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Top Tips for Flying with a Baby in 2019

Travelling with your baby soon? With some advance planning and little patience, you and your baby can take to the skies without all the stress and anxiety. We’ve compiled tips for travelling with an infant on Canada’s popular airlines, including baggage rules, practical tips, and more.

Top Tips for Flying with Babies

Choose your flight time wisely

Look to book a flight that fits into your infant’s regular sleeping and feeding schedule, to minimize disruption. It’s also a good idea to avoid flying during peak times, especially if you’re taking a route popular with business travellers. If you’re booking an international flight, choose short layovers. You want to keep your travel time as short as possible.

Don’t forget to take identification

All Canadian children, from newborns to age 16, need their own passport to fly out of the country, including the U.S. A child’s passport in Canada is valid for up to a maximum of five years. Give yourself plenty of time to organize your baby’s passport before you depart. For information on obtaining a passport for your infant, visit the Government of Canada website.

If you’re travelling within Canada with infants, identification for your child will need to be presented at the boarding gate. Acceptable forms of identification for children aged between 7 days and two years of age include a copy of their birth certificate, health card, or passport.

Check with your doctor

If you have any concerns about travelling with your baby, check with their primary care provider first. Make sure you bring their proper (labelled) medication and ask your pediatrician for any recommended ear drops in the case of any potential ear pain on the flight due to the fluctuations in pressure, etc.

Travel with a letter of consent

If only one parent is flying with an infant, be sure to carry a letter of consent from the other parent. While a consent letter is not a legal requirement in Canada, it may be requested by immigration authorities when entering or leaving another country, as well as by Canadian officials when returning to the country. Details of what a consent letter should contain are on the Government of Canada website.

baby with sunglasses resting on the beach
Top Tips for Flying with a Baby in 2019

What to Pack When Flying with a Baby

For your flight with your infant to go as smoothly as possible, think like the Scouts and ‘be prepared’.

Pack an adequate supply of diapers to last you from leaving your home to arriving at your destination – then toss in a couple more for good measure. You don’t want to run out, in case your flight has any delays. Include plenty of baby wipes, hand sanitizer and diaper cream. Ziploc bags are handy for soiled clothes and pack children’s Tylenol or Advil in case you need it.

Dress your infant so they’ll be comfortable on the flight and pack a change of clothes in case of mishaps. A blanket will help keep little ones warm and double as a throw if you’re breastfeeding.

Pack your newborn’s favourite toys and book. If your infant is old enough, pack a few new inexpensive toys to unwrap and play with during the flight. On long-haul flights, a baby carrier makes it easier to walk your infant on the plane and go through immigration.

If you’re breastfeeding, you won’t need to worry about bottles and formula. However, if you’re bottle-feeding, pack sufficient bottles, baby formula and baby food.

According to The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority, if you’re travelling with an infant aged two years and under, baby formula and food, juice and water are allowed in your carry-on baggage and can be checked through security in Canada. You’re also permitted to bring gel or ice packs to keep baby food and formula cool. All items will need to be presented to the screening officer at security.

woman holding a sleeping baby on an airplane
Top Tips for Flying with a Baby in 2019

Flying with Babies on Canadian Airlines

The cost of flying with a newborn varies depending on the airline you use and your destination. Infants sitting on your lap for the duration of a flight in North America generally travel free of charge, although some government fees may apply.

As a rule, airlines allow prior boarding for families with children aged six and under, giving you time to get settled before the flight departs. Check the table below for the latest guidelines on flying with babies on Canada’s top airlines.

In most cases, babies can travel for free on domestic flights if they are held in your lap. There are specifics for each airline, so check the table below for more details.

Airline Fees, Restrictions and Allowances for Travelling with Babies

AirlineFees (ages 2 and
under, lap seat)
Baby equipment on board
Air CanadaFree within Canada
& the U.S.
10% of an adult fare
plus taxes on
int’l flights.
One of the two items
allowed free of charge:
a stroller (must check
at the gate), a car seat
or booster seat, or a
playpen. Car seats need
to be checked as luggage.
WestJetFree of charge for
domestic flights,
certain fees might
apply in the U.S.
WestJet allows you to
check in a car seat and
stroller at no additional
charge. A playpen can be
substituted for either.
Travellers required to check
stroller & car seat at the gate
before boarding.
Air TransatFree on flights within
Canada, the U.S. &
southern destinations.
10% of an adult fare
plus taxes for flights
between Canada
and Europe.
(doesn’t apply to
Transat Holiday
Europe packages)
One stroller and one car
or booster seat allowed
free of charge. A stroller
is allowed in lieu of carry-on
(must be carry-on dimensions).
Diaper bag allowed in addition
to regular carry-on bag.
Porter AirlinesFree of charge on
domestic flights,
fees might apply in U.S.
One stroller & one
car seat free of charge
for each infant travelling
on Porter Airlines.
Small diaper bag allowed in
addition to carry-on abg.

All information from Air Canada, WestJet, Porter, and Air Transat websites. Each airline has different rules and restrictions for flying with infants and children aged two and under, so check the latest guidelines before booking a trip with your infant.

Tips for Flying with an Infant

Take-off and landing can be particularly uncomfortable for babies, due to the changes in air pressure. To help make your little one more comfortable, feed or nurse your baby during take-off and landing. Alternatively, use a soother, as the sucking will help with the pressure imbalance.

Staying hydrated, especially on long-haul flights, is important for babies and infants. If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important you stay hydrated, too. Water is the best choice when you’re up in the air.

Flying with a baby can be stressful, especially the first time. Remember the airline staff are there to assist you. Ask for help if you need it – including getting on and off the plane or assistance with the washrooms.

What parent doesn’t fear their baby being the one who cries throughout the entire flight? If your baby does cry, try to keep calm and focus on soothing your baby, instead of worrying about your seatmates. If they grumble, don’t take it personally. You may be surprised how accommodating other passengers can be. After all, we were all babies once. With any luck, your little one will be charming their neighbours with a gummy smile and a game of peek-a-boo.

More Tips for Travelling with Kids

Updated August 30th, 2019. Check with your airlines before booking your trip for the latest guidelines on flying with babies.