Travelling with children can be no easy feat – especially for parents flying with the newest member of the family for the first time.
Whether it's packing for the journey, getting everybody through the airport and into the lounge, or managing the flight itself, here's your guide to jetting about on Qantas with children or infants in tow.
Flying Qantas with kids: booking basics
When it comes to making your Qantas travel plans, there are a few handy hints to know.
How old must a child be to fly Qantas?
The airline confirms that "healthy newborn babies may travel after seven days of delivery without medical clearance."
If you plan to travel with the child within that first week, a medical clearance is required – for that, you'll need to complete a form and lodge it with Qantas for approval in advance of your flight.
However, Qantas does not permit infants to travel within 48 hours of delivery, even with a medical clearance, so any medical clearance would only allow travel from three days after delivery.
One infant per adult, or they'll need their own seat
Infants (that's children aged less than two years) normally travel in the lap of their accompanying adult, so Qantas restricts each adult to flying with one lap infant only.
Where more infants need to fly than there are adults to accompany them, each additional infant will need their own seat as below, and must travel in an approved child car seat or restraint.
Qantas bookings where the number of infants exceeds the number of adults can't be made via the Qantas website – you'll instead need to call the airline to reserve your flight, or speak to a travel agent.
How much does it cost to fly with a child?
On Australian domestic flights, 'lap infants' travel at no extra charge – but you do need to make sure they're noted on your booking.
"You can’t just show up at the airport with only adult tickets but a baby in tow; the airline has to issue a specific ticket just for the child," parent Jody Nichols underscores.
If your (adult) flights were booked before bub came along – or you weren't originally planning to fly with the child, but now need to – contact the airline to add the child to your existing ticket.
There'll be no charge, provided the infant travels in your lap.
Children aged two years and above must instead travel in their own seat, and on domestic flights, Qantas' fare prices for children are exactly the same as adults.
This is true whether you're booking a Red eDeal fare, Flex economy, or business class.
Flying Qantas with kids: check-in
On travel day, allow plenty of time not only to get to the airport and step inside, but to complete all the formalities, knowing that you won't be able to zip through as fast as when flying solo.
"It sounds simple, but the 'mentality' behind the ultra-efficient solo business travel style has NO place in a family holiday," Nichols adds.
It also helps to know exactly how much you can pack when travelling with children – here's your guide.
Qantas checked baggage allowance with kids
When flying with an infant (aged <2), there's no additional checked baggage allowance for the child on Australian domestic flights.
That said, you do get an extra 10kg when flying Qantas to most destinations beyond Australian shores, such as to New Zealand.
On both domestic and international flights, travelling with an infant does allow you check-in three specific 'infant items' as defined by Qantas.
These include a stroller, a collapsible cot or bassinet, and a car seat or baby capsule: each weighing up to 32kg.
Don't forget, your (adult) baggage allowance continues to apply: and if you're flying business class, are Qantas Silver or above, or are a Qantas Club member, you'll either be able to bring more luggage, pack a little heavier, or both.
Children aged two and above instead receive the same baggage allowance as adults – which is only fair, given their journey costs the same as an adult fare – and the same applies to an infant occupying their own seat.
There's one addition, however: two 'child items' can be checked per child flying (over and above their standard baggage allowance): being a car seat, and a collapsible stroller.
Qantas cabin baggage allowance with kids
Mirroring the basic checked baggage rules, infants have no formal carry-on baggage allowance unless occupying their own seat, while children (2+) receive the same carry-on baggage allowance as adults.
That said, parents and guardians still receive their own standard cabin baggage allowance, and may also bring enough food and nappies required for the journey, which aren't counted towards that standard allowance.
Agi Magyar, Founder and Photographer at The Headshot Co., also suggests keeping some small plastic rubbish bags with your baby items, to make for a smooth exit.
Flying Qantas with kids: lounge access
Children are permitted in Qantas' domestic lounges, provided they're travelling with a responsible adult, and that adult qualifies for lounge access.
That could be as a Qantas Club member, or as a Gold, Platinum or Platinum One frequent flyer.
Do children count towards your Qantas lounge guest limits?
Travellers eligible for Qantas lounge access can bring one or more guests (including children). Limits apply based on the age of each guest, as below:
- Ages 0-3: No limit on number, when travelling with an adult.
- Aged 4-17: Up to two children in this age bracket can accompany each lounge-eligible adult traveller, in addition to adult guests.
- Aged 18+: As adults, the adult guest limits apply – that's one adult guest for Qantas Club and Qantas Gold, and two adult guests for Qantas Platinum and Platinum One.
Of course, if you've spoiled the family and booked business class for everybody, guest limits are irrelevant as lounge access will be included within each ticket.
Qantas lounge amenities for children
Recognising that many travellers using the airline's lounges are flying on business, Qantas has created dedicated kid zones in many of its lounges.
Dubbed the "Joey Club", you'll find these within the Qantas Club lounges in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Darwin, Cairns, and on the Gold Coast.
Facilities in these spaces vary between airports and may be tailored to suit COVID-19 restrictions in each state or territory.
However, where restrictions allow, you'll typically find games, activities and computers, along with seating for supervising adults.
Can children visit the lounge when using a 'lounge invitation'?
Have a single-use lounge invitation for the Qantas Club?
Distributed via partnered credit cards and to Qantas Silver frequent flyers, these entitle one person to visit one lounge, once only.
That invitation is not extended to any accompanying children, regardless of age – unless of course, you have a second invitation to cover the child as well.
Flying Qantas with kids: getting seated
Time to depart? Don't wait for the flight to be called in the lounge, as it'll already be boarding.
Instead, head to the gate a little early, and listen to the call for those travelling with children or requiring extra assistance, as you can get on first and get settled.
If travelling with a lap infant, the crew will provide an infant seatbelt – and if flying with a car seat or infant seat restraint, the crew will also check this has been installed correctly.
Can I book a bassinet seat on a Qantas flight?
Bassinets aren't available on most Qantas domestic flights, including those operated by the airline airline's regional planes, as well as its workhorse, the Boeing 737.
You can instead find bassinets on Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 flights, but these can't be formally pre-reserved on domestic sectors.
Instead, you can ask for the bassinet on departure day – and can increase your chances by pre-selecting a seat at a bassinet location.
Where are the bassinets located on Qantas flights?
If your flight is operated by the Airbus A330-200, you'll find the business class bassinets at seats 1A and 1K, and for economy, in front of seats 23A/B and 23J/K, denoted by the orange dots below.
Even though Qantas flies two different seating configurations for the A330-200, this is true regardless of which arrives at your gate:
On the larger Airbus A330-300, these are again found in business class at 1A and 1K, while in economy, you'll instead find them at 23D/E, 23F/G, 45D/E and 45F/G.
Aboard the Boeing 787, business class bassinets are in front of 2E and 10E; premium economy bassinets sit in front of 20A/B and 20J/K, and economy bassinets reside ahead of 40A/B/C, 40H/J/K, and 46D/E/F.
Which children are eligible for a Qantas bassinet?
Only infants are eligible to fly in bassinets – which means your child can only use one before their second birthday.
As well, the infant must weigh less than 11kg, and be able to lie flat in the bassinet at the time of travel.
Qantas' bassinets measure up at approximately 71cm long, 31cm wide, and 26cm deep. If your child can't fit, they'll instead need to travel in your lap.
Can children sit in the emergency exit row on Qantas?
Depending on their age, your child may be able to sit with you in the exit row for a little extra legroom.
This is true where every traveller in your group is at least 15 years of age, and is willing and able to assist in an emergency.
As goes without saying, if you're flying with a lap infant, with anybody below 15 years of age, or would prefer not to take on those responsibilities, you'll need to sit elsewhere.
Flying Qantas with kids: ready for take-off
Whether you're at a bulkhead, or in a regular row with child in-tow, it's time to fly.
Getting an infant set for departure
Because an aircraft's cabin pressure changes during take-off (and again on landing), babies can feel that change and it can make them uncomfortable, prompting tears and howls.
Nichols suggests having a bottle handy for those periods – while also refraining from feeding the child at the airport, so that they're hungry on the flight.
Magyar agrees, adding that a dummy can also do the trick to "help baby pop their ears at take-off and landing".
Changing the child just before departure can also make the flight itself easier, particularly shorter hops where you can then remain settled for the journey.
Food and drink on Qantas flights
On all domestic business class flights, and on economy flights of 3.5 hours or more, parents can pre-order a child meal (designed for ages 2-11) through the 'manage booking' section of the Qantas website.
It's the same process you'd follow for requesting adult dietary meals like gluten free, Kosher or Halal.
For younger flyers, Qantas says it "provides a limited range of top brand baby food, milk, baby bottles, cereals and rusks, but it's a good idea to bring the brand your baby knows and prefers."
"If your infant is less than 2 years of age and has any special requirements, we ask that you provide their meal for the flight."
Magyar echoes that suggestion: "make sure you have food, formula and a drink bottle with you for the flight, (especially at the) normal time for feeds."
Kids' activities on Qantas flights
When you're done with food, there's still the rest of the flight to think about – and that's where distractions can pay dividends in peace and quiet.
Magyar adds that parents should "bring toys, books, or something to watch: just make sure the toys can’t roll away if fall on the floor – no cars, balls, etc."
Oh, and don't forget headphones for the kids, "because no one wants to hear Elmo talking for longer than 5 minutes, but kids love it!"
Martin Eber, of the Time for Whisky blog, suggests sticker books as an alternative to video entertainment.
"They're simple, cheap, usually able to be purchased at the airport – and a big help in keeping a toddler entertained (but warning: you may end up being the recipient of said stickers)."
Flying Qantas with kids: frequent flyer points
Depending on each child's age and booking type, your children may be able to earn Qantas Points and status credits with travelling with you.
Qantas Points, status credits for infants
Lap infants aren't eligible for rewards. That's because they're not flying on their own paid ticket – instead, flying free with the adult.
The adult traveller remains eligible for any Qantas Points and status credits, in line with the fare purchased.
Infants are only eligible for Qantas Points and status credits when travelling in their own seat, on their own paid fare.
Qantas Points, status credits for children
As child fares on Qantas cost the same as adult tickets, children can earn Qantas Points and status credits at the same rates as adults.
This applies for those aged two and above – plus any infants travelling in their own seat on their own fare.
Children can earn those Qantas Points and status credits by linking the child's frequent flyer number to the ticket, in the same way as you would for an adult:
Free Qantas Frequent Flyer membership for children
Speaking of earning Qantas Points, the airline allows kids to join Qantas Frequent Flyer for free – provided you sign the child up via a dedicated link.
Through this page, the program's usual $99.50 joining fee is waived for kids.
Qantas Joey Club
As well as dedicated "Joey Clubs" in selected Qantas Club lounges, the airline also offers Joey Club 'passports' for its younger flyers.
Offered free to members who join Qantas Frequent Flyer when 3-11 years of age, kids can record the details of each flight they take – including domestic journeys, where Qantas check-in staff can add the details.
Putting kids' Qantas Points to good use
Once your child has at least 5,000 Qantas Points in their account, you'll be able to transfer them to your own Qantas Frequent Flyer account.
This strategy of combining points could help you book your next family holiday sooner – and once you've made one of these 'family transfer', your points can be used towards travel for most members of your family, including children.
Qantas caps family transfers at 600,000 Qantas Points from each member in any rolling 12-month period.
You're unlikely to meet that cap when transferring from a child's account, but it's worth keeping in mind if you're bringing points together from other members of the family too, who may be better points earners.
There's no limit to the number of Qantas Points you can receive via family transfers: the restriction is only a 'sending limit' from each account.
Flying Qantas with kids: status hold
Here's an interesting one – if you already have frequent flyer status with Qantas but can't fly enough to maintain that status given the new addition to your family, you may be able to lock-in your status for up to 18 months.
Known as 'status hold', those eligible will have their frequent flyer membership anniversary pushed by 18 months, without any further flying.
For example, a member with a status anniversary of August 2021 would see that bumped to February 2023, if granted a status hold.
Status holds are open to Qantas Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers.
Who qualifies for a Qantas status hold?
You could be granted a status hold if you're the parent of a child due to be born in the next three months, or who was already born in the past six months.
Eligibility can also apply to foster carers and adoptive parents who'll be caring for a child within the next three months, or who started caring for a child in the past six months.
In both cases, you'll also need to be taking at least six consecutive months off paid employment for family reasons.
Those who received complimentary status rather than earning it themselves – such as a gift from a high-flying family member – aren't eligible for status hold.
How do you maintain Qantas status after status hold?
Given Qantas extends members' anniversary year by 18 months when granted a status hold, but operates on 12-month membership years, your status hold doesn't get you entirely off the hook.
It's true that you won't need to earn any status credits in the first six months of that 18-month period, which gives some breathing space.
However, after those first six months, a new membership year begins – and this marks your final 12 months of status.
During that 12-month window, you'll need to earn the usual number of status credits to keep your status for a longer period: otherwise, you'll drop down to the next-lowest tier as soon as your status hold period is up.
Think of status hold more as a six-month freebie followed by a standard membership year, rather than 18 months of worry-free status.
What happens to your Qantas status during a status hold?
During your status hold period, you can continue to use your status perks if the opportunity arises.
That's because you remain at your existing frequent flyer tier throughout this window – your status isn't shelved and later reactivated.
Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers who do travel during their status hold can expect lounge access, priority check-in and boarding, extra baggage and more: just like before their status hold.
Similarly, Qantas Silver members can expect priority check-in and extra checked baggage, in line with the usual benefits of Silver.
ET readers: What are some of your own first-hand tips for flying on Qantas with babies or children in tow?