As you may have seen discussed in this blog some time ago, it’s debatable whether or not Southwest Airlines still deserves its reputation as a “family friendly airline,” especially for those flying Southwest with a baby or toddler (see “Whatever happened to family preboarding?” for more on that conversation). There is, however, one big reason Southwest Airlines still deserves the praise of some family travelers: It is one of the last U.S. airlines offering a significant discount for infants flying in their own seats.
“Really?” is the reaction I got from a couple of traveling moms recently, who like many parents had no idea the discount for children under 2 years still exists. That’s because the infant fare for seated children under 2 years old is not advertised by Southwest, nor is it available for booking on their website or elsewhere on the web.
To get the Southwest Airlines infant seat fare:
- You must call Southwest Airlines customer service at 1 (800) 435-9792 to purchase the discounted fare for your flight.
- Your child under 2 years must fly in an FAA-approved CRS (child safety seat/car seat) during your flight (not over 16″ wide is recommended, some recommended car seats for travel here and tips for fitting car seats in airplanes here).
- You must have valid proof of your child’s age (under 2 years) at check in to prove eligibility for your child. A certified birth certificate, birth record, or passport is recommended.
- You must have (or create) a Rapid Rewards number for your child in order to use online check-in for his or her reservation.
That said, here’s why the Southwest Airlines infant fare may not be your best deal when booking a seat for your child. These infant fares have no restrictions and are fully refundable. As you might guess, if you’re booking a great bargain on deeply discounted adult fare seats with Southwest, that fare may actually be cheaper than the infant fare for your flight, in which case you may prefer to book an extra seat for your child at the discounted adult price (and still be sure to bring your child’s FAA-approved car seat for the flight).
Still, it never hurts to ask what the infant fare for your flight would be to be certain.
Remember, first bags still fly free on Southwest, which when you’re flying with 3+ people certainly helps. Lap-held children flying free are not entitled to a free checked bag on Southwest, however, though checked travel strollers and car seats do fly free!).
For more information, follow this link for details about flying Southwest with a baby or toddler.
Have a choice of airlines? You can compare the available infant and child discounts, checked and carry-on baggage allowances for lap children, and other available perks for families between 46 major airlines with the Airlines Comparison Table in Chapter 15: Before You Book Your Flight in Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschool-Age Child.
This post is part of the “Need to Know” series highlighting important considerations when flying specific airlines with babies and young children. Click here to see other Need to Know articles in this series, and click here to subscribe to future Travels with Baby Tips posts.