Flying with a Baby in Southwest Airlines
A mother and her baby in an airplane cabin – Kaspars (canva)

Bringing your baby on your travels can be a wonderful experience for both of you. But it can be difficult navigating airline travel with your little one. This guide to flying with a baby on Southwest will help you prepare for your next trip.

With Southwest Airlines, every adult has the right to one lap infant under two years old. A breast pump doesn’t count towards your carry-on limit, and you can check one stroller and one car seat free of charge. If you book a separate seat for your baby, you’ll pay the full price for a ticket.

Still have more questions? Keep reading to unpack the ins and outs of flying Southwest with a baby, including navigating the airport with a baby, what you can and can’t check, and your in-flight experience.

Booking a ticket on Southwest Airlines for your baby

To book a ticket with Southwest Airlines, your baby needs to be at least 14 days old on the day of travel. Kids under two years old can fly free of charge as a lap infant with Southwest Airlines. If it’s an international flight, you won’t have to pay for an extra ticket, but you might need to pay some additional fees and taxes.

After you’ve booked your ticket, you’ll need to contact Southwest Airlines by phone or email to let them know you plan on traveling with a lap infant. They will add your baby’s information to the reservation to be verified at check-in.

Boarding passes for babies flying on Southwest Airlines

Lap infants under two years old don’t need a boarding pass. But you will need to obtain a Boarding Verification Document. You’ll need to get this at the airport check-in desk by providing age verification such as a birth certificate. If you have bought an extra seat for your child, they will need their own boarding pass.

What you can bring when flying with a baby on Southwest Airlines

If you’re flying with a lap infant, they aren’t entitled to any complimentary checked or carry-on luggage. Once your child is over two years old or if they have their own seat, they can bring on the standard luggage allowance for the flight.

What can you bring as a carry-on for your baby?

Getting through security

You’ll be allowed to bring a breast pump as an extra carry-on free of charge. According to TSA guidelines, you can bring up to 3.4 ounces of breast milk in your carry-on through security. If your powdered formula exceeds 12oz (350ml) it may require extra screening. Baby food is allowed through TSA in reasonable amounts.

Lining up for security can be even more stressful with bored and disgruntled little ones. If you have A-List status, you can get fast-tracked through security and your kids can come with you for free. You could also apply for TSA Pre-check to cut down your waiting time.

Traveling with a stroller on Southwest Airlines

You can bring your stroller with Southwest Airlines for free, but it won’t be allowed inside the cabin. You can check your stroller at the curb, at the check-in desk, or at the gate.

Many parents like the convenience of having a stroller while they navigate the airport. You can check the stroller at check-in and use an airport stroller if they’re available. Or, if you’d rather keep your own stroller, you can check it at the gate. For more information on traveling with a stroller, check out this article on Southwest airline’s stroller policy.

Traveling with a car seat on Southwest Airlines

A car seat doesn’t count towards your checked luggage on Southwest and you can bring it free of charge. You can only bring the car seat onto the plane if you have purchased the middle or window seat next to you. You can’t put a baby in a car seat on an exit row.

If you plan on using the car seat on the flight, it must meet safety regulations which you can find in this blog about Southwest’s car seat policy. This also applies to any kind of child restraint system you choose to use instead.

Your flying experience with a baby on Southwest

The “A” boarding group gets on the plane first when flying with Southwest. If you didn’t get access to the “A” boarding group, Family Boarding is right after this. Family Boarding is classed as up to two adults and one child aged six or under. Southwest doesn’t provide assigned seats, so the earlier you board, the better.

There’s free entertainment with family-friendly options on most Southwest flights, so you should find something to keep your little one quiet. When your baby needs changing, all front lavatories on Southwest have changing stations.

Frequently asked questions

Where should I sit on a plane with a baby?

There’s lots of debate about where you should sit on a plane with a baby. Close to the toilet is always a good option. The back of the plane is a good choice as you have more freedom to move around when your baby doesn’t settle. You could also try to get seats in the bulkhead to allow you all some extra space.

How do you hold a baby on a plane?

If you have a lap infant, you’ll need to hold them as you normally would on your lap for the entire duration of the flight. Once you have a toddler who wants to move around more, it may be more comfortable for both of you to have your own seats. Southwest Airlines don’t offer bassinets, so you’ll need to bring a car seat or restraint for your baby if they have their own seat.

How do I protect my baby’s ears when flying?

The changes in air pressure can be painful for babies when flying. There are a few tips to help them through it. Giving them something to suck or chew on, like a pacifier, will help them to equalize. It’s not certain whether earmuffs will help with air pressure, but it will block out loud noises which could help them to sleep through it.

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