A mom recently asked me what to expect in the way of baggage fees now that she and her husband will be flying with a baby over the holidays. Here’s an overview of what you might expect this season…
– If you are flying with a car seat or stroller, virtually all major airlines are still allowing parents to check car seats and collapsible strollers for no additional fee, whether their child is flying free on a lap or in a paid seat. (See details from United, American, JetBlue.) One exception I’ve come across is Southwest, where strollers may be checked for free, but a child’s car seat plus second piece of “baby gear” may be substituted for the one free first suitcase they grant a ticketed adult or child passenger (details here).
– If your baby is flying free as a “lap child” on a domestic flight, be aware that babies flying free aren’t generally allowed a checked bag, so be prepared that if your checked items outnumber paid seats, you will be subject to a second checked bag fee (whatever that is for the airline you’re flying).
– If you are flying internationally with a “lap child” (at 10% the adult ticket price), your child may actually be entitled to one checked bag (at the airline’s going rate for a first checked suitcase). Call the reservations number for your airline to be sure.
– If your child under 2 years is flying in a paid seat with a discounted “infant fare,” he or she is entitled to the same baggage allowance–and fees set forth for regular passengers (in addition to any free stroller or car seat allowances by the airline).
For more help finding airlines offering the best discounts and perks for families flying with babies and small children (infant and child discounted fares, family preboarding, availability of diaper changing stations, bassinets, free baby food & diapers, free luggage allowances for infants, child menus, etc.), head to Part 5 of Travels with Baby, where you’ll find plenty of tips and practical advice for Travels by Airplane.
Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning guide Travels with Baby
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