat has the correct sticker to prove it has the correct certifications. This information can usually be found on the airlines website or by calling their customer service. Note that different airlines have different policies for whether the seat can be placed facing forwards or backwards for take off, often depending on the configuration of the seating.
Infants outbound flight as an infant (under 2) and returning after turning 2 can be booked as different fare categories depending on the airline policy.
Baby bassinets need to be booked prior to flying. You can do this by emailing our customer service or by calling the airline directly. Airlines do not usually guarantee a bassinet unless there is a specific booking for the bassinet seat and this avaialbility may be on first come, first served basis. Some airlines have different bassinets for infants and toddlers and often will unfortunately not guarantee the availability as there are only a limited number of seats with bassinet seating.
Ticket fares for babies and children
On domestic flights, infants under the age of two often fly for free if seated on their parent’s lap, and some airlines charge a (discounted) fare. On international flights, airlines often charge 10% of the adult ticket price. If you buy a separate ticket for a child, some airlines charge the full adult rate, while others have a discount rate for children between the ages of 2 and 11. Also, remember that you will need to arrange a passport for your baby when flying internationally.
Baggage allowance for babies and children
If you purchase your child a separate seat, it will come with full baggage allowance. This can be useful, as all parents know that the stuff you need to bring for a kid quickly adds up. If you are travelling with your child on your lap, don’t count on extra checked baggage allowance. Be prepared to check your child’s luggage with your own. Many airlines do allow for extra hold luggage when traveling with a child on your lap. Also, be sure to check what the hand luggage restictions are before your flight.
Special baby and child equipment
Many airlines allow you to bring a baby stroller or pushchair and/or car seat free of charge. A collapsible stroller can typically be used right up to the gate, where the crew will store it in the hold or cabin. If you don’t want to drag a stroller around the airports, consider using a baby carrier or sling. Liquids such as baby lotion are limited to 3.4 ounces (100 ml). This restriction does not apply to baby food and milk.
Things to pack
Extra nappies: Delays and sudden bouts of tummy upset whilst flying can create an increase in nappy changes, especially in small babies!
Changes of clothes/outfits organised into sets ready for changes: put together tops, trousers and socks rolled up in a sock so you can quickly grab that change of clothes when you need it.
Disposable changing pad ready folded in your changing mat: mid air nappy changes can be challenging, and messy. This way you can quickly clear up a mess whilst leaving the table clean for the next user, or avoiding mess left there already keeping the baby clean.
Snacks: snacks keep little ones entertained and the hunger sharks at bay during the flight. Onboard snacks might not be baby friendly so bring your own.
Stickers and toys: little people love stickers. Choose the 3D foam style stickers that tend to have less stick so easy to remove from the area at the end of the journey. There are also lots of cute travel friendly toys such as reusable sticker pads and also mess free colouring kits you can get online or supermarkets before you fly. On international flights many airlines now provide small kits for kids to entertain them whilst they fly, it also doubles up as a holiday memento, win!
Tips for a stress-free flight
Are you feeling nervous about flying with your infant? You are not alone. Take this advice from parents who have done it before you:
Do a quick diaper change before boarding the plane
Feeding your baby during take-off and landing helps to relieve the pressure on their ears
Bring enough toys to distract your child and keep them entertained throughout the flight
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, the cabin crew will be happy to assist you
Try to relax: a stressed mommy or daddy makes for a stressed child
- Flying with your partner?
Ask the crew to serve your meal first whilst your partner holds the baby and then brings the other meal later. This way you both get to enjoy your meal and the cabin crew should be happy to assist you.
Now that you know how to travel with your babies and children, book your getaway through our flights page. Seeking travel advice or inspiration? Take a look at our travel tips blog. For all your travel needs, visit BudgetAir Canada!
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