Lap Infant Award Travel
Bringing a lap infant on an international award flight can seem complicated and expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Lap infant pricing varies widely among loyalty programs, so we put together our ToP picks of programs for booking lap infant award travel.
Flying with Lap Infants
As the term suggests, a lap infant is supposed to spend the flight on your lap instead of having their own seat. Virtually every airline in the world considers lap infants to be children under the age of 2.
Many airlines allow you to bring an extra personal item for the lap infant, such as a diaper bag. This does vary by airline, so be sure to check when booking your lap infant. Also, many airlines provide a bassinet (also called a cot) free of charge. Typically, bassinets are only available in the first row of the cabin, both for business and economy.
You still can book a separate seat for your infant if you wish. But in that case, you would be paying for a seat outright. Also, keep in mind that airlines require you to bring an approved car seat when having a lap infant fly in their own seat.
For domestic travel, booking lap infant award travel is very easy. There is no fee for adding a lap infant on any domestic flight within the US. You can add an infant as late as when you're checking in at the airport in person. Some airlines even let you add a lap infant by yourself at a kiosk.
Lap infants still require a paper ticket. Many airlines allow you to print your infant's paper ticket at a kiosk, while some may require you to visit the check-in counter. Regardless, online check-in generally is not an option when flying with a lap infant even for domestic travel, so plan accordingly.
Lap Infant Award Travel Costs
Generally, costs for adding a lap infant to an international award booking fall into one of 4 categories:
- A fixed cash cost
- A fixed number of miles
- A percentage of an adult award ticket
- A percentage of an adult revenue ticket
The last category is what you will want to avoid. With business class flights costing thousands of dollars, paying 10% or 20% of that cash cost to bring your infant onboard can break the bank.
The Best Airlines for Lap Infant Awards
The best airlines to book lap infant award travel for are of course those that charge the fewest amount of points or dollars.
Aeroplan is by far the best program for booking lap infant awards. They charge just $25 CAD or 2,500 Aeroplan points to add your lap infant to any booking, regardless of class of service.
Paying the fee in cash instead of points is certainly the best approach here. You can get a lot more value than just 0.01 cents per point out of Aeroplan points. (And the cents per point value here is even lower when you convert from CAD to USD).
The booking process is super easy too. You can add your lap infant while booking your award ticket online. There is no need to call Aeroplan to add your lap infant. But you still can add a lap infant over the phone if you prefer or forget to do it during the original booking.
ANA flies under the radar when it comes to lap infant awards, but it can be a very helpful program. They charge just 10% of the mileage cost for an adult award on the same flight, plus taxes and fees. Just remember that ANA only lets you book round-trip awards, no one-ways.
ANA has some great sweet spots (like 80,000 miles business class round-trip to Europe) that make adding a lap infant especially cheap.
The downside to ANA is that it passes on carrier imposed charges on partner award tickets. Make sure to check whether the partner you're booking on imposes any surcharges, because if so, ANA will pass those on to you when you book your lap infant.
Like ANA, British Airways charges just 10% of the cost in Avios to add an infant, plus taxes and fees. The cost is the same for awards on BA and its partners. While British Airways is notorious for high taxes and fees on its award flights, taxes and fees are quite reasonable for lap infants:
United charges 10% of the revenue fare for lap infant awards, but this charge is capped at $250, including any taxes or fees. This policy applies to both flights on United and its partners. While this is not as generous as some of the other programs listed here, it can still be useful.
The $250 cap can be particularly helpful when flying a partner carrier that imposes significant taxes and fees, like ANA, or when flying into an airport with high fees, like London:
Virgin Atlantic charges the following amount of points to add a lap infant on a Virgin Atlantic-operated flight, one-way:
- 1,000 points in Economy, plus taxes and fees
- 2,000 points in Premium, plus taxes and fees
- 5,000 points in Upper Class, plus taxes and fees
For partner-operated flights, Virgin charges between 1,000 and 7,000 points one-way to add a lap infant, depending on the class of service. For example, to add a lap infant to a booking on ANA first class, Virgin will charge you 7,000 one-way, plus taxes and fees.
Since Virgin passes on carrier imposed surcharges on award flights (including those on partner airlines), you might end up spending a decent amount of cash adding a lap infant depending on the airline.
Still, for travel on Air France or KLM, Virgin Atlantic can be quite useful. Air France/KLM's own program, Flying Blue, charges lap infants 10% of the adult's revenue ticket cost, plus taxes and fees. This makes Virgin's pricing way more budget-friendly.
Lap Infant Award Travel: ToP Thoughts
Bringing a lap infant doesn't need to break the bank. When flying with a lap infant, look into the airlines covered in this post and you'll come out ahead by saving lots of points, cash, or both. It's never too early to start making memories with your little ones!
Let us know your experience booking lap infant award travel in our ToP Facebook Group.