Helpful tips when flying infants and young children

Providing a flight for an infant or younger child can be an especially rewarding experience! However, the logistics of flying these small passengers are different than flying teenage or adult passengers. In order to avoid any potential pitfalls and to best prepare for your upcoming trip, please check out the tips below. It's best to review these tips with the parent or guardian of the infant or child so that they, too, are prepared for flying in a small aircraft.

Child restraints

  • The FAA requires a child to be in an FAA approved car seat during ground movement, take-offs and landings. Look for this on the car seat label "This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft". The FAA strongly urges that a child be in a car seat for the duration of the flight, especially in the case of turbulence.
  • Please click on this link to learn more about the FAA regulations and prohibitions on different child restraint systems like a booster-type or vest/harness-type restraints.
    • If you're providing ground transportation for your passengers, please note that you can utilize a booster seat where appropriate for the duration of the drive.
  • Check out this article written by one of our volunteer pilots regarding FARs for child restraints.

Hearing protection

Exposure to high noise levels for infants or children should be minimized, whenever possible.

  • Child earmuffs or smaller foam ear plugs can provide some relief. As adult-sized foam ear plugs are too big, you can cut them in half lengthwise for use. You can also use band aids over the ears to assure that the ear plugs stay in place. 

Relieving ear pressure

An infant or child is less likely than an adult to consciously clear their ears. Ear clearing is more likely to occur during sucking, crying or jaw movement.

  • For infants, sucking on a pacifier or a bottle can provide some relief. 
  • For children, chewing on gum or drinking water or other liquids can provide some relief.
  • Consider handing out gum or for feeding to occur just prior to descent as that is when clearing out the ears will be most likely be needed.
  • Please take special precaution when flying an infant or young child (or any passenger) who has a head cold or an ear infection as ear pressure can cause pain and damage. If there are hesitations, please talk with the parents to consider cancelling the flight and rescheduling the appointments.

Temperature changes

  • If the infant or child is seated in the rear seat, please be mindful of any temperature changes.

Bodily fluids

  • Always carry sick bags in easy-to-access locations just in case.
  • It is a good idea to encourage bathroom breaks or diaper changes for children prior to flying.
  • It is also a good idea to advise the parent or guardian that there is no bathroom aboard on the plane.

Food and drink

  • Please advise your passengers what is appropriate food and drink for your aircraft. 

Resources utilized in this article:

Feedback from Command Pilots with experience flying infants or children  

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