Flying With An Infant – Common Questions And Answers

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Happy New Year. I wish all of you success where ever 2012 takes you. This year I’ll venture into fatherhood as a frequent traveler. I’m prepared to learn everything I need to know to be super Dad on the road and at home. One of the important things (I’ve got a lot to learn about traveling as a father) is a firm understanding of how to travel with an infant. With one award trip on the books for next year, and two in the planning stages, I explored Delta’s requirements to travel with an infant.

Flying With An Infant – Common Questions And Answers

  1. What are the requirements to fly with an infant?
  2. How do you book a ticket to secure an infant in arms?
  3. Are there additional costs?
  4. How will I get all of the additional luggage to my destination (car seat, diaper bag, stroller, etc)?
  5. Are there any other considerations?

1. What Are The Requirements To Fly With Infant

Traveling with an infant is age restricted so check below for the details on how old or young your infant can be to travel as an infant in arms.

  • You can travel with one infant in your lap without a purchasing a ticket if:
    • The infant is less than two years old, AND
    • You are at least 18 years old or the infant’s legal guardian, AND
    • Your travel is within the U.S.
  • You’ll need to purchase a ticket for your child when you:
    • Have a child that is age two or older
    • Prefer the child to sit in a seat in order to travel in an approved restraint
    • Have a second child, regardless of age, and you already have a child who will be sitting in your lap
    • Want your child to earn miles in his SkyMiles account.
    • Will be traveling between countries regardless of whether or not the child occupies a seat.
  • Infants and small children must be accompanied by someone who is at least 18 years old, or is the child’s parent or legal guardian
  • The adult and the child must travel in the same cabin
  • If you’re traveling with a newborn, Delta and Delta Connection® Carrier flights do need an approval letter from a physician saying it’s all right for the newborn to fly
  • The following infant age restrictions apply to all Delta and Connection Carrier flights:
  • Delta – if the baby is less than 7 days a Physician travel approval letter is required
  • Comair® – if the baby is less than 12 days a Physician travel approval letter is required
  • Pinnacle® – if the baby is less than 7 days a Physician travel approval letter is required
  • SkyWest® – if the baby is less than 8 days the Infant will not be allowed on board

2. How To Book With Delta

You can book your ticket through your normal process and then call Delta to add an infant in arms to your reservation.

  • You can book online or over the phone
  • If you book online you will need to call Delta to give them the name and DOB

3. Costs

Be aware that traveling internationally with an infant will require an additional fee. Flying domestic does not require an additional fee.

  • Infants and children less than 2 years old may travel for free within the U.S. if:
    • An adult (12 years or older) holds the infant in arms or
    • places the infant in an FAA-approved child restraint during take-off and landing
  • Domestic Award Travel costs:
    • Domestic awards have no additional costs
  • International Award Travel costs:
    • International tickets require about 10% of the normal fare
    • Example: Business Class to Europe at 100k miles would require an available fare to be priced on your flight of which you would pay 10%. Say the ticket priced out at $4,500, then the additional cost would be $450
    • International Business tickets are issued as a paper ticket which is either mailed or ticketed at airport

4. Carry On Allowance

Mrs Weekly Flyer has me outfitted with a “diaper dude” bag so I think I’m ready to go for our first trip with our new baby. But it was interesting to see how strollers or seat restraints can be checked for free.

  • Children’s strollers and seat restraints are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can easily be checked for free. These items may be checked at curbside, the ticket counter, or at the gate and can be put into a gate check bag.
  • Child restraint seats may be brought on board the plane in certain circumstances. For instance, if there is an open passenger seat in your row, you may place your child in an FAA-approved child restraint in that seat during take-off and landing. If an empty passenger seat is not available for your child restraint, the item must be checked at the gate by a Delta representative and can be put into a gate check bag to keep it clean.
  • In addition to the one bag carry-on allowance, passengers may bring the following infant items onto the plane as an additional free item:
  • Please be aware that if you are bringing your baby’s bassinet or infant seat as carry-on baggage, it must be secured tightly by a seat belt to be stored on an aircraft seat. The item must also meet carry-on size restrictions. You could also consider an airplane travel harness instead.

4a. Carry On Allowance – Unticketed Infant/Child

  • If children are traveling for free, they don’t have a baggage allowance
  • So any baggage for the child counts as part of the adult’s baggage allowance

4b. Carry On Allowance – Ticketed Infant/Child

  • Children traveling on an international ticket that is 10% of the adult fare are allowed one checked bag up to 20lbs. (10kg) with a maximum outside dimension (length+width+height) of 45 inches, plus one checked fully collapsible stroller or push-chair
  • Children traveling on a ticket that is 50% or more of the adult fare, children are entitled to the standard baggage allowance

5. Trade Offs / Additional Considerations

  • An additional oxygen mask is required for the infant in arms. The additional masks are usually located on the starboard side (right side) of the plane
  • Booking an international ticket requires a paper ticket. Paper tickets will require check in at the airport desk. You cannot check in online or at an automated kiosk
  • The international ticketing fees can get expensive. If the fees are high consider buying your baby a mile earning ticket or redeeming your miles for a baby award seat
  • If we fly in coach I”ll take precautions by:
    • Booking less crowded flights
    • Will sweeten up the gate agents to see if a seat next to us can be blocked
    • Book a window and isle hoping no one selects the middle seat
  • Some people snarl when they see babies in premium cabins (I don’t, I just put on my noise canceling headset), so we’ll have to do a test run and assess viability before we take our baby in a premium cabin
  • Test runs will likely be shorter domestic routes
  • I’ll sign our baby up for frequent flyer programs selectively when sign up promotions / referral bonuses are offered

Bottom Line

The requirements are pretty straight forward to travel with an infant in arms. Make sure you carefully weigh the cost of the infant in arms fee as sometimes it could be better to purchase a mile earning ticket or just redeem extra miles for another seat.

I’ve heard horror stories about flying with an infant for longer flights, so I’ll be sure and weigh the pro and cons.

I would greatly appreciate your tips on how to travel with an infant in the comment section.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the authorโ€™s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed.

About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way.

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  1. I am so excited to follow your journeys! I can tell you will likely be traveling with a fair amount of “gear”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Only as we got closer to two years old did our amount of gear start reducing. Once you meet your kiddo and know more about their personality you will know better how to plan for the trip in other regards. For example, flights with my daughter as a young infant would have been a no-go, but other babies are much more “chill” and are happy to people watch. It just varies so much from kid to kid.

    You will also find on each trip that it is so different than the previous trip. 2-3 months is like a like “dog years” when you are talking about little ones, so what worked on one trip will have to adjust some on the next trip. As long as you are ready for the adventure, it will be just fine (just very different than trips you used to take sans kid!).

  2. I have gotten to check a travel crib with Delta for babies too. Delta agents have been very nice-just say it is for a baby and they will let you check things within reason. Also, just an FYI some airlines are setting limits on the weight of strollers you can gate check. You may want to be aware of those.

  3. Hi Mommy – Thanks for the tips. I’m sure I’ll be adding to my 2012 travel gear soon.

    Hi Boilers – Thanks for the information on checking a crib. For now we have a Moses baby wicker bassinet. I’m sure a crib will be necessary when the baby gets bigger. Some hotels (Hyatt in particular) have the ability to reserve a crib in your room. Although I’m sure it is nice to bring a familiar one to know what your getting.

  4. Thank you for this post, same will happen for me in 2012, so it is good to read these kind of posts. Congratulations on your upcoming fatherhood!



  5. Congratulations! We have a 1.5 year old, and she can occaisionally be a handful when traveling. Her first trip on a plane was at six months, and she slept for most of both flights. Giving her a bottle during takeoff and landing helps prevent ear pain from the pressure change. Her second trip was a six weeks ago, and once she woke up, she wanted to play and run, so she got a bit agitated at being stuck in our laps. Over Christmas, my sister suggested we get a cheap DVD player for the return flight and let her watch it to keep her occupied. $40 spent at Walmart, and now my sister is my hero. I am not a big fan of the “TV=babysitter” idea, but when traveling by plane or car, it will be appreciated by all your fellow passengers.

    Check with the airlines individually; Continental/United and American both let us check her carseat for free, and her diaper bag was counted as her carryon. We were also able to gate check an umbrella stroller, which was a lifesaver when making connections at different terminals.

  6. Most major hotel chains will let you reserve a crib or Pack-n-Play, either online or through the customer service phone number. We usually take ours with us, since my wife prefers not worrying about what germs may still be on it.

  7. I will be flying internationally for the first time with my now, 18 month old son, in August. I know that the airline charges 10% of the fare price…but does this mean he gets a seat? or will he still have to sit in my lap? I am a bit confused about this.

  8. I’m a fan too of booking a window and aisle when my husband and I travel with our lap baby. We’ve had good luck with this strategy on Alaska Airlines, where I’ve learned that it’s a best policy to block out middle seats next to lap babies on non-full flights. And we’ve had similar experiences on other airlines, and when flights are full, we create our own makeshift middle seat of sorts for our little one by putting up the arm rest. More on that (and a link to your tips) here:

  9. My children, partner and I will be flying in September. It is our first international flight as a family and we’re headed out of the US to Singapore. We will get seats in business, I don’t fancy sitting in coach with two babies. When they are 8 weeks old, I will take them on a short domestic flight (this will be a test run) for practice. We’re taking toys for them to play with on the aircraft as well. I am not sure about when they get older as Noah will have to travel with a wheelchair (he is paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida).

    Corine of Have Baby Will Travel has useful tips- I’ve read some of the posts. We’re flying on September 11 2016..

  10. I will be travelling to nigeria from USA with 3months old baby and 16months old baby. I intended outing my 3months old baby on bassinet while I carry my 16months old baby on my lap because my 16months oldbaby can’t on her own yet. Is that possible plss. I need a reply thanks.

  11. I will be travelling to nigeria from USA. With 3months old baby and 16months old baby. I intended putting my three months old baby on a bassinet while i will carry my 16months old baby on my lap because she can’t sit on her own yet she is still little. Is that possible plss. Pls I will need a field back thanks…

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  13. Please note that when I travelled with my 18month on my lap he wasn’t entitled to any food or drink not even water during the flight. I was never told this so didn’t pack appropriately and ended up sacrificing my meals for him. On the way back I was prepared with milk, water and food and I had to be fully body searched because of that.

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  16. Great advice! I am flying for the first time with my baby girl next month, so this was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks a lot for sharing! ๐Ÿ™‚


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