I’ve always been a big believer in getting our kids flying as soon as possible, so we’ve flown plenty with our kids as lap infants both domestically and internationally. The great news for miles and points fans is that booking award travel with a lap infant follows the same basic rules as booking cash fares with a lap infant. Those rules can get a little bit complicated, so this post will teach you everything you need to know about booking award travel with lap infants.

Let’s answer some of the most important questions you need to tackle when booking award travel with a lap infant.

Award Travel with a Lap Infant

How much does it cost to travel with a lap infant?

If you’re traveling domestically in the United States, it doesn’t cost any extra to fly with a lap infant. A separate seat for the infant, however, will cost you the same price as an adult ticket in most circumstances. A handful of airlines will charge less for a child’s ticket, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

When you travel internationally, a lap infant will cost 10% of the cash price for a regular ticket for tickets purchased with cash. So if your ticket to Europe costs $1,000, your lap infant will cost you $100.

Award Travel with a Lap Infant – What You Need to Know

Most airlines will also charge 10% of the adult fare for lap infants on award flights, regardless of the cost of the flight in miles. There are some notable exceptions, which we’ll get into at the end of this post. When booking award tickets, it’s important to know which airlines will charge you 10% of the cash fare, because lap infants must be booked in the same cabin as the adult they are traveling with.

A round-trip award ticket to Europe in business class sounds great, but if the lap infant costs you $500, suddenly the math becomes much more difficult. But don’t worry, we’ll let you know the best programs to book award travel with lap infants – airlines that will help you avoid the 10% cash fare and get you and your children in business class for much less.

lap infant
Make sure you know the rules when you’re booking a lap infant (Image courtesy of Joe Cheung)

How do you add a lap infant to a domestic ticket?

Adding a lap infant to a domestic ticket is pretty straightforward, mostly because it doesn’t cost any money. Some airlines, like United, will allow you to add your lap infant while you’re booking online. If you can’t add the lap infant at ticketing, just call the airline after you’ve booked and you can easily add the lap infant.

For domestic tickets, sometimes our family doesn’t even add the lap infant until we get to the airport. Depending on the airline you can do this at the counter or even at the kiosk. In most cases, the lap infant will have a separate boarding pass (either mobile or paper), so be sure to keep that in mind.

For domestic flights, the process will be the same whether its a cash fare or an award ticket.

One important note: if you are flying Southwest, you must provide proof of age for your infant to the airport. So bring a birth certificate or equivalent, because they are very serious about that requirement.

How do you add a lap infant to an international ticket?

Adding a lap infant to an international ticket more or less happens the same way it does with domestic tickets. The big difference, of course, is that on an international ticket you’ll have to pay for the lap infant (either money or miles). I do not recommend saving this until you get to the airport. You can do it there, but it’s not worth the stress – take care of it before you get there (preferably weeks in advance).

lap infant
Make sure you add your international lap infant before you get to the airport. Don’t upset your child! (Image courtesy of Joe Cheung)

For cash fares on most airlines, when you call to add the lap infant, you will be charged 10% of the adult’s ticket. For award tickets, you will either be charged 10% of the adult fare (for most airlines) or you’ll have to pay a certain number of miles (for a few airlines).

Paying for a lap infant on an award with miles is often a great value when redeeming your miles for business class flights. When booking coach awards, it’s good to compare your options.

What are the best airlines for lap infants on international award tickets?

Finding the best fare for your international flight is complicated when you need to compare cash and award prices between multiple airlines. It turns into a Matrix-like situation when you throw in lap infants because the pricing for them is another variable you need to account for in your calculations!

Still, some airlines rise above the rest when booking lap infants for international award travel, especially if you plan to fly in business class or first class. Here are four good options for airlines to consider booking award travel with if you have a lap infant and want to minimize the cost for the infant.

I decided to choose one or two options per airline alliance to help you cover your bases.

special baby bassinet during the flight for lap infant

Aeroplan/Air Canada (Star Alliance)

For Star Alliance flights, Air Canada’s Aeroplan program is the way to go when it comes to lap infants on award tickets. United will charge you 10% of the cash fare, but Aeroplan only charges you $50 or 5,000 miles for a lap infant in coach, $75 or 7,500 miles for a lap infant in premium economy, $100 or 1,000 miles in business, and $125 or 12,500 miles in first class.

infantaeroplan
Air Canada’s Aeroplan infant award costs

Unfortunately, Air Canada often passes along fuel surcharges to award flights. However, if you’re booking flights on United metal, you won’t be charged fuel surcharges (United doesn’t have them) and you’ll save a lot of money on the cost of the lap infant if you’re flying in business class.

how to get to japan using miles
Air Canada

Even if flying a carrier with fuel surcharges, you could just book one parent with the lap infant on Aeroplan and save the money for the lap infant, while booking the other parent with a carrier like United to avoid the fuel surcharges.

The flat rate for lap infants makes Air Canada’s Aeroplan program the best Star Alliance option by far when it comes to lap infants on an award ticket. You can earn Aeroplan miles by earning Membership Rewards on American Express and transferring them over.

Infant girl sit in special baby bassinet in airplane
Infant girl sit in special baby bassinet in airplane

British Airways Avios (Oneworld)

If you’re looking to fly an international award ticket on Oneworld carriers, British Airways Avios are your best bet for lap infants. British Airways will only cost you 10% of the adult mileage fare when booking a lap infant, which is a great deal even in business or first class.

British Airways isn’t the cheapest since it’s a distance based award chart, but you could again book one parent with another carrier like American Airlines while saving money on the lap infant. 10% of a 105,000 Avios flight from the US to Hong Kong usually hurts way less than a $1,000 lap infant charge!

British Airway Avios can be transferred from both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.

American Express Membership Rewards points - Airline Transfer Partner - British Airways
British Airways

Korean Air

For Skyteam, Korean Air is the best option cost wise, charging only 10% of the mileage cost plus taxes and fees. Korean Air also has a reputation of being very kid friendly, so if you fly on their metal it’s a great option.

infantkorean

Korean Air infant award costs

The biggest issue with booking award tickets on Korean Air is that there are no transferable bank points that you can use with Korean Air. They used to partner with Chase Ultimate Rewards but that partnership recently ended. US Bank issues a Korean Air Skypass Visa, but other than that, your only other option is to transfer Marriott Bonvoy points.

Luckily, if you want to fly on Delta metal, there is another great option if you’re booking an international award ticket with a lap infant.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card

Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply.

Learn more
American Express Membership Rewards points - Airline Transfer Partner - Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic recently revamped how they do lap infant award tickets which is great for parents traveling with young children. You now play a flat rate depending on the class of service you’re flying in. A one-way international flight for a lap infant in coach costs 1,000 Virgin Atlantic miles, premium economy costs 2,000 miles, and business class — Virgin class this Upper Class — costs 5,000 miles.

Virgin Atlantic Infant

This is great for Delta flights which you can book through Virgin Atlantic without worrying about fuel surcharges. As an added bonus, Delta flights typically require fewer Virgin Atlantic miles than Delta SkyMiles.

Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card

30,000 SkyMiles after $1,000 spend in the first 3 months plus $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase in the first 3 months

Learn more

Delta’s variable pricing often makes their business class flights too pricey when booking with Skymiles, but the Virgin Atlantic cost in miles doesn’t change. For example, a flight to Europe (not including the UK) from the East Coast might cost you 80,000 Skymiles, but will only cost you 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.

Baby bassinet for lap infants during flight
Special baby bassinet during the flight. Infant plays on mother hands at the airplane.

Some tips for flying with a lap infant

Surviving a long haul flight with a lap infant, even in business or first class, is an article unto itself. But still, I’d be remiss writing about the best award programs for lap infants without at least touching on what you can do to handle the long flight.

There’s no way I can cover everything in this short coda to this article, but I can boil my advice down to three main ideas.

First, prepare activities. You know what your child enjoys, bring things onto the plane that you know can keep them occupied on a long flight. For our kids, we like to put snacks inside pillboxes. Our babies all loved opening the boxes and then, of course, eating the snacks inside. We also generally throw our screen time regulations out the window when traveling with infants.

Keeping babies busy on flight
Prepare activities what your child enjoys, bring things onto the plane that you know can keep them occupied on a long flight.

My second piece of advice would be to not sweat the nap too much. Obviously, it’s ideal that your baby sleeps at her regular naptime even when you’re on a long-haul flight. And lots of babies do! But if it doesn’t happen, don’t panic, just do your best to keep them calm and hope they sleep eventually. We always travel with an infant carrier (we use a Beco) since our kids almost always fell asleep in that as babies.

Finally, and I know this is difficult, but be prepared to be flexible. This dovetails with nap time, but it bears repeating – babies are unpredictable and can be even more so on a flight. So do your best not to stress out about it.

Again, you are the parent, and you know what’s best for your child. You may get some dirty looks, but they’re the same looks you’d get with your child in public anywhere. Your infant has every right to fly so don’t worry about what other people think. Try to stay in tune with your baby’s needs and adjust on the fly as necessary to meet them.

Traveling with infants is something that gets easier with practice, so take a short flight to practice before you need to take a long one. Trust me, from experience, the destination and the journey will be worth it for both you and your baby, even if things don’t go according to plan!

lap infant in a plane
Do your best as a parent to keep your baby calm and hope they sleep eventually.

Final Thoughts

Navigating lap infant tickets can be confusing, but there’s definitely a lot of value to be had even when you have to pay for your lap infant’s ticket on an international flight. Be sure to bookmark this post if you’re looking to fly internationally with your baby and feel free to ask questions in the comments or the 10X Insiders Facebook Group whenever you have them!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card to start with. With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points on dining and travel, this card truly cannot be beat! 

Learn more

Disclosure: 10xTravel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. 10xTravel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.


About the Author

Joe caught his love of travel at an early age, but started really diving into miles and points when he and his wife were expecting their first child. He’s been writing about using miles and points to reduce the cost of family travel on his blog asthejoeflies ever since. He loves traveling all around the world with his wife and three children, with a special place in his heart for travel to Asia. When he’s...

Learn More About Joseph

One Response to “Award Travel with a Lap Infant – What You Need to Know”


Ana Luiza

I just went through a horrible experience! I am visiting family in Brazil and ended up booking Toronto-São Paulo with United’s Mileage Plus for 30k and paying cash for São Paulo-Cancun on Copa. For the Copa segment, I paid 10% of the fare for my daughter (which was CAD 60) while booking my seat and that was that. Now for the award segment… because I booked on United a segment that had a Air Canada plus a Copa flight (this is what happens with last minute award tickets during high season, lol), the United rep could not price the segment and told me to call Air Canada. AC has THE WORST call center, wait times are over 1 hour regularly. So I sat around and waited for their system to call me back. The AC rep said he couldn’t do it and that I had to call United back.

So I called United back and the other rep said “no, I can’t price it, I have to call AC”. So he did with me on the line. Guess what? Now we had to wait over ONE HOUR to get through to AC again. And when we finally got through, the AC rep said the same thing. At this point I had been on the phone with United for over 2 hours.

The United rep had to call different depts to get this segment priced and after God knows how long, he came back with the price – US$160! For a one way infant ticket that cost me 30k miles! Having paid Aeroplan’s CAD $50 for round trip last year, I was shocked by the now almost CAD $200 for ONE WAY! But, guess what, I was stuck at this point with nothing left for me to do but pay it. There was nothing else left for me to do as I was not able to replicate that segment with the exact prices online and, being high season, I guess the cost of those specific flights had gone up between the moment I booked with miles and the 3-4 days later when I called to get my daughter’s reservation.

Total of 5 hours on the phone between United and AC. CAD $200 for a one-way lap infant ticket on a ticket that would have cost around CAD $600-700 if I had paid for it cash.

Thank you for this post! This is something that I had not taken into account while shopping around for award flights. My daughter is almost 2, so her days of being a lap infant are close to being over!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.