With the summer travel season in full swing, parents are preparing to journey the skies with little ones. But as the headlines have reported in recent months, the skies are hardly friendly, especially if you’ve got a fussy toddler who refuses to buckle up on the runway. More airlines are taking harsh measures and kicking people off planes.
Can they really do that?
This week there was yet another story about a pilot booting an antsy kid (and his family) from a flight, because the 3-year-old wouldn’t fasten his seatbelt for take off.
According to reports, Alaska Airlines said it was a matter of safety, and that they wanted to deal with “the issue” on the ground rather than in mid-air. But the boy’s father, Mark Yanchak told the local press that the crew was over-reacting– and that eventually he did get his son settled down, but the pilot had already ordered their plane back to the gate.
So, what are the rules when it comes to airline travel and your children, and what, exactly, are your rights as a parent when you board that plane?
IDs for kids: what’s the story?
Let’s start at the beginning: the ticket/check-in counter. Do kids need IDs, birth certificates or other types of documentation?
“Typically documentation for people under the age of 18 is not required if they are traveling with an adult inside of the country,” explains Ross F. Aimer, a retired United Airlines captain with over 30 years of experience, and the CEO of Aero Consulting Experts.
But— and it’s a big but— every airline gets to make up their own ID requirements for kids traveling domestically, and they certainly can ask you for a birth certificate if they want to. So it’s best to play it safe this summer, and contact the specific carrier before your trip to make sure you’ve got whatever paperwork they might need at the counter. Flying internationally is more clear-cut. The FAA requires a passport for every passenger, regardless of age.