It’s natural to have lots of questions when you’re flying with an infant for the first time. What age can a baby fly? What documents do I need? What should I pack? We’ll guide you through the process with lots of handy tips for flying with a baby. You can handle it all with a little forward planning and a baby's first flight checklist.
Flying with a baby: your FAQs answered
We take each of the most common questions about how to fly with a baby and answer them one by one.
What age can a baby fly?
There’s no legal restriction on flying with a newborn baby but many airlines will only accept babies that are at least two weeks old. They might also request a letter from your paediatrician confirming your baby is fit to fly. Check with your airline about their policy.
What travel documents do I need when travelling on an airplane with a baby?
Depending on where you are going, you are likely to need four main documents:
- Passport. You need a passport for your baby. Travel rules like this apply to infants the same as everyone else. Make sure you apply for your baby’s passport in good time and remember to renew regularly as passports only last for five years for under 16s.
- Unabridged birth certificate. Your baby will also need an unabridged birth certificate to travel. With kids under the age of 18, they’re only allowed to travel in and out of South Africa if they have this document. Although domestic flights are supposed to be exempt, some airlines still request it so always check before you fly.
- Parental Consent Affidavit: if you’re flying with a baby internationally without the other parent, you’ll need a PCA. This written statement from that person grants you permission to travel with the child. You’ll also need a copy of the absent parent’s passport or identity document, as well as their contact details.
- Visa: for international travel, you may also need visas – both for you and for baby. You can learn more about travel documents from the Department of Home Affairs.
What seats should I book to make baby travel more comfortable?
Most airlines will allow children under the age of two to sit on an adult’s lap for a reduced rate. However, many parents find it more comfortable to book a separate seat for their baby and put them in their forward-facing car seat.
Some airlines also offer the use of a baby bassinet. These typically can’t be used during take-off, landing, or when the seat belt signs are illuminated and there will be weight, length, and age restrictions for them. If you’re interested, call to reserve one well in advance.
Remember: Airlines have different policies and safety requirements for both of these options, so check with yours.
Baby's first flight checklist
Looking for a cabin baggage packing list for flying with a baby? Here’s what to remember:
- All travel documents – passport, birth certificate, PCA, and any visas
- Formula/breast milk/food
- Diapers/wipes/changing mat
- Changes of clothes (for the baby and for you!) – wash these clothes before the flight with a delicate fabric conditioner like Comfort Pure to keep them soft and comforting
- Pacifier/sippy cup to suck for take-off and landing
- Collapsible pram/buggy/car seat (check with your airline for restrictions)
Now that you’ve got lots of information about how to fly with a baby you can feel more confident about taking that milestone first flight. You’ll soon be a pro at air travel with kids – which is just as well as you’ll probably be doing it for the next few years!