Statistically, flying in an airplane is a whole heck of a lot safer than driving a car – but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions to protect yourself and your baby while flying.
Plane crashes are statistically very rare, but unexpected turbulence is quite common, and it can be dangerous for babies and young children who fly without an assigned seat.
The safest way to fly with a baby? Buy them a seat, and buckle their car seat into it.
There’s a reason you don’t see more infants traveling this way on planes: Buying an extra seat is costly, and it’s almost always permitted for babies and toddlers to fly for free if sitting on a parent’s lap. Airlines allow this because they’re “…fearful customers would drive rather than fly if they have to purchase a seat for their child, and not all car seats fit on every airplane,” Pinkerton said.
However, many airlines (such as Southwest) offer “affordable infant fares” for babies and toddlers, so be sure to check before you fly! If money is an issue, you can always ask the airline on the day of if they will let you use any empty seats to buckle your child’s car seat in. If you’d prefer to plan ahead more, you could always call the airline to attempt to negotiate down the cost of a seat for an infant.
Pinkerton added that there’s another major perk of flying this way: