Flying with your baby doesn’t need to be hard. Many parents are intimidated by the idea of taking their baby through an airport and on a flight, but the reality is that you have nothing to worry about. Babies go through airports every day and if you know what you’re doing, you have very little to worry about.
Our little guy loved the airport because he knows he will have plenty of time to lie down on the floor and stretch out for an hour before boarding the plane!
That’s all fine and dandy, but how do you add a baby to your flight reservation in the first place? Is it as straightforward as booking a flight for an adult? The fact is that there are many different ways to add a baby to your flight reservation, but what you do depends on the airline.
First, Do You Want a Seat for Your Baby?
This is the first question that you need to answer when thinking about how to add a baby to your reservation. Most airlines will allow children to fly for free (domestically) or at a very reduced price (internationally) as a lap child for the first two years of their lives, as long as you can provide proof of age. For domestic flights, a birth certificate is enough, and a passport suffices for international flights.
If your child is under 2 years old, I strongly urge you to consider doing this. It is hard to beat a free domestic flight for your kid, and, at least in our case, our son really loves to be held on the plane.
He has never really loved being in his car seat, and sitting in his car seat on the plane is just less ideal for him than being held. We will take that, considering that he flies for free this way!
If you DO want a seat for your baby, the ticket booking process is very simple.
Booking a Seat for a Child Is Just Like for an Adult
If you DO want a seat for your baby, though, booking their portion of the flight is very easy. If they will be taking a seat for themself, they must be added to the reservation like any other adult.
Regardless of whether or not your little one only ways 20 pounds, bringing their car seat onboard and occupying a seat costs the full adult price. Simply include them as a passenger on the reservation when making your booking, and that is that.
How Do You Add a Lap Child to Your Flight Booking?
If they’re getting a seat, it’s very easy and straightforward. What about when they aren’t? We have resolved to never buy our kids flights until they turn two because we simply can’t come to terms with shelling out a full adult fare for someone who could be flying for free.
Couple that with the fact that he prefers to be held anyway, and the decision is easy for us. How do you add a lap child to your flight booking, though?
The answer to this question depends on the airline.
This fully depends on the airline. Most airlines require that you add your child to the flight reservation before the day of travel.
Each Airline Handles Lap Children Differently
We are usually a Delta family for our travels, and Delta makes things very easy. They have a texting hotline that connects you with a real agent who can take care of any issues, changes, and requests on your behalf.
If you are flying Delta or any of their partner airlines, you can simply text their hotline, tell them you want to add a lap child to your reservation, and they will walk you through the rest.
Most other airlines will simply require you to add your infant to the booking while you are indicating the number of passengers, but others require you to act similarly to delta, either by calling or texting before the day of travel.
The full list of the top airlines and their protocols is below, for your convenience! Southwest Airlines is one exception, as they do not require any notification before the day of travel. You simply need to show up to the check-in counter with your little one’s identification, and they will add him or her to your reservation on the day of travel while you check your baggage.
Is Adding Your Baby to Your Flight Booking Free?
On domestic flights, most airlines allow lap-held infants to travel for free as long as parents can prove that their date of birth was less than two years before the date of travel. I have not yet heard of an airline that requires and kind of fee for lap children on domestic routes in the United States, but some airlines in Europe charge baby fees.
Whether you add the baby at the moment of the reservation or you wait to add them until later, most airlines will not charge you a penny.
Personally, I think that most small children do not need their own seat. Our son has been on tens of flights with us, and we have never purchased him his own separate seat. Even on our 20-hour flight itinerary from the United States to India, he was perfectly fine sitting on our laps!
If you decide to reserve seats for your children under two years of age, you will usually need to secure them their own airline tickets at the full adult price. If you plan to sit them in the seat, it is crucial that you bring a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved car seat, as airlines will not allow you to rig any other kind of child restraint device.
Lap Infants Don’t Fly for Free on International Flights
When it comes to an international reservation, the laws are slightly different and you will be required to pay at least some portion of the adult fare and the international taxes. We recently booked flights from Washington D.C. to New Delhi, where the adult fare was $751 and the infant rate was about $175.
While $175 is a lot of money, it is nothing compared to the $751 that we would have had to pay if we bought him a seat! We figure that the savings of nearly $600 are worth having to hold our son for the duration of the 18 hours in the air.
Things to Know About Traveling with Lap Infants on Flights
How To Add A Baby To A Flight Reservation: List By Airline
Thanks for reading my post on how to add a baby to a flight reservation. Hopefully these tips help to remove some stress from your travel planning! If you have any questions, be sure to reach out to us by submitting a comment below. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read the rest of my posts on traveling with babies!