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How to Plan Award Travel With An Infant Or Lap Child

by on September 13, 2012 · 46 comments

in Family Travel, TPG Contributors

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TPG contributor Jason Steele, a young father himself, fills us in on what you need to know when flying with your young children – the fees, the age restrictions, and what you can do to make the most of your points when planning your next family trip.

One the many challenges of welcoming a baby into your life is planning travel travel with them – either on paid or award tickets. While it is free and somewhat simple to bring an infant with you on a domestic award flight, it is a vastly different story when traveling internationally.

International Lap Child Basics

All persons, regardless of age, who are traveling internationally, must have a ticket and a passport, including babies. In fact, your baby’s passport will be valid for 5 years, long after his or her baby picture bears little resemblance to the kindergartner carrying it.

That means that at a minimum, an award ticket will require payment of government taxes and fees. Typically, airlines will charge the 10% of their highest, unrestricted fare for the ticket of a lap child plus full taxes and fees although some airlines claim to offer infant fares at 10% of the current price. In the case of business and first class travel, even a discounted infant ticket can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, just for the privilege of carrying your child on your lap.

Note that the child’s ticket must be in the same class of travel as at least one ticketed adult; you can’t redeem a first class award and pay 10% of an unrestricted coach ticket for the lap child. In some cases, airlines will offer to let you redeem for an award for the child at 10% of the miles required for an adult ticket, but one adult must also be traveling on an award ticket; you can’t redeem an infant award by itself to accompany a paid adult.

There are plenty of rules and regulations to keep in mind, even when you’re traveling with just a lap child.

What is nearly as bad as these lap child fees is the fact than the airlines disclose these policies very poorly, if at all. It can be difficult or impossible to find this information on their web sites, and the airlines’ staff’s responses to inquiries on these matters is inconsistent at best and misleading at worst. For that reason, I would strongly advise parents to verify the fees that will be necessary book and pay for lap child tickets well before travel rather than attempt to accomplish this at check in where the agent helping you might not be completely versed in their airline’s lap child policy.

Comprehensive Infant Award Travel Chart

Below is a list of all the frequent flyer programs along with information on transfer partners such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points and Starwood Preferred Guest points.

Airline Transfer Partners Alliance International Lap Child Fee For Awards Exceptions
Aero Mexico American Express Membership Rewards SkyTeam $174 MXN within Mexico                         $35 to/from the United States,                10% to Asia, Europe, and South America
Air Berlin Starwood OneWorld 10% of “regular net fare”
Air Canada

American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Star Alliance Economy Class – $50 or 5,000 Miles, Business Class – $100 or 10,000 Miles, First Class – $125 or 12,500 Miles
Air New Zealand Starwood Star Alliance 10% plus taxes and fees
Airtran Chase Ultimate Rewards (Via Southwest) none Taxes and fees only
Alaska American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood none, (many partners) Taxes and fees only
Alitalia American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood SkyTeam 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
American Starwood OneWorld

10% of fare plus taxes and fees
ANA  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Star Alliance 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
Asia Miles (Cathay and Dragonair)  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood OneWorld 25% of fare on flights from the USA 10% on non-US flights
Asiana  Starwood Star Alliance 10% of the mileage
British Airways  American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood OneWorld 10% of the mileage plus taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges
China Eastern  Starwood SkyTeam 10% of Full Fare
China Southern  Starwood SkyTeam 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
Delta  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood SkyTeam 10% of Full Fare
El Al  American Express Membership Rewards none 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
Emirates  Starwood none, some partners 10% of miles in economy only 10% of fare in business and first. 75% of fare if occupying a seat.
Etihad  Starwood none, many partners 10% of fare plus taxes and fees Follows partner award rules i.e 10% of miles for Asiana awards
Flying Blue   American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood SkyTeam 10% of lowest fare Partner airline awards for infants must be booked with partner at their rate
Frontier

 

American Express Membership Rewards none Taxes and fees only
Hawaiian  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood none (many partners) 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
Iberia   American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Reward (via British Airways) Starwood OneWorld 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
JAL

 

Starwood

OneWorld 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
JetBlue  American Express Membership Rewards none, (some partners) Taxes and fees only
King Club (Kingfisher)  Starwood

Oneworld (Future), some partners 10% of fare for infant or 50% of miles for children under 12 Follows partner award rules
Korean

 

Chase Ultimate Rewards SkyTeam 10%, or partner award rules
Lan  Starwood OneWorld 10% of fare only with paying adult, otherwise full km for award.
Miles and More  Starwood Star Alliance “Infants (under two years old) can travel with you free of charge as long as they do not occupy a seat. When infants are transported, the taxes and charges which arise can be invoiced separately in accordance with subparagraph 1.5.1″ (Taxes, fees, and fuel)
Qatar  Starwood none, several parnters 10% if miles, only in economy, only on Qatar operated flights
Singapore  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Star Alliance 10% of full fare
Thai  Starwood Star Alliance 10% of full fare
United  Starwood, Chase Ultimate Rewards Star Alliance “10% of the lowest applicable adult fare” Only taxes to Canada
US Airways  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Star Alliance 10% of fare plus taxes and fees
VARIG Smiles (GOL)  Starwood none, some partners 10% of fare plus taxes and fees Follows partner award rules
Virgin America  American Express Membership Rewards

none Taxes and fees only
Virgin Atlantic  American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood

none 1,500 Miles for Upper Class, 750 miles for Premium Econ., 200 miles for Econ.

You can also download the chart for yourself here: Lap Child Award Chart.

Analysis

The best values are from Alaska, Airtran, JetBlue, Virgin American and Frontier, which do not charge any infant fares. The Miles and More program operated by Lufthansa, Austrian, and Swiss is alone among the major international programs in that it does not charge infant fares on awards. However, their considerable fuel surcharges can more than make up for any savings.

Virgin Atlantic charges a relatively minor number of miles, while British Airways charges 10% of the normal award, plus taxes and fees and fuel surcharges, meaning an infant lap ticket can be almost as costly as just buying another coach ticket.

Emirates and Qatar also charge 10% of the miles required, but restrict infant awards to economy class. Air Canada is a great value in that it charges a relatively small flat fee of cash or miles, depending on the class (up to 12,500 miles or $125 for first class), and if you redeem Aeroplan miles for travel on certain Star Alliance partners, it is possible to redeem the award without any infant fees or fuel surcharges. These fuel-surcharge-free partners currently include Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, United, and USAirways.

Asia Miles (Cathay and Dragonair) is a poor program for infant awards as it charges 25% of the adult fare when originating in the United States. LAN Airlines may be the worst of all since it doesn’t offer lap infant awards and will charge the full amount of Lanpass Kilometers whether or not a seat is used. Furthermore, it will only allow paying passengers to purchase a lap infant fare for 10% of the adult fare.

Jason recommends a CARES harness for a safe, comfortable seat restraint…among many other tips.

Tips for Booking Awards and Traveling with a Lap Child

  • Plan ahead. The easiest way to avoid lap child fees is to choose your destination wisely. Consider U.S. territories in the Caribbean such the Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico. In this way, you can save both passport fees and lap child fees that would be required to visit neighboring foreign islands. If you must travel internationally, choose your airline carefully. For instance, Spirit Airlines does not charge lap child fees and they serve destinations in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and even some South American destinations.
  • Get the right answer. In most cases, infant tickets must be purchased over the phone, yet many representatives will not know how to do this correctly. If you think you are being charged incorrectly, ask for a supervisor or politely hang up and call again.
  • Be aware of age restrictions. Your child must be under two years of age on the date that round trip travel concludes in order to fly as a lap child. So if your child turns two during the trip, he or she must have a seat. In that case, you can book two one-way awards and have the child fly at least a portion of the trip as a lap child.
  • Limitations. Airlines require at least one passenger over the age of 18 for each lap child.
  • Amenities. Airlines will often reserve bulkhead seats with bassinets for parents carrying an infant. Make sure to enquire about this option. Also, be sure to request a children’s meal if available.
  • Seating. Enquire at the gate as to whether or not the flight is full. If not, request to be placed next to an empty seat if your child is not using the bassinet. You are not allowed to sit in an exit row with an infant. Let’s just say that it is much easier to find an empty seat on Southwest since passengers would have to kick your toddler out of his or her seat once occupied. Just place the child in the middle seat between the parents, and it probably won’t happen unless the flight is full.
  • Baggage allowance. All airlines will allow parents to check a child seat and gate check a stroller for no charge. Many airlines that offer an adult checked bag on international flights will offer an additional free bag for infants as well. Check with your carrier before departure and print out any documentation to avoid difficulty at check in.
  • Seat restraints. If you choose to use a child seat, it must be FAA approved and you must purchase a seat to guarantee space. Many airlines will allow your child to use an unoccupied seat when available.
  • Consider CARES.  The CARES Harness folds up and can be used by children over 1 year old between 22 and 44 pounds. I have had positive experiences with this device.
  • Always carry documentation. Even though you do not legally need any ticket or documentation to carry a lap child on a domestic flight, some airlines will require proof of age (and falsely blame FAA regulations). American Airlines lists this requirement on its web page and Southwest once demanded written proof that my 6-month-old was under two years of age. A birth certificate, passport, or immunization record is acceptable for domestic travel.

Have any of you recently booked award or paid lap child tickets? What was your experience like?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • T Cohn

    I really like the CARES harness too, way easier then lugging a car seat around for two and three year olds. We use it all the time and have never had a problem with it. Either check that car seat, usually for free, or have family at the other end that already has one. :-)

  • Robert

    In July I booked the following award tickets for travel later this fall:

    3 Adults and 1 Infant

    XXX-DFW-ATL-LHR-BUD – Business Class on AA/BA (150k total)

    BUD-ZAG – Economy on Qatar using United Miles (75k total for all 3 flights)
    ZAG-DBV – Economy on Croatia Airlines using United Miles
    DBV-VIE-VCE – Economy on Tyrolean Airlines using United Miles

    VCE-MAD-ORD-XXX – Business Class on Iberia/AA (150k total)

    Needless to say this wasn’t easy. Starting with AA on the Business Class flights, I had to call AA to book since I had Iberia on the return flight. It took 3 calls to get the infant added after I secured the award seats. The AA pricing desk provided 3 different rates, but after some haggling (I’m not kidding) and back and forth I got the infant fare down to about $600 with taxes. I finally got them to use the lowest available fare and it was during a business class sale. They started at almost double that for the infant fare.

    For the intra-Europe flights on United I booked via their web site. However I got a the dreaded email saying that my ticketing was delayed. Since this included a Qatar flight (the only direct flight) and I wanted to make sure I had it booked early, since some people have had issues with booking award flights on Qatar even back in July.

    After a 1 hour phone call they realized that the infant was causing a problem and came back and said I needed to pay $118 instead of $88 for the infant. They also took the infant off the itinerary and gave me another confirmation number for the infant. After three more 1 hour phone calls I still didn’t have the two itineraries merged, I couldn’t view the infant’s intinerary and I didn’t have a receipt for the infant. I finally called the web services phone number and they said they’d get me a receipt. No receipt showed. A week later I called again and they told me the same thing. The next morning I didn’t have a receipt but now the infant was showing up on the original itinerary and I could view and print a receipt on-line now. That was last Monday. I’m glad it was done before they pulled Qatar award space this week.

    Overall I spent about $720 for the infant fares, and about 8 hours on the phone to get it all booked. What a pain.

    Also of note – BA allows you to preselect seats if you have an infant traveling with you, otherwise you have to pay, even for business class.

  • Mommy Points

    Great job pulling together this info! While I’m not a fan of lap infants in general, it is a shame how varied the policies are. Even with a given airline that says 10% of the fare, it really is a crap shoot in terms of 10% of which fare. Then there is the whole potential debacle if you buy a coach seat and add the lap infant there, but then upgrade later. Will they come back to collect the additional fees for the lap child or not? The answer is, maybe/maybe not. Clearly some airlines are better options when flying with lap infants. I know Aeroplan and BA are two popular options. I’m also a big CARES harness fan, but just be aware that the rules surrounding child restraints vary widely when you start flying on international carriers. Be sure to research the airlines you are flying as some don’t allow child restraints, some require restraints that are banned in the US, etc. If you start flying in premium cabins the list of airlines/aircraft that don’t allow child restraints starts to grow even longer.

  • Jd

    I would add one more suggestion. when booking partner awards, I think its best to call the operating airline directly to add a lap child. In my last trip, I booked an award from SYD to HYD on united.com, it cost 30000 miles for adult in economy but showed 500$ for a lap child. Calling the operating airline to add infant brought it down to 260$. Not sure it applies to all but wouldn’t hurt to check.

  • Bexho2000

    Thanks for the summary. I just booked a trip to eastern europe for 2 adults, 2 kids and 1 lap child, all with United miles. Just as a note, it helps a lot to check diferent routes in total price when you have a lap child as the rates vary so much between airlines involved althught you are using same basic mileage. Ex. I saved over $120/oneway for the baby by opting to travel via Turkey to Ord as opposed to via MUC or FRA. Taxes chrged were basically the same.

  • Dad

    Also, be careful when booking a one-way international award. It’s very useful that some mileage programs, such as AA and UA, allow booking one-way awards for half the mileage, but it can significantly increase the cost of an infant lap ticket. Speaking for AA, for example, the infant lap ticket has to be based off a percentage of adult one-way fares if the adults are ticketed one-way. On a recent trip to Europe, an infant lap fare was $700+ when associated with two adult one-way coach tickets vs. < $100 if the same itinerary had been ticketed as a round-trip award.

  • balinvadasz

    Some more info:

    1. You can later add a payed infant ticket to an award ticket for adults. This can cut down on the price since you can usually pay the infant fare on the operating carrier, which can be much less than the ticketing carrier’s price.
    2. Even for payed tickets, there’s a huge difference in pricing policy between airlines: BA will charge 10% of the base-fare + 10% of YQ (fuel surcharges) + taxes. Swiss will charge 10% of base + full YQ (!) + taxes and Lufthansa will charge 10% of base + taxes (no YQ).

  • turgutbey

    I’m a bit confused. So if I book award travel via United for travel on Lufthansa (or any other star alliance partner for that matter), does the United lap child fare policy apply or the Miles and More policy? I’m guessing United, but wonder if anyone has had a different experience?

  • http://zzdouggo.blogspot.com/ Bottom-feeding the High Life

    I would add (or reemphasize) that before your kid turns 2, this is the time to make the most of bringing them as a free passenger on U.S. flights, while you still can. If you are traveling flexibly for leisure without the need to visit someone specific overseas, and plan to visit both American and foreign destinations over the next few years, why not economize by going to some of North America’s great domestic places now, and then bring the kids later on FF miles.

    Also, I’m surprised how many parents get bent out of shape about not being able to bring their car seats onto the plane. It is a huge hassle to shlep them through airports on both sides, and you can check them usually without it counting as a bag. And car seats are intended for cars, not airplanes. The reality is, if the plane has a problem, there isn’t much that a car seat can do for you. That said, it may help to keep your kid from being able to squirm or touch too many surfaces and catch the flu.

  • Matt

    Traveling with a kid on your lap is inexcusably dangerous. This article has plenty of information on it. http://www.usatoday.com/travel/columnist/mcgee/2008-07-29-lap-children_N.htm

    If you can’t afford to buy a ticket for your kid, don’t travel.

  • Jason Steele

    United will apply its own policies to its members. Most other airlines do the same, unless otherwise noted.

  • Jason Steele

    I was not aware that BA would charge 10% of YQ on infant awards. My understanding was that it was full YQ. Not to say that you are wrong (I hope you are right), but I would love to see the source. Of course the fact that this is very poorly disclosed is always part of the problem.

  • Jason Steele

    Thanks for the positive feedback. As with everything infant travel related, it is always a labor of love. I tried not to step into the wisdom of lap child travel, as you will get a lot of very strong opinions on either side. Ultimately, parents need to make the best choice for their families. I personally have had great experiences on short coach flights with younger <1 year old infants as well as older infants on longer international flights in business class. Every child is different, but bringing a 22 month old on a long haul flight in coach could be a recipe for discomfort if not disaster.

  • Jason Steele

    Wow. Sadly, this seems typical as nobody seems to know the rules and is just content to charge you as much as they can. In theory, the issuing carrier should charge you the fees, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Also, is seems like contacting the operating carrier might work as well when their policies are better.

  • Jason Steele

    I love CARES too. It could be cheaper, but I think they show up on Ebay from time to time. I know mine will eventually.

  • Isaac

    Thanks for the post. Just in time, I have a trip in 2 weeks with a child and the suggestion for the CARES Harness is excellent. I have never thought about it. Just ordered it a few minutes ago.

  • buster

    We flew to Europe and South America on paid economy tickets with our ‘lap child’ and never had any problem with getting an open seat next to us. Believe me, nobody wants to sit next to a lap infant, so if there’s any open seat on the plane, your seatmate will gladly change. To make sure this happens, we also booked mom/lap infant in Seat C (middle aisle) and dad in Seat E (middle aisle) and left the middle seat open. Nobody ever took the middle seat next to a lap infant!

    Final hint, ask for bulkhead with infant bassinet. It hooks into the bulkhead and they sleep the flight away in lie-flat comfort!

  • buster

    Matt – you are gravely mistaken and putting children at risk. There is a FAR greater probability of harm by driving instead of flying with a lap child. Your suggestion to stay sequestered at home for two years isn’t really a realistic option….

  • Mommy Points

    Ha ha I totally agree….at least I know it would have been with my child at 22 months. Safety issues aside, I agree that there are many practical reasons to choose to have a seat for infants/toddlers, especially as they inch closer to the 2 year mark. It is a choice every parent has to make though, and I understand how the financial decisions have to weigh into the equation.

    Another good thing to note is that some airlines will require you to purchase a seat for your child once they turn two on the itinerary, but some will provide the seat at the “infant fare” if they turn two during the trip. British Airways is a good example of this. https://www.britishairways.com/travel/family-travel-plan/execclub/_gf/en_us?gsLink=searchResults

    I’m sure some people make some “strategic use” of this benefit…… ;)

  • balinvadasz

    While the article is correct from a purely academic perspective i.e. the probability of injury is lower if the child is in a restraint device in its own seat vs. in lap, the question is, what’s the absolute value of those probabilities?

    My cursory search indicates that the odds of being in a plane crash is about 1 in 500,000. So if we assume that the child is 2x more likely to get injured/die in your lap, then her chance of being injured/dying is 1:250000. This means that you’d have to fly 250000 times with the kid to be in an accident (on average). That’s a ridiculously low probability that I will gladly accept (I am a parent of two).

    For comparison, the probability of being in a car crash the next time you’re in a car is an order magnitude larger, about 1:23000.

  • balinvadasz

    That’s my experience: I priced out three tickets on the above airlines for a trip in May, both for 2 adults and an infant.

  • Austin

    Not sure if this was a typo or I just don’t know how to do it, but how do Membership Rewards transfer to Alaska? I thought it was just Starwood and Diners Club.

  • T3pleShot

    It is 10% of YQ, I know because I have confirmed tickets for travel end of this year.

    2 adults + 1 infant in BA business from US to South Asia.
    Miles/taxes for 1 adult = 200k + $1600
    Miles/taxes for 1 lap infant = 20k + $160

    I used BA 241 companion pass from chase BA card.
    So, total was:
    220k miles + ~$3400

    It is not the best deal, but I see it as an upgrade from economy to flat-bed business for 100k miles per person.

  • Jason Steele

    Awesome. That is great to know. I have a BA 241 that I wasn’t going to use because of the infant YQ. This info might help me to use it.

  • Scott

    US Airways doesn’t charge for lap infants on award tickets from Canada to the USA, even though their website seems to indicate otherwise. I booked one of these a few months ago.

  • Thunder

    Using the BA241, I was able to book two F tix from LAX-LHR for 180K + 18K for the infant. The taxes came out to about 2600 dollars.

  • Stephanie

    So the taxes and fees for the infant are 10% of those of the adult? Or are taxes/fees on a per person basis (e.g. 3 people)?

  • http://zzdouggo.blogspot.com/ Bottom-feeding the High Life

    The article compares a lot of infinitessimally small risks, but it ignores the potentially larger risk of not traveling. What if you live in a city with a lot of car accidents and are contemplating visiting a place with fewer car accidents? In this case, the extremely small risk of death that a lap child faces may well be offset by one or two days spent in a safer city. But who researches that before traveling? Most of us don’t, although we are easily swayed by anecdotal evidence of danger we read about in the news in the last few weeks. In any case, most likely none of these minute risks compares to the daily risks we face crossing streets, getting bitten by mosquitoes, eating food, being exposed to flu viruses, dealing with people who might not like us, etc. no matter where we are.

  • John

    sorry if I overlooked, but I cannot find Lap Child Fee for Award for TACA/Avianca LifeMiles.

    Can any one help?

    Thanks

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  • Doug

    tried to book lap infant on lufthansa operated flights with UA miles for the adult (mom)
    UA manila call center was so clueless so I kept calling to get best answer, and to my surprise I was told to call lufthansa and ask what the fee would be. I called after a few hours and told them lufthansa said its free, so they didnt charge…needless to say I did not call lufhtansa…..
    painful experience but paid off
    return was with AA miles on cathay and air berlin flights so had to call each airline and convinced AA useles to charge lowest fare

  • http://milevalue.com/ MileValue

    From http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/policies/children-infants-and-children.aspx

    * Lap infants traveling to an international destination (outside of North America) must be ticketed at 10% of the accompanying adult’s fare. This does not guarantee them a seat. Infants can travel as lap infants for free (limit one lap infant per accompanying adult). If there is an empty seat available on that flight, the infant may occupy that seat for no extra charge.

    I called for clarification. After booking an award, you have to call the operating carrier of the international flight. They will charge you whatever they charge you to add an infant ticket (AA charges 10% of the adult’s fare + taxes for instance).

    There is no fee to carry an infant on a domestic Alaska flight.

  • Lyssa

    So, if I wanted to book an award on Cathay Pacific using AA miles, I would have to pay 10% of the cash price in dollars to AA to bring a lap child? I couldn’t pay 10% of the miles?

  • Brian

    AA (ticketing carrier) policy is 10% of fare. CX (operating carrier) policy is 25% of fare – at least for premium cabins originating in US. Neither allows 10% of mileage so paying with miles does not seem possible.

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  • DaddyGotMuggedbyPAL

    Philippine Airlines is charging $550 for my infant to fly on my lap. They claim the ticket is $41 and the rest is taxes.

  • Thanh

    I plan to book a first class trip with 3 adults and an infant as following:
    HAN – ICN (Asiana) – JFK (Asiana-destination) – CDG (United – stopover) -BKK (Thai) – HAN (Thai).

    2 adults will fly first/biz. 1 adult will fly economy (65k miles) which the infant will be ticketed with. Do I have to pay the infant fare for each segment to each of the 3 airlines? Meaning do I have to pay all the following for the baby:

    1. Asiana: 10% of miles (6.5k miles for the itinerary or just 3.25k for the portion of HAN-ICN-JFK?)
    2. United: 10% of lowest fare (for the portion of JFK-CDG)
    3. Thai: 10% of full fare (for the portion of CDG-BKK-HAN)

    Can I call United and convince/haggle with them? Someone said they were able to just tell them that the partner airline didn’t charge a child fee…

    Thanks for a great blog!

  • Nick

    Even though this post is a little old, I found it really useful. Just booked a trip to SE Asia using Aeroplan via MR. All business class from HNL to KUL and back SIN to HNL taking UA, BR, CA and NH . Cost us 180,000 MR points, $240 in taxes and fees then called to add an infant for ~$100. There are some minor entry taxes for lap infants apparently, but overall very happy with the results. Thanks again for putting this together. Though I didn’t try using my stash of UA miles, the “10% of the lowest applicable adult fare” sounded a bit ominous to me.

  • Billy

    This post is quite old but I thought I would try to get some help. I just booked a award travel on a Cathay Pacific flight using AA miles from EWR to HKG. The agent charged 10% of fare for our infant as expected. However, when I booked another award travel coming back from HKG to EWR, they charged us 25%. The agent said the reasoning behind this is because of Cathay Pacific taxes and fees, and that taxes and fees are different depending on where you originate. The American Airlines website agrees with this posting states 10% of the fare.

    Is it suppose to be 10% of 25%? Also, am I looking at the wrong airline? Should I be paying the infant fee based on rules for AA or Cathay Pacific?

  • Mary

    I’m a frequent flyer and currently 9 months pregnant with my first child. I only unearthed the lap seat concept by trying to book my child on a return flight from the US to the UK with BA – their policy is still the same as above, however, I did reach out to the HMRC (the UK tax authority) to understand how a non seat fare could attract tax…. Air passenger duty (the main constituent of the UK tax charge) should not apply to child who does not have their own seat prior to boarding – i.e. lap travellers. I’ve asked BA (twice) to explain how they apply this but I’ve yet to hear a response, I’ve also realised the rules in Ireland are the same… has anyone researched whether these taxes and fees should actually be applied to lap seats? It’s driving me crazy as I can’t get an answer from the airlines.

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