Sweet Spot Sunday: Save money on lap infants by booking awards through Virgin Atlantic

May 8, 2022

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Flying with a lap infant on domestic U.S. flights is generally free. Flying international is a whole different story. Figuring out how much airlines charge for lap infants can be infuriating — particularly when you’re booking award seats. Why do airlines insist on obfuscating this information on their websites?

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Virgin Atlantic is refreshingly straightforward. It charges different rates depending on which airline partner you’re flying. Yet it’s easy to understand, and its pricing structure uniquely gives you an opportunity to get outsized value for your points. Here’s why.

In This Post

Why it’s special

It’s not a hard rule, but almost all airlines abide by the following: A lap infant costs 10% of an adult fare.

Related: Avoid spending hundreds of dollars to fly holding your baby, tips for lap infant award travel

When you pay for your flight with cash, your lap infant will likely cost 10% of the price you paid for yourself. When you book your award flight, your lap infant may cost either 10% of the award price or 10% of the cash price of that seat.

Virgin Atlantic works differently. It charges a flat rate for your infant that varies by partner. In many cases, you can save a bundle by making Virgin Atlantic your go-to loyalty program for lap infants. That’s convenient since Virgin Atlantic is often the cheapest way to book award flights anyway.

Related: Flying with a lap infant — here’s what you need to know

Here’s a quick rundown of the fees Virgin Atlantic’s most popular airline partners charge for lap infants on award flights — contrasted with Virgin Atlantic’s policies. Note that you’ll still usually be subject to taxes and fees.

Airline Award fare when booking direct Award fare when booking through Virgin Atlantic
Air New Zealand 10% of fare Economy — 2,000 points

Business class — 10,000 points

ANA 10% of award price Economy — 2,000 points

Business class — 10,000 points

First class — 14,000 points

Delta 10% of award price Economy — 1,000 points

Delta One/first class — 5,000 points

Singapore Airlines 10% of fare Economy — 2,000 points

Premium Economy — 10,000 points

Business class — 14,000

Let’s take a look at a couple of real-life examples with these airlines.

Here’s a flight on Delta’s website: a one-way coach flight from New York to Amsterdam. The flight costs 49,000 miles. You can’t add lap infants online; you’ll have to contact Delta to add your tyke to the ticket. But we know what the price will be: An additional 4,900 miles (10% of your award ticket).

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

 

Virgin Atlantic, on the other hand, charges 30,000 points for the same exact flight — and it will charge a flat 1,000 points for your lap infant. That’s just 3.3% of your award flight.

 

(Screenshot courtesy of virginatlantic.com)

 

Here’s another example with Singapore Airlines for the same route. Singapore Airlines charges your lap infant 10% of your cash fare whether — you’re booking with cash or points. A business class flight from New York to Frankfurt costs $3,700.80 in cash.

(Screenshot courtesy of singaporeair.com)

But the same seat costs just 72,000 miles. If you were to bring a lap infant, you’d be charged an extra $370 each way. That stings.

(Screenshot courtesy of singaporeair.com)

But with Virgin Atlantic miles, your lap infant would cost an extra 14,000 miles plus taxes. That means your miles are effectively worth 2.6 cents each — 54% higher than TPG’s valuations of Virgin Points.

How to book

Step 1. Enter your travel details into the Virgin Atlantic website

Head to the Virgin Atlantic website and input your desired route and fare class. Make sure you’ve toggled the price to show “Points.”

(Screenshot courtesy of virginatlantic.com)

 

Step 2. Add your lap infant

Under the “passengers” drop-down menu, select one lap infant. You can only have one lap infant per adult.

(Screenshot courtesy of virginatlantic.com)

Step 3. Search by Price Calendar

If the date you selected isn’t available, you can search availability with a monthly calendar.

You can’t book many partners online — Delta, KLM, and Air France are the most well-known options. If you’d like to book with partners such as ANA, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand, you’ll have to call Virgin Atlantic.

(Screenshot courtesy of virginatlantic.com)

Step 4. Book your flight

Once you choose your date, you can simply select the itinerary that works best for you and pay with points. As you can see, this coach flight costs a grand total of 31,000 points one-way:

  • 30,000 points for your ticket
  • 1,000 points for your lap infant

That’s thousands of points fewer than had you booked directly with Delta.

(Screenshot courtesy of virginatlantic.com)

How to earn points for this award

Virgin Points are some of the easiest rewards to earn in the points and miles world. That’s because Virgin Atlantic is a transfer partner of all the major transferable points currencies:

Very few loyalty programs can boast so many avenues for earning points. You can rack up Virgin Points quickly by opening cards like:

Related: Unlock incredible value with Virgin Atlantic points

Virgin Atlantic even has its own cobranded credit card: The Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard®, currently offering up to 50,000 bonus points within the first year:

  • 30,000 bonus points for spending at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • 2,500 bonus points for adding an authorized user (5,000 bonus points max).
  • 7,500 bonus points each anniversary after you spend at least $15,000 during your anniversary year.
  • 7,500 additional bonus points after you spend at least $25,000 during your anniversary year.

The information for the Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic takes an entirely different approach to lap infant award fares than other airlines. Instead of a percentage of your cash or award fare, Virgin Atlantic charges a flat rate no matter how expensive your seats are. This can save you many thousands of miles on round-trip flights.

Featured photo of Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin by Erica Silverstein/The Points Guy.

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