Everything You Need To Know About Flying With An Infant Turning 2


flying with infant turning two

After flying with an infant to over a dozen countries and on nearly 50 flights in her 20 months, I figured I pretty much have baby travel down to a science, as much as you can call it “science” when dealing with a person who is often unpredictable and doesn’t respond to reason. While each flight gets more challenging, I’m relishing this travel time before she has opinions on where to go and what to do, and while our baggage allowance has grown, our travel style hasn’t changed much since having a baby. As her second birthday looms in July, I’m preparing for the biggest change to our travel style: having to pay full fare for her tickets as she “graduates” from infant fare. The FAA requires that all children over the age of 2 secure full fare and sit in their own seat, while babies under 2 can fly free domestically and at a fraction of the adult fare (usually 10%) internationally if they sit in a parent’s lap. So what happens if you take a trip to celebrate your child’s second birthday and they turn 2 before your return? Do you have to buy a ticket for the whole trip, just the return, or try to sneak under the wire (don’t do that)? We asked airlines for their policy on flying with a baby turning 2.

Note: These policies ONLY apply for the situation of flying with an infant under 24 months one-way and over 24 months on the return. Unless otherwise noted, a child age 2 or over for all legs of the trip will pay regular fare.Air New Zealand – Flying with the Kiwi carrier over a birthday will mean you will need to purchase a child fare (where available) for the entire journey, 75-80% of adult fare for economy tickets. Air New Zealand offers a variety of kid activities and meals, and we think the Skycouch option is perfect for young families.

American Airlines – Here’s one policy we hope new partner US Airways will honor: children turning 2 on their trip will get a free ride home with American Airlines. You will generally pay taxes and/or a portion of the adult fare for international trips, call reservations for details.

British Airways – One of the few airlines that make their policies clear on the website (they also tell you what to do when you are booking for a child who isn’t yet born!), British Airways will offer a free return for a child turning 2. More reasons to fly British: discounted child fares, families board early, you can “pool” all of your frequent flier miles on a household account, and special meals, entertainment and activity packs (ages 3 and up) are available on board for children.

Cathay Pacific – If your baby turns 2 in Hong Kong or another Cathay destination, you’ll pay a discounted child’s fare for the return only. Note that some flights might require a provided safety seat instead of your own car seat, but all flights provide infant and child meals, and “Junior VIPs” age three-six get a special activity pack.

DeltaDelta (along with partners Air France and KLM) requires you to purchase a ticket for the entire trip if your infant will turn 2 at any time before return. The good news is that on certain international routes, discounted children’s fares may be available, call reservations for details.

JetBlue – I’ve found JetBlue to be one of the most baby-friendly airlines, thanks to the free first checked bag, liberal stroller gate-check policy and early boarding for families with young children. Of course, the live TV and snacks don’t hurt either (my daughter likes the animal crackers, while I get the blue potato chips). Kids celebrating a second birthday before flying home on JetBlue will pay a one-way fare. You can book the one-way online, but should call reservations to make sure the reservation is linked to the whole family.

Lufthansa – A child fare (about 75% of adult fare) is applicable for the entire trip. The German airline is especially kid-friendly: the main website has a lot of useful information about flying with children, including how to pass time at the airport and ideas for games to play on board, and a special JetFriends kid’s club website for children and teens. On the plane, they provide baby food, snacks, and toys, a chef-designed children’s menu and special amenity kits in premium class. A nice additional extra for a parent traveling alone with a kid: Lufthansa has a family guide service to help navigate the airports in Frankfurt and Munich.

Qantas – For flights to and around down under, the child’s age at departure is used to calculate the fare, so the infant fare is honored on the return. Qantas offers meals for all young passengers, limited baby supplies and entertainment and kits on board for kids over three. On the website, kids can also download some fun activities and learn about planes.

Singapore Airlines – Good news for families flying on one of the world’s best airlines: if your child turns 2 during the journey, Singapore will provide a seat without charge. Once they graduate from infant fare, they pay 75% of adult fare. Singapore also offers a limited selection of “baby amenities,” such as diapers and bottles, and children flying on business class or higher tickets can choose from special kids’ meals.

United – A United rep declined to clarify their policy for this specific case, only emphasizing that any child 2 or older is required to purchase a seat. Assume you will pay at least one-way full-fare.

Virgin Atlantic – Virgin charges an infant fare for the whole journey, but the new 2-year-old will have their own special seat on the return. One of the world’s coolest airlines is also pretty cool for the small set, with free backpacks full of diversions (on flights from the UK), dedicated entertainment and meals.

With all the airlines above, Junior can start accruing frequent flier miles when he turns 2. Hoping to book the whole trip with miles? In general, you’ll spend the same number of miles for your child as your own seat, while lap infants traveling on miles will pay taxes and/or a fraction of the full-adult fare (this can get pretty pricey if you are flying in premium class).

Now where to plan that birthday trip?

For tips on getting through the actual flights, check out our guides to flying with a baby, winter and holiday travel with a baby, traveling abroad, and more in the Knocked Up Abroad series.

[Photo credit: Instagram KnockedUpAbroad/Meg Nesterov]

A $4000 Eye Mask? Only On Virgin Atlantic

virgin atlantic eye masksVirgin Atlantic has done it again – this time teaming with Swarovski crystals to create the most over-the-top flight accessory we’ve seen in some time, a $4,000 sleep mask decorated with crystals depicting sunglasses ranging from the classic Wayfarer to the shutter shade made famous by Kanye West.

The cheeky masks, which, sans crystals, are now part of the Economy Class amenities kit, will be hidden in five flights from New York and LAX and hopefully discovered by newly styling passengers.

The bespoke eyeshades feature thousands of tiny red, white and blue crystals, all applied by hand by artist Saima Anwar (who also creates crystal eyelashes for celebrities such as Katy Perry). It took ten hours to make each mask, and over 3,000 Swarovski crystals.

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class cabin has featured Swarovski crystals on the cabin walls since the launch of the Upper Class Suite in 2003, and most recently unveiled a bespoke crystal curtains onboard, adorned with over 1000 Swarovski crystals each in the revamped suite aboard A330 aircraft.

Starting this month passengers traveling in Economy will receive a new amenity kit containing eyeshades featuring one of six fabulous sunglass designs, including a pair of heart shaped sunnies, John Lennon-esque circular specs and some 80s retro shades.

Passengers in Premium Economy will receive kits in stylish charcoal gray pouches, made from recycled plastic bottles with silk linings. In Upper Class, Virgin Atlantic travelers will be presented with amenity kits made from the same recycled material, but in pouches sized perfectly to hold tablet devices and e-readers (a fabulous idea, if you ask us).

Sadly, Virgin isn’t the first airline to take a stab at producing blinged-out amenities kits. Back in 2011, Etihad launched Swarovski studded kits for their first class passengers. The rapidly expanding airline will soon fly from even more US destinations, including a direct from DC flight starting September 12.
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What Does Your Luggage Say About You?

luggage - pradaWe’ve seen travelers dragging everything from Louis Vuitton to what looks like a used trash bag through airport security of late, and new research shows that most travelers are closer to the latter than the former.

A new study from Virgin Atlantic shows that one in five of us (20%) can’t remember the last time we bought new luggage, while more than half (55%) would only upgrade their suitcase if it was worn-out or broken. That said, the lifestyles of the rich and famous are quite likely to influence us at the wheelie shop; 25% of 16-24 year olds admit they’d buy a bag based on what their favorite celeb’s been seen toting at check-in.

Women are also more likely to upgrade their luggage than men (11%), while around one-third would consider buying new luggage based on their holiday destination.

There is also a bit of one-upmanship going around – more than one in ten (12%) have bought luggage in the past to make sure it is better than their traveling companion’s.

[Flickr via o5com]

’50 Shades Of Grey’ At 35,000 Feet

virgin atlanticAna Steel’s inner goddess is doing backflips. You can now hear the juicy details of the cult favorite “50 Shades of Grey” live via in-flight audio book on Virgin Atlantic.

The book follows the exploits of Anastasia Steele, a virgin who meets a wealthy businessman with particular tastes in the bedroom. It has already sold over 10 million copies.

“‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has quickly gained notoriety as a ‘naughty novel,’ leaving some women embarrassed to read their copy in public. We want to give our female passengers the chance to enjoy the book in an intimate way, without prying eyes. Of course, we can’t promise to spare any blushes and can’t be held responsible for any risqué behavior that listening to the recording inspires,” said Sarah McIntyre, Virgin Atlantic spokesperson.

These audio books are a feature of the planes’ InFlight Entertainment Systems.

Let’s just say we think you’ll be able to tell who is listening by the squirming and shocked facial expressions. We hope nobody decides to try out some of the book’s signature moves in the airport lavatory, either.

In-Flight Cellphone Calls To Be Allowed On Virgin Atlantic Flights

inflight cell phone service to be offered on Virgin AtlanticPassengers on Virgin Atlantic will soon be able to make in-flight cellphone calls, send texts and browse the web on their way home from Europe, it was just announced. The new service is part of the airline’s upgrade to the Airbus A330, which will also provide expanded in-flight entertainment, USB ports and a very spiffy upper class. Cellphone service will initially be available only on London to New York flights, but will be expanded to more cities by the year’s end. There are a lot of caveats, however: you’ll need to be on a Vodafone or O2 network, only 10 calls will be allowed at one time and service won’t be cheap. Calls will cost 1 GBP per minute and texts 20p each. You’ll also still need to turn off your devices for takeoff and landing, and turn them off within 250 miles of US airspace, so no flight-long games of Words With Friends.

Gadling readers: would you use this service? Do you think it’s any improvement over the old-school in-flight phones? Or will it just be another amazing innovation that no one appreciates?

[Photo courtesy Flickr user Highways Agency]