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

Three kids stand at a window in the airport looking out onto several Southwest planes.

When families are considering which airline to fly with, it’s essential to research the airline’s policies before booking and choose one geared toward young kids, like Southwest Airlines. Making travel plans with children can seem stressful at first, but not if you do your research before you book a flight. Some airlines have very strict rules about things like seat assignments, for example, while others are much more relaxed. If you’re flying with young children, you’ll want to ensure you’re aware of the airline’s policy on lap infants too. This is why Southwest Airlines is often a go-to for traveling families. From early boarding to bassinets, the airline has special policies for families traveling with small children. This article covers everything you need to know about flying on Southwest Airlines with kids, plus more tips. Stay tuned to learn more! 

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Why Fly Southwest Airlines With Kids?

The side of a parked Southwest Airline plane on an airfield.
Photo Courtesy: Owen Lystrup

While each family’s experience with an airline may differ, Southwest Airlines is generally considered a good airline to fly with kids. For one, the airline offers a variety of amenities for families flying with children, including early boarding, free TV and movies, and complimentary snacks and drinks. This means that you can get your little ones settled in their seats before the rest of the passengers board, which can make for a less stressful flight. Additionally, the airline is known for its low fares, which can save you money on your trip. Southwest Airlines also has a great reputation for being on time and offering a comfortable flying experience. Plus, since most Southwest flights are typically very short, they’re ideal when traveling with young children. 

READ NEXTAll About Delta Airlines: Airline Policies & More Important Information For Kids

Where Does Southwest Airlines Fly Directly?

A Southwest Airline plane mid-flight amongst the clouds.

Southwest Airlines flies directly to and from many destinations all over the United States, Mexico, and Central America. This often means avoiding long layovers or connections, which can be particularly stressful when traveling with young kids.

  • Southwest offers non-stop service to major cities in the United States, like Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Denver, Kansas City, and St. Louis.
  • Southwest Airlines also flies nonstop to a few international destinations. These include Cancun (Mexico), Liberia (Costa Rica), Montego Bay (Jamaica), and Puerto Vallarta (Mexico).

For more information on planning your trip on Southwest Airlines with kids, check their website for a complete list of all the places they fly to in the US and abroad. 

Booking an international flight for your family? Check out these 11 Best Airlines For Kids For International Family Travel – And What You Need To Know!

Southwest Airlines Policy for Kids

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

Now that we’ve covered some basic tips for flying Southwest with kids, let’s jump into the Southwest Airlines policies for kids. When flying with Southwest Airlines, you’ll need to take some special considerations into account if you’re traveling with young children. Keep reading to learn all about Southwest Airlines and its airline policies for kids! 

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Early Boarding for Families

Southwest Airlines offers priority boarding to families with children under 6. 

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

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

Lap Seat

Need to know about the Southwest lap child policy? For domestic flights, kids under the age of 2 can fly for free when sitting on an adult’s lap. They don’t need a ticket, but you’ll need to bring proof of age, such as a birth certificate, when you check in. Finally, those flying internationally will need to pay the taxes and fees that apply to the international portion of their ticket.

Baby Care

To warm bottles, families can request hot water from a flight attendant. Alternatively, flight attendants will also bring you ice to keep milk and formula cool. This is helpful to know in advance if you are trying to learn everything you can about the Southwest infant policy.


Southwest Airlines does not offer bassinets for infants on domestic or international flights.

Southwest Child Car Seat Policy

Wondering about the Southwest Airlines car seat policy? According to the airline, you can bring your own FAA-approved car seat. Children in car seats should sit in a window seat. The car seat can be secured to the seat itself. To make sure your car seat qualifies, look for the sticker attached to the side for confirmation. We hope this helps you better understand the Southwest Airlines car seat policy!

Jet Kids BedBox™

A young girl sits on a plan in her JetKids by Stokke.
Photo Courtesy: Rahul Singh

Southwest Airlines has officially approved the use of the Jet Kids BedBox™. The Jet Kids BedBox™ is a compact travel bed that can be used 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 Southwest Airlines, this is a great option for long flights!

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

Child Fares

If your child is over 2 years of age, they’ll need their own seat (a child restraint system is highly encouraged for those under 40 pounds). If you choose to have your infant in their own seat, they will need to purchase a ticket at full fare. Kids over the age of 2 will need to pay the full fare for a ticket. There is no discounted Southwest Airlines child fare.

Unaccompanied Minors

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 can travel alone, but they will need to have a Southwestern Unaccompanied Minor Form completed by their parent or guardian. This form must be submitted at least 48 hours before travel. Then, those traveling alone between the ages of 12 and 17 need to follow the Young Travelers procedures. Finally, children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18 when traveling internationally.

Baggage/Carry-On Luggage

A young girl packs a tablet in a dedicated pocket available on the BÉIS Kids Roller.
Photo Courtesy: Gunjan Prakash

Families with children can check one stroller and one car seat without charge. All ticketed passengers, including children, have the same baggage allowance of 2 free checked bags, as well as one carry-on and one personal item aboard the plane. Then, baggage containing a breast pump and/or breast milk may be brought onboard (in addition to the standard carry-on limit). Finally, lap infants are not allowed a separate baggage allowance from the ticketed adult.

READ NEXT: Best Travel Luggage, Carry-Ons, and Backpacks for Kids and Families

Food Policy

Kid-friendly snacks such as pretzels are available. If you are worried about meals during your flight, we recommend that you pack snacks and other essentials you may need to keep your children full and satisfied.

Special Toys and Games/Entertainment Options

A standard library of kid-friendly entertainment is available on most flights. 

READ NEXT: Fun Activities To Keep Kids Entertained While Traveling

What Documents Do I Need to Fly with Kids?

A young girl stands on the jet bridge with her suitcase and travel documents, knowing what documents you need is important in understanding the Southwest Airlines Policies for Kids.

Now that you know the Southwest Airlines child policy for flying with kids, you may be wondering, do you need identification for a child or a baby 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 documents may also be needed for United Airlines child identification, depending on the flight, destination country, transit country, etc.

What Documents Do I Need for US Domestic Travel with Kids

  • Generally, no ID is needed: 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 officials 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

  • visa for the destination country, or a transit country (a country where a layover takes place).

RELATED ARTICLE: The Best Travel Accessories Families Can’t Live Without

Tips for Taking a Long Flight with Kids on Southwest Airlines

A mom holds her infant son on an airplane, knowing how to handle a long flight is important to understanding the Southwest Airlines Policies for Kids.
Photo Courtesy: Paul Hanaoka

Planning a long flight on Southwest Airlines with kids? There are a few things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone. We suggest timing 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.

When flying during the daytime, wear your child out before the flight. For example, you could plan an active morning at the park or playground to burn some energy. Once onboard, try to keep them occupied with new toys, books, or movies. Families can also bring along some snacks to eat throughout the flight.

For children who want to sleep on the plane, consider booking a window seat so they can rest their heads against the wall. You may also want to bring along a small pillow and blanket to make them more comfortable. Plus, you can use these Best Hacks & Products For Sleeping On Long International Flights With Kids.
Finally, if you’re traveling with a baby for the first time, check out our ten tips to prepare for your baby’s first flight.

RELATED: 18 Exciting Travel Toys For Young Kids That Will Keep Them Entertained The Whole Trip

Best Snacks to Bring on a Southwest Airlines Flight with Kids

If you’re flying Southwest with kids, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand to keep them happy and fed during the flight. After all, there’s nothing worse than being mid-flight and realizing you have nothing to keep your kids’ hunger at bay!

Generally, the best snacks to bring on Southwest Airlines flights are non-messy ones that won’t disturb other passengers. This way, you can keep your kids from getting hungry, but also entertain them a bit. Feel free to get creative and pack some new snacks for kids to try, as well as some reliable options you know for sure they’ll like. Some good choices include P&B sandwiches, fruit snacks, yogurt, granola or energy bars, popcorn, cookies, pretzels, animal crackers, and so much more. Don’t forget the juice boxes or water! 

Best Products for Taking a Long Flight on Southwest Airlines

There are a few essential products to bring along if you want to survive a long flight on Southwest Airlines with kids. Here are a few to consider as you prepare for your flight:

Then, read more hacks and products for sleeping on long flights with kids in our article! 

Happy Travels!

A dad and his two young kids stand on a dock in Florida with fishing equipment, while Pelicans float in the water.

We hope you liked this Guide to Southwest Airlines Airline 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! 

*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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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.