August 11, 2020
Our Best Tips for flying with a baby
Air travel takes on a whole new meaning with a little one in tow. Find out how to fly with a baby—and make your flight go smoothly.
There is a lot to consider when flying with a newborn for the first time. What do you bring on the plane with you? What do you leave behind? Is it better to have all the comforts of home or to skip them and travel lighter?
As parents ourselves, we have faced the same questions. Flying is an adventure and it is natural to want to prove to yourself that you can still be nimble and enjoy the journey just as much as you did before children, if not more!
First, it’s important to consider that in order to bring a car seat on a plane it must be CAA-, FAA- or TÜV-approved (it will have a sticker that reads, “Certified For Use in Aircraft”). Read more about car seat certifications for airplanes here.
Then you need to find out the specific regulations for each airline. Most airlines allow car seats and pushchairs on the plane, but it is important that you check with your specific airline before making plans. Depending on the size of the pushchair, you may either be able to bring it into the cabin or store it in the hold for easy access once you leave the plane.
The bottom line is that it’s up to you to decide what your comfort level dictates and take it from there. The best way to be sure you’re not turned away with your car seat or pushchair at the airport is to call ahead and speak with someone from your airline. Maybe even get a printout to present at check-in, demonstrating that your gear is valid. Crazy things can happen at airports, and you don’t want to be met with any surprises when it comes to flying with a baby. Trust us, we’ve been there, and have found it never hurts to be overprepared!
Flying with a baby car seat – What you need to know
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of flying with a baby car seat:
- Takeoff and landing can be smoother and safer when baby is secured in a car seat
- Turbulence can be unsettling for anyone, but knowing your baby is securely fastened during turbulent patches can bring extra peace of mind
- Your baby may sleep better when settled into a familiar mode of riding
- You can use the car seat on your way to the airport, and again on the post-flight ride to your destination
*NOTE: In all countries in the European Union you can use a UK car seat as long as it’s approved to ECE R44.04 or UN R129 (Find this info on the label).
- You are not generally required to purchase a ticket for children under the age of two, so you could choose to hold your little one during the flight and save some money while you’re at it
- Experts recommend that young babies stay in the car seat for no longer than two hours at a time, to prevent breathing problems—and no longer than 30 minutes is recommended during the first four weeks of life.
- Babies should maintain a flatter position to provide the most comfort and the optimum angle for breathing
- If your baby is premature, newborn or very young you should be especially conscious that they maintain a flat position
- If you haven’t read our latest blog article about our newest flat lay and i-Size safe car seat, the i-Level, we highly recommend it!
How to know if your car seat will be allowed on the plane
Most airlines have typical rules about car seats, including that they must:
- Have a design that can be secured by seat belt
- Have a restraining harness (some, but not all, require a 5-point harness)
- Not exceed the dimension of the airplane seat (to find the dimensions of the seat, contact your airline. Most are between 41 cm and 44 cm.)
- Not require the use of a 3-point harness to secure it to the aircraft
What to consider when bringing a car seat on the plane
First, consider the weight. In addition to the changing bag, carry-ons and luggage, how much extra weight will the car seat add to your load? Some airlines have their own child car seats you can rent for the duration of your flight, but you need to reserve them in advance.
Then, consider the convenience. Whether a car seat will add convenience or detract from it is a personal decision you must make. Some of the factors include whether you are flying with more than one child, the ages of the children, the distance you are flying, and the conditions once you arrive at your destination. A car seat could be the one thing that soothes your baby and makes the trip more enjoyable or the one thing that puts you over the edge in terms of patience.
Some aircraft certified car seats recommended for flying with babies
Joie gemm™ – This car seat is a safe haven designed to keep infants safe and cosy. With side impact protection and a full infant insert, it provides wrap-around coverage for the head and upper body. Pair it easily with the Joie brisk™ lx or litetrax™ 3 pushchairs with no adapters needed. It’s suitable from birth to 13kg.
Joie i-Gemm™ 2 – This i-Size car seat has extra plush protection in the headrest and side-impact protection. The Tri-Protect™ headrest uses Intell-Fit™ memory foam. It’s suitable from birth to 85 cm. Joie and Maxi-Cosi® style adapters partner with your favorite pushchair.
Joie juva™ classic – Weighing in at just 3kg, this car seat is light as a feather, and pairs with the Joie brisk™ lx, muze™ or mirus™ pushchairs with no adapters needed. This seat is suitable from birth to 13 kg.
Flying with a pushchair
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of flying with a pushchair.
- Wheeling your little one through the airport in a pushchair may be a saner alternative to keeping a hawk-eye on them to make sure they’re with you every second
- Depending on the child’s age, a pushchair may be a necessity, in which case you are in luck because most airlines allow you to wheel the pushchair the whole way to the entrance of the plane, then have it stored in the hold, and picked up again as you exit the plane
- Some airlines allow you to bring a completely collapsible pushchair on the plane with you; others require you to leave it in the hold. You will need to check with the airline for the specific regulations of each
- If you won’t be using the pushchair in the airport, best to check it with your baggage; it’s one less thing to worry about when boarding the plane
- If the only time you will use it on your trip is in the airport, think twice before bringing an unnecessary item
- You may choose to rent a pushchair at your destination on days when you need one, instead of carrying
What to look for in a travel pushchair
If you are considering investing in an additional pushchair specifically for your trip (we can’t recommend this enough), it would be best to check with the airline to see what their particular rules are regarding pushchairs. Once you have determined what the airline parameters are, you will want to consider several factors:
- The age of your baby – If your baby is six months old or younger, you will need the seat to lie completely flat. If you want your pushchair to be useful for longer than 6 months, it will need to have an adjustable seat.
- Travel system or lightweight buggy? Maybe you’re looking for a lighter pushchair that fits with your car seat, or perhaps you’re looking for a lightweight buggy that will work for you both in the airport and at your final destination. Consider what your holiday will look like: the terrain, the amount of time your baby will spend in the pushchair, and the amount of room you may have in the boot of a rental car.
- Weight and ease of operation – Is it easy to fold? And once folded, is it light enough to carry effortlessly, in addition to your luggage and other carry-ons?
Some recommended pushchairs for flying in airplanes
Joie pact™ lite – This lightweight pushchair weighs in at only 5.5 kg, completely collapses with just one hand, and has a convenient carry strap. It is suitable from birth to 15 kg, with a flat reclining seat and a multiple-position recline. Designed with holidays in mind, it has a UPF 50+ canopy with visor, all-wheel suspension for a smooth ride, and a full-size shopping basket.
Joie tourist™ – A functional traveller, this compact pushchair holds the Joie ramble™ carry cot, your choice of Joie infant carriers or any carrier using a Maxi-Cosi® style attachment. Weighing just under 6 kg, this lightweight adventurer has a full-size, UPF 50+ canopy with eyeshade visor. The one-step, self-folding system reduces it to a flat package.
Know the fine print
Once you have all the baby gear you’ll need for your flight, take a moment to make sure you know the guidelines for flying with babies.
- Passports – If you are flying out of the UK, you will need to get a passport for your baby or child, regardless of their age
- Tickets – Your baby will need a separate flight ticket, even if you choose not to purchase a separate seat for them
- Food and liquid – When traveling with a baby, you are permitted to take enough baby food, baby milk and sterilized water (in a baby bottle) for your entire journey, even if that amount surpasses the normal 100 ml liquid limit
- Baggage allowance – Check with the airline to determine if your baby gets a separate baggage allowance or if you will need to sacrifice some of your personal comforts for the sake of a well-appointed changing bag
Even more tips for traveling with babies
While nothing can guarantee a completely drama-free flight, there are some ways you can prepare in advance to keep little ones soothed and happy during your journey in the air.
- Try breast- or bottle-feeding during takeoff and landing to help prevent the uncomfortable popping in their tiny ears
- If your little one uses a dummy or has a favorite toy, be sure to bring it with you
- If you have children old enough to appreciate opening presents, why not secure some little gifts in advance, wrap them up, and let them open one each hour (they can help you keep track of the time). Check out MadeforMums for some of the best toys to travel with
- Be sure to have enough fun snacks on hand and make a game of distributing them
- Once at a cruising altitude, you can walk restless infants up and down the aisle, or have them peer out the window at the clouds
Embrace the unknowns and the joys of flying with babies
Taking a baby on the plane with you just adds one more experience to the treasure chest of memories you are building with your little one. Having a baby is one of the most transformative experiences in life, and bringing your baby with you on a special trip can add yet another dimension to your shared closeness.
This is not to say your experience will be without challenges or that you won’t want to occasionally daydream of how carefree things used to be… but accepting that challenges are just part of that great tradeoff and experiencing each hilarious situation or tender moment will make it all that much more rewarding.