By Samantha Bomkamp, AP Transportation Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Flying with small children is an expensive and exhausting endeavor. Today's fuller flights, tighter security and abundance of fees can amplify that. Here are some tips to simplify your trip with little ones — from checking in to landing at your destination.
When selecting a flight, try to book nonstop flights during off-peak hours, either early or late, when kids are likely to sleep through more of the trip.
Check in for your flight online as early as possible (24 hours before) in order to reserve good seats near the front of the plane. You'll be able to get off and on more quickly. Those seats also provide easier access to a small space near the restrooms on bigger planes if you need to stand with your baby at any time during flight.
Most airlines will generally set aside bulkhead seats (the first row of each section) for families. If you weren't able to land a good seat online, ask the flight attendant at the gate. Most airlines will try to be accommodating.
BEWARE: SHIFTING FEES
Airlines such as AirTran and Spirit have seat selection fees as high as $35. George Hobica, founder of the travel Web site Airfarewatchdog.com, calls these "hidden taxes on parents." If you want to reserve a seat ahead of time, call the airline. It will often waive the fee for parents traveling with children either on laps or in their own seats — if you ask.
Bulkhead seats on some airlines though, including AirTran, can only be assigned by an airline employee at the airport.
Another thing to look out for: Children under age two are free if they sit in your lap on domestic flights, but not international ones. The standard international fare for children is 10% plus fuel surcharges, which can add hundreds of dollars. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific charges 25%.
And if you're a frequent flier who wants to upgrade to business or first class on an international flight, be prepared. You could wind up paying more than $1,000 for your baby — more than you'll likely pay for yourself.