Packing guides

Travelling with kids: Know your luggage allowances

Photo of Cathy ToogoodPhoto of Cathy Toogood
By Cathy Toogood

19 June 2019 | Updated 10 July 20237 min read

A happy family running and playing on the shore of the sea laughing and playing with with toys at sunset

Travelling with children can be incredibly good fun but, whether you’re an old-hand or holidaying with kids for the first time, preparation is key to having a stress-free trip. One area that can cause headaches for parents is what to pack when, for many families, travelling with hand luggage only is no longer an option.

To make packing even more complicated, each airline has different rules around luggage allowances and what baby equipment you can travel with free of charge – it even depends on the ticket type you’ve bought for your child. If you fall foul of these rules, you could face a hefty, unexpected charge.

So, to help your next family adventure run smoothly, and save you from getting ripped off, we’ve researched the free infant luggage and equipment allowances for some of the biggest airlines and offer advice on packing for children.

Which ticket type should I buy for my child – and how does this affect luggage?

If you have a child under the age of two, you can generally buy them an infant ticket. Usually, this is a set fare or a percentage of the price of an adult ticket and your child will be expected to sit on your knee rather than having its own seat. With some airlines, children up to the age of 12 or 16 are offered a discounted child ticket type too.

If the thought of having a wriggling baby or toddler on your knee for a flight doesn’t sound appealing, many airlines will allow you to buy a child ticket for infants or to pay the full fare for your infant, so you have the option of a seat for them. You may have to call your airline to book this rather than buying it online though.

Luggage-wise, buying an infant a full-price ticket means your baby will often have a more generous free baggage allowance. So, if you know you’ll need to pay for extra luggage, compare the price of buying a child or full-price ticket with that of an infant ticket plus the extra bags you’ll need. It might work out cheaper overall to opt for the more expensive ticket type.

What luggage allowance is included with an infant and child ticket?

Generally, infants who don’t have their own seats will have a smaller luggage allowance, or with some airlines such as Jet2, no hold or hand luggage allowance at all included in the price of a ticket.

Children aged two and up tend to have the same luggage allowance as the adults they are travelling with – but double check this before you fly.

Most airlines allow parents to take one collapsible pushchair, plus one other piece of infant equipment free of charge – but again, double check this before you travel as some airlines, such as Turkish Airlines, will only allow one piece of baby equipment for free.

To help you find out what you’re allowed to bring for free with an infant ticket, based on an infant sitting on an adult’s lap, take a look at our handy table below.

AirlineFree infant luggage allowanceFree equipment allowance
Aer Lingus – EuropeNoneOne fully collapsible pushchair + one other piece of infant equipment
Aer Lingus – Transatlantic flightsNo hand luggage; 10kg hold bagOne fully collapsible pushchair + one other piece of infant equipment
Air FranceHand luggage up to 12kg; hold bag up to 10kg (not included with Lite fares)One small collapsible pushchair (up to 15x30x100cm) + one car seat. If your pushchair is larger than this, it can replace your child’s hand luggage but can’t be bigger than 55x35x25cm when folded
American AirlinesOne carry-on nappy bagOne pushchair + one car seat
British AirwaysOne hand luggage bag added to your allowance; one checked bag to match adult allowanceAny two of the following: fully collapsible pushchair (stroller), car or booster seat, travel cot or baby back carrier
DeltaOne checked bag up to 10kgOne fully collapsible pushchair + car seat
easyJetOne hand luggage changing bag up to 45x36x20cm; no hold luggageAny two of the following: pushchair, collapsible or non-collapsible pram, car or booster seat, travel cot or baby back carrier
EmiratesOne hand luggage up to 5kg; one hold luggage up to 10kg (unless travelling to Canada, North America, Central America or South America where the limit is 23kg)One fully collapsible pushchair, car seat or one carrycot
Etihad – to from USA/CanadaOne hand luggage up to 5kg; one hold bag up to 23kgOne pushchair, carrycot or car seat
Etihad – all other destinationsOne hand luggage up to 5kg; one hold bag up to 10kgOne pushchair, carrycot or car seat
EurowingsOne additional piece of hand luggage (40x30x25cm); one hold bag up to 23kg on most faresAny two of the following: pushchair, pram, booster seat or carrycot
Jet2NoneOne collapsible pushchair + one car seat or travel cot with a maximum combined weight of 10kg
KLMOne piece of hand luggage with baby items inside up to 12kg and 55x35x25cm; one hold bag up to 10kg with a ticket that included checked baggageOne collapsible pushchair + one car seat
LufthansaNo hand luggage; one hold bag up to 23kg (unless on Economy Light fare)One of the following in hold and one as hand luggage: pushchair, car seat, crib. Economy Light customers can take one piece of equipment
NorwegianNo hand luggage; hold luggage up to 5kg (can be a separate bag or included in your own)One pushchair + one car seat
RyanairOne carry-on baby bag (45x35x20cm) up to 5kg; no free hold luggageOne pushchair + a car seat, booster seat or travel cot
TUI Airways (flight only)NoneOne collapsible pushchair
Turkish Airlines8kg hand luggage; 10kg hold luggageOne foldable stroller
UnitedOne cabin baby bag; infants travelling internationally have the standard hold luggage allowanceOne pushchair + one car seat
Virgin AtlanticOne hand luggage bag up to 6kg; one hold bag up to 23kg (unless travelling in Economy Light)One collapsible pushchair + one car seat
Wizz AirExtra personal item as hand luggage (40x30x20cm) No other luggage allowanceOne collapsible pushchair, car seat or travel cot, which will be checked in with other baggage

Can you bring a car seat for older children on a plane?

It’s not only infants who will need car seats abroad and many airlines will allow you to take them free of charge for children too. Ryanair, for example, allows children up to the age of 11 to bring a car seat free of charge. If this is something you’ll need, check the rules with your airline before you travel.

Can you take baby milk/food on a plane?

If you’re travelling with a baby, you’re allowed to pack enough baby food, milk and sterilised water for your journey in your hand luggage. You can also pre-order baby milk for collection in the airport from Boots stores.

What essentials do I need to pack for children?

As well as your usual travel essentials, if you’re travelling with little ones, useful hand luggage items include:

  • A change of clothes
  • A screen-free kids entertainment kit consisting of age-appropriate books, stickers and other small toys
  • Enough baby food, milk and snacks for the journey
  • Wet wipes and nappies for younger children
  • Any medication your child might need while away
  • Travel sweets for older children on take-off and landing
  • Any dummies, comforters or blankets

For babies and toddlers, a sling can be useful too.

In your hold luggage, try to eliminate space-sappers such as large quantities of nappies and baby wipes (check whether you’re near a supermarket, as you could buy the bulk of these while you’re away), children’s toys (perhaps allow your children one toy each), and too many outfits and shoes.

If you’re going for more than a couple of days, consider packing a small container of washing powder in your hold luggage so you can wash clothes easily when you’re away rather than packing every outfit your little one owns.

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