Here’s the deal, folks, flying is dang EXPENSIVE these days, especially when you add kids to the mix. Before your child’s second birthday, there’s a golden window when you could fly them anywhere in the world for free. Tempting, isn’t it? I hear you. We asked the Bebe Voyage community what our seasoned traveling families thought about buying a plane seat for your infant or toddler under two. Here’s what we learned about purchasing seats:
Benefits of Buying a Plane Seat for your Infant
Overwhelmingly, you are going to see the argument for buying the seat. In fact, the only two negatives brought up were the cost of the extra seat and the risk that your child will scream while strapped into their car seat. Those points aside, most people who did not buy the seat were ambivalent on its value in the long run. So why take on the added cost?
At its core, the best advocacy for why a child of any age should have their own seat comes from the FAA. In an emergency landing situation where impact may be at play, even in severe turbulence, an adult’s arms and body strength are simply not going to match the G force of impact. The FAA explains in detail why having your little one in a car seat or other approved harness device is your best chance at injury prevention.
Aside from safety, there are additional benefits to bringing a car seat on board. Parents can save themselves numb laps and legs allowing for a bit more room. Fellow passengers are saved from lap kiddos kicking the seat in front of them. We should also mention how wonderful it is to have the option to lay your small one down for a nap or just to stretch your own arms and give them a break. Having arm mobility is always a good thing!
Bottom line–having the extra seat gives your whole family extra space and a piece of mind. Especially when trying to entertain your child in-flight, this can be invaluable for tired Moms and Dads, who just want to watch a movie or relax. You’re also reassured that your car seat is not being tossed around by the crew in its Gate Check bag, lowering the risk of damage upon landing.
I hear a lot of people say, “Just take the gamble, there will be a middle seat somewhere.” It’s a common justification families use to save some extra moolah on an added seat. The reality is, flights are getting fuller by the minute. I’ve been on 10 flights with our daughter in her two years of life and rarely are they not full. I walk the aisles and check for that golden open seat. It’s a gamble and one that often doesn’t pan out. While it may have worked for some of you, exceptions are not the rule and it’s going to be a rough flight if you were banking on a seat that isn’t there!
Did you know airlines will usually discount your “Under 2” seat for you? OF COURSE you did, intrepid travelers! Don’t be afraid to hustle your booking agent and use your little nugget as a bargaining chip. Some airlines will even take the extra step to book you in a “good spot.” This can include the bulkhead, or near the galley and lavatory. With a freshly potty-trained toddler or one currently in training, this is pure GOLD! Oh, and did I mention racking up those miles? Yes, I know it means spending more, but it inches you toward that next free flight in the process!
Now for the great seat layout debate. Our community pros often recommend getting two aisle seats for the parents and then having children in the middle or window seats. This has numerous advantages, including the ability for a parent to run away mid-flight and dream about sitting in First Class alone and uninterrupted. Another great layout for a flight is the 2/4/2 setup with a parent on an aisle seat of a row and their children in the seats closest to the parent in the 4 seat row. This way mom or dad can look over and see four seats (read: four kids) at once. Bonus.
One last argument made for having bought the extra seat is that your child will get their own in-flight perks. If your little one is eating solids, he or she will get their own meal on a long flight. Also, the plethora of snacks you brought from home will have a tray to go on that isn’t yours. Having your own tray table to put your drink on it and away from grabby little hands is always a win! Simple pleasures, guys. Additionally, a seat equals a tray table which can be a coloring space, game spot, play area, etc.
It also means a TV screen. I KNOW, I know. No judgment here, people. Applaud those road warriors who put on Sesame and catch some Zzz’s. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Sometimes you gotta do Dora the Explorer on a nine-hour flight. Do you, moms and dads. Do you. If TV isn’t your thing, that screen also allows for music playing and there are great kids headphones out there you can have your little one listen and doze off. Thank you, Chopin.
Finally, if your luggage is starting to stack up, that extra seat means an extra bag and that bag could lead to less shopping when you get to your destination. Sure, it’s a trade off, but for particular kids, allergic kids, or sensitive kids, they may just need their own things to help adjust to the upheaval of travel. From favorite snacks to diapers, lotions, soaps, and creams, kids are fickle. Having that extra luggage keeps you under weight limits and with room for some souvenirs. My family collects ornaments–having room for some blown glass and cushioning around it is pretty great.
Overall, you have to make the choice that is best for you and your family. Buying a seat on the plane for your little one absolutely has its pros and cons. Weighing them is never equal. If finances are your biggest hurdle for travel, that may outweigh any argument. You know your family and whatever you choose, the fact that you are choosing to travel makes you an epic parent. So book away families!
Are you looking to buy those tickets? When you book your flights on Expedia, not only do you get great deals, but you’re also helping out Bébé Voyage, at no extra cost to you. They see that we’re sending them traffic when you start here and as a thank you they send us a small commission.
Need to get your infant’s passport before booking your trip? Check out our Ultimate Guide on How to Take an Infant Passport Photo.
We would love to hear about your most recent travel experience with your family. Leave a comment below and travel well!