With warm weather starting to roll in, you may be getting the itch to plan some summer travel. Hoping online, you see all the amazing deals for your favorite locations. The only hitch is: you're still pregnant and not sure how you're going to buy a plane ticket for your baby before it's born. It seems a bit mind-boggling to think about purchasing air travel for a baby that's still in your belly, but taking care of this task when you're still pregnant is not only totally possible, it's also pretty darn easy. So it's safe to start turning those dreams of escaping into reality.
You don't have to pass on that warm weather getaway because you'll have a newborn. In fact, most airlines are very accommodating to babies and their mamas. So go ahead and plan that vay-cay, but before clicking the "check out" button, there is one absolute MUST do: check the airline's infant and child travel requirements page. Although most major airlines have very similar policies, there are a few minor specificities that you will want to know ahead of time. Taking a few minutes to read through the policies could save you time and major headaches at the airport.
Across the board, airlines will allow you to fly with children under two years in one of two ways. According to Southwest Airlines website, children meeting the age requirements can either ride in the lap of an adult or a child restraint system (CRS). Depending on which option you choose, you will need specific boarding papers. If you choose to hold your child in your lap, most airlines allow the child to fly completely for free (score!). However, if you opt for your little one to ride in a CRS, you must purchase a ticket and check to see if your safety seat is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to American Airlines. Both methods require your baby to have some type of credentials to board; and no matter which type of boarding pass your child has, you will need to bring their birth certificate with you for age verification purposes.
Although this seems pretty cut and dry, there are a few caveats that need to be on your radar. If you're planning to fly internationally, you will have to purchase a plane ticket for your baby, even if they are a lap rider, according to United Airline's website. Additionally, some airlines require that babies and children have a passport to travel out of the country, so be sure to confirm if this is something your airline needs before you hop aboard. The other thing (and this is a big one) that you need to be absolutely certain about is the age requirement for each airline. While combing through the different airline's sites, I found that the minimum age babies are allowed to travel varies from two days old to two weeks old. However, the policy has a little bit of wiggle room, and if you can provide a doctor's note, your child may be able to fly earlier if necessary.
Overall, working with the airline in advance of your trip will pay off for you when it's time to travel. This is one of those times a phone call might be better than an online transaction. But once you have happily landed at your destination, you will be glad you took the extra time with these arrangements.