Airplane Travel with 2 1/2 Year Old

Updated on June 06, 2008
W.W. asks from Baltimore, MD
6 answers

What are the regulations about flying with a toddler (domestic flight)? Do I need to have a car seat? A booster seat? She is almost 3 and at very tall (37"). Thanks for your responses!

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So What Happened?

The trip went well - She actually stayed in her seat the entire trip, and really got excited when we took off, landed, etc. I got her a backpack with a couple of her books, crayons, paper, and a small farm animal set (Target's dollar area). She now wants to take it everywhere with us. Since our friends in Miami are expecting a baby, they brought a car seat when they picked us up (after some discussion of course!). (Lucky us!) So needless to say, things really went well. Thanks for all of your responses!

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

Hi. There are no regulations (other than fastening seat belt) that I know. You might want to phone the airline in advance.

Have a good trip!



answers from Washington DC on

Hi W.,

I travel regularly with my children and I think all the airlines have pretty much the same policies on this issue.
Under the age of 2 you can choose not to book a seat and have the child ride on your lap - a special seat-belt should be provided on the plane. For this you will usually pay 10% of a regular ticket + full taxes. Or, you can book a seat for which you will be charged a child's price (usually 75% + taxes)and you will need to bring a car seat which you must make sure is approved for use in an air-craft.

Over the age of 2 you have to book a seat for your child. You are not required to bring a car-seat, but I guess if you wanted to you would be allowed. If you decided to do this then it is important that you get it checked beforehand to make sure that it is aircraft approved because one of my friends once had a problem with this.

Happy traveling
L. P



answers from Washington DC on

We flew with Southwest airlines about 2&1/2 years ago. They left it up to us whether we wanted to use our carseat or not. The carseat does have to be approved for the airplane and not all carseats are. We did not use carseats and it worked out wonderfully. Southwest has a website that has some info on travelling with children. It is very helpful and the flight attendants were also very good with our children. I was very happy with them. Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

Hi W.- booster seats are not allowed. If you use a carseat, it must be approved for airline travel (not all are). When we flew with our 14 mo old, they tried to get us to just belt him into the regular seat without the carseat (we chose to take the seat). I wish I would have listened because carting the carseat around was a huge pain. You can check a carseat/booster if you will need it when you get off the plane. You can also check with the airline you are flying. Southwest was very helpful in answering questions. I do think that she sounds like she will be fine with just the seatbelt.



answers from Washington DC on

I remembered your question when I saw this article. I didn't answer myself earlier as I didn't know the airline regs. and didn't travel with my daughter by air until she was almost 4, but maybe I can help a bit. At that time she enjoyed recorded books, but the plane noise sometimes over-rode the tone (if too low) that signaled her to turn the page. If you teach her some 'finger play' games before you leave that you can get from recordings at the library, perhaps you could do that with her and activity books--zip this, peek at that,etc. Having a small backpack she can carry with her favorite stuffed animal in it and where you can put (when YOU want to) snacks for her to get out on her own, like Cheerios and animal crackers. Keeping her well hydrated in the dry plane has it's pluses (Juicy Juice boxes don't have added sugar), if you don't count trips to the excitingly different rest room. Crayola has some new non-messy art toys that may not be able to be used without your supervision after you get home because of age, but you might want to check on them to see if feasible for the trip. Non-messy bits sized fruit pieces in a re-closeable container you can also use when you get there could get you through a flight delay or avoid one problem we had--all concessions closed at connecting flight's airport late at night. Hope this helps. I would add to the article, letting your child stand on the seat and talk too much to passengers behind can get mixed reactions. travels! J. B.



answers from Washington DC on

The airline doesn't require it but when you land at your destination you will probably want your car seat for the cab ride or family vehicle. If you rent a car, check with the rental company because some rent car seats as well.

I always pack a backpack for my son who is the same age with all his favorite toys, a few new things (for emergency needed stillness), and for the actual plane ride you may want to invest in a small DVD player. That will keep their attention for most of the flight. Also, pack gum or candy, or pacifier (I know but my son still uses one) for the take off and landing to keep their ears from popping. I tried to pack juice boxes and a full sippy cup but when I went through security, they made me empty the cup and I had to throw out the juice boxes! Not sure if your security is that tough but just a warning. Hope this helps.

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