Traveling with children can create lifelong memories for the entire family. But traveling with an infant on American Airlines may be unfamiliar territory for parents and guardians.
On American Airlines, young children can travel on your lap or in their own seat. Learn more about the American Airlines infant policy, how car seat and strollers are treated and other rules you need to know.
What is the American Airlines children policy?
The American Airlines children policy varies based on how old the child is. The policy also covers accessories commonly used when traveling with young children.
Children under 2 years old
The American Airlines infant rules state you can travel with infants as young as 2 days old. However, if the infant is under 7 days old, you must provide a doctor’s letter stating they are medically cleared to travel.
Children under 2 years old may be ticketed as a lap child or have their own seat. Many parents travel as much as they can when their children are under 2 because the children are “free” since they don’t require their own seat when traveling as a lap child.
When the child has their own seat, they must have an approved safety seat or be able to sit upright without assistance. Parents traveling with more than one child under age 2 can have only one lap child per adult. Additional children must have their own seats.
When flying American, if the lap child turns 2 during the trip, they’ll need their own seat for the remainder of the trip, starting with their birthday.
American Airlines infant policy provides bassinets on a first-come, first-served basis to passengers younger than 2 who weigh 20 pounds or less. They are available to travelers flying on 777-200, 777-300 and 787 aircraft. However, they are unavailable to passengers traveling in first or business class.
Children 2 years and older
When travelers are 2 years and older, they must have their own seat on the plane with a purchased adult fare. You can purchase a cash ticket, award flight, companion ticket or other eligible ticket.
Children under the age of 5 cannot travel on their own. Once your child reaches their fifth birthday, they can travel solo by following the American Airlines unaccompanied minor policies.
Travelers on American Airlines flying with a child under 2 years old can ask the gate agents to board early. The American Airlines boarding process allows eligible families to preboard before other passengers.
Families traveling with children
Families traveling with children younger than 15 can sit together without paying extra fees.
To ensure you benefit from this policy, all travelers should be booked on the same reservation. If your flights were booked separately, call American Airlines customer service to have your reservations linked.
During the booking process, select seats together for your party. The further out from the departure date that you book, the more likely you are to find available seats together. If you skip seat selection, the gate agent can try to reseat you to have your party seated next to one another. Even if your entire party isn’t able to sit together, staff will assign seats so that at least one adult is seated next to a child.
Proof of age
When traveling with children under the age of 18, parents must be able to show proof of age when asked by American Airlines staff. A copy of their birth certificate or a passport are acceptable forms of identification.
If you’re traveling outside the U.S., children must have their own passport. When children under the age of 18 travel with just one parent, you’ll need a signed letter of consent from the parent who is not traveling.
On international flights, an American Airlines lap child is issued a ticket that allows them to check a bag at the same rate as their accompanying adult’s first checked bag.
Even if the baby isn’t traveling with a nursing mother, mothers can travel with a breast pump and a small soft-sided cooler to store their milk.
These items do not count toward the limits for carry-on luggage and personal items.
Many airports offer dedicated spaces for nursing mothers to have privacy before, in between and after their flights.
If you’re traveling within four weeks of your due date, you’ll need to present a letter from your doctor stating that you’ve been recently examined and are fit to fly. The airline wants to avoid an emergency where the changes in cabin pressure, unexpected turbulence and other common situations cause you to go into labor midflight. This could cause the flight to divert from its course to get you and your baby immediate medical attention. Such a diversion would also affect the crew, other passengers and (possibly) continuing flights for the aircraft.
The American Airlines baby policy limits travelers to one diaper bag per child.
Traveling with a car seat provides a more familiar experience on the plane. It also enables parents to have a car seat for their rental car at their destination. The airline allows most car seats that are acceptable for use in motor vehicles. Each seat must have a solid back and seat with restraint straps installed to hold the child in place securely.
Children traveling with a car seat must be secured by its straps during taxi, takeoff and landing. Additionally, they must be in their seat when the “Fasten seat belt” light is on.
An eligible car seat indicates that it “conforms to all federal motor vehicle safety standards” or that it is “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” Children in car seats may not be seated in the exit row. Additionally, they cannot sit in the rows immediately in front of or behind the exit row.
Parents traveling with a stroller can check it free of charge. Strollers weighing over 20 pounds must be checked at the ticket counter. Eligible strollers 20 pounds or less can be gate-checked before boarding.
If you’re traveling with a car seat and a stroller, only one of them can be checked at the gate.
Some parents choose to travel with additional items for their children. These items are often used to keep children entertained, make it easier to transport them or keep them confined while resting. Items such as playpens, wagons, cribs and “pack and plays” count as regular bags against your checked baggage allowance. If they cause you to exceed your checked bag limits, you may incur additional fees.
The bottom line
The American Airlines infant policy provides clear guidelines to parents and guardians traveling with young children. These policies vary depending on the child’s age and also govern related items and situations you may encounter. A child under 2 years old can fly as a lap child or have their own seat.
However, once a child turns 2, you must purchase a seat for them on the flight. These rules are meant to protect children and ensure that you reach your destination safely.
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