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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.
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:
Mileage options for an infant on the same flight:
The total cost for both the adult and lap infant together:
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 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.
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.
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?
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