It is said that young children travel for free, so why did we have to pay more for almost every flight with a child? And on some routes you pay more for a child than for an adult! We have prepared for you a summary of airlines and the costs you have to reckon with if you are traveling with a baby under 2 years old.
We are approaching our daughter’s second birthday with dizzying speed. Now we will not marvel here how much he already knows, how fast he grows and complain how time flies fast. We will look at the two years together from the point of view of a family that travels quite often, mostly by plane.
At 20 months, Olive has made 16 flights, and we have another six scheduled before she is 24 months old. We flew both low-cost airlines, charters and cruise lines. There were short flights (1.5 hours), longer flights (8-9 hours) and flights with connecting flights. And guess what? Of the 22 flights we have had or will have, only 2 (in words: 2) are flights for which we pay nothing for Olive. How is this possible? We invite you to read the following post, in which we will describe how much it costs to travel with a child.
// See also our entry: First airplane flight with a baby!
Note, always check current records and prices directly with the carrier before traveling. The information we have written down below is valid as of the date of writing this post, but may change dynamically. So, just to be safe, always read the carriers’ tariffs carefully.
Table of contents
Just for starters, some highlights about traveling with a child under two:
- An infant in airlines is considered to be a child up to the age of 2 years, with children under 14 days of age generally not allowed to travel (there are exceptions to this, however).
- It is important to remember that, by definition, a child under 2 years old travels on the lap of an adult. It is possible to buy a seat for a child, but then you have to pay as for an adult (we did so on a flight to Sicily).
- In traditional airlines, sometimes charters, a wall-mounted cradle on the plane can be reserved for the smallest children – this only applies to larger planes (wide-body) and you need to have a suitable seat reserved.
- At all times (!) for takeoff and landing, the child must be strapped in and be on the lap of the caregiver (including when the fasten seat belt sign is on during flight), facing the direction of flight.
- It is possible to encounter records that one adult can be accompanied by only one infant.
- There are designated seats on airplanes where adults cannot sit with an infant. Often such places occur in every row. Of course, with an infant you can’t sit at emergency exits either.
Low-cost airlines – are they really cheap?
When cheap flying is mentioned, low-cost airlines immediately come to mind, namely the most popular in Poland: Wizz Air, Ryanair and easyJet. We ourselves, from experience, know that even when it comes to adult travel, cheap airlines don’t necessarily always come out the cheapest. Even more so if you add some luggage or seat reservation. So we always compare prices with regular airlines. However, it is not the price alone that makes a man live, and other aspects such as dates, flight times, airport, etc. must also be taken into account.
We happened to fly Wizz Air several times with Olive, and the biggest surprise we had was that very often for a child under 2 years of age you pay the same as for an adult :) But this is nothing compared to Ryanair, where this fee is fixed, making it really not difficult for an infant to pay more than an adult! After all, in a good promotion or in advance, an adult can fly much cheaper than £120 (Ryanair’s fixed fee). As proof, we attach a screen shot of a random booking:
So how much does it cost to fly a child under 2 on a low-cost airline?
- Wizz Air – you pay £34 for an infant – £116 for a one-way ticket. In addition, there is a provision that if the ticket for an adult is under 27 eur, the ticket for a child will be the same amount. However, it is comforting to know that more than PLN 116 per child will not be paid.
- Ryanair – the fee is fixed at PLN 120 per child one way, so here it is not difficult to pay more for an infant than an adult.
- easyJet – the infant travels for £110 one way, a scheme similar to Ryanair.
And what can you take with you if you are traveling with a child under 2?
- Wizz Air – in addition, we can take a carry-on bag with baby stuff and a stroller for the baby (although this one generally goes to the cargo hold). You can also take a car seat on board, but only if you buy a seat, and it must be a car seat that can be installed rear-facing. In addition, families with children are entitled to priority boarding.
- Ryanair – a baby stroller and one item from the following is allowed per child: car seat, booster stand or travel crib. In addition, the caregiver can bring on board hand luggage up to 5kg. As with Wizz Air, in order to take a seat on board it must meet a number of requirements (special certificates) and it is necessary to purchase an extra seat.
- easyJet – the carrier allows you to take two items (e.g., stroller, carrier, carry-on, car seat, umbrella, travel crib, etc.) plus hand luggage.
While in the case of low-cost airlines the fees for a child’s travel are relatively fixed, in the case of regular airlines the fee for the youngest member of the family depends on the price of the ticket for the caregiver. Also in favor is the fact that we can often take additional checked luggage for the child (we generally do not take it, because logistically it is problematic ;) ).
How does it look in a few sample airlines where we had the opportunity to buy tickets for the three of us?
- PLL LOT – the matter should be simple, we pay 10% of the adult ticket price for a child under 2 years old. At least that’s how it looks in theory, because in practice it comes out to more than that 10% – this is because the 10% applies to the ticket/fare amount itself without taking into account additional fees.
- British Airways – the situation is identical to that of PLL LOT.
- TAP Portugal – here, too, it’s similar to LOT and BA, but TAP doesn’t add extra fees and taxes per child.
- At SAS, we paid about 8% of the price of an adult ticket.
Generally speaking, with traditional carriers it is about 10% of the adult ticket price. It is often difficult to find specific provisions on the carriers’ websites, so it is better to simply check the price in the booking process.
What do we take with us?
In general, practically in most traditional airlines you can take with you, in addition to a stroller and small hand luggage, also a checked baggage of the same size as for an adult (usually 23 kg) or with small exceptions, for example, 10 kg.
Charter airlines and travel agencies
Here the matter could be the simplest, but it is not :)
In general, children under two sometimes fly for free :) This is an interesting and attractively priced option especially if you plan to continue flying on a larger plane. However, it all depends on the tour operator from which you buy a seat on the plane and the type of offer.
For example, when buying an airplane flight alone, Ithaca charges about 12-16% of the value of an adult ticket. TUI charges 10% of the ticket value. But already, for example. Rainbow adds nothing and beavers can fly for free! :)
The situation is different if you buy the whole package from a tour operator. Although here it may also depend on the hotel you go to, but in most cases you will not pay a zloty for an infant.
In our opinion, it is definitely worth traveling with a young child, not only for the sake of savings, but mainly for the sake of unforgettable moments and memories that will remain in our heads for a very long time.
Anyway, Paweł wrote a nice post about it Traveling with a baby through the eyes of a dad.
And let the cheap tickets be just an extra incentive, because there really is nothing to be afraid of :)