Flying With A Baby Tips – Top Tips from Booking to Arrival
I started this site as a flying with baby resource (with all the information in one place) – after my own frustrations with flying with my little ones. Despite my cabin crew knowledge, I still wanted to discover any information that could make traveling with an infant and the flight easier. After much time was spent Googling and phoning airlines I thought it was worth sharing how to travel with a baby so other parents could feel less frazzled and save some time.
Although this site covers everything from flying with babies to older kids in so much more depth, (my own experience begins with flying with a 2 month old baby), I thought a briefer list of my best tips for flying with a baby, would also be helpful for those who don’t have time to read through the whole site. For in-depth information on certain points – just click on the links.
If you are flying for the first time with your baby or toddler, you may also find my post on ‘What to Expect’ useful too. Do let me know if these flying with a baby tips are useful?
Flying With A Baby Tips
Before you Book
Tips on Infant Air Fare Costs, ID & Age Baby Can Fly
Is there an Infant air fare cost?
- Be prepared for most flights with under 2’s to cost 10% of an adult fare + applicable taxes. Some countries like the USA offer free flights for infants if it is an internal flight and they are seated on your lap. If you purchase a seat for your baby, fares are usually around 60-75% of an adult fare. Sometimes going directly to the airline offers you a better deal but it is worth looking at sites such as GoEuro or Skyscanner too.
Do I need a passport for my baby or child?
- Check what travel documentation is needed – even if flying domestically. This can be found on your airlines website. A passport is always the best ID. If you are flying with an infant domestically in the USA, a passport is not required for your baby– BUT it’s still a good idea to take a birth certificate and make sure your have a boarding card issued for your baby.
At what age can a baby fly?
- Check the flying with an infant rules as per your airline regulations. Flying with a newborn baby rules may vary from airline to airline. Some may specify a baby must be at least 7 days old, whereas other airlines may say they must be 14 days old and/or meet other requirements to travel by airplane.
Tips on Rules for Flying With a Baby, Lap Belt & Car Seats, Baggage Allowance plus Airline Bassinets
Know the rules for flying with a baby.
- Decide whether you will be flying with a lap baby (where they sit on your lap usually for free or 10% of the fare) or if you are going to purchase a seat and use a car seat or CARES harness.
Lap baby or own seat & car seat or other restraint device?
- If you are thinking of purchasing an extra seat and using your car-seat – look at airline policies on car seats first. Some airlines allow both forward and rear facing car seats on an airplane seat, others only forward facing. Often they won’t fit on the new business and first class style seats. Other child restraint devices (CRD’s) such as the CARES harness for over one’s are universally allowed on certain seats.
Can I get an airline bassinet?
- If you are flying with a lap baby and if a airplane bassinet is important to you because you are flying long-haul, do look at which airlines provide a bassinet which is suitable for your baby. Age and weight requirements vary from airline to airline and often plane to plane. Most bassinets are suitable for up to 8 months, and British Airways bassinets are suitable for up to 2 years old – if your baby meets the weight requirements. When we have flown to Australia with my daughter(s) at various stages from 8 months to 13 months – an airline which had a bassinet was a huge influence on which airline I booked. For more detail on the best seats and airline bassinets, see here.
- See if the airline bassinet seat is available before you purchase your flight. Very few airlines will let you see seat availability – but more often or not, you don’t find out until you get to choose your seats – after you have paid. If in doubt, call your airline and ask them what the availability is like for a certain flight on a particular day. If the system shows it is free, then there is a good chance it still will be when you go online to book the flight.
- Several airlines allow you to choose your seat immediately if you are flying with an infant – some for free! e.g British Airways and Thai Airways. If you want to double check for a particular seat. Look at www.seatguru.com and put in your flight number where you can check the plane layout.
Is there a baggage allowance for infants?
- Look at the airline policies on hand luggage and hold luggage. All airlines allow at least a car seat or stroller – with the majority allowing both for free. Lots of airlines provide an infant baggage allowance too, some for both cabin and hold baggage. If you think you will be taking a lot of stuff- look at what each airline provides. That cheap flight may not be so cheap if you have to pay extra for baggage. I often use a stroller or gate check bag (affiliate link) and put a few extra items like nappies/diapers or soft toys to also save space in my hold luggage and help protect the stroller or car seat more.
- You may find this post on the rules for flying with a baby useful too.
Tips on Airline Child Meals, Baby Meals and more on Airline Bassinets.
- Even if you have requested a bassinet seat, ring up and double check the request is there. For American and Canadian airlines it is often the case that the first one at the gate grabs the bassinet. For other airlines, it’s the age of the baby that will have priority- usually the youngest. Finally, a few airlines just base it on who requested it first.
Baby, toddler and child airline meals.
- If your baby is weaning, request a baby meal. These are pureed jars of food. Some airlines provide toddler meals too. For more information on what airlines provide, see here. If your airline doesn’t provide or if your baby is over the pureed stage- most airlines will not have food for your baby. You need to provide this yourself. A few do have some extra amenities onboard for babies and toddlers, but they are in the minority.
Packing tips when flying with a baby
What Baby Travel Products Shall I Take?
- The best bit of travel gear is definitely a baby carrier. For those walks to baggage reclaim and through customs, it is so convenient to be babywearing and have your hands free to push the trolley- especially if you are flying solo. There are also so many amazing travel strollers on the market these days too – some which you can take as hand luggage. You may want to consider taking a portable travel highchair too.
- If you have a bassinet- I can’t recommend the CoziGo highly enough- which shuts out the cabin light so baby can sleep even during the day time. It doubles up as a UV breathable stroller cover too- perfect for hot sunny climates. This bit of baby gear is my go to for baby shower gifts!
- Snacks- all the snacks and more! This is one of the most obvious tips on flying with a baby, but pack more than you think you will need.
- Bring some interactive but quiet baby and toddler toys which will keep them busy.
- Ziplock bags- put a change of clothing in each one, nappies/diapers and wipes etc, so you can easily find them and whip them out quickly!
- For a more comprehensive baby travel checklist – see here. It also includes a free checklist to print out.
Before You Fly With Your Baby
Tips for Getting Through Airport Security Quicker
- If you are in the UK, consider ordering some supplies from Boots to pick up after airport security. This includes nappies, milk, wipes, suntan lotion etc. The benefit is you should pass through security a bit quicker with fewer liquids. This was one of the best tips for flying with a baby I was given, especially when I was flying solo.
- Plan to leave extra time for the airport- especially for security. An extra 30 minutes is ideal.
- Pack any liquids in an easy place to access quickly. If you have a clear small single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm, use that to save time at the airport.
At The Airport
Tips on Strollers, Airport Soft Play and More Security Tips
- Decide whether to gate check your stroller or check it in immediately. I’ve done both, and I prefer checking it in unless its a designated piece of hand luggage. Baby – wearing makes it a little bit easier to board. American Airlines stroller policy is here.
- If you are flying with a toddler, check out the airport soft play and let your little one(s) burn off some steam for a bit before the flight. If not, use a blanket on the floor for them to stretch out a bit.
- Look out for a family line or ask if there is one.
- Clear security in plenty of time. Be prepared to take your baby out of the stroller or baby carrier.
- Baby milk (pumped breast milk, powdered or readymade) water for baby, baby food, are all allowed over the 100ml /3-1-1 liquid rule if you are travelling with your baby. It’s often worth asking the cafes airside ( past security) for ice to replenish your ziplock bags if you have any perishable goods on you for the flight. Ice packs are often not allowed through security.
- One of my favourite tips for flying with a baby is to board a bit later than everyone but have your partner board earlier. Although many airlines give the option to board first, there is generally no point in having an older wriggly baby or toddler restrained on a plane waiting for eveyone else to board. This is certainly the case for day flights- but night flights you may find it easier to get them settled first.
On Board – How To Fly With A Baby
Tips on Breastfeeding on Board, Sterilising, and Sleeping on Board
- All airlines are happy with a mum breastfeeding. If you are a bit self-conscious- here are my tips in detail.
- If you need milk heated up – do ask in plenty of time.
- Babies on planes usually likely to drink more than they usually do as the cabin air is quite dehydrating. If you need to sterilise bottles on board, this post provides more information.
- The bassinet should be set up for you after take-off, once the seatbelt sign is off. Most airlines will ask you to remove to baby if it is turbulent.
- For more information on what to expect on board when flying with a baby – this post has more detail.
- For baby sleeping tips when flying- this post will help.
- Fill out any documents in plenty of time including customs forms. If you are entering certain countries you must not bring any fresh food off the plane. If in doubt, declare it and go through the red channel. For example, I have had tinned powder baby milk, declared it and it has been fine to enter Australia, but I always declare.
Tips on Ear Pain, Airport Courtesy Strollers and Your Stroller.
- Some babies cry with the change of pressure in their ears on landing too – feeding often helps relieve this.
- Ask the ground staff if they know where you will pick up your stroller – at the aircraft door, or at the baggage belt or in oversize luggage belt. On our first few flights we waited ages at our baggage belt, only to find out our stroller was on the other side of baggage reclaim at the Oversize belt waiting for us.
- Some airlines and airports provide courtesy strollers for you to use – but just in case they are not available, that baby carrier will come in handy again.
Flying with a baby by age
Tips For Flying With A 3 Month Old Baby
This was the age our eldest had her first flight. She was 11 weeks old when we embarked on a long haul flight from the UK to Cape Town, proceeded by a short haul from London Heathrow to Glasgow. This is definitely one of the easiest stages to fly with a baby: they stay in one place, are purely on a milk diet and sleep a fair bit!
Whilst I go into some detailed general tips for flying with a baby above, the following tips are specific for flying with a 3 month old….. To read more of this article click here.
Are you travelling with a baby soon or have you before? Do you have any more travel tips for flying with infants? Please jot them below for other readers to discover.
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