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New parents? Welcome to the wonderful world of family travel! Gone are the days of drifting on to the plane with a lightweight carry on, when your only dilemma was whether to order a healthy fruit juice as your in-flight tipple or a bottle of champers. Now you have to juggle pushchairs, car seats and a mini human being.
Furthermore, how are you going to occupy your baby on the aeroplane? Who wants to be the parent with an infant that screams for 4 hours? It goes without saying, flying with a baby is a whole new ballgame.
Are there special rules for flying with a baby? How does one stay sane when travelling with a little person?
Read on - our flying with a baby rules and tips will reveal all.
Flying with a Baby Rules
How old does a baby have to be to fly?
There are no official regulations about the minimum age a baby can air travel, but each airline has its own age restrictions. Most couriers allow a baby to travel from 2 weeks onwards, whilst a few allow babies to fly when they are only 2 days old.
Therefore, it’s best to check with your desired airline before you book tickets. Bear in mind, if you’ve had a Caesarean, you may not be able to fly until 6 weeks after the operation.
What documentation does a baby need?
A baby needs all the same documentation an adult needs when flying. This includes:
- Tickets/boarding pass
- Visa if required
- European Health Insurance card
- NHS medical card
Do I need to book a plane seat for my baby?
You can choose between paying for an infant ticket or adult ticket when flying with your baby. Infant fare is around £20 (depending on the airline) and allows you to travel with a baby on your lap.
If you’d rather have an extra seat for your child, an adult’s ticket is required. This may seem pricey but it has its advantages, especially if the airline allows a free checked-in bag per seat booked. Speaking of baggage:
How much luggage can I take on a plane with a baby?
The baggage allowance for infant fare varies from airline to airline. An infant ticket for British Airways, for example, includes a 23kg checked-in bag plus 23kg cabin bag - not too bad!
On the other hand, budget airlines, such as Easy Jet and Ryan Air, only include a cabin bag with infant fare and Fly Be doesn’t allow any extra bags at all. Boo!
Consequently, if a generous baggage allowance is important to you, then it’s best to book a standard adult ticket for your baby. This allows for an additional suitcase, cabin bag and plastic liquid bag, as well as having the freedom of an extra seat for your baby.
What about pushchairs and car seats?
All good airlines (even the budget ones) allow you to travel with a pushchair or travel system for free. Depending on the size, they can be placed on board or in the hold.
Again, most airlines allow a car seat at no extra cost, however, there are restrictions. Tui only allows a pushchair OR car seat, whilst for those flying on Jet2, the combined weight of your pushchair and car seat cannot exceed 10kg.
What can I take on a plane for my baby?
There are no limits for baby food in hand luggage. However, the security can ask you to try the food (Image credit: Pxhere)
The usual liquid restrictions don’t apply when it comes to baby food and baby milk. The Gov.UK website states you can take as much baby food, breast milk, formula milk, soya milk and sterilised water that is needed for the journey. Individual containers of breast milk must hold no more than 2,000ml, however.
On the other hand, baby lotions and potions, such as nappy cream, must be placed in your bag of liquids and not exceed 100ml. Unless you’ve booked an adult ticket for your baby, which would allow you to take an extra bag of 100ml liquids.
Other baby essentials permitted on board include:
- Wet wipes
- Anti-bacterial wipes
- Sterilised dummies
- Baby spoon & bibs
Flying with a Baby Tips
Here’s how to keep your baby calm, entertained and avoid those dirty looks from child-free passengers.
Request an extra seat
If the plane isn’t full, request to be seated in an area with plenty of free seats. Airlines will be happy to arrange this as it keeps other passengers happy. Not to mention plenty of space and freedom for you and bubs.
The best place to sit on a plane
There are several areas of a plane that are ideal for travelling with a baby.
At the front: Try and book a bulkhead seat situated right at the front of the aircraft. These seats don’t have any rows in front (which means fewer passengers to annoy) and have generous legroom. They usually cost extra but are totally worth it when travelling with a little one.
Aisle seat: If you’re not taking up an entire row with your family, choose an aisle seat. This allows you to come and go as you please without disturbing other passengers, as well as offering instant access to bags in the overhead compartment.
Near the toilets: Quick and easy access to the toilets for nappy changes is a lifesaver on busy flights.
Book an entire row: If you’re travelling with a partner and have an adult ticket for your baby, you’re likely to have a 3 seat row to yourselves – yay! Place the baby in the middle seat so both adults have access to the little one, allowing one of you to get some much-needed rest if needed. Also, the window seat is super handy for breastfeeding mothers to gain some privacy come milk time.
Take advantage of the security express lane
Passing through security is stressful enough as it is, without a crying baby in your arms! All travelling paraphernalia must go through the X-ray machine, which includes pushchairs, cabin cases, changing bags and car seats.
Baby sound asleep in its pushchair? The security personnel will have no sympathy and insist you lift them out and fold up the pushchair. Cue screaming baby. You may also be asked to taste any baby milk or food you’re taking with you.
Sound tiresome and stressful? Savvy families choose the express lane, which usually costs £3-£13 per person. Less queuing time enables travellers to pass through security quickly, leaving you with more time to enjoy your trip… or console your disgruntled baby. Totally worth it.
Feel a little more clued up regarding the UK’s flying with a baby rules? Great! To avoid buying an adult’s ticket for your baby, why not upgrade your suitcase to a larger design? Check out all our extra-large luggage!