What Age Do I Need to Buy My Child an Airline Ticket?

What Age Do I Need to Buy My Child an Airline Ticket?

Flying with children is a task like none other. It is tricky to figure out the logistics, and there is a heck of a lot to think about when considering flying to your destination with one or more children along for the ride. One of the things to factor in is how old your child needs to be to require an airline ticket. This tends to get confusing for some parents because almost everywhere you turn, age limits are set at three years old (theme parks, summer camps, preschool, most movie theaters, and so on). But when it comes to flying, an airline ticket is required for all children two years or older.

What is the actual age breakdown?

Depending on the airline, some newborns are allowed to fly at 8 days old and some after 14 days old. So from that day until the child’s second birthday, they are considered infant passengers. The purchase of a seat is not required.

Children ages 2-11 require a ticket, typically at a discounted price as they are child passengers. Assuming the airline provides a discount, you will need to call the airline to purchase a discounted ticket over the phone rather than online.

Children 12 and older are considered adults and require a regular ticket as they are adult passengers

Can I buy a seat for my baby who is under age 2?

Absolutely. This is especially nice if you are on a longer flight, if you are using a car seat for the flight, or if you have multiple little ones (you can’t hold more than one child on your lap during a flight). This is not necessary though. If you are convinced that your baby/young toddler will be content on your lap for the duration of the flight you don’t need to purchase a ticket for him/her.

Are children’s airline tickets cheaper than a regular airline ticket?

This definitely depends on the airline, but for the most part - yes. Often a child’s ticket is around 75% of a regular ticket. It should be pretty obvious when you’re buying your tickets whether this is the case for the airline you’re looking into. 

Does my two-year-old need a car seat in order to have his/her own seat?

This is a question you should ask yourself! A car seat is not mandatory on an aircraft for young ones. So this depends entirely on your decision. If you think your two-year-old will do better in a car seat (and you are bringing it anyway but checking it), a lot of parents have great success stories with having their kids sit in a car seat on the plane. On the flip side, if you think a car seat will make the experience worse for your baby or toddler (or yourself), your two-year-old may just be thrilled to have a big kid seat and do great! This one is completely up to you!

Use your parenting intuition and best judgement when it comes to making the decisions about whether or not to fly, to fly with a car seat, to fly with a young one, or to purchase a seat for an extra young one. Chances are you'll be able to make whatever you decide work out just fine! You may be surprised at how smoothly things go and before you know it, you'll be off again like a pro! Good luck friend and happy travels!


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