Traveling With Baby? Know What Airline Ticketing Policies Are

Mother with her baby boy in an aircraft
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Edited by Benet Wilson

I started traveling by air with my daughter when she was 10 days old. Before I boarded that Delta Air Lines flight, I checked with the carrier to understand all the rules that traveling with a baby entailed. The rules among airlines for traveling with a baby can vary, but there are overall general rules on dealing with tickets for them.

  • Infants under the age of two may travel with an accompanying adult who is at least 16 years old depending on the airline regardless of whether the infant is a lap child or has a paid seat.
  • The maximum number of infants per adult passenger is two, with a maximum of one lap baby (infant without a paid seat) per adult. In some countries such as Canada, regulations permit only one infant per adult (16 years or older) regardless of whether the infant is a lap baby or in a paid seat.
  • If an infant not occupying a paid seat turns two after travel has begun, there is a wide range of policies. Some airlines will provide a seat without charging an airfare and others require you to pay. For those that require you to pay for an entire trip if the child turns 2 during your travels, it may work out to buy tickets per direction so that you can just purchase one way (once the child is 2 years old - this tends to only work for domestic / transborder flights).
  • Infants are usually allowed to travel without medical approval as long as they are at least seven  days old.

Carriers including Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Alaska Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Airlines and Virgin America do not offer infant fares, so those choosing to buy baby a seat will have to pay the full adult fare.

 

Southwest Airlines offers what it calls very affordable Infant fares for children under two years where they can in his/her approved car seat. The fares are not available on the carrier's website; parents must call (800) 435-9792 to book infant fares. American Airlines offers domestic and international infant fares.

International infant fares get a 90 percent discount. Parents must call 1-800-433-7300 to book the fares. Hawaiian Airlines charges full adult fares for infants flying on domestic flights and offers a special child fare for international flights.  Call 1-800-367-5320

For those taking an infant on an international flight as a lap child, airlines have different requirements. United charges infants traveling without a seat on international destinations are charged 10% of the adult fare. Lap infants on international JetBlue flights are required to pay applicable fees and taxes, and must be issued a ticket displaying the collection of the those fees and taxes. On Alaska Airlines, lap infants are charged approximately $17 in fees when traveling from an international location into the United States.