All About American Airlines: Airline Policies & More Important Information For Kids

The American Airlines logo on a building, with blue skis above.
Photo Courtesy: American Airlines

When you’re planning a family vacation, the logistics can be daunting – which is why it’s important to choose an airline with policies geared toward families traveling with young kids, like American Airlines. Sure, making travel plans with children can be stressful, but knowing the policies of your chosen airline can help make the process a little smoother. After all, you shouldn’t let the thought of flying with children stop you from taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip! This article outlines the family amenities offered by American Airlines. From in-flight entertainment to bassinets or discounted fares, they have special policies in place for families traveling with small children. We cover everything you need to know about flying on American Airlines with kids, plus more tips. Stay tuned to learn more! 

Why Fly American Airlines with Kids?

The silhouette of a woman holding her baby watching planes take off at an airport.

While each family’s experience with an airline may differ, American Airlines is generally a good airline to fly with kids. Firstly, the airline has a solid reputation for comfort and customer service. Additionally, American Airlines offers many amenities and services that make flying with kids more convenient and enjoyable, like an in-flight entertainment system. The staff is generally friendly and accommodating too, which can make flying with kids a much easier experience. Their flight attendants are usually willing to help with anything you need, whether needing a spare bag to help with changing a diaper or getting a drink for your little one. Plus, American Airlines has a respectable track record when it comes to safety. This is important for any family when choosing an airline.

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Where Does American Airlines Fly Directly?

American Airlines flies to many places worldwide, but there are some places that it flies to directly (depending on your departure airport). Generally, the airline offers direct flights to several locations both in the United States and internationally.

  • In the United States, they generally fly direct to many major cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, and New York City. American Airlines also offers direct flights to smaller airports in the United States that aren’t served by other major airlines, like Tulsa and Spokane.
  • Internationally, they generally fly direct to destinations such as London, Tokyo, Beijing, and Vancouver.

American Airlines can be a great option for families traveling with kids who are interested in exploring new places. If you’re planning a trip with American Airlines, be sure to check their website for a complete list of all the places they fly to, both in the US and abroad.

READ NEXT: Travel Resources For Families: Where To Book Hotels, Flights, & More

American Airlines Child Policy

An American Airlines plane takes off at an airport in the United States.
Photo Courtesy: American Airlines

American Airlines is one of the most popular airlines for families flying with children, and they have a few different policies in place regarding kids. Between early boarding, child fares, and more information, here’s everything you need to know about American Airlines’ infancy and child policy!

Early Boarding for Families

American Airlines does not offer priority boarding to families. However, families with children under 2 years old can ask to board early at the gate.

American Airlines Policies Specific to Infants, Toddlers, and Young Kids

There are a few policies specific to families traveling with babies, toddlers, and small children. Here is what you should know if you are flying with children on American Airlines.

Lap Seat/Infant-in-Arms

Wondering about the American Airlines infant policy? Children under the age of 2 can fly for free when sitting on their parent’s lap for domestic flights. Some gate agents may require a birth certificate for proof of age. We recommend packing one in your carry-on or personal item, just in case.

If you’re wondering, do babies fly free internationally on American Airlines? Keep reading! Families flying internationally should call the airline directly to book their flights to ensure all requirements are met for adding an infant-in-arms to an international American Airlines flight. Certain documents or fees may be required.

Bassinets

Except in business/first-class cabins, American Airlines offers bassinets on a first-come, first-served basis on some international flights. Per the American Airlines infant policy, the bassinet weight limit is no more than 20 lbs (9kg), and children must be younger than 2 years old. We recommend booking well in advance to ensure availability. Additionally, calling the airline to book this option is advisable.

Baby Care

Depending on how long your flight is, the American Airlines child policy offers baby food and other baby care items, such as bottle warmers or extra diapers, which may be available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

American Airlines Car Seat Policy

Per the American Airlines car seat policy, the airline requires children under 2 who have their own seats (i.e. not infant-in-arms) to have a safety seat. You can either bring your car seat or purchase one from American Airlines. 

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Jet Kids BedBox™

A young girl sits on a plan in her JetKids by Stokke, which is allowed within the American Airlines policies for kids.
Photo Courtesy: Rahul Singh

American Airlines has officially approved the use of the JetKids™ BedBox™. The JetKids™ BedBox™ is a compact travel bed available for use on airplanes, trains, and automobiles. It comes with a built-in mattress, pillow, and comforter, and can be quickly set up and taken down. When flying with children on American Airlines, particularly on long flights, it can be a great option to keep them happy and comfortable.

Purchase your JetKids™ BedBox™ here directly through Stokke®!

American Airlines Child Fare

Children over the age of 2 must have their own seats, and they will be charged full fare. There is no discounted child fare on American Airlines.

RELATED: Best Hacks & Products For Sleeping On Long International Flights With Kids

Unaccompanied Minors

The American Airlines policies for kids include an “Unaccompanied Minor” service for children between the ages of 5 and 14. Travelers must request this service at least 48 hours before travel, and it includes things like a pre-flight briefing and in-flight supervision.

Baggage/Carry-On Luggage

A mom and her two kids stand with their carry-on luggage at the airport, knowing your luggage options is important in understanding the American Airlines policies for kids.

Each child over the age of 2 who is paying the full fare is allowed to bring one carry-on bag and one personal item.

For families traveling with young children, only one carry-on diaper bag per child is allowed. Additionally, each ticketed person is allowed to check one stroller and one car seat free of charge. If you are travelling with a stroller and a car seat, only one item can be checked at the gate (the other must be checked upon check-in, or the car seat can be brought onboard, should the child have their own seat). Playpens, wagons, cribs, or ‘pack and plays’, however, count toward your regular checked bag allotment and are subject to baggage fees.

Families flying internationally with an infant-in-arms are allowed to check 1 bag for the infant at the same rate as the adult’s first checked bag.

Food Policy

Kid-friendly food or snacks are available for purchase, depending on which flight you book. The airline also offers a special meal service for children with food allergies or special dietary needs (this needs to be communicated with the airline and reserved in advance of your flight). TSA allows several baby items to go through security, as well, you can check that list here.

Special Toys and Games/Entertainment Options

If you have an iPad or iPhone, you can download the American Airlines app, which includes various games, movies, and TV shows that your child can enjoy during the flight. There is also in-seat entertainment available on select flights, which includes movies, TV shows, and music.

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What Documents Do I Need to Fly with Kids?

A young girl stands on the jet bridge with her suitcase and travel documents.
Photo Courtesy: Gustavo Fring

While not strictly American Airlines’ policies for kids, you may still be wondering do you need identification for a child to fly? There are a few different documents your children may need, as U.S. citizens, to travel (if your kids have different citizenship, please refer to the rules and regulations for their country of citizenship). Then, other types of child identification documents may also be needed, depending on the airline, destination country, transit country, etc.

What Documents Do I Need for US Domestic Travel with Kids

  • Generally, no ID is needed: Families wondering what documents does a child need to fly within the U.S. will appreciate knowing that babies and kids (or, those under the age of 18) do not need to present any identification for domestic travel within the United States (or its territories, like Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands).
  • Birth Certificates: Some airlines, however, may require proof of age for lap-seat infants. In this case, we recommend packing a birth certificate for your children just in case.
  • Child Travel Consent: If you are traveling without your child’s other parent, a letter of consent providing proof of permission to travel alone with your child may be useful. While this is not strictly needed for domestic travel, it may provide peace of mind for traveling parents in the event you are questioned by government or airline staff.

What Documents Do I Need for International Travel with Kids

Basically, babies and children need the same documents for international travel adults do, including:

  • Valid US Passport: Regardless of age, children with U.S. citizenship need a valid passport for air travel to another country (even babies!). The application process for children under 16 needs to be completed in person. Both parents are required to be present. Children’s passports are valid for five years.
  • Proof of Relationship to Child: While you may not be asked for it, we highly recommend that you travel with some type of document proving your relationship to your child (e.g., birth certificate, adoption certificate, etc.). Please note, some countries or airlines will require this type of document. It is your responsibility to know the documents needed before you depart for your trip.
  • Child Travel Consent: If you are traveling without your child’s other parent, plan on bringing a letter of consent from the other parent to travel alone with your child. Some countries require letters to be notarized. This letter should contain the child’s basic information (e.g., name, gender, birthday, place of birth, passport number, etc.), both parents’ names and contact information, the traveling arrangements (flights, accommodations, other adults traveling in your party), and the destination.

Additional Documents You Might Need or Want for International Travel with Kids:

Tips for Taking a Long Flight with Kids on American Airlines

Little boy sleeping with a in the plane
Photo Courtesy: Tram Dao

If you’re planning on taking a long flight with kids, you can do a few things to make the experience more pleasant for everyone. ​​Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Try to time your flight around your child’s natural sleep schedule, and don’t be afraid to take a few breaks to walk around the cabin with them.
  • If you are flying during the daytime, tire your child out before the flight. Plan an active morning at the park or playground—anything to expend some energy.
  • Once onboard, keep them occupied with new toys, books, or movies.
  • It’s also a good idea to bring snacks to nibble on throughout the flight.
  • If your child is likely to sleep on the plane, book a window seat so they can rest their head against the wall.
  • You may also want to bring a small pillow and blanket to make them more comfortable.

If you’re traveling with a baby for the first time, check out our ten tips to prepare for your baby’s first flight

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Best Products for Taking a Long Flight with Kids on American Airlines

There are a few essential products to bring along if you want to survive a long flight on American Airlines with kids.

Read more hacks and products for sleeping on long flights with kids in our article! 

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Happy Travels!

A family of four sits on a bed packing a suitcase.

We hope you liked this Guide to American Airlinesairlines Policies for Kids! Whether you’re planning a short weekend away or an extended trip, it doesn’t hurt to familiarize yourself with these airline policies for children. Enjoy your next flight with the kids! 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Airline policies are subject to change and may have been made without our knowledge. Check American Airlines’ policies for traveling with children for possible updated information.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed. Please ensure availability before making your decision. 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.

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