Airline Baggage Allowances: Do They Cover Infants?

For those traveling with infants -- with tickets or as lap children -- the U.S. airlines have different rules for how they handle baggage allowances for them. For ticketed infants and toddlers, they get the baggage allowance (free and paid) that fare-paying adults get.  But policies change with lap children. Below are the policies on the top five U.S. carriers.

  1. American Airlines. Ticketed children not occupying a seat are allowed to have one bag at the first bag fee rate ($25) of an accompanying adult. A second bag is $35. Parents can also bring aboard an approved safety seat for lap or ticketed child, an umbrella stroller and a diaper bag. Parents cannot bring child belt extensions attached to the parent, vests, harness or any other child restraint devices that position the child on the lap or chest of an adult. Unticketed children not occupying a seat do not get a baggage allowance, but parents can bring an approved safety seat, an umbrella stroller and a diaper bag.
  1. Delta Air Lines.  Lap children traveling for free do not get a baggage allowance. Instead, their baggage counts toward their parent's baggage allowance. Children traveling on an international ticket that is 10 percent of and adult fare can have one checked bag up to 20 lbs, along with one checked fully collapsible stroller or push-chair. If the ticket is 50 percent or more of an adult fare, children get the standard baggage allowance, at a cost of $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second.
  2. United Airlines. Lap children are not given a baggage allowance. Children with purchased tickets, the standard checked baggage allowance of $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second applies. to children with purchased tickets, including infants traveling internationally on 10 percent of an adult fare. The airline also accepts diaper bags, breast pumps and government-approved child seats for children whether they fly free or are ticketed.
  1. Southwest Airlines.  This Dallas-based carrier has made the tagline "Bags Fly Free" a cornerstone of its service -- but not for lap children. But is the only carrier on this list that offers infant fares. Parents can bring a government-approved child seat, any type of stroller, breast pumps and diaper bags. The airline also offers an optional branded reusable car seat/stroller bag for purchase at any Southwest Airlines ticket counter for $15.
  2. JetBlue. Parents with a lap child can bring one diaper bag, one stroller and one car seat; they do not get the baggage allowance given to full-fare paying passengers. If a car seat is being checked, the airline won't count it as one of a parent's checked bags and there is no charge. But the airline does charge for playpens and other infant beds. Breast pumps and diaper bags are exempt from carry-on bag allowances.
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