Traveling with a baby under 2 on an airplane? Think you can just roll up to the gate holding the little bug and waltz right on? WRONG my friends. It’s a surprisingly complex process, so I’m going to break down the steps for you easy peazy. FYI this is for domestic travel – international is a whole different bag o bones that we’ll get to later.
What is an Infant In Arms and does my baby qualify?
If your nugget is under 2, they can sit in your lap on a plane and you don’t have to buy a separate ticket for them. Some airlines require they be a certain number of weeks old to fly (more on verifying their age below). You always have the option of booking them their own seat, which you may choose to do if they’re very mobile and fidgety, or if you just want the extra space.
Book your ticket like normal.
On most major airlines, you cannot add the infant in arms online, which is so stupid and annoying. So first just book your own ticket online.
Call the airline to add the Infant In Arms
This is pretty straightforward, just time consuming, so make sure you don’t do it at the last minute. We’ve all gotten that awesome recording “you estimated wait time is…..3 hours”. Once you get a hold of an agent, simply let them know you need to add an infant in arms to your ticket. They will just ask for the full name and birth date, and you’ll be all set.
*Caveat – I have always added Infant In Arms ahead of time because I am a neurotic type A who needs my ducks in a row. I have been told by a few fellow Moms that you can add an Infant In Arms at a ticket counter before your flight. I have not tried this myself and do not recommend waiting in line for a ticket agent with a baby before a flight, when you can so easily do it ahead of time. But if you forget, or like to live on the edge, this is an option (or so I am told – please don’t get mad at me if you try this and it doesn’t work).
Check your Boarding Pass before you go.
Once you check in online the day before your flight (please do this….don’t waste time at a kiosk whilst holding your baby and eyeing the miles long security line) you should see one of two things – a separate boarding pass for your infant (Delta is an airline that has this option) or a notation on your boarding pass that says you’re traveling with an infant (United and Alaska are airlines that have this option) You will not be allowed through security without this notation/ticket, so make sure it’s there!
Print a copy of your baby’s birth certificate and have it accessible.
I have never been asked for proof that Teddy is my son, or his age, etc. But some airlines mention on their website that you may be asked. Better safe than sorry.
Show your boarding pass/baby ticket at TSA
Nothing special here – they will just scan like normal and sometimes they’ll ask where it’s noted that you have the baby, or they’ll ask you his/her name. Then you’re off to the races!
Congrats! That’s it. Now you just have to survive the flight with your baby…..