BABIES ON AIRPLANES: Some parents are apprehensive about facing an airport and a flight so soon after giving birth.
Nonetheless, it is possible to fly with a newborn a few days old or young infants. Each airline sets its own requirements – especially on the minimum age for flight travel.
The minimum age to fly varies significantly. It can be as early as two days old and up to 14 days in some cases.
For example, some flight operators insist that mum’s with newborn babies provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their fitness to fly.
The following information covers the basic flight restrictions and what you need to provide. It highlights the importance of planning ahead if you are taking an infant on a plane – as approved by the BabyCentre Medical Advisory Board UK.
Flight Tickets for Babies
A baby will need a separate flight ticket. This rule applies even if the infant does not have a separate designated seat on the plane. Thus, you will need to provide accurate details about your baby or toddler when you make the booking.
Of course this is not always possible, especially if you book your flight before the baby is born. In this case, you would need to confirm the details to the airline nearer to the flight date.
Passports for Flights with a Baby
One of the most frequently asked questions about taking infants on airplanes is ‘does a baby need a passport to fly‘? The simple answer is yes. Babies need their own passport if they are with a family travelling abroad.
The paperwork process of getting a baby’s passport may take a few weeks to complete. So, it is best to plan ahead and well in advance if you are booking a long-haul trip.
Note: Most airlines require one adult to travel with each baby. You may not be able to travel alone if you have two or more babies younger than six months old.
Baggage Allowances for Babies
It is important to check whether your baby gets a baggage allowance. As most parents know already, it is almost impossible to travel light with an infant.
You may have to sacrifice some of your personal hand luggage and carry a well-stocked changing bag. Or, you could choose to pay extra for additional luggage allowances as an alternative.
Airplane Seating Policies for Babies
Some airlines allow very young children (less than 2) to fly for free. But, most airlines charge a percentage of the adult fare for an extra seat. Your baby can sit on your lap sharing your seat if they are less than two years old.
Note: Airlines will provide you with an extension seat belt and the cabin crew will explain how to use it.
As a rule, your little one will have two main activities – sleeping and eating. So when you confirm your reservation at the check-in, ask whether your airline provides carrycots. Some long-haul operators have a limited number of special sleep carrycots on board. But, they are best suited for babies up to 12.5kgs (27.5lbs).
Your infant can have their own separate seat from when they become about six months old. You will get charged a child’s fare and they will need to sit in a car seat assembly or child restraint system.
Note that different airlines have their own requirements for baby car seats. Even though some airlines provide them for you, most budget airlines require you to bring your own.
Airline Baby Facilities
One of the most challenging aspects about long haul flights for mums and dads with toddlers is at feeding time and when you need to change their nappies.
The vast majority of airlines have baby changing tables in the toilets. Even so, it will be rather cramped inside the cubicle. But, as a consideration for other passengers (especially those sitting next to you) it is a better option than wiping your baby’s bottom in your seat.
As a rule, breastfeeding a baby in public on an airplane is quite easy and can take place with discretion. But, it is worth remembering that even though most airlines will heat baby milk or food for you – some do not.
Tips for Keeping a Baby Calm on Board
Good advice for keeping a baby calm during a flight is for you to stay as relaxed and as comfortable as possible. Most mums know well that babies are usually calmer when you are feeling in the same mood.
Try to get yourself settled and place everything within easy reach once you sit on board. Then, try some (or all) of these tips for keeping your baby calm and settled in the skies:
- Try breastfeeding your baby (or bottle-feeding) during take-off and landing. It will help prevent that uncomfortable ear popping as they swallow.
- If your newborn uses a dummy – remember to have it handy on board with you.
- A short stroll up and down the aisle of the plane might help to relax a distressed toddler. Let them peak through the window (depending where your family get seated on the plane).
- Long-haul journeys are best done during the night whenever possible.
- Never be too shy to ask for help from the cabin crew or other passengers if you are flying without your partner.
- It is so much easier to use a courtesy car between gates if you have to change planes.
- Check to see if you can move to a spare row of seats if the flight is not full. But, most airlines insist on passengers being seated in their designated seat for take-off and landing.
Following the airline’s rules for flights with babies and adopting a few of these tips makes for happy family plane trips. With a little forward planning and some solid preparation you will most likely avoid a miserable journey.