Airline Baggage Allowances: Do They Cover Infants?

 darby / Twenty20

For those traveling with infants—either with tickets or as lap children—U.S. airlines have different rules for how they handle baggage allowances for them. Generally speaking, an infant or toddler with a tick gets the same baggage allowance as a fare-paying adult. However those policies change with lap children, who usually do not get a baggage allowance. Below are the policies for the top U.S. carriers.

  1. American Airlines: Parents can bring aboard an approved safety seat for lap or ticketed child, a stroller, and a diaper bag. Strollers must be checked at the gate, however strollers heavier than 20 pounds (9 kilograms) must be checked at the ticketing desk. If you have both a stroller and car seat, only one can be checked at the gate. 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 and there are restrictions on where a safety seat can be used. 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. If you're flying internationally with an infant on your lap, the infant will get a ticket and you can check one bag at the same rate for an adult.
  2. Delta Air Lines: Lap children traveling for free on domestic flights do not get a baggage allowance. Instead, their baggage counts toward their parent's baggage allowance. The allowance for ticket children varies on how much was paid for the ticket. Children traveling on an international ticket that is 10 percent of an adult fare can have one checked bag up to 20 lbs with a circumference (no larger than 45 inches (113 centimeters), 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 $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second. Strollers and seat restraints are not counted with standard baggage and can be checked for free curbside, at the ticket counter, or at the gate, regardless of fare type purchased.
  3. United Airlines: Lap children are not given a baggage allowance. Children with purchased tickets, including infants traveling on a discounted international ticket, get the standard checked baggage allowance of $30 for the first bag and $40 for the second. If the infant's luggage allowance is exceeded, the extra items become a part of the adults allowance. The airline also accepts diaper bags, breast pumps, small strollers, and government-approved child seats for children whether they fly free or are ticketed.
  4. 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 making purchasing a seat more tempting. Parents can bring a government-approved child seat, any type of stroller, breast pumps, and diaper bags on board, with strollers and car seats checked for free. The airline also offers an optional branded reusable car seat/stroller bag for purchase at any Southwest Airlines ticket counter for $15.
  5. JetBlue: Parents with a lap child can bring one diaper bag, and one stroller or 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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