Travelling can be a huge fascination for kids, especially when it involves flying. The vast expanse of the sky and its serenity often ignites the urge to fly and explore the mysteries of the universe among kids. Yet, it could be a really troublesome and disheartening experience if the parents are underprepared.
Remember when you had to go through all of the lengthy and convoluted process to get your IDs? Well guess what, you will have to deal with them all over again for your children. But don’t worry, our team is here to provide you with the expert-approved travel guide with every information you need to know about documents required on-board in order to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
A little preparation can go quite a long way, so follow our children's travel guide for a calm and happy journey for you and your kids.
Travelling is a world of fun for children. Image from Unsplash
>> Read more: Family Flight Travel Guide
Do Kids Need ID to Fly? - A Quick Overview
Nobody can fly to a country without a passport, this is the very reason why passports exist. Additionally, allowing children to travel without a passport would not be a smart idea given the prevalence of child abduction and child trafficking.
Nevertheless, depending on where they are going and their age, they may not need an ID at all. In most cases, children under the age of 18 and below are often exempt from the burden of providing a photo ID to get on an aircraft provided that they’re boarding with their parents. However, it’s never a bad idea to carry an ID with you all the time regardless of wherever you go. Let’s figure it out in more detail below.
Children need some identification, like a passport to fly. Image from Unsplash
Basic Entry Regulations for Child Travel
Domestic Flights Documents Requirements for Children
In most cases, the TSA and most airlines do not require children aged 18 and below to present a photo ID to get on an aircraft when they’re boarding with their parents. Here’s the guidance provided by the TSA:
“TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when travelling with a companion within the United States. The companion will need acceptable identification.”
According to TSA, there are some strict requirements to be met for the parents when it comes to travelling with kids
- You have to present a passenger medical form (a medical release for travel), signed by a physician that validates that the infant is fit to fly
- You have to present a copy of the child’s birth certificate
- You are aged 16 and above and sit in the same cabin as the child.
So make sure you are eligible and you have your child’s birth certificate as well as other necessary documents, and don’t forget to keep them in a quickly accessible spot. There’s nothing worse than scrabbling for your passport or immigration documents as the line forms behind you.If your kids are old enough to carry their own documents, teach them to keep them in a speedy spot as well.
International Flights Documents Requirements for Children
It is a completely different scenario when it comes to travelling in other countries. Even if the baby is an infant, a passport would still be a must for international travel. Some airlines require proof of age, such as a birth certificate or passport for infants under 2 years old. Check your destination requirement in advance and make sure you apply for a passport and a visa as soon as possible - or maybe in time for your trip - as both of these things can take a while. If parents don’t provide a form of identification for the infant that meets the requirement at the check-in counter, the little one may not be allowed to travel.
Other Additional Documents Required
There will be certain cases where further documentation in addition to the ID would be required for children to board. Here’s the criteria divided by age group so that parents can easily follow:
- New born: A medical release for travel signed by a physician
- Infants - 7 days to under age 2: Proof of age (a photocopy of birth certificate, health card or passport)
- Children - under age 18: An original birth certificate, health card, passport (photocopies are not acceptable).
- Unaccompanied Minors: The documents are the same with that of children under age 18, but with an additional child travel consent form
>> Check out the ultimate children travel documents guide
Some tips for travelling with kids
Whether it’s a short or long-hour flight, it can still be quite long and tiring for kids. Your child could behave one of two ways: be very easy going and sleep the entire flight or be utterly inconsolable and be wide awake the whole flight. There doesn’t seem to be an inbetween (unfortunately). For this matter, we offer a list of useful tips to ensure both you and your kids get through the airport smoothly and enjoyably.
Travelling with toddlers shouldn’t be troublesome. Image from Unsplash.
Do online paperwork in advance
Long gone are the days when you find yourself in the endless lines at embassies longing for their turn for the administrative procedures, especially with the incorporation of online platforms nowadays. Online admission and submission has been implemented, both to reduce the overcrowded situation usually found at embassies (prior and maybe after the pandemic), and to cope with the status quo.
Online check-in is now just a few clik of the mouse. You may add additional luggage if necessary and receive digital boarding tickets on your phone. So remember to take care of the travel ‘admin’ online beforehand to reduce your queuing time as much as possible.
Stay calm and be enthusiastic
Try not to show your own fear. Your kids have no reason to be anxious, but in case they see their parents anxious they will begin to think there’s something to be frightened of. So try to whip up some enthusiasm for all the new sensations and experiences your kids are going to have. If you can see out of the window then encourage them to watch the ground move away as you take off, or point out things that can be seen, or maybe do a little countdown.
Take one or two toys to keep your kids occupied and mostly in their seat, but not such a huge selection that they can’t decide. If they use a tablet, make sure it’s fully charged (duh!) and full of games they love, tv shows and movies (Netflix has a download option for offline viewing). For instance, if your kids love to draw, carry a drawing pad and a pencil case with pencils, eraser, crayons, or buy them a nice new colouring book instead.
Snacks and empty water bottles
Whatever your reasons for travelling, it’s advisable to bring some high-protein and nutrient-rich snacks along in your carry-on to help soothe any travel nerves your kids may have and also to avoid overpriced food at the airport. Make sure they will be chomping on those sweet treats before they start to get ear pain from taking off or landing.
If your kid is a picky eater, make sure you have a few of their favourite snacks, such as lollipops, hard candies or chocolate bars. A few hours isn’t enough to starve, but kids will get cranky if they are hungry. And don’t forget to bring an empty reusable water bottle to make sure your kids stay hydrated throughout your flight.
Comfortable travel clothes
Go through your children’s travel clothes properly. Something comfortable to sit in, without buttons or other irritating features that can cause discomfort when sitting still. Avoid wearing clothes that could be pulled on or zipped up such as belts, hair clips, and jewellery. Also, avoid wearing boots, as they can make it harder to move around quickly. And choose cosy socks so they can kick off shoes and be comfy.
Got a question? We’re here to answer!
Here are the top questions that we get asked the most from our beloved followers. If you don’t see your question here, drop us a line on our Contact Page.
Can I let my children travel alone?
Short Answer: Yes, children from 12 to 17 years of age can travel alone. However, you may still have to sign some documents due to possible medical issues happening to the minor with no guardian around to authorise treatment.
Long Answer: You have to check with your specific airline for details on minor travel. The child will be allowed to fly, but there may be paperwork, fees, or rules that you should keep in mind.
For instance, minors often are forbidden to fly on the last or sometimes last few flights of the day into an airport. This is because if there is a delay, the airline doesn’t want to get stuck with the kid overnight.
The rules and fees are up to the airline, and younger kids are likely to be required to fly non-stop. The younger the children, the more services, fees, and rules. If your child appears to be less than 12 years of age and is not able to present proof of age, they may be denied boarding if they
If my kids are flying alone, what's the procedure for pickup?
First of all, you have to register your unaccompanied minor child in accordance with the airline’s written procedures, and pay a special fee.
Next, you come to the airport an hour before the arrival time of the child’s flight, bringing your copies of the documents, and your ID.
Then go to the airline’s ticket counter to tell one of the airline staff that your X-year-old child is travelling alone on Y flight, arriving at Z time.
After this, the airline employee gets you a pass through the security check so that you can go to the gate and meet your child as the child comes off the flight.
Finally, the airline employee will escort you to the aircraft door and will collect the child custody admission form with your signature on it.
What should I avoid when flying with kids?
Pack what you think you need, and then remove about half of it. Yes, as we just said, just remove it.
Many parents easily fall into bringing way too much stuff when travelling with kids all the time. Even when they board early, they have problems finding room for everything, and planning is still a nightmare. So, be selective about what to take and pack fewer yet extremely essential items. This does not only ensure an ideal and comfortable travel experience for both you and your kids but also saves you a lot of space in your suitcase, especially when you plan to wear them more than once. Ask yourself: Do you really need all these things?