When in doubt, call the airline.
We recently booked a summer flight to Taiwan on China Eastern Airlines and my first inclination was to just buy two tickets. One for me, one for my wife. Our son will be joining us (we got him a baby passport!) but on many airlines, especially domestic airlines, a child under the age of two does not need a ticket if they are traveling on your lap. Of course, lap travel works well on a flight that’s an hour or two, it’s entirely different if you plan on taking a 15 hour flight from New York to Taipei, Taiwan!
Anyway, so we go to book our flights and I realized that I should probably call to confirm whether or not we needed to buy a ticket. The answer was yes, we’d have to spend around $330 for a ticket for our child even though he wasn’t going to be taking up a seat. I thought it was a little unfair but the rules are the rules. We also later called to check out our seats and realized that we needed to reserve a bassinet (located at the front of the sections) if we wanted one… which was crucial to find out. 15 hours with a bassinet for our son to sleep in is infinitely better than 15 hours with no bassinet, fortunately we were able to reserve one. There was no notice online that told us to call in and reserve one either, so I feel fortunate we got lucky.
So, two takeaways from our experience:
- Always call to make sure you know the policy on child passengers under the age of two, each airline may have different rules than what you’re used to. For example, Southwest let’s you carry your child without a ticket.
- When booking a flight with bassinets, call to see if you need to reserve one. The answer is probably yes, especially since the bassinets have no numbers and your child probably doesn’t have a seat.