Rules for flying with a baby can often be confusing and occasionally vary from airline to airline. However, the answers below will provide you with a useful knowledge base of what to ask your airline and to double check specific rules.
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What age can my baby fly?
Flying with a newborn baby rules can vary. Many airlines state a baby can fly from 48 hours old – but there maybe certain conditions such as a no complications or that a doctor’s letter is needed. If the mother is travelling she may have to wait a few days if it was a Caesarean section. Other airlines stipulate 14 days as the minimum age a baby can travel. If you are not flying domestically in the USA or Canada, and flying internationally you will need a passport for your baby, so factor in the time it takes to apply and receive that important travel document.
American Airlines state: “We accept infants as young as 2 days old. However, if you’re traveling with an infant less than 7 days old, your physician will be required to fill out a passenger medical form before your flight. (A special assistance coordinator will send the form directly to your physician.)”
British Airways state, “Newborn babies must be at least 48 hours old and have been born without any complications before they can travel with.If you have had a Caesarean section or if other surgery was needed during or after the birth, then you can travel after 10 days, with medical clearance from our Health Services. We would advise that your treating doctor approve your travel first.”
Easyjet say babies must be at least 15 days old.
Singapore Airlines state: “Unfortunately, we are unable to accept infant passengers within the first 48 hours of their birth. Air travel is also not recommended for infants seven days of age or under.”
Can I make a booking for a baby who isn’t born yet?
Again, this policy varies from airline to airline:
With British Airways, if you know you want to travel shortly after you’re due to give birth, you can make your own booking as usual. Please contact them after your baby is born to arrange for your baby’s ticket to be issued.
What happens if my infant turns two during our trip? Do I need to pay a different fare?
Flying with a baby rules on this do vary from airline to airline and usually cannot be booked online – so you will need to speak to your airline. Some airlines will provide a seat without charging a fare, while others require you to pay for a seat for the child after he has turned 2. Some airlines might require you to pay for an entire trip if your toddler turns two at any point during the trip. Whatever happens, they will need their own seat for the return journey. Here are some examples of varying policies.
- With British Airways, if you’re travelling with an infant who reaches the age of 2 during their journey, your child will need their own seat for any flights on and after their 2nd birthday. British Airways won’t charge you extra for this; you’ll only pay the infant fare for the entire journey.
- EasyJet: If your child is under 2 years old, they can sit on your lap for a fee of £20. As soon as your child reaches their second birthday, you’ll need to book them their own seat at the normal price.
- Emirates: “Where a passenger travels as an infant on the outward journey and as a child on the onward/ return journey, applicable infant fare will apply for the outward journey and child fare for the onward/return flights. This cannot be booked online and should be booked through your local Emirates office.
- Qatar airlines allow you to buy a child ticket fo the return or two single tickets; one infant and one child.
Can I bring baby food, milk, water on board the flight?
Yes, baby food, milk and water can be over 100ml and over the 3-1-1 liquid rule if you are flying with a baby. Medicines usually must fit the 100ml rule unless previously agreed with the airline and accompanied with a Doctor’s letter. Airport security in each country are responsible for these rules – not the airline. If you are wanted to bring frozen expressed milk and not travelling with your baby, some airline have different rules for breastmilk carriage with some permitting it only in the hold.
Do I need ID for my baby?
Generally, yes. Most countries specify a passport even if travelling domestically – such as the UK. The USA and Canada do not require if travelling domestically. However, it is always beneficial to have some form of ID. Some countries require specialist forms signed by a lawyer and additional ID as condition of entry to their country. Please see my post on Travel Documents for Children for further information.
Does my baby need a lap belt or car seat or any sort of restraint device?
It depends on which airline you are flying with and where it is based. USA and Canadian airlines do not provide lap-belts but EU, Australian airlines and many others do. With most non USA/Canadian airlines it is a legal requirement to wear an infant lap belt/belly belt if you are flying with a lap baby. In the US/Canada – it is the opposite and against the law to wear one. In reality, the lap belt is there to stop the baby from flying out of a parent’s arm and preventing the baby from injuring others at speed. A lap-belt does little to actually protect baby.
A car seat is not a legal requirement for travel, but it is strongly recommended by the FAA. Airlines do not make it a legal requirement for several reasons:
- Aircraft incidents of severe turbulence are rare (as ex cabin crew with 12 year experience, I only experienced it badly once)
- Cost of additional seats. It is feared that the increased pressure of parents needing to pay out for an additional seat(s) would encourage people to drive to their destination if possible – and road accidents are far more likely.
In the USA alone, 100 people die a day on average in a road traffic accident. In comparison the last fatal commercial plane crash was in Buffalo 2009. The FAA agree and have previously stated that its reasoning for not requiring infants and young children to be restrained in their own seats is that “analyses showed that, if forced to purchase an extra airline ticket, families might choose to drive, a statistically more dangerous way to travel.” Therefore the choice is left up to parents to make the decision which best fits their needs.
An alternative way for parents to safely restrain children (around the age of 1+ but who must meet the weight/height requirements 22 to 44 pounds and up to 40 inch tall.) is to use the AmSafe CARES harness CARES FlySafe Harness if they have purchased an additional seat for the child.
This is answered in a lot of detail in my post Child Restraint Devices and Car Seats.
Can I bring a changing bag/diaper bag on board additionally to my hand luggage allowance?
Again, this varies from airline to airline. Most long haul airlines allow you to bring a baby bag for free, whereas others give no allowance for an infant.
Can I bring a stroller for free?
Yes you can. It does not form part of your baggage allowance so you can take your normal allowance PLUS a stroller and usually a car seat too. For more information, read, What to Expect When Flying with a Baby.
Does my baby need to wear a mask on the plane?
No, babies aged under 2 do not need to wear a mask on any airline. However, some airlines or particular routes
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