Flying With An Infant With Miles In Business Or First Class? Start Collecting Air Canada Or British Airways Miles…

I recently had my first experience booking an international award ticket with miles for my 8 month old son.  While he’s already been on 17 flights including long-hauls to Hawaii, those were all domestic so he flew for free.

US carriers all charge 10% of the current fare for infants on international tickets.

While that’s not a big deal on a coach redemption, it is for our upcoming trip to Argentina.  A ticket in First Class on AA would be 125K AA miles for my wife and I, and $900 (10% of the First Class fare) for little Rafi.  Yup, $900 for the privilege of holding him in our laps for a 10 hour flight.  And that’s a relatively inexpensive first class ticket.

So I started doing some more research.  It turns out that many foreign carriers don’t charge as much to bring infants along.  The catch-22 is that most foreign carriers charge fuel surcharges on award tickets that negate the savings of not paying for an infant.

I did come across 2 airlines in my research that have favorable infant ticket policies that don’t always charge fuel surcharges on award tickets.

British Airways doesn’t charge fuel surcharges for any flights that are wholly within the Western Hemisphere (only partners AA, Alaska, and LAN have such flights).
They charge 10% of the miles for an infant.  So for a flight from JFK to Buenos Aires the cost of a round-trip ticket is 50K in coach, 100K in business, and 150K in first and the cost of an infant ticket bought at the same time as a coach ticket is 5K in coach, 10K in business, and 15K in first.  No extra cash payment is due.

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards into British Airways miles at a 1K:1K ratio and Starwood Starpoints into British Airways at a 20K:25K ratio.

Air Canada doesn’t charge fuel surcharges if you fly on the following partners: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Brussels, Continental, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, United, and USAirways.  They do charge a fuel surcharge on the following carriers:  Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, bmi, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
They charge a flat fee for infants of $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.

You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards into Air Canada Aeroplan at a 1K:1K ratio and Starwood Starpoints into Air Canada Aeroplan at a 20K:25K ratio.

What we wound up doing was booking 1 ticket using AA miles and 1 ticket and the infant ticket using British Airways miles, which saved us from the $900 fee for booking the infant ticket through AA.  Of course we’re all traveling on the same exact flights on AA in first class, it just took a little extra coordination (holding the AA ticket, booking the British Airways ticket, and then booking the AA ticket) to get it done.

Want to start collecting points that give you the option of transferring points into those miles?  Take a look at the DansDeals credit card page, accessible by clicking on the tab on top of the DansDeals site banner, for a list of my favorite credit cards.

Know of other airlines with favorable infant policies and flights without fuel surcharges? Hit the comments!

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32 Responses to “Flying With An Infant With Miles In Business Or First Class? Start Collecting Air Canada Or British Airways Miles…”

  1. chez Says:
    1

    We’re working on collecting miles for an Israel trip this summer. My wife and I, my 3 year old daughter and infant son. Am I going to have this issue?
    So far I have 100,000 Sapphire preferred points and 100,000 united miles. How would you recommend that I disperse these rewards for the cheapest tickets?

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  2. Avi Says:
    2

    If you’re going to Argentina on a US passport you will have to pay $140 fee at EZE per a person I don’t know about babies.

    there is some great kosher restaurants there, but few places take credit so bring lots of cash or an ATM card.

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  3. Eli Says:
    3

    Dan, I one-upped you. Just booked 2 BA 9K R/T flights on AA from ORD-YYZ for my wife and I, and BA wanted 900 miles plus $17.50 for the infant. I chose to only book the adult flights using BA miles and then called AA after ticketing and added the infant for a flat $17.50 and ZERO miles. Saved myself 900 miles.

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  4. Dan Says:
    4

    @chez: If you’re flying in coach don’t worry about it.

    @Avi:
    Thanks for the advice!

    @Eli:
    That would only work within North America where infants don’t actually need tickets.

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  5. me Says:
    5

    @Eli:
    If you would have waited until you get to the airport it would have been only $12.50

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  6. Dan Says:
    6

    From aa.com
    “Infants under 2 years of age who travel within the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands† may be held in an adult’s lap at no charge. For transatlantic/transpacific travel or travel to/from Latin America, children under two years of age are required to have a ticket in their name for 10% of the applicable adult fare for the International portion. A 10% ticket does not entitle infants to their own seats.”

    Anyone else have experience with flying to Canada with an infant? It seems like you should just be able to add them at the checkin counter for free?

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  7. bluto Says:
    7

    These are all lap infant prices, right? My wife thinks it’s too uncomfortable to hold our infant for an international flight (any flight, actually). Have you been able to somehow finagle a seat for your infant once you’re on board?

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  8. Dan Says:
    8

    @bluto:
    The nice thing about business/first with an infant is that there’s space on the floor for the infant to play, just bring a mat and toys.

    If there’s ever an empty then it’s yours for free.

    The best thing to do when there’s 3 seats together is to book and aisle and window and hope the middle seat stays empty. Even if someone does book the middle seat they’ll definitely be willing to trade for either of the other seats.

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  9. Kenny Says:
    9

    I once tried booking an aisle and window for my wife and myself only to discover on the day before the flight that the airline changed us to the window and middle and when I called to have it switched back they said it can only be done at the airport and the desk agent at the airport refused as someone had already been assigned the aisle.

    Dan, What would you have done in such a situation?

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  10. Dan Says:
    10

    @Kenny:
    I’ve never heard of that happening before but there’s not much you can do besides send a complaint email afterwards and hope for some bonus miles or something.

    ReplyReply
  11. moish Says:
    11

    its worthwhile to note that the ba scheme only works if you book the infant at the same time that you book the adult. so if you were to bbok yourself online and would want to add the infant later on, you would have to be prepared to cough up some serious dough

    ReplyReply
  12. Marks Says:
    12

    @Dan: + 1
    I always do that (booking window and Aisle – leave middle open) and it usually works!

    ReplyReply
  13. EliteMaven Says:
    13

    We traveled to EZE a few months ago with an infant… with BA points(Pre-Avios days) for 20K each way. Had to pay 2K for the infant instead of hundreds of dollars…
    Worked very well for us!

    ReplyReply
  14. AA Says:
    14

    In a 2×2 configuration, I advise booking a window in one row and the aisle either behind it or next to it. No down-side, as you can easily switch one window or aisle for the other if both adjacent seats get taken and this way you double your chances of getting an extra seat! Also, you can sometimes (not sure the details) ask the AA agent to block an adjacent seat next to a parent with a lap infant and it won’t be assigned unless the flight is actually full.

    ReplyReply
  15. rcarentals Says:
    15

    dan
    a must eat @ restaurant in argentina is “AL GALOPE”
    you will be in utter shock @ the meer siz of the meat they serve you.
    for 70 pesos – about $15us you order 2 boneless rib steak(it doesnt say that but it is)!
    for 65 peso, you buy a “tira de asado” wich is basically a 2-3 foot strip of top rib, about 3×3 inches along.
    heads up they dont season or marinade the meat in argentina as they are very into natural flavor so if your picky bring your favorite BBQ sauce along. tho the meat is so soft and tasty i had no problem devouring it unassisted.
    whats cool is when they serve you, they bring your meat on a mini BBQ with coals underneath to keep your meat piping hot as you eat. if you’v eaten aussie sausages you’ll notice that the argentinian ones are really not much to brag about.
    i wouldnt suggest driving in argentina, as the streets are pretty lawless, and taxi’s are cheap.
    macdonalds is a must tho dont get your hopes up. i haven’t had a worse burger.. the fries aren’t bad tho..
    pizza sucks and so does falafel, so stay fleishig for your stay.. when r u coming?

    ReplyReply
  16. al613 Says:
    16

    I was able to book adult using AA miles and an infant using BA miles on the same flight few years ago.

    ReplyReply
  17. rcarentals Says:
    17

    make that “el galope”

    ReplyReply
  18. Devorah Says:
    18

    @Dan:

    You need to pay the taxes ~$12. You can do it upon check-in at the airport but you need to go to the ticket counter.

    ReplyReply
  19. Club2000 Says:
    19

    Old story
    I once paid 500$ to hold a baby in couch to Europe it was the cheapest with a direct flight

    Few months ago I used 3 VIP upgrade from JFK to Cdg on AA and when we arrive at the airport they asked me to pay 500$ extra for the 120$ baby ticket
    Tell you the truth I was thinking twice should I take or not
    I wasn’t sure its worth it and wondering if I can dispute the charge ?

    ReplyReply
  20. DS Says:
    20

    We’re flying Iberia to Israel for Pesach (with an infant) and were told we had to pay if we want to choose our seats now and could only choose for free within 24 hours of the flight. Has anyone heard of this before? Any advice on how to get around it?

    ReplyReply
  21. Booking infant Says:
    21

    @moish:

    Thanks Dan for the info with the infant.

    Ave a question, If I book with Continantel for me & my wife, is it stil possible to book for the infane with Air Canada or Aeroplan, with no fuel surcharges, or I need to at least book 1 adult ticket with the airlint I’m booking the infant?

    ReplyReply
  22. Motty Says:
    22

    Hi Dan
    can i link my wifs freedem card to the same (joint) checking acct. no. that is linked to my freedem CC???

    ReplyReply
  23. Dad4timesover Says:
    23

    You’re wasting ur time with all this research
    Just leave the little guy with bubby and zeidy.

    ReplyReply
  24. Rik Says:
    24

    Hi,

    Why do you say the 10% mileage requirement is only for the Western Hemisphere? What if I wanted to travel from USA to India. Would that incur any fuel surcharges or fees? Or would that be 10% of the required miles or published fare?

    ReplyReply
  25. Ary Says:
    25

    just came across this today. i say go for it.
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/05/travel/airlines-first-class-babies/index.html

    ReplyReply
  26. Eli Says:
    26

    Dan, an infant flying from US to Canada needs a ticket number, unlike flying domestic where you can add them at the counter (I got through security without a ticket for my infant but they added him at the gate).

    For US-Canada the infant needs to have paid the “taxes” or whatever you consider it. In my case, taxes for adults were $58 but for infant was just $17.50. And although BA wanted 900 points plus $17.50 to add at the time of booking, AA only wanted the $17.50 so I saved myself some points.

    ReplyReply
  27. shmu Says:
    27

    @dan
    question. I’m want to fly from CDG to JFK with BA (stopover in LHR). using AA miles, what would it cost for the child on the lap?
    thanks

    ReplyReply
  28. zalman Says:
    28

    i guess we are a little late!?!
    we are flying from melbourne to bangkok on thai air business class, we bought our tickets with miles, through continential, but they couldnt book an infant seat for us, but we had to do it directly with thai and pay the 10% fee with came out to be $850 for my baby!
    is there anyway we could have gotten aorund this, for next time?

    ReplyReply
  29. miles Says:
    29

    any mileage program with a mileage discount for 6 year old child ?

    ReplyReply
  30. Thomas Says:
    30

    We had a great deal with our infant on BA for this Summer. I had a companion cert. from the Chase card for spending $30,000. So for our family of five I booked two first class from JFK to Madrid and returning from Gibraltar with a stopover in London for the price of one on points using the free companion certificicate. I booked the other two seats and the infant in Club World as you described. Here is the kicker. Our infant turns two before the return. Most airlines have you pay the one way fare because the infant is not yet two. BA allows them to continue the flight free of charge and because the baby will be two, give him his own seat!!!! So he will be a lap child going, but get a free Club World seat on his return. Great policy and, when using the points and companion certificate for free, still worth the fees they charge. I also confirmed we can all use the Concorde Lounge at JFK and LHR on the outbound which is even better. Already booked our Cabana for our layover this August.

    ReplyReply
  31. ORD_TGU Says:
    31

    Here is a complex one, I am flying three adults on AA, ITIN ORD-MIA-TGU roundtrip.

    Bought two coach tickets for mom and daughter on AA so I could use SWU, confirmed upgrade.
    I bought my ticket business discount fare (I fare)and used voucher.

    So on what itin do I add an infant, with mom and daughter or with me? So AA is 10% plus taxes.

    1-is it 10% of coach fare mom/daughter paid?
    2-is it 10% of upgraded SWU fare?
    3-If i book infant with me, it will be Business I fare (i assume)

    Here is the next wishful thinking. Can I book a BA award on AA for an infant. BA will not book solo infant, but if I show them the ticket numbers with AA, maybe?
    My wishful thinking is that the domestic portion, ORD-MIA, no ticket is needed for infant, so I can just book international part MIA-TGU for 10% avios plus fees. In coach or business? (10% of 15K or 10% of 30K). This is better than paying cash.

    If you have read down to here, it is more of a mental challenge trying to work around the rules, because when I called AA, they told me to link it to my I fare and it would be around $290 all in.

    I have enough BA avios that using them is a priority and saving cash is also a priority. Taxes for coach on BA are $110. So if I can use 3K avios to save me ~$180 that would be a win.

    ReplyReply
  32. Dan Fan Says:
    32

    Hello,

    I have a reservation (booked with united) to go from EWR to TLV with united non stop in business class, is there any way I can add an infant on the lap, and it should not be too expensive???

    ReplyReply

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