Traveling with Your Kids This Summer?
Here’s What You Need to Know before Heading to the Airport
- AirHelp found 20% of flights are expected to experience disruptions this summer
- If a disruption is eligible under European law EC 261, every family member is entitled to financial compensation – even infants
NEW YORK – This summer, 20% of passengers are expected to experience flight problems. Summer is a peak season for family travel due to long summer breaks for kids, and it is important for families to know that all travelers are eligible for compensation in the case of flight disruptions, regardless of age.
Airport and airline strikes, including the potential British Airways strikes, may increase this number even further. Air passenger rights experts at AirHelp remind travelers that the European legislation EC 261 protects all air passengers, regardless of their age.
“Despite some airlines saying differently, infants suffer from disruptions too, so of course they should receive the same compensation as adults when they experience a long delay or cancellation. As families embark on the last of this summer’s vacations, AirHelp feels it is imperative to raise awareness of the fact that children also have rights,” says Johnny Quach, AirHelp’s Chief Product Officer. “We urge all parents to not let themselves be misled and to always remember to file a claim for children if a flight disruption happens.”
Your Rights When Things Go Wrong
There are many other details that AirHelp urges travelers to understand while traveling.
1. Your family is entitled to receive food and drinks.
When you are stuck at the airport waiting for your flight, the airline must provide you – and your children! – with food and refreshments. Some airlines may offer vouchers or reimburse you for any meals and essentials that you purchase during the disruption, so make sure to keep all receipts. The laws say exactly when you should be entitled to this care — it all depends on the length of your flight delay.
2. Your family is entitled to free accommodation and airport transport.
During lengthy delays or cancellations where overnight accommodation is necessary, the airline must provide you and your family free accommodation as well as free transport to and from the airport. They should put you in a hotel room or rooms that are large enough to accommodate your whole family.
3. Your child is entitled to the same amount of compensation as an adult.
Even if your child’s plane ticket is only a fraction of the cost of that of an adult, he or she is still entitled to the full compensation amount. The amount of compensation that you receive is dependent on the distance of your flight, and the length of the delay — NOT the amount you paid for the ticket. This means if you are flying to the EU on an EU airline and experience a disruption eligible under EC 261, everyone in your family may be able to claim up to $700 in compensation.
4. When flying with kids, they are entitled to flight compensation too.
One of the most important things to remember when you are flying with a small child is that your child is entitled to flight compensation in the event of a flight disruption.
The case is pretty straightforward for children ages two and older. You have to pay for their seats, so they are equally deserving of compensation when things go wrong.
But what about flying with a lap infant? Babies often travel on their parents’ laps at a reduced infant fee. When flying with an infant aged 2 years and below, most airlines will charge a fee between 10% to 15% of the adult airfare, plus taxes and an extra fee for an infant seat belt.
For years, airlines have been refusing to compensate infants, arguing that because they don’t occupy a seat, there is no compensation to pay. This changed in 2017, however, when AirHelp won a lawsuit against Thomas Cook Airlines, creating a legal breakthrough in the EU.
- You can fly with young infants — but the age allowed varies among airlines. One question that parents often ask is if there are any restrictions to flying with young infants. While there are airlines that allow newborns as young as two days old to fly, most airlines will only allow infants who are at least 14 days old to fly.
- Even infants need a passport. For international flights, infant passports are mandatory. Always check with the airline in question before purchasing a ticket for your baby, and make sure that you have enough time to procure valid identification for your child.
- Sitting together with your child during a flight. You might think its standard practice that adults sit together with their younger children during a flight, but there isn’t currently a law in Europe that mandates it. Though, in most cases, parents can sit with their children without any additional cost.
(If you are traveling with an infant and have assigned seats, you are usually given priority boarding to help make finding and settling into your seats as easy as possible. However, some low-cost airlines will insist that at least one adult pays for a reserved seat. Only then will they allow your child to sit beside you for free — otherwise you are subject to the same seating procedure as everyone else.)
- Baby food and milk are exempt from liquid restrictions. While liquids on airlines are often subject to restrictions, this does not apply to baby food and milk. If you are traveling with a child aged under 2 years, you are allowed to bring as much food as you need for your trip. This includes baby food, milk, fruit juice, and distilled water.
- You can bring car seats and strollers for your baby. You can bring car seats and strollers for your baby on the plane without having to pay anything extra. Strollers may be brought with you as far as the gate, where the flight crew will stow it for you before you are seated. They will return the stroller after you exit the plane. Car seats, on the other hand, can be brought on board and into the cabin. They are simply safer and more comfortable for your baby than having them sit in your lap during the whole flight. However, if you do bring a car seat, you will be required to buy a seat on the plane for your baby. This often means that you have to pay the full fare instead of the infant fee, as your child will be occupying an entire seat. Be sure to inform your airline beforehand that you are bringing a car seat with you to avoid any confusion.
AirHelp is the world’s largest organization specializing in air passenger rights, helping travelers get compensation for delayed or canceled flights and in instances of denied boarding. The company also takes legal and political action to support the growth and enforcement of air passenger rights worldwide. AirHelp has aided more than 13 million people, is available in 35 countries and has more than 700 employees.