Traveling with small children brings its own set of hassles: Can you bring your own car seat on the plane? Will the gate agent announce preboarding for families with young children? Can you check a stroller at the gate?
Airline policies change frequently, so it’s a good idea to call ahead or check your airline’s website every time you fly to make sure you know what to expect.
Standard practices for airlines based in the United States
Most U.S. airlines follow these policies on domestic flights (though it can’t hurt to double-check before you buy your ticket):
Typically babies must be at least 7 days old to fly. Some airlines allow younger infants with a doctor’s written permission. Others extend the minimum age up to 14 days or have additional restrictions.
Lap babies (younger than age 2) fly free on domestic flights, usually one per paying adult. (You may need to present proof of age.) This does save you money, but it’s important to note that babies riding in airplanes are safest riding in government-approved car seats. (The label should read, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”)
Your airline might allow you to bring your car seat on board if the flight isn’t full, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get an extra seat if you haven’t bought a ticket for your child.
The FAA has banned the use of supplemental lap restraints, or “belly belts,” in airplanes. Booster seats and harness vests may be used during flight, but not during taxi, takeoff, or landing.
Children age 2 or younger sometimes receive a special discount when you purchase a seat for them, especially when you’re traveling internationally.
When you buy a seat for your child, you’ll need to bring a government-approved car seat for him to sit in on the plane. Airlines usually require that a car seat be placed in a window or middle seat away from exit rows. Some airlines impose additional restrictions.
Children age 2 and up must have a ticket for their own seat.
You can check your collapsible stroller when you board and pick it up as you exit the plane. Some airlines may require bulky and non-collapsible strollers to be checked at the ticket counter, however. It’s a good idea to check your airline’s stroller policy before your trip.
Important questions to ask before you fly
Airline policies for families vary widely. Many rules, including whether to allow preboarding, are at the discretion of the gate agent. The best advice is to call ahead and ask the following questions, but be prepared for possible changes at the gate.
• Is there a seat discount for a child younger than 2? (This question applies if you’d like to pay for a seat for your child rather than holding him in your lap during the flight.)
• Do you offer seat discounts for children 2 and older? If so, for what ages?
• Will you require proof of my child’s age and identity? If so, what proof is required, and when do I present it? (As crazy as it sounds, some babies have been stopped from boarding because their names are similar to suspected terrorists on “no-fly” lists. Carrying a government-issued birth certificate or passport may help avoid such snarls.)
• Can we get seats in a bulkhead row? (Bulkhead seats have more room to stand and maneuver, but less room for stowing carry-ons.)
• Are bassinets available on the flight? When should I reserve one? (Bassinets are available only for lap babies, and can be used only in bulkhead rows.)
• Do all of your rows have extra oxygen masks? If not, can you seat us in a row that does? (This is important to ask if you’re traveling with a child who doesn’t have his own seat.)
• Do you allow preboarding for families with small children? If so, will there be a preboarding announcement or do we have to ask at the gate?
• Do lap babies get a baggage allowance?
• Does a car seat count as a carry-on? If I have to check it at the gate, does it count against my baggage allowance?
• Can we bring our stroller on board? Will it count as a carry-on? (This question applies if you want to wheel your child down the cabin aisle rather than checking your stroller when you board.)
• Do you have diaper-changing facilities on the aircraft? (Most large airplanes have one restroom with a changing table.)
• Do you offer children’s meals? What’s included? How far in advance should I order one?
• Can you warm my baby’s bottle during the flight?
• Is in-flight audio or video entertainment for children available?
• Can my spouse or loved one get security clearance to accompany me to the departure gate if I need assistance?
• Do you offer assistance with maneuvering through the terminal when making connecting flights? How can I arrange for that?
Additional questions to ask international airlines
Keep in mind that everyone – even a newborn – needs a passport to travel internationally. Make sure apply for your child’s passport well before your trip.
• What do you charge for babies younger than 2? (For international flights, all children need a ticket, even those who sit on your lap and don’t have their own seat. A lap baby’s ticket often costs at least 10 percent of the price of a regular ticket.)
• Do you offer seat discounts for children age 2 and up?
• Can my child sit in his own car seat? If not, can the airline provide a car seat that’s safe and appropriate for my child?
• If my child has a different last name, will I need additional documentation at the airport?
Article from https://www.babycenter.com