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United just made lap infant awards a whole lot cheaper

Feb. 12, 2021
3 min read
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Lap infant fees can vary drastically by airline and route. The fees for lap children traveling with adults on award tickets can also vary from paid fares. While the fee can be as low as just the taxes and fees, they can sometimes cost upwards of 10% of the adult fare.

Well, good news: United has just significantly reduced lap infant fares for international awards. As reported by Live and Lets Fly, United has quietly changed its ticketing policies so that lap infants are charged a reasonable, flat rate on international MileagePlus awards, as opposed to a percentage of the adult's fare.

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United's updated lap infant policy

United has always allowed lap infants under the age of two to travel for free on domestic awards (including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). However, lap infants cost 10% of the current revenue fare for most international award tickets.

Now, United will charge a flat rate for lap infants on international awards. Specifically, infants traveling internationally without a seat are subject to infant fares between $20 and $250 plus taxes, depending on the route and cabin of service. This could add up to some big savings, especially for those frequently booking international one-way or premium cabin awards. For instance, on an international business class award that usually costs $5,000 the lap infant fee would've been $500 — double the new maximum fee.

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

There are two exceptions to this, but they're good. Similar to domestic awards, there's no fee for lap infants on awards between the U.S. and Canada, or from Mexico to the U.S. or Canada. Rather, you'll only need to pay the taxes on the ticket, which are usually a nominal amount.

There are no changes for lap infants on paid tickets. Lap infants continue to be free on domestic flights, costing just the taxes on flights between the U.S. and Canada, or from Mexico to the U.S. or Canada and 10% of the adult fare at the time of infant ticketing for all other international destinations.

Related: 8 tips for flying with kids in business class

Bottom line

Overall, these changes make the United MileagePlus program much more appealing for traveling families than many of its competitors. By comparison, American Airlines and Delta continue to charge 10% of the adult fare, plus taxes and fees. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines indefinitely stopped issuing lap infant tickets for international partner award tickets. So, until further notice, Mileage Plan members need to book seats for infants at the standard mileage rate on these bookings.

Still, there are some foreign frequent flyer programs that can be cheaper than the U.S. ones. For instance, Air Canada Aeroplan charges some of the lowest fees for traveling with a lap infant. Infant awards are free for travel wholly within Canada and between Canada and the United States and cost just CA$25 ($19) or 2,500 points for all other itineraries.

Only time will tell whether the other big U.S. carriers follow suit, but for now, kudos to United for quietly making this customer-friendly change.

Featured image by (Photo by Odua Images/Shutterstock)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Annual Fee

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
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  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases