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Airlines with Discounted or Free Child Fares

Tips to save you money when flying with children

Travel can be expensive and stressful when flying with children. We are here to help you find out more about what discounts and freebies are available when flying with kids.

Baby and a suitcase

Airlines that let kids fly for free

Before we get too far into discount child fares, let's talk about the best price of all — free flights. Some of these deals are time-sensitive and come and go; however, it's still worth checking with the airlines that offer deals since they often have other discounts or will offer these free tickets at another time.

Before your next family adventure consider one of these kids fly free airlines for travel:

Frontier Airlines

The only airline that consistently allows kids to come aboard without paying (with a long list of caveats) is Frontier Airlines. Its Kids Fly Free program lets kids up to 14 years old fly for free when accompanying a paid adult on a reservation.

British Airways

British Airways offers kids fly-free initiatives from time to time, with its most recent promotion in 2018. The airline allowed up to two children under the age of 12 per family to fly domestically.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways offers kids fly-free promotions regularly, waving airfare for up to two children ages 0 to 11. Alternatively, they also offer child fares.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines offers discounted fares for children ages 2 to 11, a rarity in the airline industry. Parents or guardians must provide proof of their child's age for child fare eligibility.

Scandinavian Airlines

Scandinavian Airlines offers special deals throughout the year for families that include free travel for children. Whilst the most recent promotion just ended in December, they will be sure to bring it back once the holiday period is over.

It's uncommon for airlines to offer free flights for children over age 2, so look for airlines with discounted child fare deals instead.

granparents with granchild

Airlines that offer discounts for kids

Flying as a family can be expensive and any discount available can be helpful. Here are some airlines and their exact offers so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.

Emirates Airlines

Emirates Airlines offers a 25% ticket discount for ages 2 to 11. However, the airline requires the children to travel with an adult otherwise they will have to pay the applicable adult fare.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand offer 25% off international flights for children ages 2 to 11. This deal can be for young ones travelling with a passenger 15 years old and up, as well as children jetting off on their own, with special arrangements made.

United Airlines

United Airlines extends discounts to young adult travellers aged 18 to 23, starting at 5% and potentially higher depending on the route.

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has a 25% discount in economy class for kids but not for premium economy or business class. Always be sure you are entering your child as a "child" when searching for tickets on an airline's website, as that should trigger the discount if it is available online.

child looking out the window

Lap infants

One of the easiest ways families can save money on domestic air travel with small children is by having a child fly as a "lap infant." There is debate about the safety of this practice, but most parents appreciate the savings — and small children often just want to be in their parent's arms anyway. To qualify as a lap infant, your child must be under 2 years old. The day they turn 2, that free ticket goes out the window.

While it's pretty much standard that those under two years old don't have to purchase a seat to fly if they will fly as a lap infant (though beware of some high fees if flying in international premium seats with a lap infant), some airlines let kids fly for free even after they turn two years old.

Whether your baby needs its seat depends on the airline’s regulations and the age of the child. As a rule, babies up to 24 months can travel free of charge on the adult’s lap. However, depending on the airline, a special travel document may be required to take the baby on board. If the child is older than 24 months or weighs more than 18 kg, it must have its seat. It is advisable to contact the airline in advance to discuss all eventualities.

Most international flights allow children under 2 to fly as lap children, but with one big difference — it's usually not 100% free. Typically, if you're flying on a revenue ticket, you must pay the taxes and fees for your lap infant plus, in some cases, 10% of the fare.

If you are travelling from the US with a lap infant to somewhere relatively close, like Mexico or the Caribbean, consider JetBlue, Southwest or Alaska. Those airlines don't charge a percentage of the adult fare for lap infants flying internationally — just taxes. If you are flying from the EU airlines such as Lufthansa, Norwegian and Air France offer free child fare on domestic flights.

family arriving at the airport

Special kids-fly-free promotions

Sometimes airlines run kids-fly-free promotions, though this usually doesn't happen with the big domestic carriers that will take you anywhere you might want to go. Still, if one of the smaller airlines serves your destination, a kids-fly-free promotion could save you money.

For example, Air Tahiti Nui has a special offer that includes two fare-free seats for kids when two adults pay the full fare. Scandinavian Airlines discounts fares on some flights for kids ages 2 to 11. But the deal usually doesn’t take more than 25% off their airfare. From time to time, deal-spotting travel bloggers announce kids-fly-free promotions from American Airlines, British Airways, Etihad and others, but these are rare and short-lived promotions.

Several international airlines such as Air France, Emirates, LATAM and Qatar Airways offer child fares on select routes and fares. A few North American airlines, including Hawaii Airlines and Air Canada, have discounted tickets on select international flights. Many of these fares are listed as "75% of the adult fare," so a 25% discount.

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How to book a flight for a child?

If you're looking to book a flight ticket for a child flying solo, then you can do so through Alternative Airlines. When you make a reservation through Alternative Airlines you can buy flights for unaccompanied minors with Spirit Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines. Follow the handy guide from above to book flights for a child.

Are children's flight tickets cheaper?

In most cases, airlines will make child tickets 20% - 35% cheaper than adult tickets. This means that adults will usually pay more for their flight ticket than for a child ticket. Many airlines will also allow infants to travel for free as they can sit on a parent or guardian's lap.

How can I get discounts on flights or flight deals?

Use this page to find our latest offers. The promo codes can be used on airline tickets such as Allegiant Air, Sun Country Airlines, and Air Canada and also on many domestic flights such as within Russia, Canada and many more countries. You can also spread the cost of flights if you are looking for flexibility and affordability in your air travel.

Try using the Multi-City search tool and enjoy a combination of discounted tickets when you apply the available Alternative Airlines promo codes.

Which airlines charge families to sit together?

Allegiant Airlines: Allegiant says "While we will do our best to accommodate families, the availability of seats together cannot be guaranteed."

JetBlue Airline: JetBlue does not allow seat selection for its standard Blue Basic fares, but you can pay between $5 and $40 extra to select seats, according to The Points Guy. There's no guarantee that kids will sit with their parents.

Spirit Airlines: This discount air carrier says nothing about family seating in its contract of carriage, and unlike most other airlines, it doesn't have a dedicated webpage about travelling with children. Picking seats beforehand incurs a fee that starts at $5 and which most travel sites peg at $12 to $40.

What are the best discount airlines for families in the US?

Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways stand out as the most family-friendly low-cost carriers in the US. They provide many of the perks offered by international giants such as American Airlines and Delta while striving to maintain affordability. Additionally, Frontier Airlines deserves an honourable mention.

As the most economical airline in the US for 2023, it offers great value for budget-conscious families. Frontier also provides additional advantages, including promotions where kids fly free and the ability to pool points within families.