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

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]

10 hotels celebrating centennial birthdays in 2012

The year 2012 marks a very special year for many hotels, as some of the world’s most prestigious properties turn 100 and join the Century Club. Everyone loves birthdays, and lucky for travelers these properties are celebrating by offering guests discounts, prizes, packages, and parties.

Fairmont Copley Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

The Fairmont Copley Plaza opened its doors on August 19, 1912, at an extravagant cost of $5.5 million. In attendance at the hotel’s reception were over 1000 guests, one of which included Boston‘s mayor at the time, John F. “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, who was President Kennedy’s grandfather. To celebrate its 100-year birthday, the hotel is featuring an array of events and promotions, including a “100 Days of Celebration” beginning May 10. During this time, complimentary period costume tours, 20th century music, and cake will be available. Moreover, a Celebration of a Century package will be available through December 31, offering accommodation in a newly renovated room, a private hotel history tour, and a history booklet.

Package rates begin at $100 per person, per night. Call 1-800-257-7544 or E-mail reservations@fairmont.com to book. Bar Lazy J Ranch
Parshall, Colorado

While not your traditional hotel, Bar Lazy J Ranch is a relaxing ranch that works hard to ensure the satisfaction of their guests. Even before officially opening, the ranch was going out of its way for strangers, even allowing travelers to stay the night free of charge. It wasn’t until 1912 that a debutante was hired as a secretary and the ranch required a letter of recommendation from people hoping to stay. Back then, the atmosphere of Bar Lazy J Ranch was very formal, with coffee served before breakfast in demitasse cups on the lawn, high tea, polo, and croquet matches. Today, the property is all-inclusive, allowing guests to partake in as many activity offerings as they would like without worrying about overspending. To celebrate its 100th birthday this summer, the ranch will be hosting an array of centennial activities such as “1912 nights” each Wednesday, high tea, vintage photos and old-west costumes, and music inspired by compositions from the last century.

Rates start at $1825 per week, per adult, with discounts on certain dates. Call 800-396-6279 or E-mail info@barlazyj.com to book.

The Beverly Hills Hotel
Los Angeles, California

The Beverly Hills Hotel was built before there was a city called Beverly Hills, in an attempt to bring crowds of people to the area. It worked, and in 1914 Beverly Hills was incorporated into a city. Not only that, but some of society’s most affluent celebrities created history in the hotel. For example, Frank Sinatra and the rest of the rat pack loved to drink in the hotel’s Polo Lounge, and the hotel pool was the backdrop scene for Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall in “Designing Women.” To celebrate their centennial birth, the Beverly Hills Hotel is offering an array of programing and packages. Their 100-Year Birthday Package, which runs until the end of the year, features rooms and suites for $100 per night, a birthday cake amenity, a complimentary cocktail, a 100-year candle, and daily breakfast for two. There will also be a “1912 Lottery” in a chosen dining outlet each week, where a diner will be randomly selected to receive their meal at 1912 pricing.

For a full list of packages and promotions or to book a stay, click here.

Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa
Tucson, Arizona

The Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa was originally a dude ranch in 1912 and today is an 80-acre resort sitting at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in the Sonoran Desert. While certain historic touches are still retained, the hotel underwent a $14 million renovation in 2009 to help update the look and feel. In honor of their 100th birthday, the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa is compiling a book titled “History of Westward Look: 100 Years in the Making” that will include photos and souvenirs from past guests. This is also part of the “Call for Treasures” contest offering prizes of free hotel stays and complimentary dining packages.

Rates start at $189 per night based on double occupancy. Call 800-722-2500 or click here to book.

Kalispell Grand Hotel
Kalispell, Montana

The Kalispell Grand Hotel opened its doors in 1912 as an upscale hotel for the wealthier traveler, charging a whopping $2 per night. During its opening, the property also offered grand amenities like wake up calls, door locks, and running water, making it a popular choice. Today, their definition of grand amenities has luckily shifted with the times, as spacious rooms, plush bedding, and relaxing massages are offered on the premises. Guests can enjoy the hotel’s 100th birthday by taking advantage of a $20.12 discount on all rooms until May 31, 2012.

Room rates vary by date. Call 800-858-7422 or click here to book.

Camino Real El Paso
El Paso, Texas

Listed on the Historic Hotels of America website, the Camino El Paso is a national historic landmark. Originally known as the Paso Del Norte Hotel, one of the most impressive features of the property then was the 25-foot diameter, Tiffany-style, stained-glass Dome, which can still be experienced via the Dome Bar. Other instances of history still being present are the vaulted ceilings and walls of cherry stone and gold scallion. When it opened on Thanksgiving Day in 1912 the property was thought to be the “Showcase of the West,” and still retains this prestigious reputation today. To help guests add a bit more luxury to their stay, the property is featuring a Fall Back in Time deal, which includes breakfast each morning for two people for two nights.

Package rates vary depending on travel dates. Call 800-678-8946 or 915-534-3000 to book.

Fairmont Château Laurier
Ottawa, Ontario

The Fairmont Château Laurier, Ottawa’s famous castle, officially opened its doors on June 1, 2012. While the property cost $2 million to open, rooms were only $2 per night. Like their sister property in Boston, mentioned above, the hotel will feature complimentary period costume tours, 20th century music, and cake on June 2 and 3. Moreover, in memory of the Titanic, the hotel will be recreating the last supper served on the ship followed by monthly menus featuring the best cuisine from different eras. Additionally, because the property was originally set to open on April 26, this will be the date the Fairmont Château Laurier launches their special Centennial Tea menu. If you’re looking for a deal, you can opt for the Century of Memories package, which includes accommodations, a heritage gift card set, $100 CAD dining credit, and a special 100th anniversary welcome amenity.

Package rates begin at about $340 per night based on double occupancy. Call 800-441-1414 or click here to book.

Astoria Hotel
St. Petersburg, Russia

The oldest hotel in Russia, the Astoria Hotel has survived the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, WWI, WWII, Perestroika, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the formation of the new Russian economy. On December 23, 1912, the property opened its doors as a modern hotel fit for the society’s most notable figures. Rasputin had a love affair here with the wife of a government official, while Lenin spent the night and gave a speech on the first floor, and Russian Grand Dukes threw lavish parties in the Winter Garden. What’s more, because 2012 marks the Astoria Hotel’s 100th birthday, the year will be filled with commemorative events, including a series of jazz dinner concerts to help take guests back in time. At the end of the year, there will also be an elegant jubilee party with famous attendees from all over the world coming in to celebrate.

Room rates start at $335 per night. Click here to book.

Hotel Maria Cristina, San Sebastián, A Luxury Collection Hotel
San Sebastián, Spain

The Hotel Maria Cristina opened its doors on July 9, 2012, as one of the city’s main cultural and social hubs for members of high society. During WWI, it was the hangout of politicians and artists before shifting to a more fashionable clientele, with guests like Coco Chanel and Patou Jena. When the city began to decline, the hotel refused to fold and, after WWII, underwent a massive renovation. In honor of its centennial anniversary, the property is being fixed up again and will reopen this July with a huge celebration and new Belle Epoque style with modern amenities. They will also be offering an array of packages, which you can see by clicking here.

The Stafford London by Kempinski
London, United Kingdom

Originally built as private homes for society’s nobility – including Lord and Lady Lyttelton – the property changed owners a few times before becoming an official Stafford London property. Just like during WWII when the building served as a club for American and Canadian officers seeking refuge in the wine cellars, The Stafford London is a welcoming and friendly place. Because the property is turning 100 this year, they are offering a VIP £100,000 Anniversary Package until the end of 2012. The luxurious offer includes:

  • 3 nights in a duplex Guv’nor’s suite or penthouse
  • £10,000 dining credit
  • “Effortless airport experience” including private waiting lounge, escort through customs/immigration, transfers to and from hotel
  • Chauffeur driven Bentley, Rolls Royce, or Jaguar at guest’s beck and call
  • 24/7 private butler service
  • Three or five-course wine and meal pairings in the hotel’s 380-year-old wine cellar
  • Bespoke fashions courtesy of famed tailor Henry Poole and hatters Lock & Co
  • Piece of custom jewelry by London’s top designer, Patrick Wyatt
  • Private photo shoot with celebrity photographer, Alistair Morrison
  • Traditional afternoon tea at either the Royal Academy, Highgrove House, or Kensington Palace
  • Private Champagne or Wine Capsule experience on the London Eye
  • Half day spa retreat
  • Speedboat tour of the Thames River
  • Complimentary Mahiki Armada Treasure Chest concoction

Packages start at £100,000. Click here to book.

Brooklyn Bridge celebrates 128th anniversary

If you are in New York today, consider paying homage to one of the city’s most venerable landmarks: the Brooklyn Bridge, which turns 128 today. The iconic bridge opened in 1883 after 13 years of construction. As is common with mid-week birthdays, the main celebrations happened over the weekend, including a special offer to get a $28 tattoo of the Brooklyn Bridge from a local tattoo parlor. Brooklyn Tattoo illustrated 60-70 proud Brooklynites in 2010, and inks another dozen or so each month. That’s a lot of bridge enthusiasts!

Should you not want such a permanent souvenir, you can always celebrate with a walk across the bridge and a picnic at the newly-expanded Brooklyn Bridge Park (where yours truly got married 7 years ago), but forget the Champagne – no alcohol is allowed on the bridge or in the park.

Photo of Langley aircraft carrier under the Brooklyn Bridge courtesy San Diego Air & Space Museum archives.

Celebrate Italy’s 150th birthday in Torino

150 years ago, Italy became a country. Well, sort of. Venice and Rome didn’t join for another 9 years, so many Italians will be waiting until 2020 for the big celebration of the Risorgimento, as the unification is called in Italian. Nevertheless, as Italy’s first capital city in 1861, Torino (aka Turin, home of the famed Shroud) is celebrating all year, including the reopening today of the Risorgimento Museum, with free admission for the rest of March. This weekend also marks the reopening of the Automobile Museum, with a huge expansion and total concept overhaul, fitting for a country that gave birth to the Ferrari, the Lamborghini, the Alfa Romeo, and Torino’s own Fiat.

Beginning this summer, the history and evolution of Italian fashion will be celebrated just outside Turin at La Venaria Reale. La Venaria Reale will also host a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition starting in October 2011. Not to leave out food, visitors can attend “royal dinners” all spring through fall, sample traditional regional dishes, and learn about their history as part of the unification. Buon compleanno, Italia!

Learn more about Italy’s birthday events at eng.italia150.it and


Get $100 in Birthday Bucks from Joie de Vivre

Joie de Vivre, a chain of 35 boutique hotels in California, is making it a little easier to justify planning a birthday getaway this year. The Birthday Bucks deal knocks $100 off a two-night stay on or within seven days of your birthday. At the Galleria Park Hotel in San Francisco, for example, weekend rates start at $109. With this b-day discount, it’s almost like getting the second night free.

The credit, which is taken off your total bill when you check out, can also be used to offset room service, dinner at the hotel restaurant, or spa treatments. To sweeten the deal, the hotel staff may also surprise you with a gift, such as a cupcake, dinner appetizer, or glass of wine. Even kids under 18, if accompanied by a parent, can redeem the $100 Birthday Bucks.

But there’s a catch: the discount is per room per stay, not per birthday per stay. So twins who share a room would have to content themselves with one $100 discount, unless of course they booked separate rooms.

Details: Book by Jan. 31, 2011 with the promo code BUCKS. Travel between Feb. 1, 2010 and Jan. 31, 2011. For a list of the 35 properties, check out jdvhotels.com.

Looks like it’s never too early to start dropping hints about your birthday.