Traveling with children
Flying with kids can be challenging. We’re with you every step of the way to make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible. Or, if you have questions about children flying alone, we have the answers.
Planning your trip
Here's what to keep in mind when booking your tickets and deciding what to bring with you.
Ticketing options for children
All other kids
Children older than two will need a ticket and their own seat on the plane.
We do allow pre-boarding for families traveling with children less than two years old. A gate agent will announce when it’s time for you to board.
If you’re flying with children under 12, we have new tools that make it easier for them to sit next to an adult in your party for free. Soon this will also include families who have Basic Economy tickets. If seats next to each other aren’t available on your flight because of nearly full flights or unscheduled aircraft changes, you can switch to another flight with availability in the same cabin for free and won’t be charged for the difference in fare.
Traveler pro tips
We have a few tips to make sure you’re prepared for the most common situations that come up while traveling with kids:
- If your little one is using a tablet to watch movies or play games, make sure the device is fully charged in case you aren’t sitting next to an outlet and bring headphones.
- Easily relieve ear pressure during takeoff and landing by keeping snacks on hand.
- In case your flight is delayed make sure you have extra diapers, formula, bottles and other essentials in the bag you bring onboard.
At the airport
How you get through the airport depends on the age of your kids. Here’s what to keep in mind.
The security line
Children under 18 don’t need an ID to fly domestically but do need a passport for international flights. You can also bring breast milk or formula through security, even if your child isn’t with you. But, be sure you meet TSA guidelines.
Getting to the gate
Standard strollers, folding wagons, and car seats can be used to get to your gate and then checked for free. They’ll be returned to you on arrival. Collapsible strollers can be stored in-cabin. Car seats can be used onboard your flight too.
Nursing at the airport
You can nurse wherever is most comfortable to you. Many airports have nursing spaces with a table, bench and outlets to make breastfeeding easier. Use the airport maps feature on the United app to see where they’re located.
On the plane
You’re now in the last leg of your trip. Here’s the most important info you’re going to need.
Nursing while flying
Keeping your children occupied
We’ve created a Children’s Travel Kit in partnership with Ranger Rick so they stay engaged and inspired while they fly. It includes an activity book with crayons and a toy. Ask your flight attendant to see if they’re available on your next flight.
You can also view the snack options, including kids' meals, for your flight and cabin before your trip. We recommend bringing snacks from home too, so you can make sure you have food you know your child will enjoy.
Traveling with children FAQs
Lap children must be under the age of two. Whether they require a ticket and how much it will cost depends on where you’re traveling.
Travel details Ticket requirements U.S. domestic flights1 Free, no ticket needed. Flights between the U.S., Canada & Mexico Ticket needed, but you only pay for the taxes on it. International flights2 Ticket needed, and charged a partial fare based on the destination.
1 Includes flights to and from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
2 Includes flights to and from Guam.
When flying with a lap child, you do still need to let us know you’ll have one with you whether you’re flying domestically or internationally. You can do this by selecting “Infant on lap” as a traveler during booking or at check-in. There can only be one infant on lap per adult on your reservation. You may also need to show a birth certificate to prove your child is under two.
If you’re traveling with a child of any age, you can bring the following on your flight for free in addition to your carry-on and personal items:
- Diaper bag
- Breast pump, milk or formula
- FAA-approved car seat
- Compact folding stroller that meets carry-on bag size guidelines when collapsed, like the gb Pockit
Car seats aren’t allowed in United Polaris® business class on most Boeing 767, 777, or 787 planes. Pack ‘n Play®, collapsible cribs and other similar items must be checked at the ticket counter and will be charged at the baggage rate for your ticket.
You can check one car seat and one stroller or folding wagon per child you’re traveling with, for free. This can be done at the gate or ticket counter. Large or non-collapsible strollers, and non-folding wagons must be checked at the ticket counter. However, they’re also free.
We cannot fly infants younger than seven days old. Children of any other age are welcome to fly with us.
There are changing tables in the lavatories on the following aircraft:
- Boeing 757-300
- Boeing 767
- Boeing 777
- Boeing 787
- Select Boeing 757-200
Just ask your flight attendant and they can show you the right lavatory to use.
You can use a Child Aviation Restraint System, or CARES, on your flight instead of a car seat.
Unfortunately, you cannot use these or any similar items on our flights.
Please check our Contract of Carriage for information about liability for damaged strollers and wagons.