The Best Guide on Flying Southwest Airlines With a Baby (2022 Edition)

We researched and gathered all the information parents should know when flying Southwest Airlines with a baby. These include child fares, baggage allowance, car seat & stroller policies, extra entertainment for children onboard, and so much more.

Let's get straight to the point.


Southwest Airlines for the Youngest: All 2022 Rules & Requirements

Heading to the airport is the easiest task. However, preparing for the flight is tricky, as you must know all regulations to avoid delays at the boarding gate. Please, refer to the guide below.

Southwest Airlines newborn policy

what to expect when flying southwest airlines

Your newborn must be at least fourteen days old to fly Southwest Airlines. A medical release is requested for infants under fourteen days old. In addition, the airline welcomes all nursing customers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft or within their facilities.

For pregnant passengers, please consult your physician before flying. Air travel beginning in the 38th week of pregnancy is not recommendable, according to airline officials. In addition, the flight attendant will ask you not to sit in the emergency exit row based on your agility, strength, and physical conditions.

Southwest Airline infant policy

The airline provides infant fares for children younger than two using their safety child restraint device. You must contact customer support at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA/1-800-435-9792 for more information.

Southwest Airlines offers refundable and non-restricted infant fares, although the seats are limited. When you travel with a lap infant, the air service won't charge you, and they will check your child restraint system. However, the airline doesn't support lap children for child safety reasons.

New policies regarding the age verification for infants and children

There were slight changes in the infant policy, so the applicable new rules include the following:

  • Starting from June 1, 2021, you could no longer purchase the infant or child fare. Instead, you could only get Anytime Fares (non-refundable, only a dollar or two higher than the infants/children fares). However, the policy change was only temporary, as nowadays, you can still get the refundable infant fare/child fare with discounts. It would be best to call Southwest Customer Service at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA/1-800-435-9792 for more information. The agents will explain the advantages of the Infant, Anytime, and other fares and guide you through the procedure.
  • Before your flight, you will still have to bring age verification at the airport or by visiting the Rapid Rewards account. Age verification for infant/child fare requests original or copy of a government-issued ID (passport, birth certificate for your infant/lap child.
  • The Rapid Rewards accounts will update the birth information, so the age is verified. If you don't have a Rapid Rewards or a Southwest account, you should create one & provide proof of age to customer service agents. They will check it at the ticket counter or online in the future. Then, the next time the age-verified infant/lap children travel, you can request the boarding pass at Southwest Airlines' official website.
  • You can mail a copy of a birth certificate or a copy of a suitable picture proving the age to Dallas, TX 75235. You should subject it to Southwest Airlines Customer Relations, PO Box 36662. Please include the ticketed traveler's Rapid Rewards account number and submit your request at least fourteen days before your journey.
  • When submitting your request in writing, you will receive a confirmation letter once the date of birth is updated and verified.
  • If you are not traveling on an infant/child fare, you don't have to verify the age to require a boarding pass at the ticket counter or on the Southwest Airlines website.

Traveling with a lap child on domestic flights

When flying Southwest Airlines with an infant or small child, here is what you need to know:

are babies free on southwest airlines
  • One child over fourteen days and under two years of age not using a car seat might be carried free of charge when traveling with an accompanying passenger older than twelve years of age.
  • The airline won't require you to bring a boarding pass for the lap child, but you must provide a Boarding Verification Document.
  • Southwest Airlines flight attendants might also require you to provide the lap child's age verification at any point of your journey. You should prepare an original/copy of your lap child's government-issued ID (birth certificate, passport). 

Flying Southwest Airlines also introduces new benefits for passengers with lap infants at the self-service kiosk. These include:

- Customer and lap infant check-in

- Adding a lap infant to the reservation

- Editing a lap infant's name, birthdate, or gender

- Printing a Boarding Verification Document - BVD

Flying Southwest Airlines with a lap child on international flights

Family travelers on an international Southwest flight must pay taxes and fees applying to the international part of the infant's itinerary. Each passenger, regardless of age, will have a ticket.
In addition, you cannot enjoy the benefits of the full self-service Southwest Airlines ticket counter on your international flight.

Do infants need a boarding pass?

Your infants need a boarding pass if you choose to place your baby in their own seat. On the other hand, your infant doesn't need a boarding pass when traveling as a lap child (free of charge).

However, you will need a Boarding Verification Document for your infant so they can board the Southwest flight. You can add the document to your reservation if you travel domestically with a lap infant. And, you still must submit proof of age.

Southwest two-aged and older children policy

Accompanied children ages two to eleven might purchase the child fare (not applicable for unaccompanied children ages five to eleven).

However, as the recent changes concern child and infant fare policies, you should contact customer service at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792) to check if a fare applies to a specific flight.

You should do the same if you plan to fly internationally. After the reservation, you can view or cancel international itineraries for any fare type at the official Southwest website.

You can check in online if the child is traveling on an infant fare, as it is age-verified. Remember that proof of age is required at the time of the journey, so you should bring a birth certificate, passport, or similar ID document for air travel.

Southwest Unaccompanied minors policy

All kiddos five to eleven years old are considered unaccompanied minors. You should not let your kids travel unaccompanied if:

- They cannot navigate all airports

- They cannot go through all checking and boarding procedures alone

- They cannot follow the flight attendants' instructions

- They are uncomfortable when flying alone & deal with possible flight disruptions.

These children can travel on reservations made by using the Rapid Rewards points. However, you must pay a $50 service charge in addition to the airfare.

Don't forget to submit your child's ID (passport, birth certificate) and similar documents with a valid picture to verify their age and get a boarding pass.

Baggage allowance on Southwest Airlines

how to fly with infant southwest

The airline still offers you free-checked bags - two bags per passenger, up to 50 pounds each, not exceeding 62 inches in size (height, width, and length). The carry-on baggage should also not exceed 24 x 10 x 16 inches. If it's bigger than the requirements, you must check it. However, parents don't have to pack light with the "bags fly free" policy.

Lap children are not entitled to the free baggage allowance, either checked or carry-on luggage. Kids older than two have a regular baggage allowance. The unaccompanied minors aged five to eleven can also travel with carry-on luggage. They carry one bag and one small, personal type onboard the plane, as long as the luggage meets the above policy.

You can bring baggage containing breast milk or breast pump onboard in addition to the standard baggage allowance (one bag plus a small, personal item). Crew members might ask you about the nature of an additional carry-on bag during the trip. Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines doesn't have electrical outlets onboard for your personal use.

A child restraint device for a child with the ticket and reserved seat, or when available space exists, is not considered a personal item or carry-on bag. The child system is also not counted as "one bag plus one personal item limit."

Stroller policy

Families flying Southwest Airlines with children can check one stroller and one child restraint device or car seat per child free of charge. The systems are in addition to the regular free baggage allowance.

The stroller/pushchair and CRD or car seat allowance applies to any stroller type (umbrella, jogging, full size, single, double, etc.) and CRD or car seat. Passengers can check their strollers or car seats at the gate, ticket counter, or curb.

Southwest Airlines won't be responsible for possible damage to CRD, car seats, or strollers. However, families can purchase the car seat/stroller bag at the Southwest kiosk to protect baby items during the flight.

Car seat policy

All children ages two and older must use child restraint systems. These must be FAA-approved for aircraft. Here are the rules the airline requires:

- You must use a car seat for a ticketed child, as it enhances child safety on aircraft

- An infant fare might be available, enabling passengers to reserve seats for infants and use their own seat

- You must provide a boarding pass

- You can check in online after verifying the child for the infant fare

What seats are accepted onboard?

The airline accepts the child systems if they contain the following labels:

- "The system is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft."

- "The child restraint device conforms to all federal motor vehicle safety standards."

- "FAA approved 14 CFR PART 21.305 (D) approved for aircraft use only."

In addition, the airline will accept seats approved by the United Nations or other foreign governments. However, the restraints must have a stamp or a number assigned to the label or a similar mark indicating a foreign government approval.

The seats manufactured under the UN standards also have specific numbers indicating a country that created and granted their approval.

Remember that CARES is the only harness-type child restraint approved for onboard use. It supports children 22-44 pounds, with the FAA label.

Of course, the FAA prohibited specific child device types, such as backless booster seats and other systems that tie children to another person. They might be harmful in an aviation emergency.

Additional child restraint device policies

The Federal Aviation Administration and Southwest Airlines strongly urge parents to place their infants and small children weighing 40 pounds and less into their own seats.

Although you can install child restraints as you like, the airline recommends the following methods based on the weight limits:

- Rear-facing installation for children under 20 pounds

- Forward-facing installation for children between 20 and 40 pounds 

Seatbelts are also available. If you need extra security for your baby, call the flight attendants.

Once onboard, the car seats should be appropriately secured in the middle or window seat. When in the middle seat, car seats should not block the exit path of a passenger in the window seat. You should not install the car seat to block the aisle as well.

Do not install the seats in the exit seats. We refer to the aisle seat and the row in front of/behind an emergency exit row.

Family services on Southwest Airlines

As with other airlines (Qatar Airways, American Airlines, etc.), Southwest Airlines benefits parents and children. Let's take a look.

Early-Bird Check-In is a quick option to help you check in before the airline's regular 24-hour check-in. The early boarding position allows you to enter the plane in advance and choose the best seats available, offering early access to the overhead cabin.

The Early Bird is also ideal for family boarding, occurring right after group boarding. And along with the early boarding position, the family boarding helps you get seats together as a family. You can also request these options via the Southwest app.

In-flight children entertainment

You and your little ones can watch limitless movies, cartoons, and TV shows on your tablets, phones, or laptops. No downloads or sign-ups are requested. The entertainment is also free for all passengers, so you don't have to pay for WiFi to enjoy them. And you can always check the Rapid Rewards points on your account.

So, bring your favorite gadgets to enjoy longer flights with your little ones. Don't forget the headphones!

flying on southwest with a baby

Food and drink policies

The airline provides a wide range of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, coffee, free juices, soda drinks, and snacks only on flights longer than 176 miles. Extra snacks are also served on flights between the US mainland and Hawaii. Flights of 175 miles and less only serve water to their passengers.

However, the airline allows you to bring your food and snacks on the plane freely. You can also grab snacks and similar food before boarding. As you can see, the airline isn't as baby-friendly as Qatar Airways or American Airlines.

Extra tricks to fly like a real expert

There are always some things regular customers know better than the newbies. So, whether you travel for the first time, or are an experienced passenger, look at the tricks below to serve you as a reminder when booking your next flight:

  • Getting a lower price for your ticket, even if it's already booked
  • Valuable discounts are always hidden onboard (in the "Southwest: The Magazine")
  • Changing your flight dates for free
  • Getting the companion pass from credit cards only
  • Using gift cards to buy discounted airfares
  • The sooner you check-in, the better the seats you'll get


Do car seats and strollers fly free on Southwest?

Yes, car seats and strollers fly free on Southwest Airlines. However, you can check only one car seat and stroller per child in addition to your baggage allowance.

Does my child need a birth certificate to fly Southwest?

Yes, your child needs to bring a birth certificate in the following cases: 

- If your baby travels as a lap child.

- If your baby travels on international flights.

The airline and the Transportation Security Administration do not require children over two and under 18 to bring birth certificates for passengers traveling with companions in the USA.

Does a diaper bag count as a carry-on Southwest?

Yes, a diaper bag is considered a carry-on on Southwest, as you can bring two bags, each up to 50 pounds. The staff will count your bag as a carry-on as long as you fit the necessary items inside the bag.

Should I tell Southwest about my lap infant?

No, you don't have to tell Southwest about your baby infant. However, it would be better to call while reserving tickets and say that your baby will travel as a lap infant. They will explain that you need to provide a birth certificate or similar ID to verify the age as proof of the BVD.

If you still decide not to notify the airline, you can always show up at the ticket counter and, with proof of age, add your baby in. You will obtain a Boarding Verification Document for your baby based on age verification.

Do Southwest planes have baby-changing tables?

Yes, Southwest planes do have baby-changing tables. The charging stations on most Southwest planes are only in the front lavatory. You can ask crew members to show you the bathroom with a changing station or ask them to assist you if needed.

Do families with babies board first on Southwest?

Yes, families with babies might board first on Southwest. Two adults traveling with a child of six or younger can board during family boarding after the "A" group boards and before the "B" group boards. If the child and the adult have the same "A" boarding pass, they should board in their assigned boarding positions.

The Bottom Line

Flying Southwest Airlines with a baby requires a little research in advance. The guide above covered all the necessary information for passengers preparing for the flights. Follow the guidelines and find all critical points, to avoid delays.

However, you can always contact Southwest Helpline for still-present dilemmas (if any). The agents will do their best to guide you through all the procedures for your convenience.

Avatar of Kathy Warner

Kathy Warner

Kathy is a busy mother of two and a CPS technician for more than eight years. Her mission is to awaken parents to the importance of child passenger safety and show them the right practice. You can read more about her here

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