Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!
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Cheapest lap infant award tickets for international travel

In general parlance, you usually hear that lap infants are “free” until they turn two. That’s generally true – if flying domestically you can bring your under 2 year old on a plane and they can sit on your lap free of charge. However, on international flights, you have to pay at least some money for a lap infant – not free. This extends to lap infant award tickets – even if you pay for your flight with miles, you’ll have to pay cash (or miles, for some airlines) for your lap infant.

Most airlines charge 10% of the adult cash fare for international lap infant award tickets. So regardless of how you pay for your ticket (cash or miles), the lap infant ticket costs 10% of the cash fare. So a lap infant on a $400 cash fare costs $40. For business and first class lap infant tickets, this can be very expensive! Our Cathay Pacific flight (paid with 140,000 AA miles) to Hong Kong cost $8000 if bought with cash. The lap infant should have cost us $800! (Not sure how AA screwed it up, but they only charged us 10% of the coach fare so oh well. I was ready to pay $800.)

Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!

For families, if you have the miles flying in business class or better often can help make the long hauls more bearable. You can lie flat with your child or get some rest while the other parent takes care of them. And it IS possible to avoid expensive cash outlays for the infant award tickets. I thought I’d share the airline award programs that offer the cheapest lap infant award tickets. Use these programs to save money or miles when booking your lap infant award.

Note, in almost all cases, you will book the lap infant ticket with the airline issuing your ticket, aka whoever you pay your miles to. This seems a little counterintuitive at times, but I’ve never had to pay the carrier I’m flying, always the carrier who I paid miles to for the ticket. As in all of life, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between.

I’ve listed what I’ve found to be the cheapest programs in alphabetical order but I’m sure I missed some so let me know your experiences below! If a program isn’t listed here, it’s likely to cost you 10% of the adult revenue fare (or more). I’ve also included a few notes of things to bear in mind for each program. 

Air Canada (Aeroplan)

Infant award ticket cost: $50 or 5000 miles (economy), $75 or 7500 miles (prem. econ.), $100 or 10,000 miles (business), $125 or 12,500 miles (first)

Airline Partners: Star Alliance

Transfer Partners: Membership Rewards

News broke last week that Air Canada will move away from their Aeroplan program, well let’s hope that they don’t change their lap infant award ticket fares! You can use Air Canada’s Aeroplan miles to book flights on Star Alliance carriers. Star Alliance still remains the largest airline alliance and you can pretty much get where you want to go anywhere in the world.

Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!

Flat rates really help to save money, and the flat rate of $125 or 12,500 miles for first class is one of the best in the business. $100 or 10,000 miles for business class ain’t too shabby either. One thing to beware of for Aeroplan, they do levy fuel surcharges on a lot of routes so you need to factor that into your calculations. Still, a lot of times you come out ahead booking through Aeroplan. Check out their reward chart here.

Asiana

Infant award ticket cost: 10% of mileage cost plus taxes and fees

Airline Partners: Star Alliance 

Transfer Partners: Starwood

While it’s tough to beat Aeroplan’s flat rate, a close second would be programs that offer lap infant award tickets at 10% of the mileage. For a 100,000 mile adult redemption a lap infant award ticket would cost 10,000 miles. Asiana’s program operates in this fashion which is great if you need to fly on Star Alliance. 

Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!

The Asiana program has a few things going for it. First, it allows family pooling, which makes a big difference when you are sitting on tiny balances for your kids (though less of a difference than you might think, considering you probably don’t credit to Asiana often). Asiana has some great sweet spots, like 50,000 one way in Lufthansa First Class (or any first class) to Europe but they hit you pretty hard with the fuel surcharges. Still, 5,000 miles for the lap infant for LH F is tough to beat, so it’s something to consider. 

To me difficulty of getting miles presents the biggest difficulty with Asiana. Bank of America offers a credit card with a modest signup bonus but other than that you need to transfer from Starwood, which can be difficult to earn. Still, if you can get the miles, it’s a program worth taking a look at for your lap infant needs.

British Airways

Infant award ticket cost: 10% of mileage cost plus taxes and fees

Airline Partners: Oneworld 

Transfer Partners: Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards

British Airways saved our family a ton of cash the first time we took our daughter back to Asia. British Airways Avios are easy to earn and can transfer from both Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards. The downside of Avios comes in the form of the distance based award chart, which gets pretty annoying. But when you consider booking a lap infant on your award, sometimes Avios can make sense. 10% of the mileage fare beats the $800-$1000 or so you’d pay when booking the same premium cabin with AA miles.

For example, now a one way direct first class flight on Cathay Pacific cost 140,000 Avios or 110,000 AA miles. But the lap infant cost would be 14,000 Avios or something like $1000. So in some cases using British Airways will save you overall. So even though people mainly use British Airways for short haul flight these days, don’t ignore them for long haul flights if you plan on bringing a lap infant in a premium cabin.

Korean Air

Infant award ticket cost: 10% of mileage cost plus taxes and fees

Airline Partners: Skyteam 

Transfer Partners: Ultimate Rewards

Korean Air is a bit of a hidden gem in my mind, especially since their fuel surcharges have gotten less expensive. They have great availability on their own flights, including in premium cabins, and infants only cost 10% of the mileage fare. If you’re flying to Europe from the East Coast they can be a great option for flying on Delta metal too (and saving on lap infant award ticket fees).

Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!

The biggest drawback with Korean Air is having to create a family plan with all your family members. It’s not super difficult (as in it no longer requires faxing) but it can be a bit cumbersome. Create the family plan earlier rather than later so you don’t need to deal with it if you need to buy last minute tickets. You can also hold awards for a ridiculously generous amount of time, two weeks (here’s how to create a family plan and an award hold). As a Chase Ultimate Rewards partner, earning Korean Air miles is pretty straightforward and you have a lot of options, making Korean Air a great option.

Lufthansa Miles and More

Infant award ticket cost: Just taxes and fees

Airline Partners: Star Alliance

Transfer Partners: Starwood

Lufthansa Miles and More only charges taxes and fees for lap infant awards which is great! But they charge high fuel surcharges, not great. The best way to use Miles and More is for flights with carriers like United who don’t charge fuel surcharges. If you can find flights on United to Europe you like, you can get to Europe and back for 105,000 miles round trip and not too many fuel surcharges while taking your lap infant for very little as well. I probably like the Miles and More program the least out of all the programs in this post, but if you have a lot of SPG points lying around, they can be a good option. Check and compare the Asiana and Lufthansa award charts before you make your decisions.

Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!

Final Thoughts

If you want to fly in a premium cabin, lap infant award tickets can be expensive, even if you pay for the flights with miles! When deciding what to book, there are a ton of factors – convenience, point balances, out of pocket cash costs, etc. etc. If you can, I recommend using one of these five programs to book at least one person in your party’s ticket. That way you can attach the lap infant to their ticket with the lowest cost possible. It takes some extra work but with the potential to save almost $1000, it’s worth it in my opinion.

Let me know if there are friendly lap infant programs I missed and any tips and tricks you might have in the comments!

Lap infant award tickets seem pricey, but not if you know the best airline award programs to use. These airlines have the cheapest lap infant award tickets!

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

10 thoughts on “Cheapest lap infant award tickets for international travel”

  1. Thanks for this, I only knew of AC & Avios. Quick gotcha for ya – unlike other NA programs, Delta considers Canada to be international for infant in arms tickets!

  2. I am not sure if I get this “Note, in almost all cases, you will book the lap infant ticket with the airline issuing your ticket, aka whoever you pay your miles to.”
    I used Alaska miles (went with Cathay) to Hongkong and I had to call Cathay to attach and pay for the lap infant, For Economy premium (stupid move on our part) it cost 70,000 rt and they hit us with close to $500 for my lap infant.
    Are you saying that I should pay to Alaska instead Cathay?

    1. Sounds like you hit one of those edge cases. I’ve never used Alaska personally with a lap infant, but if you called them and they sent you to Cathay that means that’s their policy. Which sounds like a bummer, sorry.

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