Important Tips for Booking Flights with Kids

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Traveling with kids can be a rewarding but challenging experience. Proper planning and thoughtful decision-making when booking flights can make the journey smoother and more enjoyable for the entire family. Here are some essential tips for booking flights with kids:

Important Tips for Booking Flights with Kids

1. Book Early

One of the best ways to ensure a stress-free flight experience is to book your tickets well in advance. This allows you to:

  • Choose the Best Seats: Early booking increases your chances of securing seats together, which is crucial when traveling with children.
  • Take Advantage of Deals: Early bookings often come with better pricing and promotions, allowing you to save money.

2. Select the Right Flight Times

Timing is everything when it comes to flying with kids. Consider the following:

  • Match Flight Times with Sleep Schedules: If possible, book flights that coincide with your child’s nap or bedtime. For longer flights, overnight or red-eye flights can be beneficial as children are more likely to sleep through the journey.
  • Avoid Peak Travel Times: Flights during off-peak times are generally less crowded and less stressful.

3. Direct Flights Over Layovers

Whenever possible, book direct flights. Layovers can be challenging with kids due to:

  • Long Wait Times: Keeping children entertained during layovers can be difficult.
  • Risk of Missing Connections: Unexpected delays or the need to rush through a busy airport can add unnecessary stress.

If a layover is unavoidable, opt for a longer layover to ensure you have ample time to manage transitions and attend to your children’s needs.

4. Consider Airlines and Their Policies

Different airlines have varying policies and amenities for families. When booking, consider:

  • Family-Friendly Policies: Some airlines offer pre-boarding for families, child-friendly meals, and priority baggage handling.
  • Seating Arrangements: Check if the airline guarantees seats together for families or if you need to pay extra for this assurance.

5. Seat Selection

Choosing the right seats can make a significant difference:

  • Bulkhead Seats: These seats often provide more legroom and space for your child to play.
  • Aisle and Window Seats: If traveling with two adults, book an aisle and a window seat, leaving the middle seat open. This increases the chances of having an empty middle seat, providing extra space. If the seat is booked, the person might be willing to switch.
  • Avoid Emergency Exit Rows: These seats are not suitable for children as they are restricted to passengers who can assist in emergencies.

6. Check for Discounts and Special Fares

Some airlines offer discounted fares for children under a certain age:

  • Lap Infants: Children under two years old may fly for free or at a reduced fare if seated on an adult’s lap.
  • Child Fares: Some airlines offer reduced fares for children. Always check the airline’s policy to take advantage of these savings.

7. Book Appropriate Accommodations for Infants

For those traveling with infants:

  • Bassinet Seats: Some airlines offer bassinets for infants. These are usually available in bulkhead rows. Ensure you request this service when booking your tickets.
  • Car Seats: If you prefer using a car seat on the plane, ensure it is airline-approved and check the airline’s policy on using car seats in-flight.

8. Consider Additional Comforts

For longer flights, think about adding extra comforts:

  • Premium Economy or Business Class: If your budget allows, upgrading to a higher class can provide more space, better amenities, and a more comfortable experience.
  • Priority Boarding: Many airlines offer the option to purchase priority boarding. This can be a lifesaver when traveling with kids as it allows you to settle in before the plane gets crowded.

9. Understand Baggage Policies

Traveling with kids often means more luggage. Be aware of:

  • Baggage Allowances: Check the airline’s policy on checked and carry-on baggage. Some airlines offer additional baggage allowance for families.
  • Stroller and Car Seat Policies: Most airlines allow you to check strollers and car seats for free. Some even allow you to gate-check these items, making it easier to navigate the airport.

10. Plan for In-Flight Entertainment and Comfort

When booking, consider the in-flight amenities:

  • In-Flight Entertainment: Choose airlines that offer a good selection of children’s movies, shows, and games. This can help keep your child entertained during the flight.
  • Child Meals: Pre-order children’s meals if available. These meals are often more appealing to kids and can help avoid in-flight hunger tantrums.

11. Prepare for the Unexpected

Even with the best planning, unexpected issues can arise. To mitigate potential problems:

  • Travel Insurance: Purchase travel insurance that covers cancellations, delays, and medical emergencies.
  • Flexible Tickets: Consider booking flexible or refundable tickets in case of sudden changes in your travel plans.

12. Communicate Special Needs

If your child has special needs, communicate with the airline well in advance:

  • Special Assistance: Request special assistance for navigating the airport, boarding, or during the flight.
  • Allergies: Inform the airline of any severe allergies to ensure appropriate measures are taken.

13. Stay Informed

Keep yourself informed about any changes or updates regarding your flight:

  • Flight Alerts: Sign up for flight alerts to receive real-time updates about delays, gate changes, or cancellations.
  • Airline Apps: Download the airline’s app to manage your booking, check in, and stay updated on your flight status.

14. TSA PreCheck and Global Entry

Consider enrolling in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry. These programs expedite the security screening process, which can be a major relief when traveling with kids:

  • TSA PreCheck: Allows you to go through security without removing shoes, laptops, liquids, belts, or light jackets. Children 12 and under can accompany a parent or guardian who has TSA PreCheck.
  • Global Entry: Provides expedited entry into the United States for international travelers and includes TSA PreCheck benefits.

15. Packing Strategically

When packing for the flight, consider:

  • Essential Items in Carry-On: Pack diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks, and any necessary medications in your carry-on. Also include small toys and activities to keep your child entertained.
  • Minimize Liquids: To speed up the security process, avoid packing unnecessary liquids. However, formula, breast milk, and baby food are exceptions and can be carried in reasonable quantities.

16. Review Airport Amenities

Before you travel, check the amenities available at the airports you will be passing through:

  • Family Restrooms: Many airports have family restrooms that provide more space and privacy.
  • Play Areas: Some airports have designated play areas where kids can burn off energy before the flight.
  • Nursing Rooms: Look for airports with nursing rooms or pods if you need a private space for feeding your baby.

17. Use TSA Cares

For parents with children who have special needs, the TSA Cares program can be very helpful. This service provides additional assistance during the security screening process:

  • Special Assistance: Call TSA Cares 72 hours before your flight to arrange for help navigating security with your child.
  • Screening Accommodations: TSA can provide accommodations for children with autism or other sensory sensitivities to make the screening process more comfortable.

18. Travel Documents

Ensure you have all necessary travel documents for your children:

  • Passports: For international travel, each child must have their own passport.
  • ID Requirements: Check the airline’s policy on ID requirements for domestic travel with children.
  • Consent Letters: If one parent is traveling alone with the child, consider carrying a consent letter from the other parent, especially for international travel.


Booking flights with kids requires careful planning and consideration of various factors to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. By booking early, choosing the right flight times, selecting appropriate seats, and understanding airline policies, you can significantly reduce the stress associated with flying with children. Additionally, preparing for in-flight comfort, packing strategically, and utilizing special services like TSA Cares can further enhance your travel experience. With these tips, you can look forward to a more manageable and pleasant trip with your little ones.

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