UK Rules News Children › Flying with a Lap Toddler
Guide for Flying with Baby on Lap

Most airlines issue some basic advice for carrying an infant on your lap during a flight. These tips and guidelines highlight the key points for flying with a lap toddler.

FLYING WITH LAP CHILD: Long flights with tiny toddlers can be a little stressful. This information should make it easier.

Age Definitions: Infant, Child, and Adult

  • Infant 14 days to 24 months: Can only fly with an adult.
  • Child 2 to 15 years: Must fly with an adult (some exceptions apply for 14 and 15 year-olds).
  • Adult 16 and older: Can fly alone, with children, and with people who have special needs.

Note: Most airlines use these age definitions to differentiate between infants and children. But, some will use different age groupings.

Flying with Children and Infants

Many flight companies will board families with children under 5 early. They often allow you to take two items for free. These include things like a pushchair or a travel cot.

They also allow you to choose your seats in advance – but some charge for this service. Even so, most parents will see the importance of ensuring the family sits together on the plane.

The most popular budget airlines carry some kind of snack packs on board for kids. They include assortments of puzzles or children’s games to keep little ones entertained.

Note: The checks we carried out show support for breastfeeding mothers on planes. Airlines we questioned said moms can feed their baby on board without restrictions.

Guidelines for Flying with a Lap Child

What is a lap child? Rules do vary but most airlines agree on the definition of a lap child. It is an infant from 7 days old until they reach their second birthday.

In most cases, when flying with babies, lap children do not need a paid seat. You can carry them in your lap free of charge. But, you can still choose to buy a seat for your baby if you want to.

There are strict flight regulations in the United Kingdom. An infant is no longer considered a lap child once they have their second birthday. That means you must pay for a seat for them to travel by airplane.

What happens if a child has their 2nd birthday between an outbound and a return flight? In this case, a seat needs purchasing for their return flight.

Airlines allow one (1) lap child for each customer aged 15 years or older.

Note: Flight companies can request documented proof of age for a traveler of 2 years old or younger. Thus, prepare to show documentation using a baby passport or a birth certificate.

7 Tips on Flying with a Baby on Your Lap

  1. We like to think that most airlines allow you to use any open seat for a lap child. But, free seats are rarely available during the peak holiday travel periods.
  2. Non-mobile babies and very young infants will be comfortable in the lap of a parent. But, you may find it hard to keep older toddlers from 12 months old sitting still in your lap for a few hours on a plane.
  3. As a rule, airlines refuse to accept infants on board if they are only 7 days old (or less). Boarding is also denied for an infant requiring an incubator or a life-support system.
  4. Lap children or children seated in car seats cannot occupy the emergency exit rows. The same applies to the row in front of or behind an emergency exit row.
  5. Some aircraft operators do not allow lap children to occupy a seat in the first or the second row. They also do not permit them to occupy a seat equipped with an inflatable seatbelt.
  6. Children under two usually fly for free on domestic flights. But, most airlines charge a fee for toddlers on international routes (from 10% upwards).
  7. Pregnant flyers can travel up to the end of their 35th week. But, most flight companies stipulate the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies. As a rule, there is no need to take a medical certificate. But, note that they will restrict some seating on board the aircraft for pregnant women.


Articles about Babies: Get the latest headlines about child regulations and baby laws.
Baby Booster Seats: Changes to the car booster seat laws came into force from March 2017.
Babies on Airplanes: Airline regulations on flying with a baby so soon after giving birth.
Breastfeeding in Public: What is UK Law towards nursing a baby and breastfeeding at work?
Passports for Babies: How to get a passport for your baby so the family can travel abroad.

Guidelines for Flying with Baby on Lap in the United Kingdom