Can You Book a Flight for an Unborn Child?

If you and your partner are avid travellers, then you likely won’t want to hit the brakes once your baby is born. And if you happen to see an incredible deal for the near future, but the baby will be born, how can you make sure you and your entire family can board the plane? You will need to know how to book a flight for an unborn child properly.

Can you book a flight for an unborn baby? Yes, you can! In the US, it’s simple, as lap infants don’t tend to need a separate ticket anyway.

When you are planning to travel internationally with a child who has not been born yet, you have two options: either wait until the child is born to book their ticket, or put the date of booking as their birthday since most airlines won’t let you put dates in the future. Then call and correct it once the child is born. 

If you are planning to indulge in a vacation soon after your baby is born, you will be happy to know that there are many ways you can book a seat for your unborn child. This article will discuss all the booking possibilities, so you can be confident in your travels after your child is born. 

How to Book a Flight for an Unborn Child

First things first: every airline is different, so you will want to double-check with the airline before attempting to do any of the following booking procedures for an unborn child. The procedures will vary based on where your you are flying to and from, the airline and whether the baby will be a lap infant. Requirements for international flights are different from US domestic.

Some airlines, like Air New Zealand, IndiGo, American Airlines do not allow you to book for a baby who is yet to be born.

However, many people have had success with these booking procedures on a multitude of airlines, including Emirates, Delta, and United.

Booking International Flights for an Unborn Baby

The first issue to consider: do you want to book a separate seat for your baby or will you have your little precious as a lap infant (and possibly in a bulkhead bassinet)?

By far the easiest route to take is having your baby as a lap infant.

1) You Will Need a Name, Birth Date, and the Gender

Now, if you are trying to book a flight for an unborn child when you are only two months pregnant, you may run into problems providing this information. This is because most airlines are going to require that you at least have the name and gender for the person you are booking the flight for. 

If you don’t have the first name decided yet, then you can type ‘Baby’ as the name of your unborn child, followed by their last name. If you know the name you are going to give your child, go ahead and enter it on the ticket, so there is less hassle.

After giving birth you will be able to provide the birth date. For name updates, you should be able to go online. However, the date of birth updates can be a bit harder to do with airlines and will require you to call and possibly provide proof with a birth certificate.

Most international flights will require you to input information to reserve a ticket for a baby, even if they are lap sitting. This means you will have to, at some point before your trip, adjust the reservation to provide the baby’s name and birth date. Keep in mind that this will likely be a pain- long waits in call centre queue and in some cases may be costly too.

It’s time-consuming to change information on these types of reservations, but it will be required before flying. 

2) What Date of Birth do you Use?

So, what do you put for the birth date if you have no birth date yet?

Since booking websites won’t allow you to put a future date for the birth date, simply putting the day you book the ticket is good enough.

However, when flying internationally, you will need to update the birth date before the flight. Otherwise, they may not let you board the plane.

3) What About Frequent Flyer Numbers? 

Many people choose to set up their children with a frequent flyer account as soon as possible so that they can start accumulating points. This is important if you are an avid traveler and want your child to accompany you. 

If you use a frequent flyer program, you likely know that you must add the number to your reservation to earn any points. So, what happens when your child isn’t born yet?

Once your child is born, you can update the information and get their frequent flyer number assigned and start accruing points. Remember, they are only really accruing points once they have a child fare booking with their own seat.

Booking Lap Infant Tickets Flying Domestically in the USA?

On US domestic flights- flying between the USA, Puerto Rico and US BVI, every often including Canada too- the rules are different from flying internationally with babies: If you are planning to have your baby in your lap for the entirety of the trip, then you don’t need to book them a ticket at all, so don’t worry.

Since your baby won’t be occupying a seperate seat, they won’t need a ticket to board the plane.

This takes most of the worries of trying to book a flight for an unborn child away. Notify the airline in advance of your flight that you will be flying with a lap infant, show up with your babe and be ready to fly!

Note: you may still be required to show documents for your little one!

Newborn holding adults finger- tiny hand on large finger

When to Book your flight for?

Timing is everything and it is not different with babies. Though in this case we are talking about the date, rather than the time of day.

One of the trickiest things to decide is exactly when you should book for.

Babies do not arrive to a timetable. I should know, for I had a trip booked barely a month from my due date with baby number 3. So I make these suggestions based on my own anxieties and what I went through when I was still expecting. Here are the things to consider:

  1. What is your due date? 
  2. Add 2 weeks to this, as the latest your baby will arrive. (Normally doctors will induce by this time and you are almost guaranteed to have your baby.)
  3. Now, check how long it takes to get a passport

    In some cases, it’s possible to have this within a couple of days, in some cases it may take up to a month or more. There may be serious fees involved with getting an urgent passport, ridding you of any savings you might have had on your super deal for the tickets in the first place.
  4. Check with your airline: what is the youngest they accept baby on board? Some airlines will take babies as young as 48 hours old, whereas others will want your baby to be 2 weeks old and born naturally (not via Cesarean section.) Some airlines also require a certificate of health or a doctor’s note.

So, the earliest you want to book is a month after your due date. It’s not worth the stress. This will give you and the baby time to adjust, your little one to build up some immunity in big wild world.

Give the Airline a Call

So in most cases you will have to call the airline to either make changes to an existing booking or to add the baby to your own booking.

Here are some of the procedures from various airlines:

American Airlines

The booking agent told us that we CANNOT book for an unborn infant and we would need to book the flight for the infant once they are born. The ticket is charged at 10% of the adult fare at the time of booking the infant’s ticket, not what it would cost booking at the time you book your own ticket.

Southwest Airlines

“If the baby is flying as a lap child or in a confirmed seat, we recommend waiting until after the birth to book the infant” and then added the clarification: “If they will be flying in a confirmed seat you can book now and update the DOB, if needed. If they are flying as a lap child we’ll need the exact DOB so you’ll have to wait for that.”

Ryanair

“We can amend the name of the infant for you anytime. For now please enter any name e.g.: BABY and a date of birth that indicates a baby under 2 on the day of travel but is in the past now ( for example, the first day of the current month). When the baby is born, contact us and we will amend the infant details free of charge for you.”

IndiGo

You cannot book for an unborn child, but can add the baby, 7 day or older, as a lap infant to your booking for a set fee (1250 INR/ 17 USD for each leg of internal Indian flights or 2350 INR/ 32 USD for each leg of International flights)

Every airline is going to require different information and have their own set of rules. So, if you’re unsure, then give them a call!

Wait to Book till your Baby is Born?

By now, you know that there can be a bit of a hassle when trying to book an international flight for an unborn baby.

Many airlines, due to the regulations governing them, will require information, such as a correct birth date when you book the ticket. Of course, this can cause problems as you don’t know the birth date and it will need to be changed as soon as possible – which will require much time and effort on your behalf.

Depending on the airline, it might be best to wait until your child is born before purchasing their ticket. This takes all of the guesswork out of booking an international flight, but it also means you might have to pass up on a great deal. 

If you are choosing to wait until the child is born, the best thing you can do is to check with the airline frequently to see if any other specials or deals pop up for the destination you are seeking. You can also consider a different destination point with better pricing for the time being, if that suits your agenda. 

Most airlines will require your newborn to be a certain age before flying, typically at least 7 to 14 days old, and have no health complications. Mothers who undergo a cesarean may also need to wait 14 days before flying to avoid potential health problems.

Prepare Your Documents and Your Mind

Before you fly with your infant check what they need. If the airline is going to require proof of the birth date, make sure you are ready to provide the proper papers and identification. International flights will also require a passport for the newborn baby.  

Along with the paperwork, make sure that your mind is prepared for travelling with a baby, too. While some babies will end up being peaceful travel buddies, others may have a more difficult time. Either way, you should be mentally prepared for the best and the worst for travelling with a baby, as described in the video

Have you booked for a baby yet to be born? What were your experiences? Share in the comments below!

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Monika Roozen

Monika is a mum of 3, an avid traveller, who grew up travelling the world and has continued travelling ever since. She holds a degree in animal sciences, nutrition and business administration and has consulted for several years for the hospitality industry and customer service departments. Monika loves slow travel- taking time for immersive experiences in culture and nature- sailing and snowboarding. Her personal adventures are chronicled in Inspireroo Family Travel Magazine . (Click to see their family mad ventures)

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