Lap Infants on a Plane: Yay or Nay?

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Since I have a 20 month old kiddo, this is an issue that has been near and dear to my heart (or lap) for a while now.  The question is, should you buy an airline ticket for your under-two-year-old, or save some cash (or miles) and have them ride in your lap for the duration of the flight?  For those who don’t know, in general you can have your under-two-year-old fly in your lap on a domestic flight 100% for free.  On international flights, it is typically 10% of the going fare.  Some airlines charge you 10% of the highest fare, and some 10% of a lower fare.  Either way, that can actually be a pretty substantial cost.  I have heard of “lap children” costing thousands of dollars when flying internationally, even though they are only being charged 10%.  That aside, it is still clearly cheaper not to buy a seat for your little one than to actually buy a seat.  Thus, many parents opt to not buy a seat and either a) Hold their baby/child for the duration of the flight, b) Passively hope that they get lucky and score an extra unoccupied seat next to them,  or c) Act entitled to an extra seat for their baby and force others to play airline musical chairs accordingly.

A couple weeks ago, thegasguru alerted me to an interesting thread going on in the Delta forum on Flyertalk.  You can read the thread for yourself here, but essentially it is about a mother who did not purchase an extra seat for her “lap infant”, but basically acted like she was entitled to two seats when she boarded the plane.  She placed the baby in the seat she had reserved for herself  next to two strangers (which by the way will be a whole other post – airlines don’t always require that the young child and parents sit next to each other!) and left the vicinity of the baby.  I’m not sure where she went, but the couple sitting next to the baby alerted the flight attendant that the child was not theirs, and the flight attendant replied that they were working to shuffle people around in order for the baby and the mother to have two seats next to each other.  At the time, the flight attendant did not know the mother had purchased only one seat.  Eventually the flight attendant found out the mother had only purchased one seat, but was still able to get the mother two seats together – one paid and one “buy one get one free” for the baby, as it was termed on Flyertalk.  It was a very full flight, and the poster believes that the only empty seat went to the “lap infant”.

This thread got me thinking not only about whether or not children under two should have their own seat to being with, but also what the policies should be in the event that they do not have their own seat but there are open seats available on the plane.  Should someone have to move from their reserved seat in order for a parent and baby to take advantage of an available empty seat?  In a perfect world I think it makes sense that an available seat would be given to a parent with a “lap child”.  However, if that means that someone is having to give up the seat that they selected and reserved in order for that to be accomplished, then my feelings become a bit more mixed.  I don’t like the idea that because a parent chooses to not reserve a seat for their baby, that someone else must give up something they wanted (like their selected seat) to accommodate them.  I think that if you choose not to purchase a seat for your child, that you better be 100% prepared to not have a seat for your child.  It should be a pleasant surprise if you end up in a “buy one get one” situation, but it certainly should not be expected or demanded……at least not in my book.

Which brings me back to the overarching issue – should all passengers on an aircraft be required to have their own seat?  There is no doubt it is safer for infants and toddlers to be strapped in their carseat while on a plane.  The one time I flew with C as a lap child, I was terrified the whole time we would hit unexpected turbulence and she would go flying out of my arms.  My flight was only 40 minutes long, and it was still very difficult to have a good grip on her the whole time.  It would be impossible on a longer flight to hold her tight the entire time.  There is also no question that it is easier to travel with a young child when you have the extra room that the additional seat gives you.  Even if you do hold your child for part of the flight, it is still helpful to not be confined entirely to a single tiny airline seat.  While I was flying with C in my lap I was lucky enough to have no one in the seat next to me, however I kept thinking how miserable it would have been for whoever was in the next seat had it been occupied.  A 20-month-old toddler doesn’t care if they “leak over” into the adjacent seat, or if their toy goes flying and hits the person next to them.  We do our best to teach manners, but with an under-two-year-old there are some things you just can’t totally control.  At least when a baby is in their own seat, there is a smaller chance of you impeding on another passenger’s already limited space.

One of the main reasons I became obsessive extremely interested in earning miles and points was because of the need to have Little C travel to visit family members.  For us, that meant we now needed three seats.  For some families that means they need four, five, six, or even more seats.  It doesn’t take advanced mathematical skills to realize that the expense of multiple seats can add up quickly.  It makes financial sense to me to try and save where you can and have the under-two-year-old sit in your lap.  However, for us, we decided that it was best for everyone involved if C had her own seat (with the exception of that one short trip).  As a result, I became very serious about earning miles and points so that our family could afford to obtain three seats – luckily for us, my points obsession has allowed us to do just that.

What is your stance on “lap children”?  What do you think the protocol should be if a parent is flying with a “lap child” and there are other open seats on the plane?  What if it requires re-arranging other passengers in order for two of those seats to be next to each other?  I would love to hear your take on this – I know this is a topic that people have definite opinions on!

 

 

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  1. We are 40 days away from a flight to Hawaii with a 15 month old and we elected to not book her own seat 6 months ago. Now, after finding out more about reward travel, I some what regret that decision. That said, it will be myself, my wife, and my mother in-law taking up a full row of three seats (smaller planes since stopover in LAX). So we plan on playing “hot potato” amongst us with her if need-be to not intrude on others. I do not feel we are entitled to any open seats on the plane, nor plan on it. This is our choice to fly her for free, and I am set on making sure it doesn’t intrude on others as much as possible. I plan on having to earn every dollar/point we save by not buying her a seat. Wish me luck.

  2. Eric, you would have been better off booking A and C and then D to maximize the chance no one sits in the middle seat. And to MommyPoints – I would milk the infant thing until your little one is too much to handle as a lap child – The DO looked fun too bad I missed it. It would have been fun to pick your brain for good ideas. Thx for your site.

  3. My wife and I are flying to Hawaii in Jan on miles (United) from NYC, and we have elected to hold our 9 month old child in our lap. It will be a very long flight, but we’re hoping it goes ok. We didn’t have enough miles to book a third seat, and it’s too expensive for us to purchase it. So we’ll just have to make do. We’re lucky to have the front seat for 2 of the 4 flights (from JFK-LAX on the way there, and SFO-JFK on the way home), so hopefully that will give us some breathing room.

  4. I believe once the child is atleast 1 yr old he should have is own seat. We travelled internationally with our sone when he was 6 months old and had him on the lap without issue since both of us were in the plane. My wife is talking a trip to india and I got both of them business class seats. I got excellent help from people on milepoint.

  5. Our son is 18 months old, and we’re taking him to Chicago end of Oct, and Hawaii end of Nov – ask me after those 2 trips 🙂 We took him to Austin (from SAN) last Nov, on Southwest – stopover in PHX and that was a bit of a handful.

    Like Eric, I booked Hawaii about 6 months ago and ever since questioned whether or not I should have got Liam his own seat.

    Looking forward to it nonetheless. Bought him a portable DVD player this week, so that’ll be his treat for the plane rides (ok, Mum & Dad’s treat too if it keeps him occupied!)

  6. My son was always a lap child. If there were 3 family members we would “hot potato” but the flights were always under 3 hours. Or I would take the last flight and I always booked all the way in the back of the plane. My son slept so well with the noise. Sometimes I got lucky and no one was next to us! That helped out. I found that on Southwest no one wanted to sit in our row once they saw a baby!!! But he was always a wonderful flyer so I got lucky.

    Hawaii…EricT: That is the one time I would have got a seat. It is hard to have a lap child…and even from the west coast it is a LONG flight. You might get lucky on a short flight and they sleep…but in my experience with flights to Hawaii the last few years the little ones do not do well. Especially on a red eye back. Lots of parents think that is a great option because the kids sleep all the way home. But what they don’t take into account is that overly tired child having a melt down in security or in the waiting area before it is time to board that 9/10/11pm flight. I just flew back from Maui this summer on a red eye and there were so many little one’s under 2 having meltdowns!!

  7. We’re taking a 5 month old SFO to OGG in March and are doing the lap child thing. We’ll be hoping for an empty seat so we can use the car seat, but would never expect it. I actually was on the phone today with Alaska to let them know we’d have a lap child, and they said they’ll only see if there’s an empty seat available at the gate. That got me thinking that they would have to move people around (which I would hate for them to do). Anyone know how they actually do this, and I hope it is convenient/voluntary.

    Also, what are all your opinions with a lap child in international first or business class? Thinking of a trip when the baby is 10 months old in business, where it would be two seats together in a row (no one is directly next to the baby). Most of the horror stories I have heard have to do more with irresponsible parents and not necessarily terrible children. So… what do you think about responsible parents making every effort to not bother the rest of the cabin with a lap infant in business or first?

  8. we travelled extensively when our kids were infants primarily transatlantic between lhr and yul. this is actually a little easier as you get a bassinet to put the baby in. as soon as they were too big for that – about 1 years old as i recall – we startes buying tyem seats. it was a no brainer for their, our and our co-passengers comfort.

    we actually were vety lucky as we used to fly ba eco+ when they ran 4 class and used to get upgraded morr than half the time to biz. so ended up pretty nice though i do remember one awful red eye back from canada where our little miss just cried e whole way and knocked over red wine over both of us. even in biz it was a nightmare!!!

  9. ps this is why ilike this blog so much. i am big into miles but always in context of redeeming for family of four of us. all the other blogs focus on the single or at best couple traveller

  10. There should be no such thing as a lap child; one person, at least one seat. I could appeal to safety, since a safety seat is much more stable than a person’s arms, but that’s not the primary reason. It’s space.
    Airlines provide less-than-comfortable amounts of space now. I’m 6’1″ and 210 lbs, decent shape (though I could lose 15), and I have to scrunch my shoulders into an ordinary seat. You said it best, “At least when a baby is in their own seat, there is a smaller chance of you impeding on another passenger’s already limited space.” There might be a moral argument for babies, but that’s not the airline’s business. It should not be a lucky event when I can stay away from lap children (and other space takers) to keep my paid share of the plane.

  11. I have twice paid for a seat for my two year old, to have her spend the entire flight on my lap. But even so, her seat meant room for her supplies and toys and spread out space for me. For safety and comfort reasons I think the seat is money well spent. We have three children and travel less often to ensurevthat when we do travel, we can do so as pleasantly as possible.

  12. I usually fly from LAX to EWR with my family (wife, mother in law, and now 2 year old) for Winter break, but this year we have a new addition so I’m a bit nervous to see how that turns out. First time buying a seat for my 2 year old and 4 month old son will be on our laps. 5 hour flights are always sketchy.

  13. Just an aside, once I used points to book my 23 month old a seat in Intl Biz, and the flight attendant kept trying to stiff us the food service for the baby. Whether it be drinks, or desert or what not, they *just assumed* they need not serve her, rather than ask me. When I mentioned it, they acted like I was making an unreasonable request, as I watched them eat the little one’s ice cream back in the gallery (oh i’m sorry we don’t have any more :(( )

  14. I’m in ORL on business this week, having flown from EWR next to a mommy who was hoping for a spare seat. Child was VERY large for a 2 year old (does anyone check) and mommy was not good at managing said child.

    I had the window seat, they had center and I offered to switch. She declined. I tried to move, but there were no other seats on the plane. I was hit with the kid’s hands and toys repeatedly and had her juicy-juice (red color) spilled on my khaki pants. I asked the mom if it would wash out and her comment was that she always wears black pants on the planes so it doesn’t show. (As if I was supposed to know to be prepared). Kid finally fell asleep, so I took a nap. Tray table down, Kindle on the tray under my hand. Kid wakes me up bu grabbing the Kindle, then waving it around yelling “Mine”. Mom is just watching so I ask her to give it back to me so she takes it from kid, who now starts crying. Comment to me is, “Now see what you’ve done.”

    While I’m all for extending courtesies to mothers traveling with their kids, let me say that that particular child belonged in a cage in cargo along with the other animals.

  15. Open seat next to parent with lap child? Seems reasonable to use the empty seat for the otherwise-lap child, even though that takes away from exrta space that another passenger might use part of (eg parent in aisle, other passenger in window, empty middle). Neither passenger paid for the seat, but the letting the child use it seems fine.

    Forcing other passengers to give up their reserved seat? Not so much. Asking nicely and respecting their answer, much more reasonable. Just as the parent with child has things that would make the flight more comfortable, so do other passengers who may have selected seats for a reason.

    Here’s where it gets tricky. Say there are 2 empty seats on a plane, and three lap infants. Before you say that any parent is entitled to an empty seat for their lap infant, I think you need a theory on prioritizing entitlements. Which parents get the empty seat, which do not, and why? I think it’s reasonable to use empty seats that otherwise go… empty. I think it’s reasonable to ask passengers to be accomodating but to respect them when their own needs (that are otherwise nonobvious to you) trump. But the empty seat isn’t an entitlement, it’s an accomodation, and nothing is being denied to the parent with lap infant when a seat isn’t made available to them (provided they haven’t paid for it), either because there’s too much demand for the limited number of empty seats or because it’s too difficult to rearrange seating given other passenger preferences.

  16. We always fly Infant In Arms for our 1.5 year old. However, I watch and see what flight at what time in the day usually leaves only half empty consistently, and select that flight time to increase our odds of having empty seats. I also try and get planes with 3-3 or 2-3 configurations, so I have 3 paid tickets together, and my 4 year old and 1.5 year old can share 1 seat together.

    The best invention ever for planes and keeping kids happy is the iPhone or an iPod touch. Download some games or a movie, and my kids are content for hours.

  17. I remember after the United Airlines Flight 232 crash in Iowa, I saw a member of the flight crew interviewed. As they were bracing for impact she had to tell a mother to put her child on the floor (FAA regulations). After the crash the child was gone and the mother went up to the flight attendant crying for help in finding her child. The child had been killed in the crash. The flight attendant KNEW the mother couldn’t possibly physically hold the child during the crash, but still felt incredible guilt. She pleaded with people listening to the interview to buy a seat for their child.

    While the odds of an incident are outrageously small, you are basically playing Russian roulette with your child if you are too cheap to buy a ticket. It just isn’t worth it.

  18. We flown many times domestically and twice internationally with our daughter in our arms before she turned 2. Since we always travel together, we could manage her. Of course, on the long international flight (13 hours in coach), it was a bit difficult since space is limited (especially during meal time) and our daughter got bored during the long flight, so we had to walk with her on the plane. I also found reasonable to request a child/toddler meal in advance (even if the baby doesn’t have own seat).

  19. I am not a parent first off. My view is that coach is already crammed enough so infants should have their own seat. Apart from overcrowding it is a safety issue, you don’t carry lap infants around in cars so why should you on a turbulent airplane. They need to be in some sort of car seat strapped in snug. As long as they allow this sort of thing people will risk their child to save a couple hundred buck just to bring junior on a family vacation that they will never remember.

    • Sorry, but this is ridiculous. While I agree that the safest place for a child is for them to be in their own seat families aren’t always traveling just to enjoy a vacation that ‘junior ‘ won’t remember. We have to fly several times a year from the US to the UK to see my in-laws, and trust me, that is no vacation. We have really easy travelers (our son has been flying between the 2 since 3 months in, gasp, business class) but we aren’t doing it to placate some desire to see the world (although we do that too) but rather we have to travel. So don’t assume that all families are out to irk everyone else on the plane by traveling with children.

      • @Andrea, I have had a similar discussion with my husband many times! I had to explain that even though Little C is little and may not remember the trip herself, the other family members we are visiting will. The only way for her to be connected to extended family is to travel. For us, it is essential. Thanks for sharing. BTW, the pictures of your baby on your blog are adorable!

  20. @EricT, I am sure with the three of you going you will be able to make it work. Can’t wait to hear about your trip. 40 days and counting…….. 🙂

    @KennyG, we used to do that strategy some on Southwest, but then again their seating policy sort of lends itself to that. The DO was great – you should join in on a future DO!

    @Joe, having the front seat does help. I understand completely that sometimes the choice is between not going or holding the baby. I’m sure it will be worth it once you guys get to Hawaii!

    @Aditya, I’m not sure if your thread was the same one I followed on Milepoint or not, but I do remember a very similar thread and I am happy to know that you decided on the extra seat. I think it will make it much easier for your wife (and safer for your kiddo). Hope they have a great trip.

    @Simon, DVD players are great for little ones on planes. I think you bring up a good point, that many parents don’t even consider buying a seat for their under 2 year old. It is just assumed that since they can fly for free in the lap, that they should. If the FAA says you can fly for free, it makes sense that most parents wouldn’t then consider purchasing a seat. GL with your upcoming trips!

    @Kelly, you are so right about the over-tired phenomenon. I made the mistake of trying to keep C up past her naptime so that she would sleep on the plane……epic disaster.

    @Steve C, I haven’t flown Alaskan, but on other airlines I have seen them wait until passengers are boarded and then seen who is willing to shuffle around if there are empty seats. If it is a really empty flight and they are able to accomodate you all together in a row without really impacting anyone else, I have seen that happen prior to boarding.

    I think you will probably get some grumpy looks (or at least mean thoughts sent your way) when you sit with a baby in International First, but that may happen whether you have a seat for the child or not. Once the passengers see that you are one of the attentive parents, the mean thoughts will subside (and if they don’t, to heck with them!) Space wise, you will probably be fine.

    @Phil, the bassinet is great for younger kiddos on long flights. Good move! I agree that in terms of practicality, there is a big difference between buying a seat for an infant and a 1-2 year old toddler. Thanks so much for the nice words about the blog – you captured exactly what I try to do around here.

    @Adam, totally understand your perspective. Even though I am a mom, I don’t really want to have someone else’s baby in my “already limited” space on the plane. 🙂

    @Sandra, the space factor is one not to be overlooked for sure! Sounds like your family has figured out a good method for how to travel with three kiddos.

    @Goheerow, five hour flights can start to get pretty long with young ones. I hope that it goes well for your family (and new addition!).

    @Justin, that is horrible! I can only imagine the scene if my almost 2 year old saw everyone else eating ice cream and she didn’t get any. Of course, I would share mine, but that seems wrong to just assume they shouldn’t be served. Sorry that happened to you!

    @Steve K, ugh that sounds like a nightmare. Come on traveling moms, you can do better than that! Makes no sense why should wouldn’t take you up on your generous offer of the window seat. At least that would help a little. Thanks for sharing your perspective and hope your return flight is much less “eventful”.

    @Gary, very well said.

    @DavidAL, sounds like a pretty good strategy. I agree completely about the magic of the iPhone/iPad.

    @Chip, I read the link you shared and it is so heart-breaking. While the chances of that happening on any given flight are incredibly small, there is still that chance. I was honestly very worried and felt very selfish for not getting my daughter a seat on our flight to Corpus last month.

    Everything thankfully went fine, but I am not sure I could have lived with myself if something like that had happened, and I had lost the most important thing in the world in order to save some cash or miles. I personally would not fly with a lap child again.

    For anyone else reading that story, it is a very important reminder that flying with a lap child isn’t just a debate about convenience, but there is a defininte safety component as well. That being said, flying is still much safer than driving, and the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor that your flight will be uneventful. Please don’t dread your trips because you are flying with a lap infant – but it is good to be armed with as much information as possible when choosing whether or not to get your little one their own seat.

    @Sergey, you are right that those long flights are a little tough no matter if you have a seat for your baby or not. Having two adults there to help does certainly make it a bit easier. Thanks for sharing.

    @Rob, thanks for sharing a “non-parent” perspective.

  21. I think lap baby for the ones under one year old is ok. But for the ones over one, they need seats for themselves. For safety, for the passengers next to you, it’s just the right thing to do. A few years ago, my wife took my daugther (14 months at that time, no seat) and my son (4 and half) on an international flight without me. She couldn’t eat because there was no space left. If you can’t afford, fly less or become a MPA (miles/points addict). -:)

  22. FAIR WARNING — SOAPBOX RANT AHEAD:

    Safety issue: Holding a child on your lap? Really? DO you love your child? Do you plan on bringing a spatula to scrape them off of the ceiling if/when you encounter turbulence? Do you REALLY think you can be alert enough AND strong enough to restrain a child, especially if there is an abrupt bump or hard landing or ??? I’ve flown professionally for 25 years, and as a business traveller for 6 years, and ALWAYS keep my OWN belt fastened except when getting up to retrieve something from overhead or use the restroom… for a reason!

    Courtesy: Mentioned plenty of times already. I paid for MY space, kindle, etc.. Are you certain that you can keep your child and assorted paraphenalia out of it?

    DYKWIA: Should you really be entitled to an empty seat if one is availble? Even if you DON’T have a sense of entitlement (which admittedly many parents do not) is it fair for others to be asked to move to make room for you and your child?

    I’M SELFISH: I fly a lot. I choose my seat carefully and well in advance becasue I find certain seats the most comfortable and/or convenient to my specific purposes. It’s mine. You can’t have it. Don’t care if you are with your child. (or spouse/significant other/etc). I MAY consider swapping seats to let people sit together…but only if the seat I’m moving to is equal to/better than the one I am sitting in. And I’m not sorry.

  23. This is my family’s philosophy when traveling with our kids (3.5 and 11 months now). Lap is fine until they can crawl. Once they can crawl, they just want to move around a lot. After that, get them a seat just so you have more space. Also, book out the entire row so you don’t inconvenience others. Going to Hawaii in May, booked out 4 first class seats using miles. Seems like a waste to get my daughter a first class seat when she’ll only be 1.5, but I could not imagine holding her for 5 hours.

  24. I wrote in one of your post some days ago. This weekend I’ll be taking an international flight from S America to JFK, a 5-hour flight on AA. We will be flying on awards (our first ever) and decided to save cash/miles (because it’s not so easy to earn them outside the US) and go with our 19 months old son in our lap in economy.

    As I said before I think it was already a mistake, so I am reading everything I can find to try to minimize the hassle for us, as well as for the other passengers. I just checked the airline website and the flight is full so no chance for “musical chairs”, in fact, I think it might be oversold so I am a little nervous about it.

    Regarding the “musical chairs” thing, as a parent I would only ask some passengers to move only if I can see they will be in a similar situation with the new seat because that is what I would do as a childless passenger.

  25. My general rule is that once a child starts walking they should have their own seat. My son’s first plane ride was around 9-months as a lap child, harnessed to mom, with grandma along. He slept through most of the 2-hour+ flights and was no real problem.

    We have waited another two-and-a-half years through the more obstinent phase before flying with him again in a couple of weeks in his own seat. Only a one-hour flight each way with two parents. Should be no problem with snacks, juice, iPad, and drawing materials.

    We did not feel his temperament was such that we could trust him on a plane for a couple of hours when he was 1-2 years old. He is a lot better now about sitting still for longer periods, amusing himself, watching his movies, etc.

    If you are bringing a child on as a lap child, they should NOT get their own seat unless none of the paying passengers wants to make use of it. Certainly, nobody should be moved to accomodate someone getting a free seat.

  26. You know, after reading these type of stories and comments here and on flyertalk, I’m inclined to say that every person/child should have a seat purchases and assigned. I’m certainly biased as a single person, but I would think that hopefully, when someone decides to have a child, they realize they are going to be spending more money to raise the child, and this is one of those expenses. So if you aren’t ready to pay more for traveling (among other things) then don’t have kids until you are.

    Besides, with a child, you generally consume a higher share of various tax funded services, and everyone around you is affected if your child cries, kicks, screams, poops, etc., so the least you could do is pay for the extra seat and hopefully not intrude on your fellow passengers.

    • Naturally no one ever has a change in a financial situation at any point in their lives, right? You can’t make a statement and say people shouldn’t have kids unless they can afford every single aspect of their life without acknowledging that in this economy things can, and do, happen, and while a family may have had 2 kids and been able to travel with no problem one parent may lose a job or some other circumstance and suddenly that money is no longer there.

      I always say that when you purchase a ticket on an airline you pay to get from point A to point B. The end. You don’t pay for a quiet, relaxing, calm flight. You don’t pay for a child-free flight. If you want that then get your own jet.

      Having a lap child is no more of an intrusion than an overweight person spilling into your seat, or a loud snorer, or someone who wears perfume too heavily. There are so many variables into what can make a flight bad and they are not all child related.

      • Before I make any other points, after I wrote my previous post, I looked at some of the other posts and links about safety issues, and I think that alone is enough reason to get every person on the plane a seat. Certainly, there’s a very small chance that an accident would happen in which being properly restrained would make a difference, but if that small chance happened to you, I don’t think you’d want to live with regret that could’ve been prevented with a relatively small amount of money?

        I never said that I expected a quiet, child free flight, but it would be nice if everyone did their part to make the flight as smooth as possible. And we could debate endlessly about people needing to be prepared for a major financial change in your life (everyone should have an emergency fund/cushion for a major financial change…but doubtful most people have enough of one, if any), so we should probably agree to disagree on that one.

        You are absolutely right that a child intruding on another person’s personal space (i’ve been fortunate enough to never have this problem…yet) is no worse than an overweight person intruding on your space (which I have had to deal with), or any other discomfort you might experience on a flight. I never said child issues were any worse than other nuisances, but this post isn’t about other nuisances. That said, whenever I am significantly bothered on a flight…I am generally appeased by filing a complaint to the airline and getting a discount coupon for future travel. (Although, this probably contributes to airlines needing to raise prices to cover higher operating costs, which induces even more people to not buy tickets for their infants…)

        On the other hand, I suppose we can all go back to piling up miles/status on the cheap, so that buying a seat for your infants won’t be as costly anymore 🙂

  27. @Allen, thanks for sharing. Being a MPA sure does help with getting the extra seat. 🙂

    @Paul, I have to admit I kind of enjoyed your “soapbox rant”. While I certainly wouldn’t question whether or not someone loved their child based on their decision to purchase a seat or not, you do make some very valid points. Thanks for sharing.

    @Goosh, very true about wanting to be mobile all the time once they had crawling age. I think your kiddo will look adorable in her own first class seat. You should take pictures!

    @Mari, can you read my mind?? I was exchanging messages with a reader/friend on Milepoint this morning about that very product. I then reached out to Kids Fly Safe they are helping get me one to try out and review and are providing one to give away to a reader. I don’t currently have a flight scheduled with C until November, so I can’t try it and review for a little while. However, once November rolls around be on the lookout for a review and giveaway of that very product. Thanks for the comment!

    @JorgeLuis, first off congrats on redeeming your first award. Sounds like you are doing the right things to prepare for your flight. You can always choose to purchase a seat next time, but don’t second guess yourself too much about this time. I can’t wait to hear about your trip!

    @Ike, sounds like you have a good plan for your upcoming short flight. All kiddos are so different and some would be much harder to travel with than others. Some of my daughter’s “personality traits” make her a bit tougher of a travel candidate than other more laid back babies, but we find a way to make it work. I am sending happy travel vibes your way.

    @Jerry, in a perfect world I think you are right. All those who have children and want to travel would have the means to secure a seat for them. However, as Andrea said, even the best laid plans can be thwarted by unexpected events. I have friends and family members that would not be able to afford to visit loved ones across the country (and world) if it weren’t for the “lap child” rule. It is a complicated issue for sure. Thanks for sharing!

    @Andrea, very good point about people’s financial situation (sometimes unexpectedly) changing over time. Also a very good reminder that airlines are essentially “public transportation”. While a relaxing environment is preferable, it is far from guaranteed. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    @MMS, being nice does go a long way. 🙂

  28. Having flown both domestic & international with my 2 children, I say save your $$$. You’ll be paying for them for many years. Sometimes it work out that we got an extra seat next to us…..sometimes it didn’t. Always just plan to NOT have the extra room. Went with my 18 month old and 6 yr. old SFO – FRA, 11 hour flight. No extra seat….did just fine. Boys slept 7 hours of the flight. A bit tough sleeping for Mom & Dad as the little one was stretched out on both our laps….but hey…we saved huge $$$ and the rest of us traveled on miles. Just like this hobby…..hard to pass up a FREE deal……this is what a lap child is. A free deal for 2 years. Travel as much as you can with them in that 2 years and enjoy the world a little more.

  29. i currently have seats a and c booked on a 10 hour international flight and we are traveling with our 8 month old as a lap child. i am co plat so i am hoping we will have the middle seat empty. i can upgrade using swu. so my question is, what is better 2 seats in business or 3 ( hopefully ) in coach ?

  30. After reading your blogs this month n understanding your travel style, I say save your money. You’ll be paying for him soon enough. We’ve been taking our daughter overseas (europe n asia) since she was 5month old. Luckily she is a great traveler. We always requested the bulk head seat so we could have the basinet when she was an infant. Once she grew out of the basinet, we always requested seats with one space in-between. Sometimes the airline could block the seat for you. If not, it’s much easier for the passenger in between you to move. People are very happy to give up a middle seat to get away from a child :-).

  31. My lord, keep the baby at home and buy grandma a ticket. Short of relocating, there is no good reason to make infants suffer the rigors of air travel.

  32. this is one of the most interesting comment threads ive read. I have always bought an extra seat for our toddler, who would often spend the flight on mommys lap anyway, but our family recently expanded to two kids so it will be a lot more tempting to save some miles instead of buying two additional seats for 2 kids. I thought chip’s posting of the flight attendant story was very gripping. I will prob read it again next time I have to buy tix so that it will stiffen my resolve to buy everyone a ticket.

    one thing that is noticeable in reading this thread is that most parents are greatly concerned about their kids bothering other travelers just as much as other passengers are worried about being bothered by kids. I wish there was a segregated section for kids because I would gladly sit with my kids there. even better would be a separate flight with all kids and babies so we parents can at least relax about not bothering anyone during the flight. MP, how about organizing the inaugural BabyMegaDO? 🙂

  33. I have no children myself but have traveled with my sisters, one bought seats the other has taken a lap child. I do agree about definitely buying a seat if your child hits that “can’t sit still” stage. But I do think the higher priority should be the safety of the child. If it’s a leisure trip and you can’t afford it then you should probably reevaluate taking the trip. I’m more sympathetic to people visiting family. I do like that on many international airlines they have the basinets and some have special seat belts for lap children.

    But no, you shouldn’t expect an extra seat or for others to play musical chairs, but you can hope away.

  34. +1 to Carl 🙂

    also, @Bluto, I also found that flight attendant story pretty convincing, and after I read the testimony, I ended up spending an hour or so reading about that flight and everything that happened. The wikipedia page has a decent amount of information about it.

    Since we’re on the topic, traveling with kids extends beyond just being in the plane…how about kids going through security even? I’ve nearly had my fingers pinched in the rollers on the x-ray machine, because some kid was messing around with the rollers while I was trying to push my bag through. I almost turned around and cursed at the person, because I thought an adult was messing with the rollers (and I probably would’ve done so if my fingers had actually gotten mashed :-P)…

    • @Jerry, you are right, traveling with kiddos does extend beyond just the plane. The story of the plane that went down is heart-breaking. Thanks for sharing.

  35. We recently traveled with our 8 week old in our lap to Europe. I am equally scared of baby flying out during turbulence, so I strapped her to my ergo carrier and it was a breeze. she slept / fed / slept / fed for the 9 hour flight.
    While I felt perfectly safe with my ergo, in Europe they required me to take her out of the carrier and provided me an infant seatbelt that looped around mine!
    Have you come across those belts here in the US? They were amazing!! I will never fly without one. I wonder why I’ve never seen it here in the US (neither was I offered one on the way over)

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