With term over and summer holidays in full swing, here’s the low-down on how child friendly flights really are. Check out what you can expect from five popular airlines this summer. From hidden costs, child seats, to onboard meals and entertainment, we’ve researched all the ins and outs of both long haul and short haul airlines to give you an idea of what’s what. 

British Airways

Infants: 0-23 months
You must always have a ticket for your infant’s journey

Children: 2-11 years
Sitting on an adult’s lap – infant fare
An infant fare is charged at 10% of the adult fare when the infant does not have his/her own seat, but sits on an adult’s lap. One infant per adult.

A separate seat for your infant – child fare
If you would like your infant to sit in his/her own seat (as long as they are between 6 and 23 months), you’ll pay a child fare. This can’t be booked online.

Carrycots
For your baby’s comfort, there are specially designed carrycots on board, so that your baby can sleep during the flight.

To reserve a carrycot, you just need to book a seat in advance at a carrycot position on the aircraft, and that is free of charge. You’ll see the carrycot positions on the seat map in ‘Manage My Booking’. If you don’t choose a seat in advance, a suitable seat will be allocated for you three days before departure, but this might not be a carrycot position.

Due to operational reasons, sometimes they will not be able to guarantee the carrycot that you reserved.

Child seats
BA can also supply a child with a seat that attaches to the carrycot position. If you have reserved your seat at a carrycot position, you can ask the cabin crew for a child seat.

The child seats supplied by British Airways are:

  • Available on all long haul flights, except in First Class on Boeing 777 aircraft, where only carrycots are supplied.
  • Suitable to be used from birth to two years, for infants who weigh no more than 13kgs (29Ibs)
  • Adjustable to a variety of positions from horizontal to vertical.

Car seats

If you decide to purchase a separate seat for your infant for a children fare, or you’re travelling with a child who is less than three years old, you may prefer to use your own forward facing car seat.

The car seat:

  • Can only be used for infants over six months old and children up to three years old
  • Must be designed to be secured by means of a normal aircraft single lap strap and face the same direction as the passenger seat on which it is positioned
  • Must have  5-point restraining harness
  • Must not exceed the dimensions of the aircraft seat, and should fit into an area of 45cm x 45cm (17.5ins x 17.5ins)

Two part car seats (a seat and separate base) are not suitable for use on aircraft seats.

Amsafe Child Restraint System

If you have your own AmSafe System you can use this on board.

  • It can be used for infants from 12 months to children of 4 years of age.
  • It isn’t suitable for use on First Class, Club World or World Traveller Plus seats
  • It can’t be used in the same row as the emergency exit or the row in front or behind the emergency exit

Reserving seats

You can reserve your seat before you check in to get a wider choice if you’re travelling with children aged two to 11 years. If you’d like to make sure the whole family has seats of their choice, you can reserve them in advance. There is a seating guide which informs you whether you can book your seat for free or if there is a charge.

If you decide not to select your seats in advance, seats will be allocated to you five days before departure. If the group can’t be seated together, all children in your booking will be seated with an accompanying adult.

Check in on-line on BA.com

Take the stress out of travelling, and check in on BA.com. You can check in up to nine people at a time, choose your seats and print your boarding passes on ba.com as early as 24 hours before your flight is due to leave.

If you’d like to take more bags than your free checked baggage allowance, you can purchase extra bag allowance (for up to 10 extra bags per person) for your family before you check in online.

If your infant is booked under the same booking reference, then you will be able to check in online.

When you’ve checked in:

  • If you have a small folding pushchair, you’ll be able to take this right to the aircraft door at most airports. If you’re travelling from London Heathrow Terminal 1, please make sure you use a small, fully collapsible pushchair, weighing no more than 5kg.
  • When you’ve checked in, take your baggage to the Bag Drop desk.
  • Some airports have dedicated ‘Family Lanes’ at security, so you can go through Security at your own speed. Ask at your departure airport if there is a ‘Family Lane’.
  • At the departure gate, families are invited to board before other passengers, so that you and your family can get settled on board as soon as possible.
  • Airport staff will put your pushchair in the hold and it will be returned to you on arrival at the aircraft door if possible, or alternatively in the baggage hall on the baggage carousel.

Baggage

When you travel on British Airways, your child has the same hand baggage allowance as you.

If you are travelling with an infant, you’ll be able to bring one bag for the items that your infant may require during the flight. Airport security will vary around the world, so please check what restrictions your airport has in place for carrying baby milk in your hand baggage.

Children’s meals

Infants

BA carry some tinned baby food on their long haul flights, but it is recommend that you carry your own baby food equipment, including liquids and sterilised bottles, in your hand baggage. If you’d like to bring your baby’s food with you, make sure you bring un-opened food in a sealed jar.

Airport security will vary around the world, so please check what restrictions your airport has in place for carrying baby milk in your hand luggage.

Unfortunately BA are unable to sterilise or provide sterilised water on board.

Children

There are a range of healthy children’s meals, aimed at satisfying your child’s sense of fun and well as their hunger. There’s a Feed Kids First policy, so that your little ones are happy before you enjoy your own meal.

In Flight Entertainment

BA’s in-flight entertainment on long haul flights has a dedicated kids’ channel from Disney and Cartoon Network showing cartoons and popular shows. You’ll also find family movies and a dedicated audio music channel.

You can use the parental lock, which lets you block programmes you don’t want your children to see.

Skyflyers Activity Packs

BA’s latest Skyflyer activity pack has an exciting flying theme to keep your little ones amused during their flight. The packs come in swimming bags, which are perfect for children to fly the flag.

The Skyflyer packs are available on all flights over two hours from London Heathrow and London Gatwick.

  • For children between three and five years old, the pack contains crayons and a ‘Spread your Wings’ colouring book featuring Cuthbert the Cat.
  • For children over six, the pack contains a pen and the ‘Wing It’ book, packed with exciting facts about flying, together with puzzles and Sudoku’s.
  • Your young flyer can also personalised their belongings with their own Skyflyers baggage tag; you just need to print it out before your flight.

Making a booking for an infant who isn’t yet born

If you’d like to make a booking for a child that has not yet been born, you only need to make your own booking, which you can do on ba.com.

After your baby is born, contact British Airways and they’ll arrange for your baby’s ticket to be issued.

If you will be flying soon after your baby’s birth, please check with your treating doctor that they agreed to your baby travelling. Newborn infants must be at least 48 hours old before they can travel on British Airways.

Easyjet

Infants 0-23 months

Children 2-16 years

Youngest passengers must be at least 15 days old.

Fares

If your child is under 2 years old, they can sit on your lap for a fixed fee of £20. As soon as your child reaches their second birthday, you’ll need to book them their own seat at the normal price. Infants under the age of two years are not allocated a seat automatically, but you can book them a separate seat if you feel they’ll be more comfortable that way. They’ll need a car seat that’s suitable for their age, weight and height as recommended by the manufacturer. Alternatively, a restraint device (CARES) may be able to be used if in accordance with weight/height guidelines.

Please note, you won’t be able to book their seat online, instead you’ll need to book through Easyjet’s Customer Service Team.

If your child is under 2 and they sit on your lap, they’ll be able to fly for £20. Otherwise they pay the normal price for their seat. Only one infant per adult lap is permitted.

Reserving seats

It is important that Easyjet know if you have children in your booking, this is in order to make sure they get an appropriate seat and are seated with you. When you make your booking for your family, please make sure you clearly identify any children in the booking. Just add the number of children and infants in your party at the relevant section and include their ages when prompted.

Board for families with young children will operate as it does today with

  • Easyjet Plus! Cardholders, Flexi fare passengers and passengers who have purchased Up Front or Extra Legroom seats boarding first
  • Followed by Special Assistance and families with children under 5
  • And then all remaining passengers

NB: If you are travelling as a large group which includes a child under 5, some of the group may be asked to board with the remaining passengers.

Car Seats

If you are using a car seat, the seat must not be located in a row of seats which is either adjacent to an emergency exit or is immediately in front of or behind such a row e.g. row 1 and the rows next to the over wing exit. The ideal location for a car seat is on a window seat.

At least one seat adjacent to a child seat must be occupied by a physically able person, who is responsible for the occupant in the child seat. If there is a particular area of the aircraft you want to sit in, you can purchase specific seats.

Easyjet claim to be well prepared for smaller passengers and have additional seat belts for infants so they can fly on your lap. They don’t supply car seats or the CARES child restraint device, but you can bring your own in accordance with the age/weight/height range as recommended by the manufacturer.

Child restraint devices (CARES) are allowed for children who weigh between 10 and 20kgs (22 and 44 lbs). They must also be able to sit upright unaided. This normally applies to children between the ages of 1 and 4.

Baggage

Children over the age of 2 years can take the same amount of baggage as an adult – that’s one piece of hand baggage without any weight limit. The maximum size is 56 x 45 x 25cm including wheels and handles.

There’s a fee for hold baggage for all customers. A good tip is to book your hold baggage when you’re booking flights. It’s much cheaper than paying for it at the airport.

For every infant, (even if on your lap) or young child you can take up to two of the following items free of charge: pushchair, baby buggy, travel cot, back carrier, car seat etc. The items you’ll need between check-in and boarding, e.g. buggy, can usually be taken to the boarding gate or aircraft door as appropriate but do check local airport regulations as these can differ. You can take car seats onto the aircraft if you’ve arranged this. If you want to take more than 2 of these items per infant or young child, they can be purchased as hold baggage.

Infants sitting on an adult’s lap don’t qualify for free hand baggage, so any baby clothes or other items must be part of your hand baggage. Infants for whom a separate seat has been booked qualify for one piece of hand baggage with no weight limit, just like the grown ups.

You can take baby food, baby milk and sterilised water in your cabin baggage. This includes: soya milk for babies, sterilised water (which must be in a baby bottle), formula, breast milk or cow milk (specifically for babies) and baby food. In the case of milk or sterilised water for babies, the restriction of 100ml per container does not apply, provided that the total amount is no more than 1 litre. The adult carrying it may be asked to taste it for security reasons.

Check in online

You can check in online from 30 days and up to two hours before the scheduled departure of your flight. Infants travelling on an adult’s lap also need their own boarding pass, which can be collected from the airport check-in desk. Your seat number is clearly shown on your boarding pass.

Children’s meals

There are hot and cold snacks and drinks suitable for children as well as kids snack packs which contain a selection of snacks from well-known brands, all packed in a fun filled activity box which includes games, drawings to colour in, a post card and a pack of colour pencils. All of these can be bought from the cabin crew.

In Flight Entertainment

None available

Virgin Atlantic

Infants 0-24 months

Children 2-16 years

Fares

There is no detail on the website on set fare prices for infants or children, this will be down to the destination etc.

In flight cots

Virgin offer in-flight cots free of charge. For your baby’s safety, we don’t allow them to be placed on the cabin floor. The cabin crew will install the cot for you after take-off and advise you if your baby will need to be removed from the cot and secured on your lap should there be any turbulence. Sky cots have to be requested in advance, and are allocated on a first come first served basis.

Child seats

While your children enjoy their dedicated in-flight entertainment, they’ll be comfy and safe in seats designed just for them. The seats are available on every flight, can be used in any cabin and are suitable for new-born babies up to children weighing 20kg (44lbs) or measuring 100cm tall. To ensure you get a child seat, just buy a flight at the child fare, though you should note they need at least 12 hours’ notice to ensure a child seat is available.

Children too large to fit a child seat will still pay the child fare. Young passengers in child seats will need to be accompanied by a guardian aged at least 16 who must be seated next to the child in the Economy and Premium Economy cabins. In Upper Class cabins, the second child may be seated either directly across from or immediately in front of the guardian.

Pushchairs and car seats

When travelling with children or infants, you’re welcome to bring one fully collapsible pushchair or car seat, in addition to your free checked baggage allowance. Note that these will fly in the aircraft’s hold, rather than the cabin.

Pushchairs may be checked in or used up until the boarding gate. On landing, whenever possible we’ll have your pushchair ready and waiting at the aircraft doors. However, you may have to reclaim it at the baggage hall, due to local custom’s restrictions at some destinations.

Check in online

This is not available for infants but is the normal process if you are taking children on board, there is no charge for this process (check in 24 hours prior to the flight).

Baggage

Passengers travelling with infants or children can bring a fully collapsible pushchair or car seat, in addition to their free check in luggage allowance.

Infants too young for their own seat on the aircraft (travelling on the lap of an adult), can have one piece of hold baggage weighing up to 23kg, and one piece of hang baggage weighing up to 6kg. There’s no extra baggage allowance to be purchased for infants.

Children’s meals

The kids’ menu has been created with the fussiest child in mind and includes firm favourites like fish fingers, pizza and chocolate. You can order your kids’ meal as soon as you’ve booked your tickets.

In Flight Entertainment

On most flights your kids will find programmes, movies and games just for them. There are channels for pre-schoolers, 5-12 year olds and teenagers and a kids’ blockbuster movie. If they’ve got their own seats, the children will have their own TVs too.

A number of their aircraft have parental settings on their entertainment systems so you can decide what you’d like your children to watch – just ask a member of cabin crew at the start of your flight.

Complimentary Backpack

All children on flights leaving the UK get a free backpack crammed with exciting things to keep them occupied. Inside they’ll find:

  • A book
  • A Virgin Atlantic baseball cap
  • A magazine
  • An uber-cool digital watch
  • A packet of sweets
  • A colouring pen

Ryanair

Infants 0-23 months

Children 2-16 years

Infant Travel

A baby must be at least 8 days old before Ryanair can accept him/her on to a flight, due to the physical effects of flying at high-altitude. They would always advise the newborn’s parents or guardians to ensure that the treating doctor agrees to him/her travelling by air.

If you are travelling with an infant they can be included on a flight reservation by adding an infant during the online boarding process. An infant must sit on the adult’s lap, an infant seat belt is provided by the cabin crew, please note that extra seats cannot be purchased for infants.

Fares

 Per Infant/Per One Way flight (must be under 2 years for both outbound and return flight) £30

In flight cots/child seats /No car seats can be used in the aircraft cabin

Infant equipment (car/booster seats/travel cots) can be checked in upon payment of an Infant Equipment Fee (maximum weight 20kgs). Fee charged per item / per one-way flight – maximum weight of 20kg per item (1 pushchair per child carried free of charge). £10, £20 if not pre booked.

Check in online

 All passengers must check in online for their flight and print both the adult and infant boarding passes. The online check-in service is available from 15 days before each flight and closes 4 hours before each flight.

Reserving seats fee £10, £20 at airport.

Baggage

There is no checked or cabin baggage allowance for infants, however, one pushchair per child is carried free of charge, this does not need to be pre booked.

Pushchairs should preferably be tagged for travel at Airport Bag Drop Desk and can then be used up to the aircraft steps. The Bag Drop Desks close 40 minutes time prior to the scheduled flight departure.

Children’s meals

Unable to reheat baby food or milk

A range of snacks available on board.

Boarding

The following services are available to make travel easier for families:

  • Priority boarding available online for purchase
  • Reserved seating available online for purchase
  • Pushchairs are carried free and can be used up to the entrance to the plane. After landing, your pushchair will be available at the aircraft steps (provided that local conditions permit this)
  • Baby changing facilities are available on board

In Flight Entertainment

 None

Ethiad

Infants 0-24 months

Children 2-11 years

 According to their London booking office there is no minimum age limit to travel

Fares

A percentage of the adult’s fare is chargeable for infants and children but this depends on the route etc

In flight cots / child seats etc

Bassinets are available on a first come, first served basis, infant must not exceed 10kg or 10 months. These are along with special seats for the adults.

Guests travelling with children (over 6 months and up to 36 months) may use certain approved car-type seats in conjunction with an aircraft provided that the appropriate child fare has been purchased. The child must be secured in the seat and accompanied by a responsible adult in an adjacent seat for take-off and landing.

Check in online

You can check in online but if you have requested a bassinet they advise you to get to the airport early to make sure you secure one as they are on a first come first served basis. If they are all gone when arriving at the airport the infant will have to travel on an adult’s lap.

Baggage

Children and infants have a total of 30kg baggage allowance.

Children’s Meals

Baby meals are available on a first come first served basis, infant must not exceed 10kg or 10 months. (Have to be requested at time or reservation, or 24 hours before departure). Menu includes burgers, fish fingers, chicken nuggets and vegetable patties.

In Flight Entertainment

As well as toys and games, your child can enjoy a range of flight entertainment programmes and interactive games specially designed for kids.

At the Airport

In Abu Dhabi and other major airports, they are able to lend you a stroller to help you through the airport. For Diamond First and Pearl Business their new Family Room in Abu Dhabi offer soft toys, comfortable seating, books, games and qualified nannies.