It doesn’t seem fair to pay full ticket price for kids. After all, not only are they smaller and take up less room, but they often end up sitting on your lap and not taking up any room at all. Plus, they tend to eat less. Over the years airline fares have changed regarding children and knowing the current rules can be confusing and overwhelming. So what can you expect to pay for your child on your next flight?
Children over the age of 2
Unfortunately, if you are flying domestic within the United States, you can usually expect to pay full fare. If your child is over the age of 2 and requires their own seat (which they will have to get if they are over the age of 2) then you’ll have to pay the same price for their ticket as you did for your own.
If you are flying overseas with your children, then you will get some sort of discount for your child. The airline itself will govern exactly what that discount is. You might get by with paying 70% of the adult fare for your child. To some destinations, and on some airlines, you might only have to pay half of what you pay for yourself.
Children under the age of 2
On the other hand, if your child is under the age of 2 and sits on your lap then you can get away with letting them fly for free. Of course, if you have a squirming 18 month old and you’re flying from New York to Los Angeles, then the idea of sitting there for several hours with your child on your lap might not sound that appealing.
If you are traveling overseas, then you might still have to pay something for your lap child, although it won’t be anything like a full fare. You might end up having to pay around 10% of what you paid for your own fare, although this can vary from one airline to the next.
If your child is flying alone, then you will also have to pay the “Unaccompanied Minor” fee which carries from one airline to the next. It can be anywhere from $50 to $100 and you will have to pay it each way-but not, thankfully, each leg.
Traveling during the off-peak times and during the low season can help you find flights that are not only cheaper, but also less crowded. When flying with kids, a less crowded flight means that you can spread out more. That means that technically, if you have a child under the age of 2 and you are able get by without paying a fare for them, on a flight that’s not crowded your child could still get their own seat. Of course, this isn’t really a chance that you might want to take.
Remember, too, that when flying with kids car seats and strollers are allowed on the flight and are not considered as part of the checked baggage fees, which does allow some kind of financial relief at least.