Air travel with an infant, no matter how long the flight, can be stressful. Parents often worry about their baby crying and disturbing other passengers, about discomfort in cramped airplane seats and about the potential inconvenience of traveling with all manner of baby paraphernalia. However, booking an infant seat on a flight need not be a concern. It can be done easily as part of the usual booking process, requiring only that you input your infant's personal details along with your own. The specific seating options, fees and regulations for flying with an infant vary somewhat by airline, but it takes only a few minutes of research to learn about these after selecting your preferred flight.
Adding an Infant to Your Ticket
Adding an infant to your airline ticket is very simple—just add the infant as a passenger using the online booking system for the airline or travel site. You'll need to input the baby's age and name and indicate whether she'll be a lap infant or have her own seat on the plane. If you're booking flights over the phone, the process is just as easy; you'll simply tell the agent that you'll be traveling with an infant.
Before you get to the point of booking your airline tickets and getting your boarding pass, be sure to add your infant as a passenger while browsing and checking prices for flights. Fees added for lap infants and for infants with their own seats vary considerably by airline, so be sure to factor in these costs when comparing flight options. Know that infants are generally welcome to fly from 14 days old and that airlines categorize infants as any children under the age of 2.
Infant Seating Options
According to the faa, infants can either sit on your lap during a flight ("lap infants") or sit in their own seat next to yours, no booster seat necessary for the seatbelt. The child ticket fees for these options vary by airline. For domestic flights, some airlines allow lap infants to travel free of charge for the lack of extra seat. Others charge a flat fee or a percentage of the full adult fare. A 10 percent fee is typical. All airlines charge a fee for a lap child on international flights. If you opt to purchase a seat for your infant, expect to pay less than the full adult fare, but more than the rate for lap infants. Most airlines charge from 50 to 75 percent of the full adult fare.
If you purchase a seat for your infant, you have the option to bring an approved car seat on board for the baby to sit in during the flight. For long-haul flights, many airlines offer bassinets for lap infants, which typically bolt into the wall in front of a parent's front-row seat by a flight attendant. There's not usually an additional charge for use of a baby bassinet, but quantities are limited and age and weight restrictions might apply. Bassinets are usually available on a first-come, first-served basis, so call the airline to reserve one immediately after booking your ticket.
Infant Passports and Other Paperwork
For international travel, all passengers, including infants of any age, are required to have a valid passport. Any applicable visa requirements for your foreign destination normally apply to infants as well for child safety. Some countries might require an infant's birth certificate for entry. For domestic flights in the U.S., infants rarely need their own ID when traveling with a parent. An exception is when a lap infant appears to be closer to the age of 2. If the airline has any reason to suspect that an infant is 2 years of age or older, they might ask for proof of age, such as a birth certificate. Additionally, if only one parent is traveling with an infant, it's advisable to carry a letter from the other parent acknowledging that parent's awareness of the travel plans.
Infant Baggage and Liquid Allowances
All major airlines make allowances for extra carry-on baggage and special items needed by parents who are flying with an infant such as a diaper bag or case for breast milk and breast pumps. Typically, as part of the baggage allowance you may bring a stroller and/or car seat free of charge to check with other luggage or at the gate. Be sure to check in advance, online or over the phone, for your airline's policies.
Pumped milk for breastfeeding, premixed formula and baby food are not subject to the 3-1-1 rule for liquids, so you can bring more than 3 ounces of these items. However, you do need to remove them from your luggage and place them in clear bags to be scanned. These liquids are also limited to reasonable amounts needed for the duration of your flight.