Flying with Children – FAQ Fridays

Flying with Children can be really tricky, but there are ways of making it a lot easier! This week’s FAQ Friday helps you do just that.

Video Transcription

Welcome to another episode of FAQ Fridays from Travelstart with me Nick Paul. Today we are going to be talking about flying with kids. We are going to look at:

  • How ticket prices are worked out
  • Who gets a seat
  • How many children you can travel with
  • How kids can travel unaccompanied
  • The best ways to fly with children

How are ticket prices worked out?

Airlines break kids into 3 groups: 0-24 months | 2-11 years | 12 & older. Infants pay 10% of the fare and a small portion of the taxes as well. Children usually pay 75% of the fare and all of the taxes. Anyone older than a child (anyone older than 12 years) will pay full fare and taxes.

Who gets a seat?

Infants don’t get a seat when they travel, but if your infant is a big child and needs its own seat you can pay the child fare and have your infant sit on a seat. Infants may also get a bassinette. This is a small cot that is clipped onto the wall that divides the front of economy class cabin with the kitchen area. You will need to request this with the airline as soon as you have booked your tickets. Please note that the infant must be 6 months or younger and weigh less than 10kg. It is on a request basis and is not guaranteed.

Children 2 years and older will get there own seat.

How many children can you travel with?

You are only allowed one infant per adult. With children, you are allowed up to 8 per adult. I don’t know who would be crazy enough to travel with 8 kids on a flight but you are allowed to.

Unaccompanied Minors (Kids not accompanied by adults)

There are occasions when an adult is not able to accompany a child on a flight. It is basically someone travelling without somebody who is 16 years and older. Usually any child from 5 to 15 years qualifies but it varies per airline, so you will need to check with your airline first.

Unaccompanied minors usually pay the full economy class ticket price (not a child fare or infant fare) and they might be charged a fee by the airline as well. There is limited space for unaccompanied minors on the plane so you need to request from the airline if there is enough space. The airline will need both the details of the parent/guardian dropping off the child and those collecting the child on the other end. The child will then be assisted and escorted from one guardian to the other guardian through airport, onto the plane, off the plane and back through the airport again. You are going to need to contact the airline directly to book this. There are some travel agents who will do it, but generally they refer you to the airline because they are only acting as middle men in that situation, collecting the information from you and passing it directly to the airline. It often works out faster and easier if you just deal with the airline directly.

The best ways to fly with kids

 I would suggest that you book the most direct flights. No long layovers; you don’t want to be entertaining a small child in an airport for a very long time. Also, no extremely short layovers; If you are running through the airport desperately trying to make a flight you are going to lose a kid along the way. I would suggest that you give yourself enough time but not too much time in an airport.

Many airlines provide goodie bags for kids, but I suggest bring some of you own familiar toys for the child on the flight. Something that is going to calm them down and make them feel at home. You will have to look after your own kids on the flight, although there is one airline which does provide a nanny service on-board; Etihad Airways. This member of the cabin crew is able to entertain children from moment to moment, they can’t take care of your child for the entire flight but they will assist you in getting a bit of shuteye, and a bit of peace and quiet.

If you have any tips that you have picked up whilst travelling with children, please share them in the comments below – we’d love to hear them!

If you’ve got any other travel related questions also ask them in the comments. Please remember to subscribe to our channel if you want to hear more.

That is it from me this week.


Our Readers Comments

  1. Hi, please advise on topic of flying with children..
    A Malawian citizen , his wife and children were in SA for 7 years (working permit) and they will be going back to Malawi to relocate there in 6 weeks. One child has a Malawian Passport and the other 2 children were born in SA but was not registered here, only have hospital letter and clinic cards. If they want to fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg , will the children need birth certificates (which will be impossible in short time) or is there any other way to overcome this problem?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Heleen,

      A child will need an abridged or unabridged birth certificate or passport for identification purposes. This must be produced together with the identification documents of the parent or guardian that is travelling with the child.

      Any passenger traveling will need a form of legal documentation.

      Please contact the airline they are wanting to travel with or Department of Home Affairs they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

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