Do You Need to Bring Your Child's Birth Certificate for a U.S. Domestic Flight? TravelSort reader Jean writes “I read something about a mom being asked to provide a birth certificate when traveling with her baby. Which airlines require this? I haven't had to provide one when flying American Airlines on the flights I've been on so far with my 1 year old.”
This is a great question. While it's clear that whenever you travel internationally you have to have a passport for each person, including infants, typically children are not asked to show any form of identification when traveling within the domestic U.S. Sure, the TSA officer will ask the child their name and perhaps their birth date, before going through security, but that's usually it. In fact, we've never had to show any identification for our son on any of his domestic U.S. flights, including Hawaii, in his 10 years of flying United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and JetBlue.
But read on, since all airlines reserve the right to request proof of age (because children under 2 are allowed to travel for free as a lap child, but children 2 or older must have purchase a ticket and be seated in their own seat) and several airlines do reserve the right to ask for a birth certificate, and it behooves all parents to travel with a copy of one.
Alaska Airlines: Be Prepared to Provide Proof of Age
Alaska allows you provide either a birth certificate or passport to provide proof of your child's age. The airline won't always ask for it, but reserves the right to do so: “Alaska Airlines reserves the right to require proof of age for any child passenger. Please be prepared to provide a birth certificate, passport, or other documentation upon request.”
American Airlines: Be Prepared to Provide Proof of Age
AA may ask you to provide proof of your child's age, for any child under 18: “You may be required to present proof of age (such as a birth certificate) for any children under the age of 18.” Presumably you could show a passport instead, to prove your child's age. We have never been asked to produce our son's passport or other documentation, however, on any of his domestic AA flights.
Delta Airlines: Officially No Documentation Required for Children
Delta does not officially require any documentation for accompanied children traveling in the domestic U.S.. If you're traveling with a lap child under 2 years old, however, it would be wise to bring your child's passport (if you have one) or a copy of your child's birth certificate just in case anyone questions you about the child's age and eligibility to travel as a lap child.
JetBlue: Be Prepared to Provide Proof of Age
JetBlue states that passengers traveling with a lap child under the age of 2 will be asked for proof of age: “Customers traveling with a lap child will be asked for proof of age, such as a passport, birth certificate (copies are acceptable for domestic travel) or an immunization record. Infants between three and 14 days old must also have, in the form of a letter, their doctor's approval to travel.”
Southwest: Must Travel with Child's Birth Certificate
Southwest is a notable exception: you must travel with a copy of your child's birth certificate. You'll also need a medical release from your child's doctor if traveling with an infant under 14 days old.
Jean, the TravelSort reader who wrote in, probably came across the recent article about Southwest requiring a mom to provide a copy of the birth certificate of her baby, even though she provided her child's passport to verify her son's age.
- A copy of the child's birth certificate is required to validate the age of all infants under two.
- A medical release for travel is required for any infant under 14 days old.
Southwest does give you the option of mailing a copy of the child's valid photo ID or birth certificate proving age, but it seems more trouble than simply traveling with a copy of your child's birth certificate.
- If you prefer, you may mail a copy of a valid picture I.D. or birth certificate proving age to: Southwest Airlines Customer Relations; P.O. Box 36662; Dallas, TX 75235. Please be sure to indicate the ticketed traveler's Rapid Rewards account number with your request, and submit your request at least two weeks prior to your flight
- The date of birth field in the account will be updated to reflect that age has been verified.
- If you submit your request in writing, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail once the date of birth has been verified.
- Once the date of birth has been verified, you may check in online and request a boarding pass, as long as the traveler's account number is present in the reservation for which you are checking in.
United Airlines: No ID Required for Accompanied Children
United states that it does not require children under 18 to show any ID for domestic U.S. travel, if the child is accompanied by an adult 18 or older: “Children under the age of 18 traveling with an adult are not required to show ID at time of check-in.”
If you have a child, were you ever asked for a copy of your child's birth certificate before boarding a domestic U.S. flight?
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