Update: My reader Kishore has pointed out that some airlines require you to purchase a full-fare ticket in order to be able to bring a car seat.
The ticket for your infant, that is. I’m sure most of you know that kids under the age of 2 can fly free on most airlines within USA. On international flights it costs just 10 percent of the adult ticket.
So, the question arises: Should you buy them a ticket or not? My blog is geared toward middle-class families with limited savings. I’m sure your money is tight and the allure of that free seat is very strong.
I am very much into saving money whenever possible, however, I am in the “buy the ticket for your infant” camp. Let me give you some reasons. First and foremost, it’s safer. In the unlikely event of bad turbulence, your child could get hurt or worse. It’s very rare, of course, but has happened in the past.
Second, it’s a lot easier when they have their own ticket. Yes, if there are spare seats, they will probably let you use them. But you wouldn’t know it till you actually got on a plane.
When we went to Europe to visit my family, we redeemed miles for an award ticket for my (at the time) 18 month-old daughter. I am glad we did. There were spare seats on the flight to Europe, but none on the return flight. I would have lost my mind trying to entertain her for 10 hours on my lap.
Something I recommend is that you bring your car seat. It’s a pain in a butt, but provides a familiar place for them to nap. Plus, if you rent a car, you’ll need it anyway. Yes, you can rent one, but some look downright gross. They don’t clean them very well, as we found out first-hand.
We took our Britax Roundabout because it installs easily in different cars. A model I see recommended often is Cosco Senera because it’s lightweight. Whatever you decide to bring will be difficult to maneuver, so just resign yourself to that fact.
There are some gadgets sold on Amazon that you could check into, though I haven’t used them myself. See this Traveling toddler car seat travel accessory It’s a strap, that attaches to your carry-on luggage. Also, there is Go-Go Babyz Kidz Travelmate a plastic contraption that acts as a stroller/seat attachment.
Of course, if you absolutely can’t afford to buy your infant a seat, then do what you have to do. If the choice is between flying and driving, you will be better off getting to your destination by air. It’s statistically safer for baby to fly on the plane unstrapped than be in the car seat on the road.
P.S. Currently, I’m out-of-town, so will not be able to answer emails or comments till weekend.
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.