Familiarize Yourself With Lap Child Costs for International Award Flights to Avoid Sticker Shock!

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Familiarize Yourself With Lap Child Costs for International Award Flights to Avoid Sticker Shock!

Million Mile SecretsFamiliarize Yourself With Lap Child Costs for International Award Flights to Avoid Sticker Shock!Million Mile Secrets Team

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Family travel is a huge part of the miles & points world.  Lots of folks get into this hobby because they want to visit family, or they want to vacation with their family.

David, author of Wise Flys, is a family travel expert.  So I asked him to share with you his top tips for traveling with a family each week!

David:   Emily recently shared how her baby Arya’s first flight was free as a lap child.  When flying within the US, a child under 2 years old can typically fly for free as a lap child whether you book your flight with cash or miles.  But every airline has a different cost structure when it comes to international award flights.

Lap Child Costs For Award Flights
Our Daughter Bella’s First Flight as a Lap Child Was in Business Class!

It’s worth it to familiarize yourself with the costs of adding a lap child to your reservation.  Because even if you use miles or points to book your flight, certain airlines charge for a lap child based on a percentage of the the cash cost of a ticket.  So folks flying in Business Class or First Class can be in for a huge unexpected expense!

When in doubt, I recommend contacting the airline prior to booking just to be sure you’re aware of any costs.

What You Should Know When Flying Internationally With a Lap Child 

According to most airlines, infants under the age of 2 are not required to have their own seat for a flight.  When you fly with a lap child, they must sit on the accompanying adult’s lap for the entirety of the flight.

When flying within the US with domestic airlines, lap children fly for free!  But when you fly internationally or book an award flight through an international airline’s frequent flyer program, you’ll typically pay a fee, which usually falls into one of these categories:

  • A flat fee of cash or miles
  • 10% of the adult ticket price at time of purchase (in miles or cash) plus taxes and fees
  • 10% of current adult ticket price regardless of the price when the adult ticket was purchased plus taxes and fees
Lap Child Costs For Award Flights
Keep in Mind You Could Pay a Fee for a Lap Child for Flights Within the US If You Book an Award Ticket Using Points From a Non-US Frequent Flyer Program. This Was the Case When I Redeemed British Airways Avios Points for an American Airlines Flight

Planning ahead can make a big difference in the amount you pay for a lap child.  For example, if you’re flying with an airline that charges 10% of the current adult ticket price and don’t add a lap child until the last minute, you could be hit with a large unexpected charge!

Below you will see the costs of adding a lap child to international award flights and customer service phone numbers for the airlines.  I highly recommend calling the airline prior to departure to confirm ticketing for your lap child.

1.   AeroMexico

Link:   AeroMexico Flying With an Infant

When you redeem AeroMexico miles for an award flight, adding a lap child will cost:

  • ~$9 when flying within Mexico
  • $35 when flying between the US and Mexico
  • 10% of the cost of an adult fare (in cash) for flights to Asia, Europe, and South America

To add a lap infant, call AeroMexico customer service at 800-237-6639.  

2.   Air Canada Aeroplan

Link:   Air Canada Aeroplan Infant Award Flight Costs

When you book award tickets using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, you’ll pay a flat fee to add a lap child.  The amount you’ll pay depends if you’re flying coach, Business Class, or First Class:

  • Coach: 50 Canadian dollars (~$40) or 5,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles
  • Business Class: 100 Canadian dollars (~$79) or 10,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles
  • First Class: 125 Canadian dollars (~$98) or 12,500 Air Canada Aeroplan miles
Lap Child Costs For Award Flights
Redeeming Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for an International Award Flight Can Be a Great Idea If You’re Flying With a Child Under 2 Because You’ll Just Pay a Flat Fee to Add a Lap Infant

To add a lap infant, call Aeroplan customer service at 800-361-5373.

3.   Alaska Airlines

Link:   Alaska Airlines Traveling With Lap Infants

Alaska Airlines only charges taxes & fees for a lap child when you redeem miles for an Alaska Airlines award flight to Mexico and Canada.  When you redeem miles for a partner award flight, you’ll typically pay a percentage of the adult fare, depending on the partner airline’s policy.

To add a lap infant to your reservation, call Alaska Airlines reservations at 800-252-7522.

4.   American Airlines

Link:   American Airlines Traveling With Children

On American Airlines flights, a lap child will fly free to Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.  For other international award flights, you’ll pay 10% of the cash cost of a ticket.

To add a lap infant to your reservation, call American Airlines reservations at 800-433-7300.

5.   British Airways

Link:   British Airways Traveling With an Infant

When redeeming British Airways Avios points, you’ll pay an infant fare, which is 10% of the adult award flight plus taxes & fees.  Keep in mind, this applies to flights operated on British Airways or any partner airline.

To add a lap infant to your reservation, call British Airways at 800-247-9297.

6.   Delta

Link:   Delta Children’s Travel

Even if you redeem Delta miles for an international award flight, you’ll pay 10% of an adult ticket (in cash) plus taxes & fees to add a lap child.

7.   Flying Blue (Air France & KLM)

You can only add a lap child to an award ticket booked through Flying Blue if you’re traveling on Air France or KLM.  You can NOT add a lap child to partner award flights.

To add a lap child, Flying Blue charges 10% of the adult revenue fare plus taxes & fees.

You can call 800-375-8723 to add a lap child to your Air France or KLM reservation.

8.   JetBlue

Link:   JetBlue Traveling With Kids

You won’t pay a dime when adding a lap child to a JetBlue award flight to an international destination.  But be sure to call the airline at 800-538-2583 to add them to your reservation.

9.   Singapore Airlines

Link:   Singapore Airlines Traveling With Children

When you redeem Singapore Airlines miles for an award flight, adding a lap child will cost you 10% of the cost of a adult fare (in cash) plus taxes & fees.

You can add a lap child by calling Singapore Airlines reservations at 800-742-3333.

10.   Southwest

Link:   Southwest Traveling With Children

You’ll just pay taxes & fees when adding a lap child to a Southwest award flight to an international destination.

To book an infant fare for international Southwest flights, call the airline at 800-435-9792.

Lap Child Costs For Award Flights
Emily’s Baby, Arya, Can Fly Southwest to International Destinations as a Lap Child for Just the Cost of Taxes & Fees

11.   United Airlines

Link:   United Airlines Traveling With Children

If you redeem United Airlines miles for an international award flight, you’ll pay 10% of the cost of an adult ticket (in cash) to all international destinations.

You can add a lap child by calling United Airlines at 800-864-8331.

Bottom Line

When you redeem miles or points with a US based airline for a domestic flight, your child can fly free as a lap infant (up until they’re 2 years old).

But flying with a lap child on an international award flight can be much more complicated when it comes to costs.  Certain airlines charge you 10% of the cash cost of a ticket, even if you book an award flight for yourself.  If you’re flying in Business Class or First Class, this can result in a huge out-of-pocket expense when adding a lap child.

Be sure to contact the airline prior to departure to confirm ticketing for your lap child.  I would even recommend calling before booking just to be sure you’re fully aware of the potential costs for your reservation.

If you have experience adding a lap infant to an international award flight, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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I’d like to add 2 data points concerning American Airlines lap child tickets to Mexico…in the last year, I have booked first class tickets for two separate trips to Mexico using AA miles. Each time the infant lap charges were around $60 (for taxes and fees) even though the adult cash price ticket was around $1500. I was surprised both times since the airline’s stated policy doesn’t include Mexico as an exception to the 10% rule. YMMV but others can certainly give it a try!

Looks like Aeroplan has a good deal for lap child in first and business class. Does that also extend to partner airlines?

Good article. We often fly partner airlines booked with United/American miles. I never book the lap infant while making an adult booking (with miles). With American you can never add a lap infant into the booking. However with United, they show you a ridiculous charge if you were to book the infant while making the adult reservation. Ignore that and call the partner airlines. For our upcoming trip, United charged apprx 300$ for economy lap infant baby. However with the partner airlines, I only ended up paying apprx 50$. The downside is, if there is a change in schedule then you need to go through some hassle of making multiple calls to the different partners airlines.

I noticed you have only mentioned a few international carriers. It’s helpful to know that Cathay charges 25% of adult cash fare for lap infant for flights traveling to/from the US (vs 10% elsewhere).