Let’s talk about the free lap child advantage of flying with a baby under two. Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with this perk. I love the free part, of course. I love that if your flight is not full, most airlines are happy to give you an extra seat for the unticked baby. We intentionally fly during non-peak times, so we have been lucky to get an extra seat for baby about 75% of the time without paying for an extra ticket. We always take his car seat to the gate just in case there are open seats on the plane, and if not, they just gate check the car seat for us. It’s a pretty sweet deal to have the best of both worlds when this works out.
The part I hate is the actual act of holding baby on my lap during the flight. I’m a ball of anxiety the whole time. Everyone else is securely strapped in, while my baby is just chillin’ freestyle without a seat belt. Every time we hit a bit of turbulence, my brain automatically envisions him flying up and hitting the ceiling. So I spend the whole flight trying to finagle some more secure positions for him; I put him in the baby carrier, or I strap him in with my seatbelt, or into the seat next to me, or I nervously clutch onto him as he sits on my lap and plays on the lap tray.
I’ve googled this fear at least three hundred times, and although lap babies can definitely get hurt, it’s rare. My husband grew up flying frequently and has zero worries about the issue. His take on the matter is that even if we did get baby a ticket for a guaranteed carseat spot, he wouldn’t sit in it much anyway. This has rung true especially since he became a busy toddler.
So we’ve taken our chances. In fact, we’ve made a concerted effort to fly as much as possible while baby is under two. Each flight has come with some anxiety for me -I definitely feel more comfortable when baby is strapped in – but we have been fortunate to have great experiences each time. And we’ve made some amazing family memories along the way.