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Baggage Charges for Infants and Toddlers – A Guide

Earlier today while Matt was gearing up for a trip with his family he wrote the following tweet:

Nobody seemed to reply to him (or I don’t know how to use my Twitter properly, which is probable) and he got my curious, so I decided to look up baggage fees for infants and children.

When we were only dealing with one infant we managed to still travel light – two roller carry ons plus caddy/carseat combination were enough. It was a bit cumbersome at the airport but doable.

When our infant became a toddler, we ended up getting a car seat bag – in all our travels we were able to check the car seat bag for free (and stuff it with diapers and other stuff). At that point we still could have gotten away with two carry on rollers (plus gate checked stroller), though we never had to pay bag fees for one reason or another so we started checking bags.

Either way, I was curious whether checking car seats for free is a standard thing for all US based airlines or whether we had just gotten lucky. I decided to write it in the form of a guide of baggage charges for infants and toddlers – what can you expect to pay/not pay for when flying US based airlines with children and infants. And remember you can use a car seat bag like the one we bought as a de facto checked bag for a couple items in addition to the car seat itself. Feel free to let me know if you’ve experienced otherwise in the comments!

This stupid car seat bag is ugly and bulky but can be very useful
This stupid car seat bag is ugly and bulky but can be very useful

Alaska Airlines

Infant policy here, carry on policy here.

Carry on Baggage – Diaper bags DO count against the regular carry on allowance. So if you are bringing a lap infant that’s one less carry on for yourself. A FAA approved car seat/infant restraint seat can be brought on for free if  your child is going to occupy it on the plane. Strollers can be carried on subject to space availability (space guaranteed only with purchase of a ticket for an infant.

Checked Baggage – Strollers and car seats can be checked without charge when traveling with a child/infant. All other standard fees apply.

Car Seats and Strollers – See above.

Allegiant Air

Find their policy here.

Carry on Baggage – Each fare paying passenger may travel with a diaper bag at no charge. Diaper bag does not count against carry on allowance

Checked Baggage – There is no charge for checking or gate checking both a car seat and a stroller for children and infants

Car Seats and Strollers – See checked baggage policy above.

American Airlines

Not the greatest website. Information on children and infants here, general baggage allowance info here. Also notable that they group children and pets together…okay then.

Carry on Baggage – You are allowed to bring an umbrella stroller, approved safety seat, and diaper bag on in addition to the regular carry on allowance. My guess is in practice they’ll make you gate check some of that stuff (I’ve never successfully gotten a stroller into an AA cabin).

Checked Baggage – It doesn’t look like you get anything above the standard adult allowance which means it technically costs money to check baggage in for your infant or child (unless traveling internationally on flights that allow free checked bags for adults). However since you’re allowed to bring a car seat on as carry on, my guess is they’ll let you check that at the counter as well.

Car Seats and Strollers – See carry on policy above.

Delta Airlines

Find their policy here.

Carry on Baggage – It’s unclear whether a lap child gets a carry on baggage allowance, but I think so, since the website says “In addition to the one bag carry-on allowance, you may bring a booster seat, other infant seat or bassinet onto the plane as an additional free item (subject to carry-on size restrictions).” This has been my experience in practice as well. I read this as lap infants get one bag to carry on, ticketed children get the regular allowance adults get of course.

Checked Baggage – For unticketed infants, none. For ticketed international lap children 1 checked bag up to 20 lbs with a maximum outside dimension of 45 inches, for all other ticketed children the standard adult baggage allowance applies.

Car Seats and Strollers – You can check both a car seat and a stroller for free anywhere between curbside and the gate. They are not counted against the standard baggage allowance.

Frontier Airlines

Another airline that groups family and pets! Policy here. Baggage policy here.

Carry on Baggage – A diaper bag can be brought on board for free.

Checked Baggage – No charge for checked strollers or car seats.

Car Seats and Strollers – Stroller must be gate checked.

Pushing her stroller to gate check
Pushing her stroller to gate check

Hawaiian Airlines

Infant policy here.

Carry on Baggage – If a seat is not purchased, no carry on or checked baggage allowances apply (read: the diaper bag will cost you a bag, theoretically). However you may bring a child restraint seat on board if there is an empty seat available for the infant AND the car seat bears the following two required labels:

  1. This restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety conditions.
  2. This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft. (in red lettering) (NOTE: Labels that indicate U.S. or Foreign Government approval or show the seat was manufactured under the standards of the United Nations are also valid.)

If there is no space available you can gate check the car seat.

Checked Baggage – Strollers and car seats can be checked free of charge (including at the gate).

Car Seats and Strollers – See above.

Jetblue Airlines

Policies here.

Carry on Baggage – Infant car seats are considered a special item – each customer can carry one on board the aircraft. Each infant is allowed a diaper bag.

Checked Baggage – Lap infants receive no checked baggage allowance. For ticketed infants/children, standard allowances and fees apply.

Car Seats and Strollers – Car seats and strollers can be checked free of charge at the gate or at the counter.

Southwest Airlines

Infant policy here.

Carry on Baggage – A child restraint device for a ticked child is not considered against your allowance. No mention of a diaper bag.

Checked Baggage – Child restraint device and stroller can be checked for free in addition to regular free baggage allowance (two bags per ticketed customer). I assume that means paid tickets.

Car Seats and Strollers – See above.

Dat lap infant life
Dat lap infant life

United Airlines

Find their policy here.

Carry on Baggage – In addition to the regular carry on allowance, you may bring on a diaper bag and government-approved car seat

Checked Baggage – “The standard checked baggage allowance applies to children with purchased tickets, including infants traveling internationally on 10 percent of an adult fare.” The takeaway here is if you pay for an adult checked bag, you pay for a kids’ checked bag on United.

Car Seats and Strollers – United accepts one stroller and one car seat free of charge for each child. In my experience we’ve been able to check these anywhere from the curb to the gate.


Final Thoughts

The bottom line is, if you have to pay for a checked bag for an adult you probably have to pay it for you infant/toddler/child/adolescent. If you feel you need a little bit of extra space, I think the car seat bag is the way to go. Also, it’s not mentioned in any of the policies explicitly, but you never need to worry about gate checking a caddy/car seat combination. Hopefully this list helps you as you plan for your travel with your young ones!

The caddy and car seat is the way to go for infants in my opinion
The caddy and car seat is the way to go for infants in my opinion
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

6 thoughts on “Baggage Charges for Infants and Toddlers – A Guide

    1. Most of the airlines call out the pack and play as counting like a regular checked item. Hotels usually have them for free or of your visiting family buy from Amazon and ship (if you visit often)

      1. So because you need the car seat/caddy to get around places like the airport, it sounds like having them checked at the gate is the better way to go. Sounds like one bag for the combo is best?

        1. Yeah check it at the gate. Super convenient, the problem is when you need to start dealing with umbrella strollers and the like. You don’t even need a bag they’ll just tag the seat and caddy.

  1. We have an equivalent “big ugly” bag for the stroller too. Stuff gets beaten, dirty, sometimes rained on even when gate checked and before we had the bag the stroller got slightly damaged on one flight. Make sure the bag is labeled well because ours wound up at the carousel a couple times even with the bright pink gate check tag attached.

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