8 Rights you need to know when flying with children

By Magdalena Pelka | Last updated: September 10, 2019

Are you planning a flight with your children soon? We know that getting the whole family on an airplane without incident can be daunting.

Flying is stressful, and as any parent can attest, it is even more stressful to have a baby with you who doesn’t stop crying no matter what you do. If your flight is delayed or canceled then you have a tough day ahead! With your luggage on one side and a diaper bag on the other, you’re trying to get the stroller through a crowd while comforting your baby while you wait hours for your next flight – a nightmare!

To make things a bit easier for you, there are some rights that you have as a family when you fly. We are here to break them down for you by answering some of the most common questions parents ask when flying with children.

What if my family’s flight is canceled or delayed??

To make flying with children easier, it is important to know, what rights You have even if something goes wrong. Here are some things to think about:

Your rights when you fly with a baby

You can fly with infants – but the minimum age requirement varies from airline to airline.

One question parents often ask is whether there are restrictions on flying with young children. While there are airlines that let newborns fly from the age of 2 days, most airlines only allow infants who are at least 14 days old to board.

Lufthansa and Eurowings officially have no minimum age for babies, Iberia allows infants from 2 days to travel by air. However, all three airlines advise waiting until the baby is one week old. Other airlines such as Ryanair set their minimum age at 7 days and all people who are younger are not allowed to fly. Easyjet only lets babies on board from the 15th day of life. Always contact your airline first if you want to fly with a very young child.

Regardless of age, you will need to present identification for the child. Due to an EU regulation, every child needs their own travel document with a photo. So make sure you have enough time to get a valid ID for your child.

You have the right to sit with your child during a flight?

One might think that it is common for adults to sit with their younger children during a flight. However, there is currently no law in Europe requiring this. In most cases, however, parents can sit with their children at no additional cost.

If you are traveling with a toddler and are on a flight without reserved seats, you can usually board in front of the other passengers so that you can choose a seat. However, some low cost airlines have different seat regulations. For example, Ryanair requires that at least one adult pay for a reserved seat. He then allocates free seats to your children next to you. Otherwise, you will be randomly assigned places and there is no guarantee that they will be nearby.

In cases of slightly older children, at least in the United Kingdom, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suggests that children should be no more than one row of seats from the accompanying adult. Please inquire with the airline first about the seat regulations for children.

There are laws in the United States that give families the right to sit together without additional fees. According to the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Bill, all children under the age of 13 must sit next to their parents or accompanying adult.

Baby food and milk are exempt from fluid restrictions

Photo by Laura21de from Pixabay

While liquids are often restricted by airlines, this does not apply to baby food and milk. If you are traveling with a child under the age of 2, you can bring as much food as you need for your trip. This includes baby food, milk, fruit juice and distilled water.

You can take baby seats and prams with you on most airlines

You can at a lot of Airlines Take child seats and strollers for your baby on the plane without having to pay anything extra. Strollers can often be taken to the gate where the flight crew stows them for you before you take a seat. You will get the stroller back after leaving the plane. However, there are also airlines where this is not the case. Eurowings, for example, lets you choose between a stroller, cot, trolley and child seat. You can only check in one of these items for free as luggage. Strollers and buggies are not permitted on board the aircraft.

Child seats can usually be taken on board and into the cabin. They are safer and more comfortable for babies than sitting on a parent’s lap throughout the flight. However, if you bring a child seat, you’ll have to pay for a place for your baby on the plane. This often means that you have to pay the full price instead of the reduced price for small children, since your child occupies its own seat. Inform your airline in advance that you should bring a child seat to avoid misunderstandings and confusion.

Your rights if something goes wrong

If you ever find yourself stranded at an airport with an unfortunate child in tow, keep in mind that there are laws that protect you and your child’s rights while flying.

Here is exactly the information you need to know about your family’s passenger rights if something goes wrong:

If you experience a delay or flight cancellation with children, they are also entitled to compensation.

One of the most important things to consider when flying with a young child is that your child is entitled to compensation for flight cancellations or delays.

The case is fairly simple for children ages 2 and up. If you paid for the child’s seat, you are also entitled to compensation if something goes wrong.

But what about when you fly on your lap with a child? Babies often fly at a discounted price when placed on their parents’ laps sit – still see compensation? If you fly with a toddler under the age of 2, most airlines charge between 10% and 15% of the adult fare, plus tax and an additional charge for an infant seat belt.

For years, airlines have refused to compensate toddlers, arguing that no compensation has to be paid because they haven’t paid for a seat.

However, this changed in 2017 when AirHelp won a lawsuit against Thomas Cook Airlines, creating a new precedent in the EU. You can read more about this here.

If you now pay a fee, without a seat, for your child’s flight and your flight is significantly delayed or canceled, your baby is legally entitled to compensation from the airline.

Find out more about passenger rights here.

Your child is entitled to compensation equal to that of an adult

Even if the ticket for your child’s seat is only a fraction of the cost of an adult’s ticket, it is still entitled to the full compensation amount. The amount of compensation you receive depends on whether you are a confirmed paying passenger on the flight, the distance of your flight and the length of the delay – NOT the amount you paid for the ticket.

The only exception is if your child flew for free. If you have not had to pay any fees or airfare, you are not entitled to compensation.

Find out more about how the compensation is calculated here.

Your family is entitled to food and drinks

If you are stuck at the airport and waiting for your flight, the airline has to provide you with food and refreshments – your children too! Some airlines may offer you coupons or reimburse you for groceries and essentials you bought while you wait.

The laws determine when you are entitled to this care – everything depends on the length of your flight. You can read more here.

Your family is entitled to free accommodation and airport transfers

In the event of long delays or flight cancellations requiring an overnight stay, the airline must provide you and your family with free accommodation and free transportation to and from the airport. You are taken to a hotel room or other accommodation that is large enough to accommodate your whole family.

Know Your Rights!

Flying with young children is not easy – but if you know your rights and are familiar with them, you can make the flight experience less stressful. Always remember that your children are also passengers and have all the rights that an adult passenger would have. And AirHelp is always there to help you understand these rights so you can enforce them!

Flight delays happen, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them. You could be entitled to compensation of up to € 600 (minus a success fee) if your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked in the past three years.

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