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A widely known cornerstone in the travel community is that babies under the age of two can travel domestically for free as a lap infant. However, it’s not as simple with lap infants and international award tickets. One would assume that a parent could book an international award ticket and merely add their lap infant to the reservation. However, there are various forms of airline-dependent fees involved. Knowing the pricing structure before you book could save you a pretty penny, or pile of points.

Infant In Arms

What You Can Expect to Pay

  • Pay 10% of the miles redeemed plus taxes and fees
  • Pay 10% of the adult revenue ticket price for the cabin you’re flying plus taxes and fees
  • Only pay taxes and fees (or a flat rate of cash or miles)

As a points enthusiast, paying 10% of the miles or only taxes and fees is the ideal situation. Especially as the airlines that charge 10% of the revenue ticket price leave much to be interpreted. Some charge 10% of the most discounted fare available, 10% of the full non-discounted fare, or 10% of the fare you paid (if not an award ticket). Additionally, if you managed to score a first class award ticket which retails for $20,000, that means your bundle of joy will require a $2,000 fee—without their own seat. Hard pass.

Rest assured with a little premeditated planning, there are ways to avoid this and secure better deals. Unfortunately, one of those ways is NOT booking an economy ticket for your baby and planning to still hold her in business class. Your child must be ticketed in the same cabin as you/the accompanying adult.

Best Airline Programs for International Lap Infant Award Tickets

British Airways Executive Club

Keep in mind that we rarely recommend redeeming Avios to fly on British Airways metal due to the astronomical fuel surcharges on flights to and from London/England. However, Avios are an incredibly powerful award currency that can be used on any Oneworld alliance partner. Additionally, British Airways only charges 10% of the adult mileage ticket, plus taxes and fees for lap infants.

Of course, this is also a nice gesture that British Airways offers on their website:

“If you're traveling with an infant who reaches the age of 2 during their journey, your child will need their own seat for any flights on and after their 2nd birthday. We won’t charge you extra for this; you'll only pay the infant fare for the entire journey.” To do this call 1-800-AIRWAYS (247-9297).

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin Atlantic is another airline to consider leveraging partners (like Delta) when redeeming miles. They offer very generous lap infant charges:

  • 1,000 miles per sector plus taxes and fees for Economy
  • 2,000 miles per sector plus taxes and fees for Premium Economy
  • 5,000 miles per sector plus taxes and fees for Upper Class

What makes this even more wonderful is the fact that you can easily book a baby’s award ticket alongside the adult’s ticket online. Mileage options for an adult ticket displayed on Virgin Atlantic’s website:

Virgin Atlantic - Infant - Adult Price

Mileage options for an infant on the same flight:

Virgin Atlantic - Infant - Infant Price

The total cost for both the adult and lap infant together:

Virgin Atlantic - Infant - Adult and Infant Price

Air Canada Aeroplan

When you book award tickets using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, infants are welcome in all cabins for either a flat cash or mileage fee. This is outstanding given Air Canada's membership in Star Alliance and as an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. Their infant flight rewards costs are as follows:

  • Economy Class – $50 CAD or 5,000 Aeroplan Miles
  • Premium Economy Class – $75 CAD or 7,500 Aeroplan Miles
  • Business Class – $100 CAD or 10,000 Aeroplan Miles
  • First Class – $125 CAD or 12,500 Aeroplan Miles

To book infant flight rewards call 1-800-361-5373.

Asiana Club

Asiana is a frequently overlooked airline that offers a generous award chart. On top of that, they only charge 10% of the adult mileage ticket plus taxes and fees for lap infants. The best ways to accrue Asiana miles is by flying on Star Alliance partners or transferring Marriott Rewards. Additionally, Bank of America issues the Asiana Visa Signature® Credit Card with a 30,000-mile new cardmember bonus and a 10,000 bonus miles certificate awarded annually.

Worst Programs for International Lap Infant Award Tickets

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Despite Cathay Pacific providing luxurious products in their premium cabins along with solid award charts; they’re the most expensive program for lap infant fees. Those fees are particularly hefty for flights originating or ending within the US which will set you back 25% of the adult revenue ticket plus taxes and fees. For all non-US international flights, the fee is 10% of the adult revenue ticket plus taxes and fees.

Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)

Simply put: Flying Blue will not issue any infant award tickets on partner airlines—only KLM or Air France metal. That may not seem too bad at first glance. However, they won’t even issue infant award tickets for connecting flights. So if there is a specific KLM or Air France flight segment to/from an operating hub that fits into your itinerary, then you’ll still pay 10% of the adult revenue fare plus taxes and fees.

LATAM Pass

Prior to the LAN and TAM merger, lap infants simply were not permitted on award tickets—only revenue flights. However, things have not progressed much further beyond allowing infants to travel on award tickets. LATAM requires parents to pay the full reward ticket without any discounts. This also includes revenue tickets in Premium Economy or Premium Business. Additionally, they currently charge either $45 or $140 USD plus sales tax (depending on the route) for the privilege of using a bassinet unless you hold Black or Black Signature elite status.

Hit or Miss Programs (Based on Cabin)

Lastly, there are two Middle Eastern carriers which offer great lap infant award ticket policies for economy, but horrible policies for premium cabins, Emirates and Qatar Airways. They both only charge 10% of the adult mileage ticket plus taxes and fees for economy. However, Emirates charges 10% of the adult revenue fare plus taxes and fees for business and first class. Qatar does not offer business or first class award flights for lap infants whatsoever. Although there are flexible economy options, definitely consider another carrier for premium cabins.

Our Take

If you've got a munchkin you plan on taking with you, a little bit of research could save you thousands. Remember, the price you pay is dependent on the program from which you use the miles, NOT the airline you fly. Anyone have a success or horror story to share?

Best Airlines for International Lap Infant Award Tickets
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Comments

  • Nice study! An awesome resource for the new parents. Didn’t realize how different airlines view infants as passengers. There are definitely some reflections on cultural aspect of perception on infants at social level.

    Korean Air also offers lap infants at 10%. Both Korean and Asiana Air offers a bassinet on the seat facing the front wall without extra charge. (Probably subject to availability)

  • Who knew that getting a lap child ticket can be that difficult! Sometimes I feel that airlines have gone too far in making it difficult for you to use the awards. Availability with hotels is much easier – it is rare I couldn’t book an award night with any of the hotels chains I use, but for airlines, most of the time there is some kind of fee, limited seats and now this…

  • Oh nice, I don’t have kids but I never realized how different each airline was for bringing lap children. Neat compilation. thanks

  • Flying with an infant is much more complicated that I thought.

  • nice to see virgin atlantic on the list!!

  • I didn’t know much of this info.
    Very nice post, thanks.

  • Your work on this area is, I am sure, of great value to a parent of a young child. The fact that any airline charges anything for an infant not taking up a seat is in my mind outstandingly greedy and a disgusting treatment of the airline’s customers. Perhaps they will in the future charge another ten percent if you bring diapers along with the baby.

  • I do not envy those folks who need to fly with their babies.

  • Very helpful since trying to plan family vaca with 2 new grandbabies!

  • We have had good luck with 2 kids in laps on several American airlines trips. AA miles FC to Hawaii, London, & Greece. Basically always paid the taxes. Was quoted many different crazy prices for lap infant. I just called back or waited until I got something I could afford. IMO @18+ months & flight over 3 hrs. Kid needs to have own seat.

    • “Many different, crazy price” quotes – from the same airline! – certainly suggests a relatively unknown, undeveloped policy in the airline itself. Nice job persevering!

  • Amazing, great work! I hope to one day need this info.

  • I wish there was some consistency with the various airlines around this. And interesting that some Asian carriers have a more enhanced policy Interesting read. Thanks

  • Anyone willing to share their stories of traveling with their babies internationally on their tickets?

  • This is not an issue for me because I don’t have children but what nightmare for parents. Thanks for the interesting perspective. It must be a shock to people who think they are going to bring their child along with them for free as we are accustomed to do in the US to discover the cost!

  • It is just not something you think about when you start earning miles for the ultimate award.

  • Good to know! It’s amazing that Air France and KLM won’t let you book an infant mileage ticket? Did I understand that right? How odd.
    It always pay to check things first before booking for sure. You never know exactly what to think of before you travel. I don’t know if I would have known to ask. Now my kids are too old for it so I don’t have to worry. Will have to remind friends though.

  • What about the domestic carriers and their international partners? We have flights booked on Delta FC to Mexico. Southwest from Mexico back to the US. Iberia biz from Chicago to Spain and on to Venice in biz booked with AA miles. And also Austrian biz booked with United miles from Europe to the US.

    I didn’t see any of these covered in your article. Does anyone have relevant experience?

    • Kristina Caetano says:

      Unfortunately, most of the airlines you mentioned charge 10% of the revenue fare for lap infants. Although, I believe Southwest only charges taxes and fees for their international itineraries. I recommend calling and confirming with each airline that your baby is listed on the reservation as a lap infant and confirm the additional charges. Best to avoid any sticker shock ahead of time.

  • Virgin Australia’s Velocity and Qantas’
    frequent flyer programs also don’t charge for infant award seats.

    I have used Velocity to book partner awards which is often better value than the host programs themselves.

  • Had no idea this was even a problem!

  • VA sure sounds generous 🙂

  • What an eye opener! I had no idea about this as I have never flown with an infant. Must be a shock to pay fees when you think you are in the clear.

  • Flying is just not as fun as it sounds, even when you fly like Nicole Kidman in the Etihad commercial 🙂

  • Very information post, now I know what to expect

  • I really appreciate articles like this. I know what credit cards are out there and what signup bonuses are available but I don’t know things like this. Thanks for the wonderful writeup!

  • I think United gave us a similar deal to the one you described with British. 10% of the adult mileage ticket plus fees.

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