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Flying American Airlines with Baby

Flying American Airlines with Baby

Is American Airlines good to fly with a baby? If I’m brutally honest with you, no. American Airlines is the least family-friendly airline, but as quite often we have no other choice we have to fly them on occasion.

You will still most likely be fine, but there are certain things that you need to be aware of when flying American Airlines with a baby or toddler.

American Airlines Flying with Infant

American accepts newborns as young as 2 days old but any baby under 7 days old is required to have a doctor’s letter which clears them for plane travel. 

Infant seating is also pretty standard with American Airlines, you have the option of having them sit on your lap for the duration of the flight (free of charge), sleeping in a bassinet provided by the airline, or seated in a car seat with own allocated space (paid ticket required).

Note that only one infant is allowed to sit on a parent’s lap at a time, so if you have more than one baby per adult, you will need to book the second child a ticket and bring along a certified car seat. 

Infant food on American Airlines

American Airlines offers range of different commercial baby food onboard their flights that can be provided for children under 2 years old. In theory as per their website.

In reality, despite numerous international flights taken we were never offered any baby food for our son.

Nursing mothers can also bring a soft-sided cooler of breast milk and/or breast pump on board in addition to their personal cabin bag. Additionally, you are permitted to bring one diaper bag per child which can include travel necessities like baby food and bottles. So if you prefer to bring along your own supplies, the air hostesses will be happy to help. 

American Airlines Lap Infant

Children up to 2 years old can be added to your ticket as an infant in arms on American Airlines during the booking process online when entering your passenger information. 

You’ll need to give all their info such as name and date of birth, but in most cases, for domestic flights, they won’t be issued with their own ticket

For international flights, your lap infant will be issued their own ticket which entitles them to additional checked luggage (more on that below).

Baby Facilities on American

If your child is under 2 years old, make sure to push through for priority boarding at the gate to make sure you can get settled on board easily and comfortably.

American Airlines does NOT offer any priority boarding for families to help them arrange any baby seats etc without the chaos of everyone else trying to board. In fact, three times we asked we were literally laughed at by the staff telling us that we board according to our boarding group and status.

Change tables are available in the lavatories on all wide-bodied planes (generally any planes that are flying long distances), but the toilets are smaller than on other airlines so it’s a bit of a tight squeeze.

American Airlines Car Seat Policy

Any child who is traveling in their own seat under 2 years old must use an FAA-approved safety car seat. This also applies to any children who cannot sit up unassisted during take-off and landing. 

There are lots of things you should know before traveling with a car seat but to get you started, safety seats can’t be used in first class, business class, or exit rows (+ row in front and behind exit row). They also shouldn’t block anyone’s access to the aisle, so generally, a window seat is the best place to secure your little one. 

Accepted Car Seats on American

Not all car seats are accepted on American Airlines so it’s important to check yours for a few requirements before you commit to using it. 

All safety car seats must have a solid back and front as well as a visible tag confirming it is approved by the FAA or be manufactured following UN standards

Booster seats are allowed if they have a label of approval and a shoulder harness but other than Aviation Child Safety Devices (ACSD), no other harness restraints are allowed. 

Baggage Allowance for Babies and Kids on AA

The American Airlines baby policy changes depending on whether you are on a domestic or international flight. 

For domestic flights, if your baby under 2 years old does not have their own ticket (will be sitting on your lap), they do not have any luggage allowance of their own. All your baby’s equipment should be included in your personal luggage allowance. 

If your child has been issued their own ticket, whether that be because you are flying internationally or you have purchased them their own seat, you can check one bag for your baby or toddler with the same weight and dimensions as an adult bag. 

Since American Airlines allows portable airplane beds, it’s worth considering a suitcase that doubles as a bed for toddlers who don’t require a car seat. 

American Airlines with Baby

Bassinet on American Airlines

Bassinets are only available on certain American Airlines planes (77-200, 777-300, and 787 aircraft) and are based on a first come first served system at the gate. This means it isn’t a super reliable option for long-distance flights however if you’re lucky enough to secure one, it can make flying with a baby much easier. 

Technically, bassinets on American Airlines are designed for children under 2 years old with a maximum weight of 20 lbs (9kg), however, generally, infants grow out of them by about 8 months as the size is just too small. 

Unfortunately, you can’t reserve a bassinet in advance and must ask at the boarding gate for availability. With that in mind, the youngest babies on board are generally prioritized when it comes to assigning the bassinets. 

If you want to use a bassinet for your trip, it’s important to consider the seating arrangements for your whole family. Bassinets are NOT available in first or business class and often must be placed in the bulkhead rows. At the same time, car seats cannot be placed in the bulkhead row on most American flights so you may not be able to use both. 

American Airlines Stroller Policy

Each person flying with a ticket is allowed to check in 1 stroller and 1 car seat for free in addition to their regular luggage. 

However, you can only gate-check one baby item, so if you have a stroller and a car seat that need to be checked, one will have to be checked in at the ticket counter ahead of time. 

That being said, if your stroller weighs over 20 lbs (9kgs), you must check it in at the check-in desk. All other strollers need to be gate-checked before boarding.

Even if you checked in an American Airlines staff might chase you down and tell you to check your stroller. On our recent flights from the US to Europe and back, everyone flying with kids had to check their stroller at the counter, even those with airplane strollers that could have fit in the overhead.

The worst part is that American Airlines doesn’t take any responsibility for broken or damaged strollers, so this policy is particularly family-unfriendly.

Also, wagons, cribs, and playpens count as regular luggage and will be included in your allowance. 

American Airlines Stroller Policy

Flying with a Toddler on American (Over 2 Years Old)

Children over 2 years old must have their own ticket and seat on all American Airlines flights but they do not require a safety seat if they can sit up unassisted and fit within the safety belt. You can also choose a kid’s meal when booking to ensure they have child-friendly food options throughout the flight. 

To keep them busy throughout the flight, make sure to download the American Airlines app onto your phone or tablet so you have access to the library of free movies, games, and TV shows for kids

When booking your family’s tickets in one reservation, American Airlines will make sure that all children under 15 years of age are sitting next to at least one parent. So if you buy your tickets separately for any reason, make sure to give the reservations line a call to amend your booking to make sure you can sit together. 

Are Airplane Beds for Baby or Toddler Allowed?

Airplane beds for babies and toddlers like the Flyaway Kids Beds are allowed on American Airlines flights however they must be stowed for take-off and landing. 

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