Should Kids Under 2 Be Required To Have Their Own Seats On A Plane?

Children under 2 years of age are currently allowed to travel in planes on the lap of an adult. However, it’s a practice the National Transportation Safety Board hopes the FAA will put an end to.

Yesterday, the NTSB sent a letter to the FAA asking the regulators to once again consider the need for each passenger on a plane to be secured in their own seat, regardless of age.

Citing a handful of aviation accidents where children were hurt or killed, including one where a small plane was overloaded with too many passengers because of children sitting on laps, the NTSB said — as the group’s name implies — that safety should be the highest priority:

The NTSB concludes that children under the age of 2 years should be afforded the same level of protection as all other persons aboard air carrier airplanes. Therefore, the NTSB recommends that the FAA… require each person who is less than 2 years of age to be restrained in a separate seat position by an appropriate child restraint system during takeoff, landing, and turbulence.

In 2005, the FAA said it supported the idea of child restraint systems in aircraft, but that, by requiring parents to purchase a separate ticket for every child under 2 years of age, many parents would opt for driving to their destination rather than flying. According to the FAA, this would cause an increase in the number of highway fatalities.

What do you think?

NTSB Safety Recommendation [PDF]


Edit Your Comment

  1. backinpgh says:

    While I sort of agree in principle, if this goes into effect, get ready for the airline industry to take an even bigger hit. No way I’m paying hundreds of dollars for my baby to fly with me. Then they’ll start making you pay some fee for a special baby restraint or car set or some such. Even more people will opt to drive or stay home.

    • SJActress says:

      This is bad for me how? Fewer children with a relatively equal amount of demand is great.

    • TheBusDriver says:

      Or we can do like the Europeans and charge 10% of the adult ticket, and the kid gets a seat…

    • VA_White says:

      We’ve always purchased seats for our children and they fly in their FAA-approved child restraint seat. If we can’t afford a ticket for the baby, we can’t afford to fly. It’s that simple. It’s not safe to have an unbelted child in a car and it’s not safe on a plane.

      • soren121 says:

        Most school buses lack seat belts, but you don’t see a lot of kids dying in them.

      • AustinTXProgrammer says:

        The odds of an accident in the plane compared to the car are worlds apart.

        • Pax says:

          As are the odds of surviving each.

        • erinpac says:

          It isn’t the odds of an accident though. You’re talking about the odds of rough turbulence or a hard landing.
          They’ve had children slammed into luggage or die from internal bleeding due to crushing injuries when nobody else was hurt.

          In the case of an expected rough landing or crash, you are instructed to place the child on the floor under the seat in front of you. Does that sound like good odds? The last one like that killed 4 lap children – 2 from smoke inhalation because they were not found in time inside the aircraft to evacuate. Some crashes are plenty survivable in restraints.

      • Leksi Wit says:

        I think problems can arise with turbulence or minor runway scrapes. If I had a baby, with it’s soft skull, I would pay for the seat and get them well strapped into the seat via their car seat.

        Sorry, but I have to 100% agree — if you can’t afford to fly with a child then don’t fly.

    • Pax says:

      So, you’d rather (in the event of a crash) have your baby become a human missile, caroming off every surface and fellow passenger in an orgy of death and probable dismemberment? Don’t claim you coud hold on to the baby, either – a sudden 10-G force will pull that 15# baby away from you with 150# of force.

      Your baby (and the passengers around it) would be safer if it were in a proper safety-restraint, in it’s own seat. Bring your car seat from home, and use it. It’s better for everyone.

    • dg says:

      Good. Stay home then. I, for one, can’t wait to be able to get on a plane, see someone carrying their baby and not have to wonder if that is going to be sitting next to me or in otherwise close proximity… As far as I’m concerned, no kid under 7 yrs old should be allowed to fly…

  2. pantheonoutcast says:

    Safety aside, if they are going to charge people $45 for a 35 pound carry-on bag, then they should charge $45 for a 35 pound baby.

    • ihatephonecompanies says:

      Gotta make sure it’s also the right dimensions to fit in the overhead compartment too.

    • Woofer says:

      What kind of baby under 2 is 35 pounds? I thought that’s what 5 year olds weigh. I mean I know the country is getting heavier, but wow…

      • theirishscion says:

        Heh, my daughter broke 35lbs before she turned 18 months :-)

        That said, she’s tall with it. And she’ll beat you up if you disagree.

      • GameHen says:

        My 9 month old is 23 pounds. He’s also in the 100th percentile for height (seriously!) and 60th percentile for weight so YMMV.

    • nova3930 says:

      Be careful what you wish for. For an airplane whose fuel burn and thus cost increases with weight, an entirely logical pricing scheme is one in which your ticket price is determined by the total weight you’re bringing along with you.

      Are you ready to get on a scale and have your ticket price adjusted before boarding the plane?

      • Tim in Wyoming says:

        If it could be done fairly, I would be all for it. But we know it wouldn’t be. Large people cause the plane to use more fuel… they should pay more whether or not they fit into one or two seats.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Yes. I’m height / weight proportional and I can (and have) travel for a month at a time with two pieces of carry-on luggage that probably weigh less than 35 pounds combined.

        • JulesNoctambule says:

          I feel sorry for the person who is height/weight proportional but well over 6’5″ (like my brother).

          • Tim in Wyoming says:

            I am 6’4″ myself and have a proportionate weight for my height, I would be the one possibly paying for this myself.. but fair is fair.

      • hypochondriac says:

        I would love for that to happen. With exceptions for the tiny number of passangers who have a medical condition causing their increased weight

      • aloria says:

        Sure. I am 110 lbs and pack light. Win/win for me.

      • Pax says:

        I’m 320#, so I’d be paying twice as much as many fliers.

        Give me twice as much seat and leg room, twice as many complimentary beverages, and twice the number of individual pieces of luggage and carry-on items allowed per fee tier …

        … and I’m fine with that. As long as I GET twice as much as a 160# passenger, I have no problem PAYING twice as much as they do.

        I would only have a problem when I had pay twice as much, and got the exact SAME level and amount of service.

    • JRules says:

      Nope, doesn’t work that way. They child is taking up a seat that an adult would fit in. They would get charged the same amount.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        Sorry, I was unclear. My fault. I meant under the current system of letting children under 2 fly for free and sit on a parent’s lap – there should be a nominal charge equivalent to the baggage fee. If the law goes through, and the child has his own seat, then yes, full price.

        • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

          I don’t know about domestic flights, but last time I had an under 2 child (= baby) with me on a transatlantic flight, I had to pay a 50% fare, even though she did NOT get her own seat – she was “stored” in one of those bulkhead-mounted baby-bed-kind-of-things.

        • unimus says:

          Last time I flew with my 1.5 yr old in a 15 hour non-stop flight, her fare was roughly a quarter of mine.
          No seat and the flight was full. Thank god she was pretty well behaved. She did finally cried her lungs out during the descend, which was probably due to the change of the cabin pressure.

    • Griking says:

      Sure if you throw the baby in the overhead luggage rack.

  3. Wang_Chung_Tonight says:

    will the USPS allow me to mail my kid to my destination?

    there’s no way in hell I’m paying a full ticket for him or putting him in some ‘baby section’

    these people are idiots. belts in cars do a lot of good because many accidents are at low or moderate speed. if your plane goes down you’re screwed anyways.

    • DanRydell says:

      There are airline accidents that are survivable. The ones that happen during takeoff, for instance.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Tell that to Capt. Sully.

    • adamstew says:

      As someone else above said, There are many plane crashes where people survive. Mostly the ones during taxi, takeoff or landing… which is,incidentally, the time when the large majority of the crashes happen.

      The seat belts also help protect you from EXTREME and unexpected turbulence. There have been cases when someone is up and walking around and then the plane hits some hard turbulence. The person is then bodily slammed in to the ceiling and/or floor at 12 times the force of gravity and severely injured or killed. If you are holding a baby in your lap, and you come across this turbulence, you are likely unable to respond in time to stop the baby from leaving your grip, or if you are, then you are also unlikely to be prepared to hold the baby with enough force to stop the extreme G force from flinging the baby from your arms.

      It’s also the (primary) reason they say you should keep your seatbelt fastened at all times while you are sitting. If they hit unexpected turbulence, you go flying around the plane being a hazard to yourself and other passengers.

    • Devil505 says:

      Turbulence, runway incursions, Miracle on the Hudson, etc all survivable. Need I go on?

    • halfcuban says:

      Except for those accidents that were completely survivable for adults, but where lap babies died. You know those ones that have ALREADY HAPPENED. The biggest concern with lap babies is less the chance of a serious accident, but rather the laibility of injury during turbulence which is definetly a serious risk. Remember not too long ago when people got bruised up on a Untied flight? Imagine what happens when you have no belt and no ability to hold yourself down?

      • Megalomania says:

        Should this go through, transportation costs for your stereotypical family of four including a baby will go up an effective 33%, meaning that it’s less attractive to fly than drive for vacations for a good number of families… which leads to more people (including the babies) driving, which is hundreds of times more risky, accident wise, than flying. But please, do go on.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I agree. Letting babies drive is hundreds of times more risky than flying.

          • HogwartsProfessor says:

            LOL! Good thing I wasn’t drinking water when I read that. It would have been all over my monitor.


        • ihatephonecompanies says:

          Soo… basically… if we mandate that babies on planes need to be put in safer seating, then parents will then decide that the safety of their baby is less important than saving money. Methinks the problem here isn’t the airlines.

    • aloria says:

      If you don’t give a crap about your kid’s safety, fine. But I’d rather not get hit by projectile baby in the event of an emergency, thanks.

    • kmw2 says:

      Seatbelts, as already mentioned, protect passengers from turbulence. Now, most of us have experienced mild turbulence on a plane, turbulence that is akin to going over a speedbump too fast. That’s not the kind of turbulence that needs to be worried about. The kind of turbulence you need to worry about is the kind that, say, caused 25 people to be severely injured on a July United flight from DC to LAX after the plane unexpectedly hit a turbulence pocket and people went flying around the cabin. You would probably (although not certainly) survive a mid-flight high-speed collision with the overhead cabinets. A toddler would not.

      • funnymonkey says:

        I flew with my three-month old not too long ago to visit my parents in Atlanta. I thought about buying a seat for him, and thought “eh, he’d probably cry, and I’d hold him anyway. I don’t want to spend that kind of money on this trip.” And everything was fine. Then I heard about that United flight where people were flying all around the cabin, and I realized that he might have died. I was holding him, and I was awake, but if we had hit that kind of turbulence, I don’t think I could have kept him safe. If they gave some warning, maybe I could have gotten him back into the ergo I was wearing, but even then, who knows?

        I think it is one of those things that would be an unpopular decision to make – forcing people to buy seats for babies – but something that is really in the best interest of everyone. As for making it more dangerous by driving more… That’s a weak argument, I think. It’s a change of mindset – that every person, regardless of age, needs a seat to be safe. If it is too expensive to fly when the kid is under 2, then it will be too expensive to fly when they are over 2. It is a matter of the economics of your family, not safety. Sure, driving is more dangerous, but I drive my son to daycare everyday. It’s a risk we have to live with, as a car-centric society. I don’t really think the safety of driving vs. flying factors into the decision-making process for most people.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Very scary realization. Makes me think of that scene in “Fearless” where Rosie Perez’s baby died in the plane crash and she was racked with guilt because she thought she should have been able to hold onto him. Jeff Bridges’ character took her and put her in a car with a toolbox in her arms and then crashed it into a brick wall, proving to her there was NO WAY she could hold anything in a crash like that.

          I wish I knew a solution to this problem. The seat is the seat and will be the same price no matter who is in it.

        • Pax says:

          And driving really ISN’T more dangerous. Sure, accidents happen more often – but people SURVIVE a larger percentage of automobile crashes, than they do airplane crashes.

          Also, in a car, the baby WILL be in it’s very own seat. A car safety seat, designed exclusively FOR protecting a baby during a crash.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      Nope. The USPS changed their policy in 1920 to say that children could no longer be sent by parcel post.

  4. ChemicalFyre says:

    Or people will pay the extra baggage fee and the kids ride in the luggage.

  5. He says:

    I’d support changing the age to 1 or 1.5 years based on personal experience with my kids.

    • Jevia says:

      I’d agree with this. Under 1, its really easier to hold the baby in my lap. But over 1, they move and squirm around way too much, so definitely should be in their own seat, with a restraint.

  6. Horselady says:

    NO, but screaming ones should have their own soundproof
    section to sit in…….

    • Daverson says:

      Yeah. The cargo hold.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I was riding the train to work and got caught in the rainpocalypse. I switched trains during the monsoon to avoid a screaming child.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      Child seat not required. Duct tape will do.

    • BadgerPudding says:

      They already do. It’s called the cargo hold.

    • NumberSix says:


      POP QUIZ hot shots: Your in a small enclosed space that you cannot leave. You otherwise normally happy child that cannot articulate his needs is crying for no apprent reason. You’ve tried feeding, changing, distracting, and comforting but your child is inconsoleable.

      What do you REALLY do?

      Go ahead; I’m listening…

      • bandit says:

        Don’t bring it. Leave it somewhere. Good god.

        • NumberSix says:

          Its a family vacation…ass.

          Your answer is wrong. The police arrest you for child neglect.


          • NumberSix says:

            Didn’t think so.

            No kid; no opinion.

          • kjs87 says:

            Nighttime Baby Orajel? Not that I’m normally a fan of drugging kids to solve problems, but the problem is probably either pain (pressure+baby ears) or fear. Sleeping through it would be the easiest thing for everyone involved. After all, nervous adults drug themselves with mini vodka bottles, and the recommended dose once won’t do any major harm.

        • TasteyCat says:

          Exactly. Easy choice. If you can’t control your kid, keep him/her at home. Not in a plane, not at a grocery store, not in a movie theater. When your child learns to behave, then they can go out in public.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I never understood letting kids sit on their parents’ laps on planes. It’s not safe to do so in a car, on a roller coaster, on a bike, so why a plane? IMO, it’s common sense. I get that people want to save money to travel, but give parents discounts on children traveling or something. Letting them hold junior in their lap is just asking for trouble if the plane hits severe turbulence.

    • Van212 says:

      If you crash in a car, on a roller coaster, on a bike you have a chance of living.. not so much in a plane.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But I said “turbulence.” We’re not talking about death here, we’re talking about severe injury.

        It doesn’t take much to toss around a child if for whatever reason, the parent becomes incapacitated and can’t hold onto his or her child. Likewise, even a slow-speed car accident might still lead to severe injury because – again – a child is not restrained. If you wouldn’t do it in a car going 20 mph, why would you do it soaring thousands of miles above ground hurtling at much higher speeds?

      • ellemdee says:

        This is my standard response when people try to convince me how much safer flying is compared to driving. Statistically, things may not go wrong as often, but when they do go wrong, they go reeeeally wrong. If the engine in my car stalls, I’ll probably be ok. On a plane…not so much.

    • Megalomania says:

      This is like the textbook example of a perverse incentive. They’re looking at a specific case of a more general goal, which is safety in transportation. If they make all children under two have their own seats, then the cost of flying goes up hugely for families, and they will be more likely to drive than fly.

      In their own chair or no, it’s still orders of magnitude safer for anyone to be on a commercial plane than a car, and this is just going to make it more likely that children will be taking a less safe form of transportation. But by all means, let’s make knee jerk “for the children” decisions instead of thinking about the effects those will have…

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        …and this is why I suggested a discount. Look, if this is regulation, I’d be a little less peeved if I just paid a fraction of the cost of a full ticket for an adult. It’s about giving enough incentive for people to fly when they need to, and for basically asserting that concessions have to be made. Airlines might make a little less money, parents might have to pay a little more money.

    • craptastico says:

      not only that, but the seats are tight for most adults, much less an adult with a baby in their lap.

    • mikeyo says:

      why do they let us fly without 5-point safety harnesses, airbags, parachutes, and helmets?

    • SwoonOMatic says:

      “It’s not safe to do so in a car, on a roller coaster, on a bike, so why a plane? “

      Tell this family that…×225.jpg

  8. Blackadar says:

    I know that cost is always a consideration, but so is safety. I’m a father of two and if I have to fly with the family, everyone gets their own seat.

    Plus, one other issue is consideration to your fellow passenger. Ever sit next to someone with a baby on their lap? You get kicked, hit, drooled on and just about everything else. I had one kid kicking the keyboard of my laptop! When I pointed that out to the mother, she reacted as if she had been insulted. I’ve had parents demand that I take care of their child while they need to use the bathroom, or drink their drink, or mix up the baby’s bottle or whatever else.

    So buy another seat for the safety of your young ‘un and consideration to your fellow passenger or find an alternative mode of transportation.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:


      But please, this is self-centered Amerikuh, ARE YOU INSULTING MY BABY! YOU AREN’T A PARENT YOU DON’T KNOW!

      • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

        So what would you want me to do with the kid? Tie him/her to the wings?
        I understand that it can be annoying to travel with (or near) someone else’s undisciplined child, but the solution is NOT to take it out on everyone with a child. Take it out on those failed “parents” who can not control their kids…

        • craptastico says:

          he’s not taking anything out on anybody. just demonstrating that there’s not enough room for an adult to sit a baby on their lap

    • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

      You, sir, understand that “parent” is a verb as well as a noun, and I commend you.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      THANK YOU!!! The last time I have flown, I was the victim of an unruly toddler sitting on the lap of her mother. The mother was really apologetic, and sweet; but I was so upset. Safety on an airplane is kind of joke, but strapping a kid into a regular seat to keep them from disturbing innocent seat mates is a nooooooo brainer. And there absolutely should be a small “parent with child” section of the plane-it seems like now they strategically place them all throughout the plane. If they were all sitting together, they would be absolutely more understanding toward each other than someone like me.

  9. Cyniconvention says:

    Depends on how much a ticket would cost – don’t children’s tickets usually cost less?

    (& that’s the cutest picture ever.)

    • Tim in Wyoming says:

      Nope, our son who will have just turned 3 when we fly in December will be the same $450 as my seat.

    • unimus says:

      I’m not sure about other airlines, but I do know Air Canada has 3 price tiers: 0 to 2, 2 to 12 and 12+. My kid’s fare was ~25% of mine when she was 1.5 and 80% when she was 2.

      ps. It was a 14 hour non-stop flight. Fun.

    • dg says:

      Ticket should cost as much as a full fare. The kid will be taking up a seat that any (well, almost any) sized passenger could fit in, so pay up! You want to take your kid with you – you pay.

  10. sugarplum says:

    I assume this would help more in bad turbulence and weather scenarios than a crash…so I can see it being safer. I can’t imagine sitting with anything on my lap for hours on a plane – kid, dog, 20 pounds of beans, etc.

    • Charmander says:

      Well, I’ve done. Never bought a plane ticket for my kids until they turned 2. They wanted to sit on our laps, anyways. As infants, they just wanted to be held and breastfeed during the flight. Mostly at that age, they just slept.

      The extra seat would have been a waste of money because it would have bee unoccupied the entire flight.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        It might have been unoccupied during the flight itself, but it would have served as a nice buffer for people near you. It would also be the best and safest place to put the baby during landing/takeoff and any other “Seatbelt!” situations.

  11. sixsevenco says:

    I think 2 years is too old for a lap child. I also think that given the squirminess of most toddlers of this age, it’s not fair to the other passengers. Maybe 6 months and under is more appropriate.

    Advice for soon-to-be parents, buying a ticket for your child can make the whole experience better for you and your child. We bring our car seats onboard and the kids are comfortable sitting in their familiar chair. Let’em watch a DVD and you’re set for an uneventful ride. (We limit TV watching in our house, so it’s a special treat.)

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      See, its people like you who come prepared and know their kids who I hope I will be like if I ever become a parent.

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      Personal info maybe a little out of date, but…
      … most “standard” baby-carriers/child-seats are NOT compatible with airline seats/belts.
      So it is not as simple and trivial as it appears…

      • sixsevenco says:

        You’re right that the standard seatbelt doesn’t always work.

        We simply buckled the standard seatbelt over the infant carrier. There were little hooks on the carrier that held the belt in place.

        For my daughter (2 1/2 year old), we need to ask for an belt extender from the flight attendants to make her Graco seat work.

        For my son (11 months), our Britax seat works fine with the standard belt. (I wish we had Britax for both kids.)

      • Tevokkia says:

        I agree that 2 years is too old for a lap child, but when I flew with my 4-month-old, she was more comfortable on me than she would have been in her seat, which she hated. I brought my boppy, nursed (discreetly) her when we got into our seat, and she slept nearly the whole way there.

        I wouldn’t have even flown with her if I had been by myself, though. I had two other adults in my party to help out.

  12. sixsevenco says:

    I think 2 years is too old for a lap child. I also think that given the squirminess of most toddlers of this age, it’s not fair to the other passengers. Maybe 6 months and under is more appropriate.

    Advice for soon-to-be parents, buying a ticket for your child can make the whole experience better for you and your child. We bring our car seats onboard and the kids are comfortable sitting in their familiar chair. Let’em watch a DVD and you’re set for an uneventful ride. (We limit TV watching in our house, so it’s a special treat.)

  13. ihatephonecompanies says:

    This seems to be a no-brainer. If luggage can’t be in your lap, so does the baby.

  14. Rachacha says:

    If they do this, then DOT inconjunction with the NTSB and FAA also need to mandate that child safety seets be approved for both motor vehicles and aircraft. Most airlines will not let you use a child safety seat approved for use only in motor vehicles, but an infant or any child under 2 is simply not going to be safe or comfortable sitting in the standard aircraft seat.

    • sixsevenco says:

      I’ve never had any problems bring aboard our car seats and infant seats.

    • erinpac says:

      Most modern carseats do get FAA approval, though of course not all.
      Many airlines also have a limited number of child seats if you request them.

  15. Zernhelt says:

    If implementing this regulation results in parents choosing to drive their young kids instead of fly with them, I don’t think anyone will be upset. Fewer young kids means quieter plane rides.

  16. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    As long as there is an extremely substantial discount. Though.. I know they’ll say “This seat is the same size and could be sold to an adult”. Dunno.

    It’s safer, and better for the kid, IMO.

  17. Hi_Hello says:

    screw that. even without the law, if for some reason I have to put a baby on an airplane, i’m buying a seperate seat for the baby. Imma bring my child car seat too.

    all it takes is one baby to die, someone will sue because the airplane let them to hold their kids on their laps and things will change. When that happen, I’ll feel bad for the baby, but the parent is an idiot that gambled on the child’s safety.

    • halfcuban says:

      Actually babies have already died. There was an incident awhile back, the Gimli glider as it was called, where a large number of the adult passengers survived, but a number of the lap babies didn’t, due to the lack of restraint during a very hard landing after the pilots had lost use of ALL the engines.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        I can’t find an article about babies dying… two articles, one said:

        The only injuries that resulted from Pearson’s dead-stick landing of Flight 143 came from passengers exiting the rear emergency slide slamming into the asphalt. None of the injuries were life-threatening.

        • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

          I can’t find a news article, as the crashes were some years ago, but information here:;108/5/1218#B19 from the American Academy of Pediatrics, in their policy statement on use of child restraints in aircraft, indicate child fatalities on three crashes (Denver, 1987; Sioux City, 1989; and Charlotte, 1994). From what I could glean from other sources, these were survivable crashes, so child restraints might well have made a difference.

  18. lehrdude says:

    Reason #247 why I shouldn’t have more kids…

  19. dolemite says:

    It works on may levels:

    #1. If baby costs more, parents might leave them at home.
    #2. We can move all babies to the back of the plane and put them in a soundproof room.

  20. sweetpea12 says:

    Yes, this seems like a no-brainer.

    And also, parents aren’t required to purchase separate tickets for children under 2? They’re just allowed on?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      Children under two are considered what is called a “lap-infant”. They sit on their parent’s laps during the flight. If you’re sitting next to one, I’m sorry.

  21. trey says:

    if anyone has a problem with a child on a flight, rest assured, it is not the child (99%) IT IS THE PARENTS. so don’t get mad at the child, get mad at the parent.

    • DH405 says:

      Actually, many children cannot cope with the pressure changes as well as you or I. The child may be screaming because he/she is in pain, not because of bad parenting. A baby will scream while in pain, regardless of what the parents do.

      • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

        Yep. I used to have HORRIBLE problems; flying with the flu and an ear infection when I was five made that trip particularly horrible.

        You hear a lot of people screaming, “IT’S MY RIGHT TO TAKE MY KID ON THE PLANE, EVERYONE ELSE JUST NEEDS TO DEAL!” But honestly… kids don’t handle the pressure changes very well, and no one else wants to hear them screaming or be around them anyway. I know when I was little, I wished that my parents would drive or take the train. It sucked because it took longer, but at least I wasn’t in pain the entire time.

        • kmw2 says:

          I would try to drive across the ocean with my kid, but that’s usually the kind of thing that ends up in News of the Weird.

      • Jackmojo says:

        Yep, bad parenting, shouldn’t have brought someone along for whom the trip is painful to the point of screaming. Sounds pretty bad on lots of levels to me.

        • sixsevenco says:

          Aren’t we smug.

          Babies communicate through crying. Pressure changes happen and takeoff and landing. I get it, you don’t like hearing it. There are plenty of other things on planes that I don’t like hearing, like someone’s iPod turned up too loud or Texans.

          • Conformist138 says:

            The point was, if the flight is going to put your child into such physical pain that screaming from it is expected, maybe a parent would want to wait until the child is a bit older before flying with them. It’s not smug, it just seems like a parent wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the omg-i-hurt-so-bad-and-what-is-happening-and-i-am-so-confused wails if they are avoidable and totally unnecessary (kid can learn about flying at age 3 or 5, doesn’t have to be at 10 months).

            There were periods in history when mom and baby wouldn’t leave the house for 6 months after birth (or longer), so not jumping on an airplane with the kid for 24 months doesn’t sound like that harsh of a suggestion. Few parents flying with babies are flying because they’re being forced, it’s usually a choice to take a trip. They can choose not to. For those who must travel with their child, then I say they must pay for proper seating. Parenthood is a choice (all the way from the choice to get it on to the choice to keep and raise it) and so are vacations. Those choices have safety requirements and price tags.

            • sixsevenco says:

              I got Jackmojo’s point; it is uninformed. You missed mine. I’ll say it again. Babies communicate through crying. If they are tired –> crying, hungry –> crying, uncomfortable –> crying, want to be held –> cry until held. You are not a “bad parent” by default if you bring your child on an air plane. You might be if you don’t do everything possible to make the experience more comfortable for your baby. Pacifiers can help unplug ears. Bottle or breast feeding can help unplug ears, tylenol can help too. (I’ll probably get flamed for suggesting that, though…)

              Your suggestion IS harsh and ridiculous. There are numerous reasons why people fly, other than vacations where the parent must bring the children. Take a funeral for example. I can assure you that people do not seek out the act of flying with a baby for entertainment purposes; it is very stressful.

              I never said the parent shouldn’t buy a seat (I said the opposite actually in a different post), please don’t pretend like I did.

  22. NeverLetMeDown says:

    “According to the FAA, this would cause an increase in the number of highway fatalities.”

    Actually, the analysis showed (the last time this came up) that it would increase _total_ child fatalities. Since flying is so much safer than driving, a child without a car seat going X distance on a plane is safer than that same child, in a car seat, going X distance in a car.

    I don’t know if the analysis covered the potential of injury to others from a child bouncing around the cabin during turbulance, though.

  23. Hotscot says:

    Don’t flame me..I’m just curious and want to understand the current situation. I have no children and haven’t run into this issue.

    Do babies go free just now?
    And if so, why do their owners think that they should go free?

  24. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Okay, the FAA’s argument of increased highway fatalities is assinine.

    That is the dumbest excuse I’ve heard.

    That being said, I have no problem with the status quo.

    • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

      After 9/11, when everybody decided to stop flying, US traffic fatalities spiked by 5,000 deaths.

      The FAA has a very valid point, even if it’s not necessarily intuitive. The human brain has a terrible intuitive understanding of probabilities (as any casino owner will tell you).

      • JMILLER says:

        Ok, then the logical thing to do is to not allow children out of the house. This is about parents being cheap. There is also loads of statistics that show most accidents in cars occur closer to home, where there would not be an option of plane versus car.

  25. qbubbles says:

    If the seats could handle a car seat, I would be all for it.

    But as of right now, placing a 6 month old in their own seat is alot less safe for the kid than being in my arms, where I have at least a long shot of holding onto her during really bad turbulence.

    Also, kids are alot easier “handled” when they’re in your lap than rolling around a fart filled ass cushion. If she cries, I’m picking her up. If she’s hungry. I’m picking her up. The only time she’d be in that seat is when she’s sleeping.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      You wouldn’t be able to fly without a car seat. Period.

    • phoblog says:

      No, you have no shot at holding on. You can’t beat physics. Not in the type of situation that prompts this entire discussion. Even if you were prepared for it, which you wouldn’t be. You’d have to be able to securely hold not a 10 or 20 lb object but one many multiples of that heavier due to momentum. If you could hold on, car seats wouldn’t be required in cars either.

      • qbubbles says:

        Ok. Lets look at it this way. Take a rock. Place it on the seat. Take another rock. Place it in your hand. Now drop 3,000 feet. What are the odds that you are going to be able to grab the rock in the seat in a fast enough manner that it wont go flying through the air? What about the odds of the one in your hand? The odds are slightly better. They’re not great, but I’m gonna go with the hand.

    • Pax says:

      “But as of right now, placing a 6 month old in their own seat is alot less safe for the kid than being in my arms, where I have at least a long shot of holding onto her during really bad turbulence. “

      No, it’s not safer in your arms. You obviously don’t appreciate the acceleration forces you would experience during “severe turbulence”.

      If I put a baby doll in your hands, and tie a rope to it, and run that rope through a pully to a 100-pound weight … when the rope is allowed to drop, and all that weight hits your hands in an instant … the doll is NOT going to stay in your hands.

      At which point, not only is the baby’s life in danger – so are hte lives of anyone and everyone who winds up in it’s PATH.

      • qbubbles says:

        So instead of a small fleshy baby flying through the air, you’re gonna get destroyed by a very hard plastic infant seat that is not attached to anything.

        Great idea.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      This is a good point. Car seats seem to be honking huge contraptions these days, and I’m wondering if a regular car seat would fit properly into an airline seat.

    • LuckyLady says:

      I’ve taken my daughter on plane trips since she was 11 months old and have always had her own (paid) seat for her–with her carset buckled in. Car seats do fit in plane seats.

  26. Slave For Turtles says:

    If the baby, a new born perhaps, is spending more time on the tit than in the seat, then I think an extra seat is unproductive; otherwise, the baby needs a seat of his/her own.

  27. GyroMight says:

    Lets just ditch the way prices are dealt, airlines should just post a price per pound for whatever flight you are looking at. That way you pay for what you weigh (including luggage).

  28. obfusciatrist says:

    Assuming I’ve done the math correctly (from here:

    In 2007 there were 0.8 fatalities per 1 billion passenger miles on U.S. air carriers.
    In 2007 there were 6.2 fatalities per 1 billion passengers miles in passenger cars on U.S. highways.

    So it would seem that the FAA has a point. If such a rule would have the impact of mostly shifting these children to road trips rather than their own seats on planes then the net result would seem to be much increased risk of fatality.

    • BadgerPudding says:

      You assume that all parents are so cheap that they would put their child at increased risk to save a few dollars.

      • obfusciatrist says:

        Absolutely I did. I even said so in my post.

        And aren’t parents who choose to put their kids on a lap instead of their own seat already making that same choice?

  29. Chaosium says:

    I’m not for screaming babies, but I don’t see a problem with TINY babies on laps. Sounds like yet another cash grab, and even though I don’t have kids, I’d push back. Screw these overcharges.

  30. BadgerPudding says:

    During a crash, an airborne infant is a hazard to other passengers. The infant basically becomes a projectile (same reason you’re required to stow all your belongings during take off and landing). I say yes, for the sake of everyone’s safety, please require seats for infants.

    • mikeyo says:

      are you sure that is the reason belongings must be stowed? I thought it was for the same reason your seatback and traytable need to be up, because they get in the way during an evacuation.

      • BadgerPudding says:

        Infants on the ground blocking evacuation aren’t cool either.

        In all honesty, I’m stepping on/over that in a crash situation. So either way, they’re better off in a seat of their own.

      • stevenpdx says:

        It’s both. You have to have clear aisles and tray tables “upright and locked” in case evacuation is necessary. Just imagine if those tray tables were down, and bags all over the floor.. it would be a nightmare to get out of the plane if there were an emergency.

        During flight, you don’t want those bags bouncing around and bonking people on the head if there’s turbulence.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Arrrrgghhhhh I’m flying tomorrow…I kind of wish I hadn’t read that. *breathes deeply* No crashing…no crashing…no airborne infants….

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      Here is a post completely devoid of any statistical data on how many passengers have been injured by flying babies. But if I post it with enough authority, people will assume it is fact!

  31. davere says:

    I was once on a flight with extreme turbulence. I think we were all scared for our lives. I even had the barf bag in my hands because I thought I was going to vomit at any second.

    Seat belts were the only thing preventing us from hitting the top of the plane with each and every bump.

    I cannot imagine what it would have been like to have a kid on your lap at that moment. There were none in that flight. But you would have had to hold on to the kid for dear life. This may have been a possibility after the first bump, but no one expected how severe the first bump was going to be. People screamed, the air went out of my lungs as the seatbelt held me against my seat.

    A kid on someone’s lap would have shot up, hit hard against the top of the plane and most likely landed on his head or on someone else’s head, or on a hand rest.

    So based on this experience alone, I say yes, kids must have their own seat and seat belt for their safety and the safety of those around them.

  32. skygirl says:

    Lap children are projectiles.

    Is your child’s life worth the price of a ticket?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Or for that matter, is someone else’s life worth the price? Don’t forget that if turbulence hits and you let go of your baby, that child is now a missile inside the cabin.

    • Kitten Mittens says:

      Not if they are anchor babies.


  33. Philly Cool says:

    I recently flew from Orlando to Philadelphia on an Friday afternoon flight. There were six women traveling together and each had a child on her lap. There were an additional 6 or 7 others also doing the same. There is no way that plan could have been safely evacuated in the event of an emergency. Plus, the noise was incredible!

  34. enomosiki says:

    Kids under the age of 2 flying with parents who have no control over them should be banned from flights altogether.

    The last two times I flew in and out of the country there were these kids crying nonstop throughout the entire 16 hours of flight. The biggest annoyance was that during the “out” part of the flight the kid was sitting behind me, while the “in” part of the flight the kid was sitting across the aisle.

  35. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    I think they should charge babies as luggage, and just assign a seat to it. it costs them about the same as a carryon.

  36. NumberSix says:

    If the airline will provide as flight seat for my son, I’d be all for it. I mean , they give belt extenders for fat people, why not provide my son with a “seat shrinker” if you will since he is small?

  37. Judah says:

    Only if the traveling group has more than one child. One baby, fine, put it on your lap. Two babies two adults does NOT work! They annoy the hell out of everyone around them, especially when child #1 crying means child#2 must join in.

  38. jayde_drag0n says:

    You don’t have the correct vote! Parents with children should be required to be on their own separate PLANE. Age determination is made by the ability to STFU

  39. BigHeadEd says:

    I’m not so sure this is a safety issue as much as a revenue issue. You can ride a motorcycle here in Florida without a helmet, but get ticketed for riding in a car unbuckled or having a small kid not in a car seat, but riding around unbuckled in a school bus is fine.

  40. GameHen says:

    I’m torn on this one. We flew once with my oldest when he was about 1 as a “lap baby”. There’s no way we could have afforded to buy the 3rd seat for him. But by the time we were done with that trip, we swore we would never do it again…and he was a relatively compliant child. It was so stressful trying to keep him from squirming all over the poor bastard stuck sitting next to us and pulling on the seat of the people in front of us. Had we been able to afford the 3rd seat and strap him into a car seat, it would have been better for everyone.

    That was 7 years ago and every trip we’ve taken with the kids since then has been by car. We’ve driven Seattle to San Diego with the kids rather than face a 3 hour flight and airport nightmare with them.

    Thank goodness we have no occassion to fly cross-country or cross-ocean with them.

  41. Manny says:

    Have you ever tried to belt a 3 month old into a seat with a seat belt? Do you think it actually works? They can’t even sit up.

    • erinpac says:

      Which is why they make carseats.

      You ever see a chihuahua go through a windshield?
      You think holding a kid is easier?

  42. grayflannelsuit says:

    Saying that parents will opt to save money by driving instead is not necessarily true. If you’re taking 2 kids from, say, New York to Florida I doubt very much that it would be that much more expensive to buy 2 extra tickets than to pay for gas, tolls, lodging, food, etc.

  43. phoblog says:

    We recently took our first flight with our child and it was only on-board that I considered what complete morons we were opting for lap-baby cost savings. First, we should’ve kept the car seat with us until boarding since it wasn’t a full flight and we could’ve belted her into the empty seat. (I wear my baby, so there’s no need for stroller or baby-bucket in the terminal).

    I thought wearing her would be a good “keep her stuck to me option” but airlines don’t allow it – I believe under the theory that if I were thrown about, I’d likely kill her with my own momentum (not sure why they don’t prefer that over projectile baby, but there you go).

    I love science and can’t believe I didn’t pause to think OF COURSE A BABY MUST BE RESTRAINED IN A MOVING VEHICLE regardless of type.

    And my baby hates her car seat, yes, but she still must use on in a car so she’ll have to use one on a plane.

    The force of a normal landing alone would’ve popped her out of my arms if I weren’t sufficiently braced for it. And of course there’s NO WAY to brace for extreme turbulence. If I were an Olympian I couldn’t beat physics.

    Lastly – half our family lives overseas and there’s no way we can afford a third seat but there’s also no way we can replace our child. So credit card debt is fine with me.

  44. DefinitiveAnn says:

    Having flown with a lap baby a couple of times, I can say it is absolutely no fun, and something I wouldn’t think of doing if I could afford not to. Back when my youngest was a newborn, I was able to get a seat for him on American for 1/2 price. I don’t think any airline offers a seat for half price for an infant or small child now. If they did, I would wager a lot of parents, especially of children approaching the age two cut-off, would be all over it.

  45. Geekybiker says:

    “by requiring parents to purchase a separate ticket for every child under 2 years of age, many parents would opt for driving to their destination rather than flying”

    Oh please god, let this become true!

  46. lalaland13 says:

    I didn’t really get this issue until I was on a flight from DFW to California one night. The flight crew was warning us it was full, and in the row in front of me was a dad with his daughter who looked a few months shy of 2 years. He buckled her into the middle seat, and she was having fun and seemed to be cracking up the woman in the woman seat (dad was on the aisle). A few minutes later, a flight attendant comes along and says, “She’s not 2, is she?” He says no, I guess, because then the FA says the girl needs to be in her dad’s lap. I kind of got a “You didn’t pay for that, did you? OK then, she’s moving” vibe. The weird part was, even though they said the flight was totally full, I’m pretty sure the dad sat there with a girl on his lap next to an empty seat until the flight took off, and then, obviously, until we landed (since no one’s gonna enter from the wing). It felt kind of like a waste of space, and just from my very uninformed vantage point, it didn’t look particularly safe or comfortable for either the dad or his daughter.

    What do I know, though? Maybe American Airlines really did think they were full. In fact, I remember them asking for 3 volunteers to “spend a night in lovely Dallas” and get free hotel, voucher, food, etc. I’ve since wondered if there was some miscalculation, or maybe they got two couples who wanted vouchers, or what. But I have too much free time on my hands.

  47. BonzaiSamurai says:

    insted of a seat for parents that want to hold their kids why not use those baby chest packs with a sholder strap to keep them in.

  48. Dracoster says:

    Kids under the age of 14 shouldn’t be allowed on any flight. Ever.

  49. AntiNorm says:

    Children under 2 shouldn’t be allowed on planes, period. That, or airlines should make a rule that if a child won’t stop screaming, the plane gets diverted and the family gets the bill.

  50. vicarp says:

    I could see a small fee, and only up to 1.5 years of age. But face it, parents traveling with small kids are already getting charged for the extra bags that traveling with children requires. I could see a small, under $50 fee, but the truth is, the kids not going to want to sit in the seat that long anyway

  51. Rocket80 says:

    Where is the third option of ‘let the damned airlines decide their own policy’. As usual, the debate is framed as if the big benevolent government should either FORCE companies to have a policy or BAN companies from having a policy. Let airlines decide for themselves and the consumers will let them know what they think with their $$$’s.

    • JMILLER says:

      Because a child has no VOTING rights, and can not vote with THEIR dollars. A cheap ass bad parent who decides I know best for my child, but doesnt have a clue can cause their child to DIE. or possibly kill another with a projectile missle. Free market people are so boring, hasn’t the banking industry implosion shown you that less regulation is not good.

  52. Skeptic says:

    I’m not allowed to have my eight-pound laptop out during takeoff and landing. How come my seat mate can have an unrestrained 20 lb child sitting on her or his lap? That child becomes a lethal projectile in any severe turbulence or crash, severely injuring or killing not only the child, but others, as the child hurtles into your head and breaks your neck. You would not be allowed to carry a 20 lb bowling ball on your lap. The laws of physics don’t discriminate based on whether the 20 lb object is inanimate or a human being.

    I do not want to be seated anywhere near a lap child and I expect the FAA to understand basic physics.

    • SenorBob says:

      True, but babies are a lot squishier than laptops and bowling balls and do a lot less damage per pound than a hard object.

  53. biggeek says:

    Anything that will discourage people from flying with their squalling, smelly brats is OK with me.

  54. a5un says:

    YES! Please make parents pay for their child so as to deter some of them from ever getting on the plane. I’ve only flown all of maybe 5 times (international around 13 hours each way), and all 5 times I had to endure the typical crying baby. Please make this happen!

    But to be fair, the last time that happened, the parents did buy two seats for their babies between them so no one had to sit right next to a crying baby. So that was nice of them.

  55. Conformist138 says:

    First, screw the cost. The kid would need it’s own seat over age 2, so why do parents think they get to pay less just cuz the child is smaller? Still a kid, still a person, still gonna have to pay for their expenses for 18+ years, parents can get over paying for plane tickets in their first 24 months.
    Second, what parent actually argues “But, I’d have to pay more” when handed a study about how babies on laps are way more likely to be injured or killed during otherwise nonfatal accidents and turbulance? I’ve been on a plane that felt like it fell straight out of the sky. It was so bad, a flight attendant wound up across our laps. There weren’t any small kids on our flight (lucky us), but if this tossed an adult who is used to flying daily, what would happen to a baby being held by a parent caught off guard? Knowing this ahead of time, what parent would look at their kid and say, “Eh, the risk is worth saving myself some money”?
    Third, and this cannot be overstated: These seats are tiny and I am not going to be happy being squeezed between two people as it is. Add a toddler to the lap of a seatmate and I may find myself in a surreal moment of wanting to punch a baby. In order to avoid this, I may just lash out at the parent holding it.

    So, restate: Pay for the baby to have a real seat. The money is worth saving your kid from an accident and saving your nose from being broken after the kid starts drooling into my hair.

  56. JMILLER says:

    Parents claim they love their kids and they are all so precious too them, BUT, when it comes to spending money for their safety they complain.
    There is no person here who can honestly claim the baby is better off in your lap than in an approved child seat. They are complaining about the cost, getting a discount, blah blah blah. REALLY? You have a child and you save a couple dollars, but turbulence happens and your kid DIES. You are probably the type of parent who holds your kid in their arms in the car too. You should have your children taken away for being a negligent parent. Children are not property, and have the same right to be protected as an adult.

  57. cf27 says:

    The FAA is absolutely right on this. If you force parents to buy seats for their one-year-olds, many of those families will choose to drive instead. But, flying is far, far safer than driving. As a result, this idea which is intended to make those kids safer will actually far less safe.

    When was the last time a kid was killed because they were sitting in their parent’s lap on an airplane? They’re killed on the highways all the time.

  58. pot_roast says:

    Those of us that have been stuck next to a screaming lap child on a long flight think that this is a fantastic idea.

  59. Erika'sPowerMinute says:

    I’m sorry, do all the commenters here have completely broken risk perception? Or did I miss the avalanche of deaths and injuries related to the existing lap baby policy?

    Do you all understand what an infintesimal chance there is of a baby or another passenger coming to harm because said baby is on a lap instead of having his or her own seat? Why should we have restrictive and expensive policies based on tiny, tiny possibilities?

    And how much time does a baby with her own seat actually spend in that seat, anyway? In my experience very very little.

  60. azwildkitten says:

    I don’t care whether parents pay for the 2nd seat, or decided to put up with a child on their lap for the whole flight. What I do care about is parents who don’t pay for their kids on Southwest flights, plop their kids into the middle seat and cross their fingers for an empty flight.

    I’ve been on so many flights where the flight attendants go on and on about how its a full flight, and every set will be taken. and these selfish parents keep fussing with their kids while there are paying passengers with no seats standing in the aisles. It slows down the boarding process while the flight attendants have to find each parent and make them put their child on their lap.

    At least if this goes into effect it would cut down on Southwest boarding drama.

  61. kennedar says:

    Regardless of what the law is, we will NEVER fly with a child in our lap. I live in Canada and there was a plane that was diverted here after facing huge turbulance. A number of people (I think 10ish) were seriously injured including broken bones and concussions. Those who were wearing seatbelts were fine. That was all the convincing that I needed. If we can not afford a seat for each of us, we will not fly, its as simple as that.

    If I would never drive with my child in my lap, why would I fly?

  62. ferricoxide says:

    I said “yes” but it wasn’t as a matter of safety.

  63. Blious says:

    Absolutely they should.

    I have sat several times next to people with kids around 2 and it was the most uncomfortable and annoying set of rides in my flight-flying career

    They are moving, they take up space, and they need to be taken care of

  64. pegasi says:

    the airlines won’t let you use a regular car seat in a plane, and until they revamp car seat standards to be “plane safe” the point would be moot, since plane seats don’t include child restraints. Plus, what parent is gonna trust reusable airline issued child seats, with germs, bacteria etc if they went that route? kids share illnesses like chicken pox, colds, flu etc so easily amongst each other.

  65. snarkymarcy says:

    Of course, they should. We have always purchased another seat for our child when flying. It gave us extra room and baggage (before you had to pay per bag.) If I have to wear a seat belt in flight, so does my baby. She goes in it anytime the seat belt sign is illuminated. She has flown on more than 30 segments in five years.

    However, the airlines do need better education about how the car seats work. My daughter was less than 12 months, but too big for her infant seat. We had a lightweight, FAA approved car seat. I installed it rear facing (just as I had on the trip up to Boston on the same airline without incident.) A flight attendant passed several times, but started in about it being incorrect minutes before push back. I told her that I installed it correctly. The instructions were with me. I also told her that babies should be rear facing til 12 months, also in the instructions that were with me. She insisted it had to be forward facing. (There were labels on the frame on both sides. The side facing the aisle had the foward facing instructions in large letters, so she said that I was wrong and that the seat was a forward facing seat only.) I calmly restated my position, offering the manual which she wouldn’t take. Finally, she got a manager who asked me, “Are you refusing to comply with the safety instructions of a flight attendant?” Knowing that I was about to get kicked off the flight/fined, etc., I put my child’s safety last and reinstalled the seat forward facing. When we got home, we phoned JetBlue. They agreed that we were correct, and that the staff handled the situation poorly.

    We use the CARES restraint now. A few FAs have tried to tell me that I can’t use it, but I have the FAA statements that specifically mention the device with me.