On the Go > Baby Travel > By Air > For the Airport > Purchasing Tickets
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permits the purchase of lap-infant airfare (free of charge on domestic flights; the passenger seat tax on international flights is typically applied) until 2 years old. However, flying with a lap infant is at the parent or caregiver’s own risk. The FAA strongly urges parents to secure their child in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device until he or she is 44 pounds in weight.
A CRS is a hard-backed child safety seat that is approved by the government for use in both motor vehicles and aircraft; note that not all car seats are approved for use in airplanes. Make sure your CRS is government approved and has “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it. Otherwise, you may be asked to check the CRS as baggage.
For toddlers, the CARES Child Safety Device is the only FAA-approved harness-type restraint for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. I am just learning about this device now as I type this, so we do not have our own experience-based advice to impart. Because this device is not approved for use in motor vehicles, our suggestion is to seek a government-approved CRS in lieu of lugging two different safety seats on your travels. You can learn more and watch instructional device installation videos on the FAA website.
Request bulkhead seating when possible (and you’ll want to take advantage of early boarding in order to snag overhead bin space). International carriers often have bassinets in the bulkhead rows with priority access given to passengers traveling with infants on a first-come, first-serve basis. Even when Sydney had outgrown the bassinet, we still requested the special-access seating for as long as she was eligible (typically through 2 years). One crafty flight attendant between London and Cape Town even suggested that she install the bassinet for us even though we had no intention of using it. Her reason? We were seated in the center aisle of the bulkhead and it would discourage passengers from crossing over us to get to the other side of the plane.