Airline policies usually state that babies must be 7 days old to fly unless you have a doctor’s note but rules vary so check with the airline in advance. Generally airlines allow babies and toddlers under 2 to travel on their parents’ lap although you have the option to purchase a seat for them. Some airlines allow you to use a car safety seat on the plane however you will need to purchase a seat to use this (unless there happens to be a spare seat next to you or if the flight is not full and the airline allows you to use an empty seat).
Babies and toddlers will require their own passports when travelling. If only one parent is travelling and if their surname name is different to the child’s surname, additional documentation may be required such as the child’s birth certificate and or a notarised letter stating that you are the parent. Immigration requirements vary from country to country and the IATA Travel Centre can advise you what documentation is required on a case by case basis.
Infants under 2 usually travel free on domestic flights and are charged 10% of an adult ticket price on international flights. Airlines have different policies on pre boarding and on the use of child seats. Generally bassinets are provided on long haul flights and are offered on a first come, first served basis but some airlines will allow you to reserve them in advance.
Airlines offer a number of other services for parents travelling with infants and toddlers such as bottle warming, baby food and kids menus and inflight nanny services. Our airline guide (below) will give you information on the various services offered by various airlines. Most airlines now offer baby changing facilities on-board the aircraft in one of the restrooms. these are pull down metal tables and do not have a lip around the edges to offer protection so keep this in mind for wriggly toddlers. Try to change your little one before the flight if possible and if you need to use the facilities on board a changing mat to cover the metal changing table would be useful for your child’s comfort.
There are a number of questions that you should ask before booking a long haul flight including:
- How much is charged for travelling with infants and do they get a baggage allowance?
- Is there a seat discount for under toddlers under 2 and over 2?
- Is the stroller taken to be stowed at the check in desk or at the gate?
- Is there a bassinet and can this be pre-booked and confirmed in advance or are they allocated on a first come first served basis?
- If there are no bassinets can you reserve a bulkhead row (there is a lot more space in these rows)?
- Are there changing tables in the restrooms?
- Is there somewhere to warm your baby’s bottle?
- Is baby/ children’s food provided and does this need to be pre-booked?
- Are nappies and formula available on board?
- Is there an inflight nanny service the plane?
- Does your seat row have an extra oxygen mask if your infant is travelling on your lap?
- Is there inflight audio visual entertainment for kids?
- Can a spouse get security clearance to help you to your gate if they are not flying with you?
- Is assistance offered for manoeuvring through the terminal when catching a connecting flight?
- If you have more than one child with you and you are travelling alone, what is the airline’s policy? Some airlines require that one adult can only be responsible for one child on-board, some allow two children per adult.
Airline’s policies change frequently so ensure that you check with the airline before booking your ticket if you are travelling with a baby or toddler.
Check a specific airline’s policy from the drop down menu below.
Also, please see our section on air travel with a baby or toddler.