Home Air Travel Guidebook giveaway Q2U: Should airlines require parents to purchase seats for infants?

Guidebook giveaway Q2U: Should airlines require parents to purchase seats for infants?

by Shelly Rivoli

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Win a set of Travels with Baby guidebooks to help plan
travel before you go, and to ease every step of the way.

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This Q2U (question to you) giveaway was sparked by a post I wrote two months ago, discussing the possibility of the FAA no longer allowing children younger than 2 years to fly as lap children—what is currently a “free ride” on domestic flights and generally 10% of the adult’s fare for international and overseas flights (exceptions—including those airlines that will not allow you to purchase seats for children under 2 years—noted in the “Choosing the Airline” section of Travels with Baby).

There are many ways you can look at this issue, and I hear from people on all sides frequently—from parents trying to squeeze in one more trip before their child turns two to advocates urging me to take a public stand against flying with lap children. Everyone has very valid points to make that I think are worth addressing here. And while most airlines now charge for every checked suitcase and every sandwich onboard, it’s clear that the potential new revenue to help airlines stay aloft is worth noting as well.

While I have flown with babies and toddlers on my lap, flown with infants in seats, and flown with a toddler who had completely had it with the car seat and screamed mercilessly for the pleasure of all passengers each time he was forced back into it (granted we’ve had plenty of good flights in the car seat and CARES harness, too, thank goodness), I think it’s important to recognize that even when parents purchase seats for their infants and toddlers, there are going to be times those children end up on laps regardless—especially on long flights, and especially if a baby is breastfed.

As I point out in my post with “Tips to help keep your lap child safer in flight,” I find it more alarming that years ago the FAA banned the one measure of safety for lap children that some other airlines insist upon, known as a lap child safety belt or “belly belt.” If you fly British Airways, for example, flight attendants will make certain your lap child is properly secured with the lap child safety belt they provide (much like the seatbelt extensions airlines already provide but with an extra loop) before take off and again before landing, and they encourage you to keep it on your child throughout the flight to protect against the leading cause of injuries in flight: unexpected turbulence (more reason to fly British Airways here).

Safety for the lap child: Must it really be all or nothing?
In the USA, however, it seems to be all or nothing—unless you use your own purchased Baby B’Air flight safety vest to protect your infant or toddler against turbulence. However, the FAA for some reason still prohibits you from using the Baby B’Air during taxiing, take-off and landing. On the bright side, at least you do have the option of purchasing a seat for your infant if you like within the U.S.—and often at a 50% discount (see the New Parents’ Guide to Airlines in Chapter 14). If you’re flying Alitalia, or other airlines noted in Travels with Baby, you still have no choice but to fly with your child under 24 months on your lap at this time.

Let’s hear from you: Do you think airlines should force parents to purchase seats for their babies and toddlers?
Do you think a 50% discount is incentive enough to book a paid seat for an infant? Do you think airlines should provide lap child safety belts—or provide them for rent—before forcing parents to purchase seats? In your own experience, have you flown with a child on your lap? Did you choose to purchase a seat for your infant—for safety’s sake or for convenience?

Enter to win:
Enter your comment below (subscribers only – use the box above) before midnight June 7, 2011, and you could be the winner of both Travels with Baby guidebooks.

  • Use the award-winning Travels with Baby “Ultimate Guide” for help planning all your family’s travels from birth to five, by plane, train, car or cruise ship, to Grandma’s House and to the farthest corners of the globe.
  • When you’re ready to go, use the new Take-Along Travels with Baby (current finalist in ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards) for hundreds of tips to help along the way, from keeping tots entertained at the airport and in the back seat, managing toddlers on airplanes and in restaurants, dealing with illness far from home, childproofing your accommodations, and you guessed it… much more.

I’ll announce the winner Wednesday, June 8 right here in the blog and on the Travels with Baby facebook page , and you’ll have 3 days to email me using your subscriber email address to claim your prize.

NOTE: International entries welcome! In recognition of our international audience here, I will personally ship the books to a winner abroad.

Want an extra chance to win?
You’ve got it. Just enter your comment a second time on the Travels with Baby facebook page , then leave a second comment below this post telling me you’ve done so.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments on this topic!

Related posts and pages:
Ask Shelly: Top 5 tips for flying with a newborn baby
Tips to help keep your lap child safer in flight
Great Products and Gear: Car seat alternatives
Q2U: Would you give your child Benadrly to help him sleep on an airplane?

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli
Author of Travels with Baby and the new Take-Along Travels with Baby
https://travelswithbaby.com/   Travels with Baby on Facebook

All content of this blog (c) Shelly Rivoli

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Nicole June 7, 2011 - 8:13 pm

I have traveled in multiple scenarios with my two children. As a first time parent, I leapt at the opportunity to skip buying my baby a seat of his own; especially since it was an expensive flight to Mexico. However, once we actually did it, I regretted not purchasing a seat. International flights are usually packed and we had no extra room to maneuver. Yet, when I traveled solo to Chicago, my son easily slept the entire time on my lap during the brief flight. Parents (usually) know what is best for their families and should not be forced to purchase a seat for their children if they decide not to. I learned from experience what works best for us and we adapted our travel style. When we traveled last year with our second child, I was shocked that the airline charged me a fee to have my child on my lap. While it not nearly the price of an entire seat ticket, it was significant enough to startle me. Instead of tacking on fees for ridiculous reasons, airlines should offer discounts to families traveling with children.

Jocelyn June 7, 2011 - 6:07 pm

I don't think parents should be forced to purchase a seat but I do think that a 50% discount is a wonderful incentive. I started traveling with my DD when she was 3 months old and until she was about 18 months, I didn't mind having her as a lap child, even during transatlantic flights. However, once she was over 18 months, I definitely saw value in purchasing her a seat – both for safety and convenience, but more for convenience. Having your child in their carseat in their own seat encourages your child to sit for longer periods of time. And a 50% discount would have been a great help!

Anonymous June 7, 2011 - 10:31 am

Children under 12 months should be able to fly free of charge. Children above 12 months, however, should have an option to purchase a seat at a discounted price. 50% discount is a very good incentive. I don't think airlines should force parents to purchase seats for babies or toddlers. I recently travelled in Asia with an 18 month old toddler. I would have purchased an extra seat for convenience during meal times and activities, should there had been a discounted price for toddlers.


Ei June 3, 2011 - 3:06 pm

The one time I bought a seat for my infant, he went ballistic every time I tried to strap him into the carseat and was straining to reach for me, since I was sitting right next to him. It turned out to be a huge waste of money, since he spent the entire trip in my lap anyway. Since the carseat had to go in the window seat, I had to sit in the middle, and any argument for the baby not bothering the person in the aisle went right out the window. I don't have the money to waste on a seat that isn't going to be used anyway.

Monica June 3, 2011 - 5:53 am

I'm kind of conflicted. I don't think infants should be required to have a seat – I just can't imagine my children being content in a carseat for an entire flight when they were itty bitty. That said, I don't really know at what age they should be required. I recently took a trip with my tall-for-his-age 22 month old as a lap child. He was really good and no one around us seemed perturbed, but I felt like he probably should have had his own sea – for his own safety as well as for his comfort and the comfort of people around me. Probably somewhere between 12-18 months would make sense.

Anonymous June 2, 2011 - 3:25 pm

Kids two and under should fly for free. The airlines are being very short sighted. Less parents with kids will travel if they have to pay an expensive ticket for a baby and they'll end up making less money overall.

Violeta June 1, 2011 - 4:11 am

I also posted my opinion on your Facebook page. But I don't think airlines should require parents to purchase seats for infants – for several reasons, but most importantly in my book is to encourage parents to travel more. I also think lap fees should be eliminated altogether or at least use 10% of the cheapest available fare at time of booking (not the full unrestricted fare).

Shelly Rivoli May 22, 2011 - 1:51 pm

Interesting idea! Perhaps it would make more sense to require seats for kids 1 year + since that's when they can begin to invade a neighboring passenger's space more. I've often thought what a shock it must be to be traveling solo only to end up with a stranger AND their child in the seat next to yours. 😉

Anonymous May 21, 2011 - 4:32 am

I think infants 10 months and under should be allowed to travel as lap babies, and parents should not be required to purchase a seat for them. Most infants this age like to be held and will nap in mama's arms, anyway.
So no, I do not think airlines should force parents to purchase seats for infants. For toddlers, yes. I can see the reason for a toddler to have a seat, if only for the bag of toys and supplies mom or dad will have to bring!


Comments are closed.

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