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Flying to America with an 18 month old

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Flying to America with an 18 month old

We are just about to book return flights to Boston (both daytime), probably with American Airlines.

Can anyone tell whether they think it is worth booking an extra seat for our (by then) 18 month old, or travelling with her on a lap? And if we book an extra seat will the airline provide the appropriate seat restraint? (the website and customer helpline is a bit vague about this).



U.S.A. ( the land...
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1. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

For your own comfort and peace of mind and first and foremost, for the safety of your child, you should purchase another seat ( tickets are usually half the price). Any FAA approved child safety seat ( car seat) is allowed on board. I don't think AA provides the seat, but you can always call them and ask.

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2. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

Don't book an extra seat, and pray that there is a spare one. I have often asked when checking in if the flight isn't full whether they can 'block off' the third seat - sometimes works

You will also have to resign yourself to the likelihood that it will be a nightmare, the only redeeming feature being the finite duration

Take as many toys/crayons/snacks/distractions as you can fit in your hand luggage, and try and strctch out that nap!

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3. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

Welcome to the forum, Douglas.

Silly me. I thought I would find a clear answer on the AA website for you. Their US site says: "Infants under 2 years of age who travel within the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands may be held in an adult's lap at no charge." I found nothing about children on the UK website.

Sorry that I am no help. I fear you will spend a lot of time on the phone to American Airlines.

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4. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

hmmm - 7 to 8 hours with a child on your lap? I seem to remember 18month olds as being full of motion! - granted, no one likes to pay the extra fare - I'm just thinking of your comfort as well as the comfort of your child....

Have you traveled by air with the child before? long or short flights? and how did that go?

(meals are served in flight-how do you handle that with a child on your lap the whole time-there is barely enough room for one person with the tray table down)

you will need to bring your own child restraint-car seat-the airlines do not provide them.


Malibu, CA / N.Y.C
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5. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

"you will need to bring your own child restraint-car seat-the airlines do not provide them"

British Airways do provide them in all classes. Think you may still have to pre-book though.

Nashua, New...
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6. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

When my daughter was a baby, we purchased a seat for her for a three hour flight. It was well worth the money to have a safe and secure seat for her. You'll also be able to keep her entertained more easily, and everyone will be much more comfortable. It will be a pretty tight squeeze when the passenger directly in front of you reclines their seat (which is pretty likely on such a long flight).

We used to have a car seat that converted to a baby stroller, and we were able to buckle that into her seat on the plane. It made things much easier for us getting around the airport, and was also a necessity in the rental car. Since you'll likely need a car seat or a stroller during your visit, it might be worth the investment.

London, United...
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7. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

Please do both yourselves and the other passengers a favour, book a seat for the 18 month old. Everyone will be a lot happier and it will be a better flight for all. It's also much safer for the 18 month old to have their own seat. Read up on safetly and children that are 'lap babies.'

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8. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

I cannot believe that any person would want to have an 18month old (its not an infant we are talking about here) sit on their lap for probably 9+ hours.

Thats an entire work day! And god help the poor passenger next to you when some wriggling toddler is trying to escape and screaming because they cant even sit on a seat. Are you perhaps planning your flight so far in advance that you don't actually have a toddler yet, just a non-mobile baby, so haven't experienced trying to keep a child in one place for more than 10 seconds?

OK you might get lucky and save a few hundred quid, if you don't I can only hope that 'penangites' is the passenger next to you.

You should be able to take your car seat with you, there are ones that the airline will let you strap into the seat I believe, sure I have seen this. For take off and landing they usually give you an extra lap belt, not sure if thats the case if you have a separate car seat.

London, UK
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9. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

We did a lot of long, long haul (to Oz and NZ and USA ) when the children were little and please do get a seat for her for anything over 5 hours - it won't be at full adult fare. We were often lucky in having spare seats nearby to spread out, but those days are long past (only 10 years ago) - with consolodation and last minute fares planes are usually full. Pack some little suprise toys (something every 45 mins, if they are not sleeping) picture books and some scribbling crayons and don't expect to relax- small babies are easy because they sleep but toddlers need work to make the flight pleasant for you and neighbours ( and people can be rude and unpleasant, even if your child is behaving beautifully). Mine were trained to travel (they knew that complaining got them there no faster!) and I am none to keen on those who view the rest of the passengers as babysitters! by letting them run up and down - just makes people cross. Take something like a dummy or a juice bottle to suck for take off and landing - the change in air pressure can be quite painful for their short ear canals.

10. Re: Flying to America with an 18 month old

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