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Flying with a Toddler or Baby on Emirates

Flying with a Toddler or Baby on Emirates

Is Emirates a good airline to fly with a baby or toddler? Emirates is considered one of the best airlines in the world and also one of the best airlines to fly with a baby, toddler, or kids in general.

We’ve flown Emirates numerous times, in fact, our first flight across the ocean with a baby (from Italy to Mauritius) was on Emirates when our son was just 4 weeks old. We flew Emirates with him when he was a toddler on Milan to NYC route.

We did a few of these 16-hour flights with a baby and toddler in town from NYC to the Maldives via Dubai, so I can speak for my experience with Emirates on multiple occasions and toddler and baby stages.

Despite everyone raving about how amazing it is flying with Emirates with a baby or toddler, we had some fine flights, but on 4 separate occassions when flying in economy class we had horrendous experiences that impacted us and our babies, and why I’m often hesitant to recommend Emirates with a small baby despite certain amenities that Emirates offers.

Keep in mind: Flying on Emirates in economy with a baby vs flying on Emirates in business class with a baby is incomparable, as there’s a huge difference in experience.
I can attest to both, but you can take an infant to business class on Emirates if you wish and you will still have a bassinet option.


Emirates Flying with Infant

Seating options for infants are the same as on any other airline: for babies under 2 you can book a seat of their own with a car seat (if over 6 months), or you can have them sit on your lap with a seatbelt extender and use a bassinet.

Just like on any other airline: if you book a separate seat for your infant you cannot request or use a bassinet (read more in Bassinet section).

Infant food on Emirates 

When booking your tickets, you will have a choice of prepared baby meals on Emirates that are designed for very young children. You can also opt for their prepared baby milk formula made from whey. 

However, if you prefer to bring your own formula or baby food, you can also simply ask the cabin crew and they will help you warm it up safely. 

We’ve never encountered any issues when heating our own milk reheated or requesting some from the crew.

Emirates Lap Infant

You can only have one infant in arms on Emirates per adult so if you are traveling alone with more than one baby, you’ll need to book a child’s seat for your older child or twin. 

The other child sitting in own seat must be over 6 months old and sit in a car seat, or if older than 12 months sit with a seat belt.

Emirates is unique in this policy as most airlines don’t allow kids under 2 years old to sit with a seatbelt and require a harness or car seat.

On Emirates, you must book your lap infant’s ticket in advance. You can do this while booking your own tickets online and you will need to provide details such as their name and date of birth. You will see an option to add a lap infant as you go through the process. 

It’s the same procedure on any international flights, but might be confused, as on domestic US flights you can add an infant at the age – so just something worth reminding people.

Baby Facilities on Emirates

When flying with infants on Emirates you will get a special infant kit that includes things like nappy cream, wipes, and a bib, and all plane bathrooms are fitted with change tables. 

There’s even a plush toy for little babies and some coloring stuff for toddlers. Kids were always excited about these little care packages.

Emirates also offers free Polaroid photos for families, which is a nice souvenir. We still have Emirates photo in my son’s baby book as it was first intercontinental flight.

If you choose, you are allowed to breastfeed in your seat, just ask the flight attendants for a privacy blanket.

Emirates Car Seat Policy

Children from 6 months to 3 years old can use a car seat as long as you have booked a seat for that child in advance. That being said, there are a few restrictions that you should check to make sure your car seat is accepted and safe.  

Below I will go through all the rules that are specific to Emirates, but I have a full post on how to travel with a car seat if you want to learn more. 

Accepted Car Seats on Emirates

Children under 1-year-old who are sitting in their own seats must be secured in either a car seat or a safety harness, however, not all car seats are allowed on planes so it’s important to check if yours is fine before relying on this option. 

If you are choosing to bring your own car seat on Emirates, make sure your car seat has a label that shows it is approved for airplane use by either the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), or Transport Canada.

Infant car seats can be used on Emirates but they must be installed correctly, for example, front-facing seats must face forward, so ask the airline staff for assistance if you are not sure.  

Rear-facing car seats can only be used for infants between 7 days and 6 months old and must be installed in a bulkhead seat ONLY. They cannot be installed in any other seat.

In any other seat, the car seat must be placed facing forward and not block the recline. This is important as most infants will still be in a rear-facing car seat until 1 or 2 years and often in a bucket car seat, which won’t be allowed. I personally saw someone being turned away from using their Doona on Emirates because they had no bulkhead seats.

Emirates also doesn’t accept car seats that use a three‑point seat belt or shoulder harness to secure them. 

Bassinet on Emirates

Children under 2 years old are eligible to use a bassinet on Emirates however there are a limited amount so you will need to book it early if you want to ensure you have this option. 

That being said, generally, infants won’t be comfortable sleeping in a bassinet after about 8 months as they are quite small and have a weight limit of around 11 kgs (24.2 pounds).

Emirates does NOT allow you to still squeeze your infant into a bassinet if they don’t fit, as it’s considered dangerous. If your baby is about 6 months it can be a hit or miss with a bassinet.

CoziGo is allowed on top of the bassinet if you want to blackened it out for your baby.

If your baby is longer than 29.5 inches they won’t fit in the bassinet in Economy and Business class. Bassinets in First class are even shorter and only measure 25 inches.

How to Reserve a Bassinet/Carrycot on Emirates

When booking your flights online with Emirates you will see which seats are designated for families traveling with babies during the seat selection process. Usually, the seats that are compatible with bassinets are located in the bulkhead row at the front of economy class and marked online with a baby bed icon.

Emirates does not charge extra for bassinet seats, but they might charge extra for seat selection depending on the fare you bought. They don’t block bassinet seats to give out to babies at the gate as some airlines, so if you want to secure a bassinet it’s worth paying for the seat selection.

Another consideration to make while booking your flights is that you cannot use a bassinet and car seat together as car seats aren’t allowed in bulkhead rows (unless it’s a rear-facing baby car seat). Since the bassinet is only an option for lap babies without their own seats, it’s important to plan accordingly.

If you choose to book a bassinet for your trip, make sure to read all my other tips for traveling with a bassinet.


Baggage Allowance for Babies and Kids on Emirates

Baggage policy on Emirates is what usually makes our experience with Emirates horrendous and for me cancels out the amenities and extra that the airline offers for babies.

Why? First, Emirates is extremely strict when it comes to carry-on bag policy and its weight. They only allow 7 kgs of hand luggage and weigh your luggage 90% of the time.

Officially, Emirates baby policy allows you to bring 1 small cabin bag per infant with a maximum of 5kg (11 lbs) and no bigger than 22 by 15 by 8 inches (55 x 38 x 22 cms) on all flights regardless of the destination. 

If you are flying to or from the Americas or Africa, that is all the luggage you are allowed for kids under 2 years old. However, if you are flying anywhere else in the world, you can also bring a 10kg (22lb) checked bag per child

In reality, things seem to depend on the mood of the Emirates staff. Almost always we are told that our toddlers, despite being over 2 years old and entitled to a full 7 kg suitcase, aren’t eligible to have their own carry-on and they force us to check suitcases.

On two separate occassions when our kids were 2 and 4 years old we had to deal with very rude staff claiming they’ll ban us if we don’t check at least one carry on suitcase (we had 3 for 4 people, so officially even less than allowed) and it made me miss our connection once and having to run like maniacs through the airport with our little kids, because the luggage arrived late. Keep this in mind as it seems to me that Emirates is targeting families who want to travel with carry-on bags only like us.

Emirates also does NOT allow any leg rests or inflatable beds for any children – infants or toddlers. If you have a ride-on suitcase with a foot rest like JetKids you will be forced to store it in the overhead and any hammocks or travel beds will be removed if you try to use them. This makes it hard for kids to sleep on very long Emirates flights.


Emirates Stroller Policy

Emirates is insanely strict when it comes to strollers, similar to their luggage policies. If you have a stroller that is small enough and can fit in the overhead bin like Babyzen Yoyo you might be allowed to bring it on board if there’s space (Basically, if you’re not in the last priority group to board).

Having an airplane stroller that fits in the overhead is crucial for infants under 6 months who cannot sit in a “big boy chair” on the strollers. On our first Emirates light when Dylan was barely 8 weeks old our stroller happened to be half an inch too big and we were told to gate check it… which would be fine on different airlines, but not on Emirates:

As Emirates offers free strollers for use within the airport in Dubai during your layover, so if you gate check your stroller it won’t be returned back at the gate for your layover – it will go to your final destination.

The problem is: Emirates strollers are umbrella strollers, not suitable for infants and they don’t recline so not suitable for sleeping either. Quite frankly, they cannot be pushed with one hand and if you have luggage it’s a nightmare to get through the airport with them anyway.

Gate Checking Other Baby Items

You are allowed to gate-check ONE baby item free of charge. That means you can pick to bring either a collapsible stroller, carrycot, or car seat in the cabin, but not all three. 


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

All kids 2 years old and above must have their own seat when flying with Emirates, but luckily they provide plenty of accommodations to keep them happy. 

Onboard they will give you a goodie bag with things like toys, blankets, dolls games, and other activities to keep your little ones entertained throughout the flight. These are available for kids up to 12 years old and vary from time to time, so making a collection of airplane toys can become quite fun for little ones who fly often. 

I also recommend bringing a travel pillow for your kids so they can easily get comfortable in their seats since any beds aren’t allowed. 

Kids’ Meal Options on Emirates

Kids meals are automatically included when booking a child’s seat onboard Emirates but if your youngster has special dietary requirements you can choose an alternative meal when booking. 

Meals for kids are good, it’s always something that the kids will munch on.

Are Airplane Beds for Baby or Toddler Allowed?

Unfortunately, Emirates does not allow blow-up toddler beds like the Flyaway bed or footrests that attach to the seat.

MJ

Thursday 13th of June 2024

Hi Anna,

I reached out to Emirates but don’t have a clear answer on this:

In the section titled “Gate Checking Other Baby Items”, you state that “You are allowed to gate-check ONE baby item free of charge. That means you can pick to bring either a collapsible stroller, carrycot, or car seat in the cabin, but not all three.” Does this mean I can bring a collapsible stroller on board and gate check a car seat ?

AnnaEverywhere

Monday 8th of July 2024

In my experience flying with Emirates they are one of the strictest when it comes to luggage restrictions. It means that you can truly bring just one item to the gate, either stroller or car seat. If there's room you can bring it into the cabin, and if there's no room it will be gate checked.

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