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Traveling with kids can be stressful. But, before you can even get in the air, there’s the issue of what documents you need in order to take your infant on board. Each airline’s policy on this seems to differ from the next, but generally speaking, you should always have your child’s birth certificate with you. Take, for example, this little traveler:

The mother didn’t have the child’s birth certificate with her to prove that the baby (who was clearly a newborn) was younger than two years old. So while it may seem unreasonable for the infant to need her own seat, Southwest’s terms state that the parent must provide proof of age if requested. Here’s a breakdown of what each of the major airlines requires for infant travel in order to be considered a lap baby:


  • “Once a child has reached their second birthday, the child is required to have a purchased seat at an adult fare.”
  • “You may be required to present proof of age (such as a birth certificate) for any children under the age of 18.”


  • “You may travel with one infant in your lap without purchasing a ticket if the infant is less than two years old, and you are at least 18 years old or the infant’s legal guardian, and your travel is within the US.”
  • No details on showing proof of age.


  • “A child between the ages of three days old until their second birthday is considered a lap child and does not need to pay for a seat.”
  • “Customers traveling with a lap child will be asked for proof of age, such as a passport, birth certificate (copies are acceptable for domestic travel) or an immunization record when the infant’s age is questionable.”


  • “One child over 14 days old and under two (2) years of age, not occupying a seat, may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (12 years of age or older).”
  • “A birth certificate is required to validate the age of all infants under age two.”


  • “Children under the age of two traveling within the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with a parent or with an adult 18 years or older can travel on the adult’s lap free of charge.”
  • “Once infants turn two years old, they are required to have a purchased ticket and occupy a seat.”

While each of the major carriers has different policies, you’re best off to always carry your infant’s birth certificate with you.

Featured image courtesy of Marc Romanelli via Getty Images.

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