United Airlines car seat policy
A United Airlines plane – know the rules before you take your car seat (canva)

Traveling with a child on an airplane isn’t the same as in a car, but there are some similarities. For example, your child can sit on your lap or stay in a car seat. Not all airlines have the same regulations, but United Airlines have fair rules and useful tips when traveling with children.

Key Takeaway
You can bring any car seat that is FAA-approved on a United Airlines flight for free if it is for a child under two years old. However, even though infants travel for free, you will need to buy an extra seat for the car seat because it will be taking up the space of another paying customer.

You’ll find out more about United Airlines’ regulations soon, including some examples of car seats that you can bring onboard, where in the plane they are allowed, and more.

Bringing your car seat onboard

You can bring a car seat onboard, but you will have to pay for an extra seat. This is because you will be taking up an extra space that another paying customer could take.

The car seat needs to be approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Almost all car seats designed after 1985 are FAA-approved, but you can confirm this when you buy it. There will be a note in the instruction manual and there is usually a sticker on the car seat itself.

Checking your car seat(s)

If you are traveling with car seats, you can check them into the hold for free, as long as there is one per child with you. You can check them at the ticket counter before going through security or at the gate before boarding. This gives you the chance to use the seat through the airport.

A similar policy also applied for strollers. Read more about it in United Airlines stroller policy.

Here is also where you might get lucky. You can ask the staff at the gate if the flight is full. If it is and you haven’t paid for an extra seat, your car seat will have to be put into hold. You can pick it up when you arrive at your destination.

However, if the flight has some spare spots, you can ask the staff if you can take the car seat onboard so that your child (and you) can be more comfortable. You might get away with bringing your car seat onboard without any extra payment.

Car Seat Exceptions

There are some exceptions when using a car seat on a United Airlines flight. You can’t bring one into the cabin if you are sitting in the Polaris business class section on most of their planes, including Boeing 767s, 777s, and 787s.

Flying with children on United Airlines

United Airlines is a company that tries to make traveling as a family easier. Your child will be placed next to you even if you bought your tickets without selecting seats. If you’re traveling with an infant (under two years of age), you can keep them on your lap for the whole flight, no matter what the destination is.

How to Use a Car Seat on a Plane

Car seats work exactly the same way on a plane as they do in a car. You need to place them facing backward and attach them using the seatbelt. What’s important to remember is that airline seats recline. You have to make sure that your car seat is well-secured even if it interferes with the seat in front’s inclination. The passenger in front will have to avoid reclining.

Extra Costs for Infants on United Airlines

As mentioned above, you can travel with your infant on your lap or in a car seat. There are different ways of booking a ticket for an infant depending on where they will sit.

  • In a car seat – you have to pay for an extra seat.
  • On your lap on a domestic flight – you don’t need to pay or even book a ticket.
  • On your lap between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada – you have to book a ticket but you only pay taxes on it, not a fee to United Airlines.
  • On your lap on other international flights – you have to book a ticket and you will pay a partial fare depending on the destination.

Even if your infant will sit on your lap and you don’t need a ticket, you have to let United know. You can do this when booking online by selecting “Infant in lap” or when checking in at the desk.

Traveling with a Car Seat

If you don’t need a car seat on a flight, you can always choose not to bring it. However, it can be useful when you arrive at your destination. You can check it into the hold once you arrive at the airport to make your journey easier.

Having the right seat can also make a big difference to your comfort. There are many car seats that are easy to handle. If you’re looking for a great one, here is a list of the 12 best travel car seats which are FAA-approved. It can help you find the perfect one for your needs.

If you have a seat with an extra base, you need to remember to take it with you. You can put it in your luggage if you have space, or attach it to the car seat with good traveling tape. You can also bring it with you into the cabin and place it in the overhead lockers.

Read more about this in our article about traveling with a car seat.


Can I bring a car seat as checked baggage?

Almost all airlines, not just United, let you bring car seats as checked baggage. You can generally check them at the ticket counter or at the gate before boarding.

Read here for the rest of the rules about baggage on a United flight. If you’re an active US military personnel, you can check your baggage for free on a military discount.

Can you bring a car seat on a plane for free?

Most airlines allow car seats to be placed in the hold for free. They can be checked at the gate or at the ticket counter. If you want to bring one into the cabin for your infant to sit in, you usually have to pay a fee. Some airlines let you bring a car seat onboard without charging if there are free places in the cabin.

Does a 2 year old need a car seat on a plane?

No, you never have to have a car seat on a plane for your child. Kids under two can sit on your lap and aged two or above can sit in their own seats.

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