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]

Have Klout, Will Travel: Cathay Pacific Offers Klout Perk at SFO


Last week, Klout announced “Klout for iPhone,” and this week, the influx of app-based perks begins. Their first partnership is one we’d actually enjoy – if we were traveling internationally from SFO. The company that pioneered social media influence measurement has partnered with Cathay Pacific Airways to allow anyone with a score of 40 or over to show their Klout score at the door to enter the airline’s First and Business Class Lounge.

This applies to any visitor traveling through the “A” boarding area at SFO’s international terminal, even if they aren’t a Cathay Pacific passenger.

Inside the lounge, you’ll get access to the airline’s signature noodle bar, workstations and showers, as shown in the video above.

Have you used this perk? What did you think?

Gadling’s favorite airlines for 2011

gadling favorite airlines 2011

Even with airlines falling over themselves in an effort to generate profits out of new fees and charges, flying retains some glamour and excitement. No? Not working for you? Well there are mileage programs to exploit and perks to chase. And even in the direst landscape for customers, there are always new routes to sample, smiling flight attendants to befriend, and reliable pilots to thank for safe landings.

Going into 2011, it appears that Virgin America is Gadling’s favorite airline. Virgin America sails above the competition with their standard of service, their appealing overall product, and their general freshness.

Other airlines we especially like or tolerate for one or another reason include easyJet, Qantas, VAustralia, Air France, Philippine Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Jet Airways, Continental, Alaska Airlines, and Porter.

We begin with the observations of Kent Wien, Gadling’s resident pilot-contributor and the motor behind two Gadling features, namely, Cockpit Chronicles and Plane Answers.

Kent Wien. Air New Zealand. I don’t know if I was more impressed with their new line of coach sleeper seats or the friendliness of their flight attendants. Either way, Air New Zealand has managed to capture much of the recent jump in tourism traffic to New Zealand by offering an innovative cabin design and enhanced service which includes an in-flight concierge for the entire airplane. They’ve changed the look and feel of their galleys by hiding them away during boarding, since the first thing passengers see when stepping on to an airplane is the in-flight kitchen. And most of these changes were accomplished even after they were named by Air Transport World as the airline of the year for 2010.

Mike Barish. I continue to love Virgin America. They’re willing to show personality. They have a sense of humor and their use of social media is phenomenal. They have really embraced customer service and care about humanizing their brand.

Annie Scott. Air France has the best coach class of any airline I’ve flown this year, but Philippine Airlines gets ten points for calling their economy class “Fiesta Class.”

McLean Robbins. Virgin America. Am I one of many?

Meg Nesterov. Turkish Airlines has become my default carrier of choice, which is fine given their excellent service. How many other airlines will let you cancel and rebook a flight last minute and only charges a small change fee? Their in-flight meals even in coach are reliably good and always free.

Melanie Nayer. Props to Cathay Pacific. Great in-flight crew, and any airline that makes me a grilled cheese sandwich in flight is tops in my book!

Alex Robertson Textor. Porter, hands down. I like the airline so much I found a way to write a piece for their in-flight magazine. I want two dozen regional Porters around the globe, each with limited route maps, quiet, fuel-efficient planes, friendly fight attendants, and a single class of service.Catherine Bodry. Alaska Air.

Grant Martin. Virgin America & VAustralia. All of that positive press is happening for a reason. These two airlines have the best service out there, and their hard products are equally gorgeous. Get to Australia next year while competition is still high and ticket prices are rock bottom.

Karen Walrond. I fly mostly on Continental because I live in its hub city and that’s where my airmiles are. Here in Houston, we’re nervous about the merger between Continental and United. We hope nothing will be ruined in the process!

David Farley. Jet Airways.

Sean McLachlan. easyJet. Everyone complains about them, myself included, but damn they’re cheap and convenient. And hey, at least they aren’t Ryanair!

Laurel Miller. Qantas for their consistently excellent service, staff, and on-time departures.

[Image: Flickr | LWY]

Cathay Pacific wants your dessert

Pastry chefs, caterers, home cooks and Mom’s packing lunches, listen up: Cathay Pacific wants your dessert to feature on their international flights.

The “Art of the Dessert” contest asks travelers to create their own Asian-inspired dessert, and submit a photo and recipe on Cathay Pacific’s Facebook page with a brief entry on why your dessert deserves to win.

Peter Ho, the Regional Catering Manager for Cathay Pacific North America for the last 43 years, will judge the entires. If your dessert passes the quality test of Mr. Ho, you could be in the running for a free business class flight to Hong Kong and your dessert will be featured on Cathay Pacific’s in-flight menu.

Need some help? Here is a list of some of the most popular Asian desserts. Add your own spin to this favorites and enter to win:

  • Steamed pears
  • Spicy coconut custard
  • Mango pudding
  • Lotus Leaf pancakes
  • Fried custard
  • Fortune cookies

Think you’ve got the sweets for this game? Enter the contest here and get baking!

Sex over service? Airlines try vixen pitch with passengers

It’s no secret that airline customer service is generally perceived to be as pleasant as a root canal. I was thinking about this over the weekend, as I walked home from Penn Station, after catching Amtrak’s Acela back from Boston. I had a fantastic trip (up and back) and was hung up on the contrasts to air travel.

Later that night, I met a friend for a glass of wine and talked through the issue, particularly the airline side of it. It feels like most of the major carriers aren’t making an effort to repair public exception, with notable exceptions like JetBlue. In almost any other industry, routine public perception being so low would trigger a crisis-caliber response.

Not the airlines, though …

I got my answer today, with a story that passed through my Twitter stream: sex sells. Instead of trying to build and maintain a solid image, an airline could just give up, and try to win new passengers the old fashioned way. And indeed, it is the old fashioned way, as anyone who remembers National Airlines’ 1971 commercial with flight attendant Cheryl Fioravente’s invitation: “Fly me.”

[Image credit: Flickr/Rachel Kramer Bussel]


Cathay Pacific isn’t going to that extreme, but it is making an effort to seduce passengers with shots of eye-candy that has yet to hit The Big 3-0. The flight attendants, uniformly hot in uniform and not, pose alongside quotes that could read from a customer service manual or a personal ad: “I just like to listen more than talk” and “Nothing beats a smile for turning strangers into friends.”

Who wouldn’t want to hear that at boarding?

The Wall Street Journal notes that this is a departure from the advertising of the past few decades, in which airlines have sacrificed the sensual in favor of the practical: “comfort, convenience, low fares and fine in-flight dining.”

Of course, that approach hasn’t really been working too well, especially the comfort and convenience aspects. In addition to dealing with an abysmal image, the industry has to contend with tighter market conditions as a result of the post-financial crisis recession. There isn’t as much disposable income to go around, and passengers have to choose between flying and other forms of recreation. Business travelers can be more discriminating, when destinations permit.

Cathay Pacific isn’t alone: Air France has headed into sexier territory with its latest ad campaign, which the WSJ describes as having a “blonde model wearing a pink corset, its strings apparently being loosened by a miniature plane taking off.” The U.S. carriers aren’t there yet, but the overseas trend nonetheless makes me wonder if the approach should be on their radar.

It’s pretty clear that something needs to change for an industry that struggles to make a right move in the public’s eye, even in cases where such ire is unwarranted. Maybe it is best to stop trying to look good … and focus on superficial beauty instead.