Infants Now Require Standard Award Ticket for Partner Travel With Alaska Miles
If you've ever run the gauntlet of trying to get a lap infant ticketed on award travel operated by a partner airline, you've probably run into many airlines and airline agents having no idea how to handle the situation. The program you booked the ticket through will tell you to call the operating carrier. The operating carrier will tell you to call the carrier you ticketed through. After calling multiple times, you hopefully catch an agent that knows the process or you just pack up and head to the airport before your travel day to get a ticketing agent there to take care of the situation.
It seems the trouble with this process has led Alaska Airlines to publish a new policy, which is now displayed at the bottom of the Mileage Plan award chart page:
"Lap infant ticketing: We are no longer able to guarantee that lap infants will be accepted with your international partner award ticket. Until further notice, Mileage Plan members will need to book seats for infants at the standard mileage rate on international partner award bookings. For travel wholly within the US, or wholly on Alaska Airlines, standard lap infant policies apply."
I called Mileage Plan to see if I could get further information. The agent said a bulletin had been published and found it for me. It states there were tax problems occurring, which caused "disruption" so until further notice, all lap infants will require a standard award ticket at the same pricing for all international partner award tickets. If you call the operating carrier and they see your Alaska-issued ticket, they've been informed to have you call Alaska and book a standard mileage ticket for your baby.
If you have an international partner award ticketed by Alaska, we'd love for you to call the operating carrier to see if this policy is actually being enforced or if you can still pay the usual 10% of the adult fare. Please share your experience in the comments.
This is pretty rough for the traveling family who doesn't have the miles to redeem a separate award for a child under 2 years old. There is a plus side: If you do burn the miles you'll have a whole other seat, which means bringing a car seat can make the trip more comfortable. If you were hoping for a premium cabin redemption and have to burn the miles for you child, you'll probably have an empty first or business class seat as, in my experience, the lap infant stays with mom or dad in the premium cabin for the duration of the flight.
Remember that this new policy only applies to partner awards booked through Alaska Airlines. TPG's guide to booking award travel with lap infants still offers some sage advice when redeeming award flights with other loyalty programs. And, of course, there's still the age-old discussion of whether lap infants should even be a thing.