When it’s Worth Buying your Child their own Plane Seat
One of the perks of having a child under the age of 2 is that you can take them to so many places for free. Some restaurants let kids eat free, museums, exhibitions and even amusement parks. You can even fly with a child under the age of 2 for free as long as they travel as a “lap baby.” Which for major travelers can mean major savings.
This general rule that children under the age of 2 fly free in lap is true for domestic flights however international flights you still have to pay taxes and a fee so it’s not actually free. We wanted to take full advantage of this savings but over time it became harder and harder.
Once Elah started moving it became a slow torturous game that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
Our recent trip to London/Gibraltar was the last time Elah will fly infant in lap and luckily she didn’t even have to be in our lap because it was an empty flight.
Making the switch from lap baby to buying your baby their own seat is definitely a bigger financial burden but in the end can be worth it. If your travel budget is limited, you likely need to make judgment calls from trip-to-trip about whether to purchase a seat.
1) How Long is the Flight
1-3 hours flights you may still be able to get away having a squirmy toddler on your lap but once a flight hits over 3 hours and involves a nap I’d strongly recommend buying a seat. The only exception to this rule is smaller toddlers/infants who can still utilize a bassinet in an international overnight flight.
2) How old is your child
Some toddlers and older infants are mobile and other are not. Once your child can crawl and walk, an extra seat can be really helpful.
3) Is your flight likely to be full?
Flying around major holidays or during busy times of the week you are likely to have a full flight. However if you’re flying in the middle of the week or during a less traveled season it may be worth taking the gamble because you can end up with an empty seat. This has happened to us a handful of times.
4) Are you Nursing?
Elah used to sleep in my arms after nursing for hours at a time as an infant. However as she gotten older lying her sideways to nurse meant that she protruded into my neighbor’s seat quite a bit. This was fine when my neighbor is my husband but may not be so fine if your neighbor is a stranger, which may call for an extra seat.
5) What time is your flight?
Does your flight overlap with your child’s nap time or is it an overnight flight? Older infants/toddlers likely will not be comfortable in a bassinet nor will they fit. Your child may also not nap comfortably in your arms as they get older.
6) Safety Concerns
It always amazes me that on domestic US flights they do NOT provide seat belts for your lap child. However on international flights and flights not in the US they have always given us a seat belt extender. The risk of your lap child being injured during turbulence is very low but it is still a risk. I personally do not worry about this happening but I have a lot of friends who from infancy have bought their child a seat and put them in their car seat for safety reasons.