Travelling with children by plane (part 1)

Whether you are a frequent flyer and have been on hundreds of flights before, or you are on one of your first flights, flying with infants or small children is a different experience and you should prepare for it as if this were your very first flight. Below you can find advice based on the experience of parents who traveled with children and infants, so be sure to keep reading.

What is the minimum age for an infant to fly?

During the first months an infant’s immune system is developing and gradually getting used to dealing with germs. So, in order for your infant not to get sick you need to give his immune system the chance to grow strong and to be able to fight the germs that are usually found it the ventilation system. Pediatricians usually recommend not to fly with infants younger than 2-3 months.

If you really need to fly earlier and your baby was not born prematurely, you can take him on the plane after the 2-week checkup, provided that everything went well and that his health is good for a baby of that age. However, if your baby was born prematurely his immune system will take longer to develop and he will have less resistance to germs. So in order to be safe you should wait a bit longer before taking him on an flight.

Should I fly with an infant or not?

By the age of 3 months, your baby is ready for his first trip as long as it is not a long and difficult one. Young babies do not find traveling as stressful and tiring as some parents may think. However, you need to do your best in to order to take care of him exactly like you are doing at home.

Keep in mind that when you are traveling with a baby you need to follow the normal routine when it comes to feeding him, changing his diapers, putting him to sleep, etc. So you will probably prefer to go on short trips, to places where you and your baby will feel like home.

In fact, traveling with infants is much easier than traveling with a 2 to 4- year-old baby. An infant does not grab things, does not run away, and if you feed him and change his diapers regularly he should not be crying either. So take advantage of his first few months in order to travel because as your baby grows up moving around will become more difficult.

Should I take the baby stroller or not?

Many parents ask themselves whether or not to take the baby stroller on a trip. It’s true that a stroller takes up space and is sometimes difficult to carry around, but having it with you will help you a lot, especially if you will be walking during your trip. Even if your toddler is used to walking, after one or two days of walking he will be tired. So, you will either have to stop walking (and probably ruin your trip), or will be forced to buy a new stroller from a local shop.

Before deciding to take the stroller on your trip, check if your destination will be “stroller-friendly”. When traveling with toddlers try to avoid crowded cities, cities in the mountains or cities with many bridges (like Venice, for example). If you really want to visit such a place you can do so, but it will prove to be a tiresome experience both for you and for your baby.

How will I take the stroller on an airplane?

If you decide to take the stroller with you, keep in mind that you will have to check it in as hold luggage. So, especially if you are flying a low cost airline, you may want to check what the cost of checking the stroller in as an additional piece of hold luggage is.

At the airport, most airlines allow you to take the stroller with you to the boarding gate. When you board the airplane, you will have to leave the stroller to the airport personnel who will place it in the cargo area of the plane.

When you arrive at your destination, you will most probably be able to pick up the stroller at the boarding gate or on the ground, as soon as you disembark the airplane if the transfer from the airplane to the airport building is made by bus. It can happen though, that you may have to pick up the stroller from the baggage carousel. Don’t forget to ask the airport personnel and the flight attendants if the stroller will be available as soon as you get off the plane or on the baggage carousel. This way you can organize your hand luggage so that it is not hard to carry around, especially if you are you are flying to a big airport and you need to walk a lot from the plane to the baggage carousel. However, many low cost airlines fly to smaller airports, which makes things easier from you.

And last but not least, keep in mind that you should empty the pockets of the stroller preferably before you reach the security check. At the security check you will need to have the stroller scanned so you may lose a lot of time if you have to empty all the pockets there. Furthermore, due to international sanitary regulations it may be illegal to bring food to the destination country (especially if you are flying to a different continent) so make sure to throw away any food items you are normally carrying with you.

I’ll answer more questions in the second part of this article, so be sure to check back for it in a few days. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to ask them in a comment.

Infants booked online must travel on an accompanying adult’s lap.

2 comments

  1. aurelia says:

    Hello,
    I find your article very interesting, helpful and full of good advice. Thank you!
    But, in the promised second part of it, could you tell me what you would advise someone to do in case the baby needs to be bottle-fed and we are not allowed to carry water on board?
    Thank you!

  2. agn├Ęs says:

    Hello,
    I have recently traveled with my four-month old baby.
    I am going to give you two tips on flying with babies:
    First of all, you may know you need either a passport or an identity card in order to take the plane, but you may forget this is also true for babies; as in France it is possible to have an identity card no matter the age, I had one made for him; I am telling you this to help you avoid the (on line) check-in moment when they ask you for the data in the personal documents of the passengers – it is too late to get a identity document then.
    Second: a friend who is an air hostess advised me to be breast-feeding my baby the moment the airplane was taking off and landing – the sucking would be similar to people’s chewing gum to avoid problems of differences in the air pressure.
    Otherwise, as you may know, you have special places to change the baby’s nappies, so you should not worry about this.

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