On most airlines toddlers under the age of 2 fly free while sitting on their parents’ laps.  And with the price of airfares it is still a nice bonus to be able to travel as a young family and not have to pay for an extra seat. This is what we chose to do on our recent trip abroad. On the night flight over the Atlantic ocean the three of us were sitting in 2 side seats, with me next to the window and Papa at the aisle. Mausi draped across our knees. Several things conspired against us on this particular flight, including an 11:30 pm take off time, and over-tired toddler and an aeroplane that for some reason had no air-vents above the seats, making for a hot, restless flight. But we arrived with not too dampened spirits and on we went.

The flight home however, the one that I had been most concerned about as it was leaving the UK at 8:30 am, was possibly one of the most enjoyable flights I have been on. This particular aeroplane was laid out with three seats together at either side and then three seats together in the centre.  As it was quite empty the three of us were able to have three seats in the centre section! Although Mausi sat on my lap for take-off and landing, during the flight we were able to place her in the middle seat. Having that extra seat made a world of difference. Was it wonderful enough that I would buy a seat for a toddler under two?

If price is not an issue I highly recommend buying an extra seat. It is even more convenient if you are travelling with a car seat as you are often able to place the car seat right on the airline seat. Most toddlers are so used to sleeping in their car seats that they may sleep for a good chunk of the flight. Even without a car seat, the extra seat gives mum an dad’s lap a rest.

That being said, we have now flown twice with Mausi, once across the continent when she was 8 months old, and now once across the ocean at 18 months old, and each time only paid for 2 seats. Our flight experience was no worse for having done so, and for us the cost of a third seat when we didn’t need to buy one was high enough that we opted to spend our money on other things. There were also 2 of us, so we could take turns, and the longest flight was only 8 hours.

The following things should perhaps be taken into account when trying to decide on whether or not to buy a seat for a toddler:

  • Number of adults travelling (the number of different laps that can be used for the toddler to sit on)
  • Length of the flight (an 8 hour flight to Europe is doable, but what about a 24+ hour travel marathon from Eastern North America to Asia?)
  • Are you travelling with a carseat?

We will never quite be in this position again. The next time we fly with Mausi we will likely need to buy her a seat. And if at some time we fly with 2 children I have heard that it is different again. With two children, assuming that one is over 2 years and the other is not, as the older one still isn’t large enough to fill a seat and so even though there are 2 children, 2 adults and only 3 seats there seems to be more room.

What are your experiences with aeroplane seats and toddlers under 2?

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One Response to To buy an aeroplane seat for a toddler under two…or to make do without

  1. Heather says:

    I think your points are all valid. If cost isn’t an issue, the extra space is great. Another possible option- check the price of a business class seat. It may be the same as or less than 2 coach seats with the bonus of extra room and marvellous service. 🙂

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