Plane Ticket for 2 Year Old

Updated on January 06, 2011
L.S. asks from Culver City, CA
12 answers

It's my understanding that once your child turns 2 you need to purchase a plane ticket for them. Is that correct? I have a business trip in March and my husband and daughter plan to come with me. My daughter will be 2 years, 2 months old at the time. This will be her 8th plane ride so we've had experience flying with her before. My question is will I need to buy a separate plane ticket for her? She is quite petite so she doesn't necessarily look 2. I've had airlines ask her age and birth date in the past, but not always. Also, if I do need to buy a separate ticket, are they less expensive than an adult ticket? I'd love to hear what other people have experienced around this issue. Thanks!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Full fare and yes the age is two. We have never been asked for DS's birth certificate (we used to travel with it and honestly haven't now for a few years). He is 5 and has flown regularly since 5 months.

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answers from La Crosse on

You definately need to buy a ticket...many airlines ask, and the one time you don't have one will be about the time they do ask. If you are forced to buy one you will have a problem on your hands buying at the last minute - serious $$$. If she were under 2 I would even suggest you bring a copy of her birth certificate, just in case. You will have to pay full price...a seat is a seat unfortunately.

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answers from Seattle on

Yes, you have to buy a ticket for her as soon as she's two, unfortunately. And also unfortunately, the ticket is the same price as an adult ticket. The airlines figure that kids are filling a seat so regardless of age, kids pay full price. You can try and get away with no ticket, but I have always had to show ID for my infants upon checking in (I have flown about 25 times with my first son and about 10 times with my twin 17-month-olds). I have never had a time when they haven't looked at the passports or ID or whatever. And you'll have to ask yourself what will happen if you get to the gates or check-in and they do ask. Unlike in Hollywood, buying a ticket at the last minute in reality can be extremely expensive - like $1,500 expensive for a short haul flight! So if you're prepared to pay or have your own flights cancelled without any reimbursement, then I say, go for it. Oddly, though, I have had flight attendants ask me if the child on my lap is over two....

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answers from New York on

If you try to pass her off as younger, they will probably want to see a birth
certificate. They will probably ask for one either way. In the past you have
probably flown when it was quite obvious she was a baby. I remember
being at an airport and a family had a child, like mine, who was very, very
tall for his age. They had to prove he was only 19 months and they did
not have a birth cerificate with them. They eventually got the pediatricians
office and the airline took the docs word for it. I would just buy the ticket
rather than risk the embarrassment of being found out you are lying.



answers from San Francisco on

Having flown with her before, don't you think you would be more comfortable with her in her own seat?

We just got back from Kauai, and did not buy our 15 month old, a plane ticket. It made for a very tiring flight for us, our baby, and the rest of the plane. The way back was much better because there was an empty seat and I got to experience what it would have been like. It's a much better experience!

Good luck either way!


answers from Chicago on

I have had experiences with United that the plane ticket was half price or 1/2 the miles required and other times when it was full price for my 2 year old. You DO need to buy a ticket because now you are supposed to give security information for every person including the birthdate per FAA regulation (or something like that). Because your child has flown before and you have given it before, it is not worth trying to get by without buying a seat just to find out you need one at check-in or when they "ping" you while trying to get your child assigned as a lap child (which you do need to do anyway if you don't have the ticket to get the separate boarding pass required). I think the price depends on the airline and availability (and holidays/high season or location). Good luck (fingers crossed it is cheaper for you!).



answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, you need a ticket. It is usually the same price as an adult ticket. Check her car seat. You will be a lot happier having her sit in the regular seat than having a bulky car seat on the plane.


answers from Kansas City on

Not sure what you will be flying but we always fly Southwest. They have "discounted" child fares, but in reality they are just as expensive as the adult tickets. Because we buy tickets online at and buy the 'wanna get away" fares (which are super discounted and cheap) I just went ahead anf bought my 2yo a ticket from there along with mine when we flew this past September. My husband called Southwest because they do not offer child fares online and it was going to be $500 just for his ticket, where as the "wanna get away" was under $200 round trip for him. I have ALWAYS had to show his Birth Certificate, he has been flying since he was 3 months old.



answers from Seattle on

Call the airline you will be flying with, since rules and deals vary from company to company.

I almost always fly british air with my son, and buy using the BA credit card, so his ticket is always free (love the 'companion flies free' ticket). Most airlines one pays full fare (whatever it is, deal, discount, miles, whatever) for children because one is paying for the SEAT that is in use, not who is in the seat (hence why people who take up more than one seat are required to buy 2)... but many have deals and specials with kids fly free/discounted under x age (18, 16, 14, 3, 2 are the ones I've seen), but they tend to be limited offers.


answers from Denver on

You have to buy a ticket (though we always did - even for a baby).
Some airlines do offer a slightly lower cost ticket for a child.


answers from Dallas on

I don't know any "rules" for over age.

We've always purchased a separate ticket for our daughter from day 1.

I've never seen a difference in pricing for a child. I purchase our tickets from American Airlines website direct or Southwest Air website.



answers from Chicago on

Yes, you should buy her a separate ticket. Some airlines -- like Southwest -- will require you to show a birth certificate to verify your child's age and identity. I had a friend who forgot to bring her 18-month-old son's birth certificate, and the airline refused to let him fly. Finally, the airline relented when her husband asked them very nicely to make an exception. But it turned into a huge ordeal for them.

You might be able to get away with not buying her a ticket, but I don't know that it's worth the whole family not flying or buying her a full priced ticket on the day of travel if the airline realizes that she is not under two.

I think some airlines will give a 10% discount for children, but it is a discount off the full priced fare, and those tickets aren't as easy to change as regular adult tickets. You're probably better off just buying her a regular ticket.

Have fun on your trip! Travel is so much more expensive once you start paying for kids to fly too.