March 07, 2018

Travelling as a young family is rewarding but has its challenges. When you pack all necessities, even a big SUV can approach its limits, so you must select things more carefully for flying. Differences between airlines are also bigger than one might think. Once you start piling high-chairs and travel cots, free items offered by some carriers can give you significant savings over other airlines.

What is accepted as a child Check-in item?

Special equipment items or child-specific check-in items are detailed by each of the airlines. Although it might be obvious to parents what it is and what it is not a child related item, check-in desks can have a different opinion. Generally, airlines distinguish the following categories:

  • Pram/stroller
  • Portable cot
  • Car seat
  • Portable high-chair

We have flown with every domestic airline and Panda Child Carrier was always happily accepted as a child-specific item. Our typical combination involves the carrier and a car seat. If an airline allows only one item, then the carrier is our winner. 

What travels for free?

Infants (up to 2 years of age)

Airline Carry-On Checked-In
Jetstar No 4 items (each from a different category)
Qantas Extra food and nappies 3 items (each up to 32 kg)
Tiger Air No 1 item
Virgin Australia Extra 7 kg for baby products Unlimited

Children (2 years or older)

Airline Carry-On Checked-In
Jetstar Same as adults 4 items (each from a different category)
Qantas Same as adults 2 items (each up to 32 kg)
Tiger Air Same as adults 1 item
Virgin Australia Same as adults 2 items

How to fly cheap

I learned that travelling with family means calculating all travel related costs together. Finding the cheapest flights don’t always lead to the cheapest getaways. For example, you can fly with Tiger Air, but their only one free child item also means paying for a cot and hefty fee for renting a car seat. It doesn’t matter when you fly to see grandparents and leave these items at home. But if you don’t have that option, extras can easily cost more than $100, and you’d be better off flying with a different airline.

Taking your travel cot also means, that you don’t pay for an extra bed in hotels. Certainly, sharing your bed with the little one is always an option, but not for everyone. Majority of rooms have only 2 beds so you can get a much better deal if you stick to them. Getting a queen-size bed instead of a family room often gives you at least 10% better rate.

Flying cheap with children means counting with their specific luggage. If you take your own car seat, a portable cot and a child carrier, then you have three child items for an airline, but you save everywhere else. Often you need to purchase extra luggage to fit in the pile of clothes and nappies, which can also change your final fare.

How to enjoy flying with toddlers?

There is one strategy which works – get ready in advance. We created a checklist which makes your life easier. Continue on the following blog.


Information in the post was last updated on the 5th March 2018. Please check with airlines before your travels.

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