Whether you've planned your trip around the birth of your child or you've had a lovely surprise and require some updates to your travel considerations, travelling stress-free with a newborn is best done with a little foresight and preparation.
Embrace the stork
You'll have enough to worry about with a new baby, follow our steps and rest a bit easier in your travel plans when the baby does arrive.
What to expect when you've been expecting
While your doctor and personal comfort level might have something to say about air travel when expecting, there's a whole new world of administration for newborns, not to mention the prospect of fees and equipment!
An unexpected pregnancy doesn't have to be the end of your travel plans - the solution can be as simple as a phone call to your travel professional!
Some airlines have a minimum age for infant travellers measured in days. Some do not.
It might be prudent to confirm such details, in particular for children under 60 days.
Travel free 'til 2
In most instances, infants carried on your lap travel for free up to the age of two.
If your child turns two on or after the day of departure / prior to your planned return flight home, be prepared to pay the full child fare.
When is free not really free?
While it may be a bit early to teach your child that there's no such thing as a free lunch, it does unfortunately hold true for air travel.
An infant seated on the lap may be free from a fare, but there will undoubtedly be a small tax, administrative charge, or even insurance fee from the airline.
This cost is typically quite small but it will vary by airline and route, including variances for the airports involved in your specific journey.
Adding a baby to the ticket
Flights are sold up to 331 days in advance, longer than any pregnancy by far! Those of you who've sought an early booking bonus or filled your travel calendar in advance may have time to fit a full three trimesters in before departure. A baby can be wholly unexpected.
Again, planned or unexpected, don't be shy. While having a baby isn't an everyday occurrence for most people, this type of administration is not uncommon.
Many airlines require advance notice and special booking for any child under two, even if your baby isn't a first time traveller! (*We're not qualified to comment on baby time-travellers)
If you are to expect such change of circumstance, it would be wise to contact the airline and any other travel supplier involved in your holiday at the earliest opportunity.
Name and date of birth are typically all the information that's required, but that can be tricky for those passengers who've still to be born!
Avoid airport check-in desk nightmares
While we've come to expect some allowance for minors to travel domestically without full identification, that may change in 2018.
At the very least, all ticketed passengers must have supplied their full names and date of birth as indicated on their passports - this is already true now for all international travel.
But how do you submit this information for someone who's not yet been born?
You'll simply have to wait - even induced or cesarean births can be delayed. So don't confirm or declare such date of birth until after the event!
With regard to name, there is a little more flexibility in making your declaration in advance. However, we recommend making your full considerations and to make an obvious record for yourself of what correspondence you've shared.
Names must match. As. On. Passport.
If you intend on giving the baby one or more middle names, have desires to share different surnames, or even have undecided feelings about a name, you could be putting your travel plans at risk.
Again, speak to your travel professional and make a clear record for yourself what name has been submitted to whom, and when.
If things do change, declare the change now! Better to pay a change fee in advance than be at risk for denial of boarding!
What about the added equipment?
Travelling with a baby can mean bottles, formula, extra bags, strollers, car seats, and more...
Airline rules for checked equipment can vary as much as your packing list - all the more reason to check and double check!
For example, at the time of writing, WestJet will allow the checked stowage of two pieces of equipment for infants seated on the lap, and at no additional cost.
Back to the Passport: Your sticking point for the whole operation!
No international travel may be accomplished without the appropriate documentation, the standard being a full, valid passport.
The processing of baby's first passport relies on one other document, one which is administered by a wholly separate arm of the government - the birth certificate.
While expedited services do exist for the passports of many nations, we're yet to see such relief from the registration of a new person. All to be done is wait.
Depending on how far in advance you have arranged your travel, this wait can be stressful if nothing else, but it can also spell disaster for your travel plans.
Such baby-centric circumstance is yet another example of where no traveller should be travelling without a comprehensive insurance policy. One which offers coverage of both medical AND any administrative challenges such as cancellation and trip interruption.
Starting to see a pattern?
Any doubts, questions, or concerns - get in touch with your supplier sooner rather than later.
Better yet, book through a travel professional and reduce your stress with as little as one phone call!
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