Air travel tips for new parents

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Traveling with babies and toddlers can be a test of patience from takeoff to landing, but traveling as a family can also be extremely rewarding. Despite the chance for tantrums and mayhem, with proper planning, flying with infants and toddlers can be a breeze. Before you start searching Cheapflights.com for your family’s next flight, here’s how to fly the friendly skies and maintain your sanity with kids in tow.

Tips for traveling with infants and toddlers

Guide to airline policies for traveling with infants and toddlers

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Pre-trip preparation

When is the best time to travel with infants?

When is the best time to travel with infants
Baby on board. (Image: Rodolfo Nunez, Cenas de Aeroporto 01/Air port cenes 01 via Flickr CC by 2.0).

Keeping your child on a routine that’s similar to their regular daily schedule lessens the odds of crankiness and fussiness. Avoiding early morning or late night flights may work for some parents, while others may find that is the best time to fly. Avoiding peak travel times will potentially give you more space on board and fewer people to avoid should your child have a meltdown. Non-peak times include late mornings and Saturdays.

Depending on the length of the flight and where you are headed, it might be advantageous to schedule nap time during your flight time. As Christine Stevens, a Certified Sleep Consultant at Sleepy Tots Consulting, suggests, “do whatever you can to get your child to sleep. Sleep rules go out the window and it’s more like a ‘do what you have to do’ scenario.”

How to choose the best airplane seat for infants and children

The safest place for a child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Most airlines will generally allow children under two-years-old to sit on the lap of a parent or accompanying adult; however, many parents agree that if you can afford it, buying a seat for your infant makes traveling much, much easier

If you decide to buy a seat for your infant, you must bring an approved child restraint system like  a hard-backed child safety seat. While some child restraint systems can be used in both cars and in airplanes, some cannot. Review the FAA’s tip sheet on child restraint systems for more details and always check with the airline to ensure you have the proper child restraint system. Airlines do not provide child safety restraint systems and traveling without one means your infant will have to ride on your lap even if you purchased a seat for him or her. Booster seats and harness vests are not approved child restraint devices for airplanes, and some airlines do not even allow them to be used during the cruising portion of a flight.

Follow these tips when buying a child restraint system (this FAA brochure also contains more tips):

  • Make sure your child restraint device is approved for use on airplanes.
  • Buy a child restraint device that is no wider than 16 inches, so it can fit a variety of aircraft seats.

Children less than 20 pounds must use a rear-facing child restraint system. Children 20 to 40 pounds should use a forward-facing child restraint system. Children over 40 pounds should use an airplane seat belt, according to the FAA.

Once a child turns two years old, he or she must have his or her own seat on the airplane. Using a child restraint device is optional. The CARES Child Safety Device is the only FAA-approved harness-type restraint for children weighing between 22 pounds and 44 pounds.

If the child has their second birthday between the outbound and return flight, a seat will need to be purchased for the return flight.

Get comfy at cruising altitude. (Image: davitydave, OGG > OAK #flight #travel via Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Passengers traveling with infants or children have a few limitations with where they can sit, some of which are based on the airline, the aircraft type and the number of children traveling.

  • Lap infants are not guaranteed seats, so be prepared to have the infant in your lap for the entire flight.
  • Passengers traveling with lap infants and children in child restraint systems are not permitted to sit in the exit row or in the rows directly in front of or behind an exit row.
  • Some airlines do not permit two adults with two lap children to sit on the same side of a row while other airlines do not allow more than one lap infant per row because of the placement of oxygen masks.
  • Reserve adjoining seats. A child restraint system must not block the escape path in an emergency. Many airlines have policies that require a child restraint system to be placed in a window seat. It cannot be placed in the aisle seat.
  • A child restraint system must be installed in a forward-facing aircraft seat, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Always use a child restraint system when driving to and from the airport.
  • If you do not buy a ticket for your child, ask if your airline will allow you to use an empty seat. If your airline’s policy allows this, avoid the busiest days and times to increase the likelihood of finding an empty seat next to you.
  • If you’re traveling on an international flight, request a bassinet from the airline when booking.

Is a bassinet right for you?

William Whyte, Let me tell you about Tokyo via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Flying internationally typically means a longer travel time, and having an infant on your lap for all that time can be quite taxing. To give travelers a little extra space and comfort, many airlines have baby bassinets on board. The bassinet is collapsible and hung from the wall of the aircraft in front of your seat. In economy, they are typically located in the bulkhead seats.

Each airline and aircraft may have different weight or age requirements for using a bassinet. Generally it is somewhere in the ballpark of under one year old and less than 20 pounds.

These bassinets are a commodity and, if they are available at all, there may be as few as one on board. Because they are in such high demand, book early and be sure to request it at the same time as booking.

Remember to secure all necessary travel documents

The TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the U.S. Typically, minors under 18 years old do not need government-issued identification for domestic U.S. travel. However, each airline determines its own identification requirements for minors, according to the FAA. It’s best to confirm with the airline before traveling, especially airlines that allow infants to travel with individuals who are under 18 years old. For international travel, all minors are required to have the same travel documents as adults, including passports and visas. For international travel (check out our guide to international flights), some airlines and some countries require notarized letters of consent if only one parent is traveling with the minor. Be aware that airlines reserve the right to require proof of age for any child, particularly lap infants. Be prepared by bringing your child’s birth certificate or passport. Passengers without government-issued identification may be required to undergo additional screening. To determine if you need a visa, check the International Air Transport Association or the embassy or consulate for the country you intend to visit.

Determine what vaccinations your child needs

If traveling internationally, check with your child’s doctor and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine what, if any, vaccinations are needed for your journey. It’s one of the 10 things you should do before your trip. Be sure to pack prescription medications (check out our guide to how to travel with medication, particularly if you are traveling abroad) in your carry-on.

Consider travel insurance

Children get sick, so it might be wise to purchase refundable tickets or tickets that allow the flexibility to make changes to an itinerary without incurring fees. Travel insurance may cover not only airfare, but may also help with accommodations and even medical assistance once the trip has started. See our travel insurance tips to help you determine if travel insurance is right for you.

Packing tips for traveling with infants and toddlers

Get up and go with your kids. (Image: Heather Poole, Kid on a bag via Flickr CC by 2.0)

Lap infants don’t typically get a carry-on or checked baggage allowance, so you’ll have to combine your baby’s stuff with your own. Airlines typically let passengers flying with infants and children check strollers and car seats for no additional cost (a few airlines may even let you bring these items on board as carry-ons too). Infants and children with their own seats typically get the same baggage allowance as adults.

No matter what the baggage situation is, be sure to pack as light as possible (here is a guide for how to travel with one carry-on). It may also pay to shell out a little extra to check bags rather than wrestle with keeping track of both carry-ons and kids at the same time. If you’re traveling solo, packing light and checking bags to free up your hands is ideal.

What to pack in your carry-on:

  • Create a checklist before you go to ensure you don’t forget the essentials and your kiddos favorites, advises Jessica Moran, an expatriate who has moved eight times with her two children, Maggie, 8, and Martin, 7, and travels frequently with them as well.
  • Bring a backpack that is easy to transport with various compartments that keep items easily accessible and organized.
  • Bring favorite blankets and small pillows or child travel pillows for long treks.
  • Hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues.
  • Formula, breast milk, juice and water. It’s important everyone stay hydrated. Bring a sippy cup for younger children to avoid spills.
  • Manual or battery-powered breast pumps because not all airlines are equipped with power outlets. Check out our guide to breastfeeding and travel.
  • A cooler to keep breast milk cool because on-board refrigeration may not always be available on all aircraft types.
  • Snacks for you and your children. Avoid foods that are sticky, messy or crumbly. Pack a mixture of savory (cheese cubes, bagels) and sweet (fruit). “Bring more snacks that you think you’ll need for both you and your kids,” said Marcie Cheung, who blogs about parenting and travel on Marcie in Mommyland. “For babies and toddlers, snacks can be an activity in themselves. Ask the flight attendant for an empty cup and put a few puffs or yogurt melts inside.”
  • Medicines for headaches, fevers, stomach aches, colds, sore throats, diarrhea, nausea, allergies and motion sickness. Travel sizes are easy to keep in your carry-on.
  • Change of clothes for baby and for mom, advises Kim Milnes, owner of Family Travel Boutique.
  • Diapers, wipes and a changing pad.
  • For babies who use pacifiers, make sure to use a pacifier clip to save it from landing on the floor, said Cheung.
  • Fully charged electronics downloaded with your children’s favorite apps and audio books (and maybe a few new ones) and headphones.“Give in to electronics. Make sure that everything is charged before you go. Bring cables and chargers, even an extra battery,” said Milnes. “If the kids are old enough, have a backpack for each kid with things to do: iPad, toys, coloring books, etc. Have several options. I also go to the dollar store and get a few “surprise” gifts for meltdowns.”
  • Triangle crayons. They won’t roll off airplane trays, said Cheung.

What to check:

  • Consider a small stroller like an “umbrella” stroller instead of a big, cumbersome one. Most airlines will check smaller strollers at the ticket counter or at the gate for free, but big strollers may count toward your checked baggage allowance and you can’t gate check them.
  • Your suitcases. The more you check, the less you have to carry, which frees up your hands for tending to your baby or holding your baby and hanging on to your other child or children.

Advice for parents traveling solo

Practice patience prior to boarding. (Image: Becky Stern, My mom and her grandchildren via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)
  • Give yourself plenty of time.
  • “If you have a little one under two-years-old, buy a seat for them. Don’t have them be on your lap the whole time. Give each of you some space. I know not everyone can afford that, but if so you will be so much happier,” advises Milnes, whose boys started flying when they were babies and have been to California, Florida, Montana, Nevada, Colorado, The Bahamas, Cancun, Mexico, and Dominican Republic.
  • If you have an early flight, take the kids in their pajamas to the airport and bring clothes to change there.
  • Keep your hands free by investing in a baby carrier, advises Cheung, who has a three-and-a-half year-old and an eight-month-old. “The baby carrier will be your best friend. Wearing your baby will enable you to roll your luggage while wearing a backpack carry-on,” said Cheung. “If you have a lap baby, invest in a good car seat travel bag and check it so you won’t need to lug it through the airport.

Advice for parents of children with special needs

Families who have special needs should contact the airline.

  • Airlines must allow a child under 18 years old to use an approved child restraint device that is designed for larger children who are physically challenged.
  • For children who have peanut and other allergies: Many airlines like United do not serve peanuts; however, airlines can’t create a completely nut-free environment. Airlines are unable to control what other passengers bring on the flight.
  • For passengers who are disabled, WestJet offers an additional seat at no additional cost, but guests must complete an application for approval.
  • For families with children who have autism, there are programs to help families prepare for their big trip. Wings for Autism provides airport rehearsals to alleviate some of the stress that families may experience. The program includes practicing entering the airport, obtaining boarding passes, going through security and boarding a plane.
  • When going through screening at the airport, notify the TSA agent if your child has a disability, medical condition, or medical device. Call TSA Cares 72 hours prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
  • Consult our Tips for travelers with disabilities.

Tips for travel day

Getting to the airport

  • Leave plenty of time to get to the airport. If you’re stressed, your children will get stressed too.
  • Ensure kids are wearing slip-on footwear and no jewelry, so you can breeze through security. Parents should wear comfortable clothing and slip-on shoes (or easy shoes to get on and off). You will sweat! Wear a zip-up with a t-shirt under,” advises Moran.
  • Carry babies in a sling or baby carrier strapped to you to move quickly and easily. If traveling solo with two kids, a baby carrier is key so that your hands can be free for your baby and your other child.
  • Prep your children ahead of time by setting expectations for what will happen at the airport and how to behave.“Practice. It prevents panic,” advises Cathy Decker, mother of three. “Share with kids what to expect before they get to a busy, noisy and crowded airport and what your expectations are.”
  • Have a plan if you get separated.“If a child gets separated from the family, have a plan,” said Decker. “When my children were small, I always dressed them brightly and the same – usually a single color tee and cap. I could count one, two, three easily.”

How to navigate airport security with infants and toddlers

All travelers must undergo screening at U.S. airports. The belongings of all travelers, regardless of age, must be screened. Children 13 years old and older must undergo TSA’s standard screening procedures. The screening procedure for children 12 years old and under is modified.

Formula, breast milk and juice for infants or toddlers are permitted in reasonable quantities through the security checkpoint. These liquids are not subject to the 3-1-1 liquid rule and can be greater than 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters. They do not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. Remove these items from your carry-on bag so they can be screened separately from the rest of your belongings. These liquids are typically X-rayed and you may be asked to open the container and transfer some of the liquid into a separate container. Inform the TSA officer if you do not want the formula, breast milk and/or juice to be X-rayed or opened. Additional steps will be taken to clear the liquid.

The following items are allowed through security in U.S. airports, but may be subject to additional screening:

  • Formula in excess of 3.4 ounces
  • Breast milk in excess of 3.4 ounces; you do not need to travel with your child to bring breast milk.
  • Juice in excess of 3.4 ounces
  • Ice packs, freezer packs, frozen gel packs and other accessories required to cool formula, breast milk and juice.
  • Gel or liquid-filled teethers
  • Canned, jarred and processed baby food
  • Strollers, umbrella-strollers, baby carriers, car and booster seats and backpacks. Empty the stroller pockets and place items in a carry-on bag or in the plastic security bins.

The screening procedure for infants and children is as follows:

  • Place all items in on the conveyor belt. Separate any liquids and electronics.
  • Children 12 years old and under can leave their shoes, light jackets, and headwear on during screening.
  • Children will not be separated from their parent or guardian during the screening process.
  • Infants should be removed from their carriers. Infants and toddlers can be carried through the metal detector.
  • Children who can walk without assistance can go through the metal detector alone.
  • Children who use a mobility aid, wheelchair and scooter can remain with their mobility aid.

Having a plan and being organized is key. 

  • With longer and longer TSA lines, it’s important to keep your little ones occupied in the queue.
  • Consider purchasing one of these four programs that will help you breeze through security. “If you fly a lot I suggest getting TSA Pre ✓. If you are worried about the lines, then pay for the service to get through security,” said Milnes. “Lines are getting longer all the time so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get through security.”
  • Carry all family passports in an organized passport wallet to have easily accessible.
  • If you are traveling with another adult or an older child, decide in advance who will be responsible for putting which bags and belongings on the conveyor belt, which child with go through security with which adult, etc.

What to remember before you board

Have a lovely time before liftoff. (Image: David D, Airport Portrait – Day 352 via Flickr CC by 2.0)
  • Check out the departure airport’s website ahead of time to see what amenities are offered – from nursing pods to family bathrooms to restaurants and children’s activities.
  • At the gate, let your children walk around and let the baby crawl. This is the time for kids to use up some of that extra energy before they have to sit for a while.
  • Make sure everyone uses the bathroom before boarding.
  • Change your baby’s diaper before boarding.
  • Have someone in your party be in charge of the bags.“If you’re traveling with your spouse or someone else, have them be in charge of the bags while you tend to baby,” advises Stevens, who has been traveling with her three year old across the U.S. since her daughter was eight months old. “Walk around with the baby and show them the sights of the area around your gate. The windows looking out over the tarmac are a great way to keep baby engaged with so many things moving.”
  • Many airlines allow families with children under two-years-old to pre-board, giving you one less thing to worry about before you board. However, Moran suggests boarding the plane at the last minute so your children spend the least amount of time on the plane.

In-flight tips and tricks

Be prepared for anything. (Image: Ma1974, Airplane interior via Flickr CC by 2.0)

Many things can happen at cruising altitude. Here is how to navigate them. 

Accidents/spills: Drinks spill, food falls over – especially during unexpected turbulence. Keep calm and carry on. If you have forgotten wipes, ask a flight attendant for napkins or a wet cloth. “Our son once got air sick, and we forgot an extra pair of pants. I had an extra shirt so we fashioned a pair of pants for him out of a shirt,” said Moran.

Bad behavior: If you think your child might act up or get fussy, speak up. “Pre-apologize to everyone around you for your potentially fussy/tired children,” said Moran, who notes other passengers are normally quite understanding and helpful.

Boredom: No matter how many toys and snacks you pack and no matter how great the onboard entertainment is, at some point your child is likely to announce he or she is bored. Before getting into the chorus of “Are we there yet?” be prepared by bringing along a few surprises. Alisha Molen, Disney Cruise Guru at blog Picture the Magic, came up with the idea of surprising her three children, ages six, nine, and 11, on a cross-country trip from Seattle to Los Angeles to Orlando. “I created “gifts” or “surprises” for each to open at different points along the way. Since our trip was to Disney World, most of the gifts were Disney-themed: a coloring book, a word search, a surprise Disney movie on the iPad, some healthy snacks combined with a treat,” said Molen, who notes the prizes don’t have to be fancy or expensive as children just love the anticipation of the surprises.

Molen suggests being strategic about doling out the surprises. “Getting the timing right is important. I found that for most items, an interval of 30 minutes or so was about right. Just enough time for them to engage with their latest surprise…and then inevitably get bored with it.” If, like Molen, you have more than one child, it’s important to organize the surprises. The surprises also helped keep the kids behaved. “If the kids start misbehaving, you have ammo to help keep them in line: ‘If you can sit still in your seat for another seven minutes, you’ll get your next surprise,'” said Molen.

Crying/Earache: If your infant or child is crying during takeoff and landing, it’s likely due to the air pressure interfering with their ears. Unlike adults, children don’t always know how to unblock their ears. Nurse your infant or give your baby a bottle during takeoff and landing. For infants and toddlers, you can also give them a pacifier. The sucking will clear their ears. For toddlers, give them a snack, a piece of gum, a lollipop, or child-safe hard candy. “Our daughter’s ears pop horribly, so we ask the flight attendants for warm cloths to hold over her ears if the pressure is bad as this helps,” said Moran. The warm cloths also worked when Moran forgot to bring chewing gum for her daughter to chew during takeoff.

Fidgety: If the fasten seatbelt sign is off, let your children walk around the plane, particularly on long flights, said Milnes. “For toddlers, I like to have them stand and face their seat. The seat becomes a play area and they are able to move their legs a bit on long flights,” said Cheung, who has taken her children to Thailand, Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Hawaii, Canada, and Disneyland. “Also, the safety card and vomit bag may occupy your child for an entire flight.”

Motion sickness: If your child suffers from motion sickness, be sure to keep them hydrated and don’t feed them foods that may upset their stomach. Make use of the airsickness bag in the seat back pocket.

Run out of diapers/essentials: If you realize you’ve forgotten something, like diapers, before boarding, check the airport shops, advises Stevens. Another alternative is to look for a mom with a child about the same age and ask, said Stevens. “Moms help other moms because we’ve been there. Every one of us has been in a situation where we didn’t have a diaper left. They’ll most likely hand one over,” said Stevens. Some airlines also keep a small supply of diapers on hand, so it’s worth asking the flight attendant.

Tantrums/Meltdowns: Milnes suggests some of the following strategies to calm kids and seat neighbors: “Suckers, candy anything they are NOT supposed to have usually… also I pack a few Starbucks gift cards for the seat neighbors.”

For many parents, screen time is almost always the answer. “When my son melts down, I usually show him videos of himself. This calms him right away, and he starts telling me about what he’s doing in the video,” said Cheung. “This worked even when he was a baby. Kids love to watch videos of themselves.”

Turbulence: Stay calm and ensure your child’s seat belt is fastened or return infants to their child restraint device. If your child is scared, try to distract your child with a movie or by playing a game. 

What to remember once you land in your destination

  • If you gate checked your stroller, you can pick it up right as you get off the aircraft.
  • If you’re making a connection, speak to the ground staff about amenities that can help, from the use of luggage carts to transport carry-on items to shuttle service between terminals. Some airlines have staff that will help passengers get from gate to gate.
  • Check out the arrival airport’s website ahead of time to see what amenities are offered – from nursing pods to family bathrooms to the location of hotel shuttles and car rental desks.

Airline policies for flying with babies, toddlers and children

Confirm your airline’s policy on flying with infants and toddlers before you book. If you’re flying with multiple carriers, check with each carrier. You can use our guidelines below for quick reference, but always call the airline to confirm as rules can change.

Air Canada


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants as young as seven days old can fly on Air Canada. An individual (16 year old and older) traveling solo cannot fly with more than one infant (under age two). Infants under two years old can sit on a parent’s lap or in their own seat in an approved child restraint device. On flights within Canada, infants can fly free when seated on the parent’s lap and only pay taxes on flights between Canada and the U.S. When flying internationally, the infant can sit on the parent’s lap but must pay 10 percent of the adult fare plus any taxes, fees, charges and surcharges. Parents can purchase a seat for their infant by paying the adult fare on flights within Canada and between Canada and the U.S. For international flights, a child fare is applied; however, child restraint devices are not permitted in International Business Class.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children must have their own seat and pay the adult fare on flights within Canada and between Canada and the U.S. For international flights, a child fare is applied.

Special services: The following services are available on some flights:

  • Diaper-changing tables: All aircraft except the Bombardier Dash 8-300 (DH3) and Dash 8-100 (DH1) have diaper-changing tables located in either the front or back lavatories.
  • Ice: If available, extra ice may be provided to keep formula, breast milk and juice to the desired temperature.
  • Bassinets: Bassinets for infants under 25 pounds who cannot sit upright are available in Economy class on some aircraft. Bassinets are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis; however, availability is not confirmed until the flight’s departure.
  • Infant/Child meals: Special meals for infants (strained fruit, vegetables, meat and dessert) and children (hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, sandwiches, brownies and raisins) are available only on international flights and in Business Class within North America. Meals must be ordered via Air Canada Reservations at least 48 hours prior to departure.

What you can carry-on: Air Canada allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice, and baby food in small containers are permitted in carry-on baggage.
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on in addition to the infant’s child carry-on allowance as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.
  • Infant sling/wrap carriers: Infant sling/wrap carriers similar to Snugli or Baby Bjorn are accepted in addition to the infant’s carry-on allowance if required for use on board the aircraft, but these carriers are not approved for use as a child restraint device and may not be used during taxi, take-off, and landing, or at any time the seat belt sign is illuminated.
  • Small stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them in addition to the carry-on and checked baggage allowance.

What you can check: Air Canada allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them in addition to the carry-on and checked baggage allowance. Small strollers (not exceeding 10 inches in diameter and 36 inches in length) can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate. Large, heavy strollers can only be checked at the baggage counter.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Infants and children may check a car seat or booster seat. Car seats and booster seats are not considered approved child restraint devices.

Alaska Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): There is no age minimum for infants to fly on Alaska Airlines. An adult (18 years old and older) traveling solo cannot fly with more than one infant (under age two). Infants under two can sit on a parent’s lap or in their own seat in an approved child restraint device. Lap infants travel for free on flights within the U.S., for approximately $17 flights from an international location to the U.S., and for $27 in boarding tax and $2 for baggage inspection fee from Costa Rica. For travel to destinations outside North America, the infant may be ticketed at a percentage of the adult fare plus taxes. Lap infants seated in First Class are not eligible for complimentary meals. If there is an empty seat on a flight, an infant can occupy the seat for no charge. An infant can travel on his or her own confirmed seat by paying an adult fare, which comes with its own carry-on allowance.

Seating – Children (age two and under 18): Children must have their own seat and pay the adult fare on flights within Canada and between Canada and the U.S. For international flights, a child fare is applied.

What you can carry-on: Alaska Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula and breast milk

What you can check: Alaska Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them. Strollers can be checked at the baggage counter or at the gate.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Infants and children may check a car seat or booster seat at the baggage counter or at the gate.

Allegiant Air


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants as young as 15 days old can fly on Allegiant Air. An individual (15 years old and older) traveling solo cannot fly with more than one infant (under age two). Infants under two can sit on an adult’s lap or in their own seat in an approved child restraint device.

Seating – Children (age two and under 18): Children must have their own seat.

What you can carry-on: Allegiant Air allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance (note: Allegiant Air charges for bringing a carry-on bag):

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk and food in small containers
  • Diaper bag: Each fare-paying passenger traveling with a child may travel with a diaper bag at no extra charge, and it doesn’t count toward the passenger’s carry-on allowance.

What you can check: Allegiant Air allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for fare-paying passenger for free. Strollers can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate.
  • Car seat: Fare-paying passengers may check one car seat at the baggage counter or boarding gate.

American Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants as young as two days old can fly on American Airlines, but infants younger than seven days old must have a medical form signed by a physician. An adult (16-years-old and older) traveling solo cannot fly with more than one infant (under age two). Infants under two can sit on an adult’s lap or in their own seat in an approved child restraint device. International taxes and a percentage of the adult fare may apply. Lap infants can travel on their own confirmed seat by paying an adult fare.

Seating – Children (age two and under 16): Children must have their own seat purchased at the adult fare.

Special services: The following services are available on some flights:

  • Diaper-changing tables: Changing tables are available in the lavatories of all wide-body aircraft.
  • Bassinets: Bassinets are available on a first-come, first-served basis on 777-200, 767-300, 777-300 and 787 aircraft. Bassinets are not available on First Class or Business Class cabins.

What you can carry-on: American Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on in addition to the infant’s child carry-on allowance as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.
  • Small stroller: Small, collapsible, light strollers up to 20 pounds can be carried on board if they fit in the overhead bin,
  • Diaper bag: One carry-on diaper bag per child is permitted, and it doesn’t count toward the carry-on allowance. 

What you can check: American Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them for free. Any stroller that weighs over 20 pounds, is too large, or is non-collapsible must be checked at the ticket counter.
  • Car seat: Customers may check a car seat for free at the ticket counter or at the gate when traveling with a child or to adopt a child. Passengers checking both a stroller and a car seat can check both items at the ticket counter or one item can be checked at the gate and one at the counter.

Delta Air Lines


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants seven days old or older can fly on Delta Air Lines; infants younger than seven days old must have a medical form signed by a physician. An adult (18 years old or older) traveling solo can bring up to two infants less than two-years-old; however, only one infant is permitted to fly on the lap and the other infant is required to purchase a ticket. Infants aren’t required to have a ticket if they are flying on an adult’s (18-years-old or older) lap or is the infant’s legal guardian, and travel is within the U.S. Infants sitting on a lap on an international flight are typically required to pay 10 percent of the adult fare plus any international taxes and surcharges.

Seating – Children (age two and under 18): Children two years old and older are required to have a reserved seat. There are no child discounts when traveling within the U.S. Discounted child fares may be available when traveling outside the U.S. or when traveling between certain countries. The price of the ticket depends on the age of the child. Contact a Delta Reservations Office for details.

Special services: The following services are available on some flights:

  • SkyCots: SkyCots (bassinets) for infants under 20 pounds and less than 26 inches are available for passengers assigned to a bulkhead seat on equipped aircraft for some international flights. SkyCots are limited to two per aircraft, so they are not guaranteed. Contact Delta Air Lines Reservations for more details and to reserve a SkyCot in advance.

What you can carry-on: Children’s baggage allowances are based on the fare paid for their travel.

  • Un-ticketed infant (lap infant): No baggage allowance. Baggage is included in the accompanying adult’s allowance.
  • Ticketed infant/Child on an international flight (10-percent of adult fare): One checked bag up to 20 pounds with maximum outside dimensions of 45 inches (length + width + height), plus one checked, fully-collapsible stroller or push-chair.
  • Ticketed infant/Child (50-percent of adult fare): Standard adult baggage allowance.

Delta Air Lines allows the following items to be carried on:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, medication and baby food in small containers
  • Breast pumps: Breast pumps are allowed on board and do not count toward the carry-on allowance.
  • Booster seat/infant seat/bassinet: One booster seat, infant seat, or bassinet may be carried on board for free. The infant seat or bassinet must be secured by a seat belt on an aircraft seat. If a seat isn’t available, the item will be checked at the gate.
  • Small stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them.

What you can check: Delta Air Lines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them. Strollers can be checked at the curb, the ticket counter, or the boarding gate.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Infants and children may check a car seat or booster seat. Car seat/booster seats can be checked at the curb, the ticket counter, or the boarding gate.

Frontier


Frontier provides a variety of help for families planning travel on its website, including a colorful “Mom Approved” logo that appears throughout the website next to family-friendly options on the budget airline. The website also includes free downloadable flight activities, including a flight certificate that the crew will sign onboard, colorful maps and activity pages.

Frontier offers The Works, a program that allows passengers to change or cancel flights without paying fees, one carry-on bag, one checked bag, priority boarding and the best available seats for $49 per person.

Seating – Infants (under two): An adult (18 years old or older) traveling solo can bring up to two infants less than two years old; however, only one infant is permitted to fly on the lap and the other infant is required to purchase a ticket.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children two years old and older need their own seats.

Special services: The following services are available on all flights:

  • Kid Zone: The Kid Zone is a seating zone at the back of the airplane for families that offers easy access to lavatories with diaper-changing tables and quick assistance from flight attendants. Families with small children are also the first to board Frontier flights.
  • Diaper-changing tables: Diaper-changing tables are located in the lavatories at the back of the aircraft, nearest to the Kid Zone.
  • Frontier trading cards: Learn about the animals that appear on the tails of Frontier aircraft by collecting free trading cards from the crew inflight, including cards that feature Griz the Bear, Otto the Owl and Flo the Flamingo.

What you can carry-on: Frontier allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on in addition to the infant’s/child’s carry-on allowance as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.
  • Breast pump: Frontier considers breast pumps to be a medical device. Breast pumps are welcome onboard and do not count toward the carry-on allowance.

What you can check: Frontier allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them. Small strollers (not exceeding 10 inches in diameter and 36 inches in length) can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate. Large, heavy strollers can only be checked at the baggage counter.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Infants and children may check a car seat or booster seat. Car seats and booster seats are not considered approved child restraint devices.

Hawaiian Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): There is no age minimum; however, infants less than seven days old must have a letter of approval from a physician and show proof of age (birth certificate or passport) for all Hawaiian Airlines flights; infants younger than seven days old must have a medical form signed by a physician. An individual (15 years old or older on Neighbor Island and North American flights and 18 years old on international flights) traveling solo can bring up to two infants less than two years old; however, only one infant is permitted to fly on the lap and the other infant is required to purchase a ticket and sit in an approved child seat. Lap infants on Neighbor Island and North American flights fly free. Infants sitting on a passenger’s lap on an international flight are required to pay 10 percent of the adult fare plus any international taxes and fees. Lap infants do not get a separate carry-on or checked baggage allowance and do not get complimentary inflight meals. Passengers also have the option to buy a reserved seat for their infant. For Neighbor Island flights and North American flights, the fare is a full adult fare. For international flights, the child pays 75 percent of the adult published fare plus taxes and fees. For flights between Pago Page, Tutuila/Papeete, Tahiti and North America, the child pays 67 percent of the adult published fare plus taxes and fees. Children under the age of two with a purchased seat have the same standard baggage allowance as an adult. 

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children over two years old have their own seats and all foreign nationals must have a passport in order to travel. Children under 12 pay the full adult fare on Neighbor Island and North American flights, 75 percent of the adult published fare plus taxes and fees for international flights, and 67 percent of the adult published fare plus taxes and fees for flights between Pago Page, Tutuila/Papeete, Tahiti and North America. Children under the age of two with a purchased seat have the same standard baggage allowance as an adult.

Special services: The following services are available on some international flights:

  • Bassinets: Bassinets for infants under 20 pounds are available on most international flights; however, the accompanying adult must purchase a bassinet-compatible Extra Comfort seat.
  • Infant/Child meals: Special meals for children are available on international flights except from Pago Pago, Tutuila and Papeete, Tahiti for children age two to 11. Meals must be ordered 48 hours in advance via Hawaiian Airlines Reservations.

What you can carry-on: Hawaiian Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on if it meets the standard sizes and weight carry-on bag restrictions and as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child or, if flying as a lap infant, there are empty seats on the plane.
  • Small stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller. Strollers must be checked if they are not collapsible and/or weight more than 50 pounds.

What you can check: Hawaiian Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller. Strollers must be checked if they are not collapsible and/or weight more than 50 pounds.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Passengers may check one car seat.

JetBlue Airways


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants three days old or older can fly on JetBlue; however, infants three to 14 days old must have a letter from a physician with approval to fly. Lap infants aren’t required to have a ticket if they are flying on an individual’s (14 years old or older) lap on flights within the U.S. On flights departing from an international destination to the U.S., infant fees will be assessed and vary based on international destination.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children over two-years-old must have their own seats.

Special services: The following services are available on all flights:

  • Pre-Boarding: Pre-boarding for families traveling with children under two-years-old.
  • Diaper-changing tables: Diaper-changing tables are located in all lavatories on all JetBlue aircraft.
  • Infant/Child meals: Unlimited free snacks, including TERRA Sweets & Blues potato chips, Cheez-It crackers, and Skeeter Nut-free chocolate chip cookies, and juice (orange, cranberry, or apple juice) are offered. EatUp boxes are also available for purchase.
  • Children’s television: Each seat has a seat-back television that includes channels like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Animal Planet.
  • Children’s movies: All flights longer than two hours offer at least one child-appropriate movie.

What you can carry-on: JetBlue allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on in addition to the infant’s/child’s carry-on allowance.
  • Diaper bag: One diaper bag is permitted for lap infants.
  • Breast pump: Breast pumps are exempt from carry-on restrictions.
  • Small stroller: Infants can bring one stroller.

What you can check: Infants flying for free do not qualify for a checked baggage allowance. JetBlue allows the infant, child and those traveling to meet their infants/children to check the following items at the ticket counter or at the gate for free:

  • Stroller: One stroller can be checked.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Either one or both are allowed.
  • Child carriers: Child carriers and backpack carriers are permitted.

Porter Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants seven days old or older can fly on Porter Airlines. Infants less than seven days old must have a medical clearance certificate to fly. Lap infants aren’t required to have a ticket if they are flying on an adult’s (16-years-old or older) lap; however, some fees may be charged on flights to the U.S. A maximum of five infants can be accommodated per flight. If traveling with an infant, a passenger cannot also travel with a pet or as an attendant to a traveler with a disability. Reserved seats can also be purchased for infants at the full adult fare, but the infant must travel in an approved child restraint device.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children are required to have their own seat and pay the full adult fare.

Special services: The following services are available on some flights:

  • Diaper-changing tables: Short-haul aircraft are not equipped with diaper-changing tables.
  • Complimentary snacks: Infants’ and children’s meals are not offered as part of Porter Airlines inflight service; however, a complimentary snack and beverage service is provided on all Porter Airlines flights. Milk is not included in the in-flight service.
  • Pre-boarding: Porter Airlines offers pre-boarding for families traveling with children.

What you can carry-on: Standard carry-on allowance applies to infants and children with a reserved seat. Porter Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Gel and ice packs: Gel and ice packs can be brought on board if they are being used to refrigerate baby food.
  • Diaper bag: A diaper bag can be brought in addition to the standard carry-on allowance.
  • Breast pump: Breast pumps are exempt from carry-on restrictions. If available, flight attendant will allow moms access to empty rows to nurse or pump for added privacy. The airline doesn’t have power outlets, so manual or battery-powered breast pumps are suggested.

What you can check: Porter Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child. Small, collapsible strollers can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate. Large, heavy strollers can only be checked at the baggage counter.
  • Car seat: Infants and children may check a car seat at the baggage counter or boarding gate.

Southwest Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants 14 days old or older can fly on Southwest Airlines. Infants under 14 days old must have a medical release form. Lap infants aren’t required to have a ticket if they are flying on an individual’s (12 years old or older) lap; however, they are required to have a copy of their birth certificate and a Boarding Verification Document (available at the Southwest Airlines ticket counter on the date of travel) to fly. Lap infants must pay taxes and fees on international flights. Reserved seats can also be purchased for infants at an Infant Fare, but they must be seated in an approved child restraint device. Contact a Customer Representative at 1-800-435-9792 to purchase an Infant Fare, which has no restrictions, are fully refundable, and are offered on every Southwest Airlines flight (although seats are limited).

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children flying with adults can purchase a Child Fare.

Special services: The following services are available on all flights:

What you can carry-on: Southwest Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on in addition to the infant’s/child’s carry-on allowance as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.

What you can check: Southwest Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers traveling with infants can bring one small stroller per infant.
  • Car seat: Passengers traveling with infants can bring one car seat per infant.

Spirit Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants seven days old or older can fly on Spirit Airlines. Lap infants aren’t required to have a ticket if they are flying on an individual’s (15 years old or older) lap; however, they may have to pay taxes and fees on flights to some destinations. Adults flying solo can only fly with one infant. Reserved seats can also be purchased for infants at the full adult fare.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children over two years old are required to have their own seat and pay the full adult fare.

Special services: Spirit Airlines does not offer in-flight entertainment. It does offer food and drink for sale.

What you can carry-on: Spirit Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.
  • Small stroller: in some cases, a stroller may be carried on. Strollers can be checked at no additional cost.
  • Diaper bag: A diaper bag can be carried on in addition to one personal item.

What you can check: Southwest Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child traveling with them. Strollers can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate.
  • Car seat: Passengers can bring one car seat for each child traveling with them. Car seats can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate.

United Airlines


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants seven days old or older can fly on United Airlines. An adult (18 years old and older) traveling solo cannot fly with more than two infants (under age two). If flying with two infants, only one can fly as a lap infant; the second infant must have a reserved seat and be seated in an approved child restraint device. Infants under the age of two traveling within the U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands can travel on the adult’s lap free of charge. Infants traveling internationally, including to Canada, Guam and Mexico) without a seat are required to have a purchased ticket and are subject to infant fares and taxes. Infants traveling between the U.S. and Canada, or from Mexico to the U.S. or Canada, only pay taxes on the ticket. Infants traveling without a seat to other international destinations, including Guam, are charged 10 percent of the adult fare at the time of infant ticketing. Infants traveling on an adult’s lap on front cabin awards or upgrades must pay 10-percent of the front cabin fare in applicable markets.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children over two-years-old are required to have their own seat and pay the full adult fare.

Special services: The following services are available on some flights:

  • Diaper-changing tables: Changing tables are available on Boeing 747, 757-300, 767, 777, 787 and select 757-200. Flight attendants can direct passengers to the proper lavatory.
  • Ice: Flight attendants may provide ice to help keep breast milk cool.
  • Hot Water: Hot water can be requested for passengers to warm bottles.
  • Bassinets: Bassinets for infants under 22 pounds are available on international flights only. Bassinets are available for customers traveling international segments in United Polaris business class on select 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft and in United Economy on 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. Bassinets are not available for customers traveling in United Polaris first class, United First, or United Business. Customers can request a bassinet by calling the United Customer Contact Center at 1-800-UNITED-1 (1-800-864-8331).
  • Infant/Child meals: Special meals for children age two to 12 are available in premium cabins on U.S. flights with scheduled meal service, including transcontinental flights, from the continental U.S. to Hawaii, and from Honolulu, Hawaii and Maui, Hawaii to the continental U.S. Children’s meals are also available on all international trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific and most intra-Pacific flights as well as on South American flights to/from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Peru. Meals can be ordered at the time of booking up to 24 hours prior to departure. Gluten free meals are also available.

What you can carry-on: United Airlines allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers.
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.
  • Breast pump: A breast pump is allowed in addition to the one bag and one personal item carry-on limit. Not all aircraft are equipped with power outlets, so manual and battery-powered breast pumps are ideal.

What you can check: United Airlines allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each child in addition to the checked baggage allowance. Small, collapsible strollers can be checked at the baggage counter or boarding gate. Large, heavy strollers can only be checked at the baggage counter. United Airlines’ website says the airline is not responsible for damage that occurs to strollers that are not packed in a box and checked at the check-in counter.
  • Car seat/booster seat: Infants and children may check a car seat or booster seat. Car seats and booster seats are not considered approved child restraint devices.

Virgin America


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants seven days old or older can fly on Virgin America. Infants under seven days old must have a medical release form. Lap infants aren’t required to have a ticket if they are flying on an adult’s (18 years old or older) lap. Lap infants must pay taxes and fees on international flights and must get a boarding pass at check-in. Lap infants exiting Mexico are assessed taxes that total approximately $17.50. Reserved seats can also be purchased, but the infant must be seated in an approved child restraint device.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children two years old and older must have their own seats paid at the full adult fare.

Special services: The following services are available on all flights:

  • Diaper-changing tables: Infant-friendly lavatories are located at the back of the aircraft in Main Cabin and Main Cabin Select seating areas.
  • Wi-Fi, standard plugs, and USB plugs: Wi-Fi, standard plugs, and USB plugs are available at every seat on every aircraft.
  • Seat-to-seat delivery + Chat: Perfect for families who may not be seated together, Virgin America offers passengers the option to order food and drinks delivered to their seat or another seat. There is also on-screen chatting.
  • Google Maps Terrain View: Calm the “Are we there yet?” pleas with having Google Maps Terrain View pop up on the seat back.

What you can carry-on: Virgin America allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: An approved child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child. If a seat hasn’t been purchased and there is an empty seat next to the parent in the same cabin, the child restraint device can be brought onboard and placed in the adjoining seat for free.

What you can check: Virgin America allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can bring one stroller for each fare-paying guest. Strollers cannot be brought onto the plane as carry-on; however, they can be checked for free at the gate.
  • Car seat: Passengers can bring one infant or child car seat for each fare-paying guest.

WestJet


Seating – Infants (under two): Infants eight days old or older can fly on WestJet. Infants less than eight days old can fly; however, they must have clearance from a doctor. No passenger can be responsible for more than one infant on board. Lap infants must have a ticket if they are flying on an individual’s (12 years old or older) lap; however, they fly for free. Lap infants may be charged fees for flights to the U.S. If an infant turns two year old during the trip and has a return flight within 30 days of their birthday, contact WestJet to avoid issues or delays on the return flight. A confirmed seat can also be purchased for an infant for the full adult fare, but the infant must be seated in an approved child restraint device.

Seating – Children (age two and under 12): Children two years old and older must have their own seat paid at the full adult fare.

Special services: The following services are available on all flights:

  • Diaper-changing tables: Lavatories equipped with changing tables are located at the back of the aircraft.

What you can carry-on: WestJet allows the following items to be carried on in addition to the carry-on allowance:

  • Drinks and snacks: Formula, breast milk, juice and baby food in small containers
  • Child restraint device: A child restraint device can be accepted as carry-on in addition to the infant’s child carry-on allowance as long as a seat has been purchased for the infant/child.

What you can check: WestJet allows the following items to be checked for free in addition to the checked baggage allowance:

  • Stroller: Passengers can check one stroller.
  • Car seat: Passengers can check one car seat.
  • Playpen: A playpen may be substituted for either a car seat or stroller.

What are your go-to tips for traveling with infants and toddlers? Share with us in the comments and search for your next flight on Cheapflights.com.

Air travel tips for new parents was last modified: July 3rd, 2017 by Lauren Mack
Author: Lauren Mack (270 posts)

Lauren Mack has traveled to 40 countries on five continents, including Cuba, New Zealand, Peru and Tanzania. For many years, she called China, and then Taiwan, home. Countries at the beginning of the alphabet, particularly Antarctica, Argentina and Australia are on her travel bucket list. Lauren is a multimedia travel and food journalist and explorer based in New York City.