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]

Events Worth Planning A Trip Around In 2013

Have you ever landed in a place to find out you arrived just after the town’s can’t-miss event of the year? Well, hopefully that won’t happen again this year. Gadling bloggers racked their brains to make sure our readers don’t overlook the best parties to be had throughout the world in 2013. Below are more than 60 music festivals, cultural events, pilgrimages and celebrations you should consider adding to your travel calendar this year – trust us, we’ve been there.

Above image: Throughout Asia, Lunar New Year is celebrated with lantern festivals, the most spectacular of which is possibly Pingxi. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

Kumbh Mela, a 55-day festival in India, is expected to draw more than 100 million people in 2013. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

January 7–27: Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)
January 10–February 26: Kumbh Mela (Allahabad, India)
January 21: Presidential Inauguration (Washington, DC)
January 26–February 12: Carnival of Venice (Venice, Italy)
January 26–February 13: Battle of the Oranges (Ivrea, Italy)
During Busójárás in Hungary, visitors can expect folk music, masquerading, parades and dancing. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
February 3: Super Bowl XLVII (New Orleans, Louisiana)
February 5–11: Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Japan)
February 7–12: Busójárás (Mohács, Hungary)
February 10: Chinese New Year/Tet (Worldwide)
February 9–12: Rio Carnival (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
February 12: Mardi Gras (Worldwide)
February 14: Pingxi Lantern Festival (Taipei, Taiwan)
February 24: Lunar New Year (Worldwide)

Several cities in India and Nepal increase tourist volume during Holi, when people enjoy spring’s vibrant colors. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
March 1-14: Omizutori (Nara, Japan)
March 8–17: South by Southwest (Austin, Texas)
March 20–April 14: Cherry Blossom Festival (Washington, DC)
March 27: Holi (Worldwide, especially India & Nepal)

Many Dutch people wear orange – the national color – and sell their secondhand items in a “free market” during Koninginnendag, a national holiday in the Netherlands. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
April 12–14 & April 19–21: Coachella (Indio, California)
April 11-14: Masters Golf Tournament (Augusta, Georgia)
April 13–15: Songkran Water Festival (Thailand)
April 17–28: TriBeCa Film Festival (New York, New York)
April 25–28: 5Point Film Festival (Carbondale, Colorado)
April 30: Koninginnendag or Queen’s Day (Netherlands)

Up to 50 men work together to carry their church’s patron saint around the main square in Cusco, Peru during Corpus Christi. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
May 4: Kentucky Derby (Louisville, Kentucky)
May 15–16: Festival de Cannes (Cannes, France)
May 20: Corpus Christi (Worldwide)
May 23–26: Art Basel (Hong Kong)
May 24–27: Mountainfilm Film Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
May 25-28: Sasquatch Festival (Quincy, Washington)
May 26: Indianapolis 500 (Speedway, Indiana)

2013 marks the 100th anniversary for the Tour de France. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]

June 13–16: Bonnaroo (Manchester, Tennessee)
June 13–16: Art Basel (Basel, Switzerland)
June 14–16: Food & Wine Classic (Aspen, Colorado)
June 21: St. John’s Night (Poznan, Poland)
June 24: Inti Raymi (Cusco, Peru)
June 28–30: Comfest (Columbus, Ohio)
June 29–July 21: Tour de France (France)

The annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Visit Istanbul, Turkey, at this time and see a festival-like atmosphere when pious Muslims break their fasts with lively iftar feasts at night. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
July 6–14: San Fermin Festival (Pamplona, Spain)
July 9–August 2: Ramadan (Worldwide)
July 12–14: Pitchfork (Chicago, Illinois)
July 17: Gion Festival Parade (Kyoto, Japan)
July 18–21: International Comic Con (San Diego, California)
July 19–22: Artscape (Baltimore, Maryland)
July 24–28: Fete de Bayonne (Bayonne, France)

Festival-goers get their picture taken at a photo booth during Foo Fest, an arts and culture festival held annually in Providence, Rhode Island. [Photo credit: Flickr user AS220]
August 2–4: Lollapalooza (Chicago, Illinois)
August 10: Foo Fest (Providence, Rhode Island)
August 26–September 2: Burning Man (Black Rock Desert, Nevada)
August 31–September 2: Bumbershoot (Seattle, Washington)

More than six million people head to Munich, Germany, for beer-related festivities during the 16-day Oktoberfest. [Photo credit: Creative Commons]
September 5–15: Toronto International Film Festival (Toronto, Canada)
September 13–15: Telluride Blues & Brews Festival (Telluride, Colorado)
September 21–October 6: Oktoberfest (Munich, Germany)

Around 750 hot air balloons are launched during the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. [Photo credit: Flickr user Randy Pertiet]

October 4–6 & 11–13: Austin City Limits (Austin, Texas)
October 5–13: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
October 10–14: United States Sailboat Show (Annapolis, Maryland)

During Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), family and friends get together to remember loved ones they have lost. Although practiced throughout Mexico, many festivals take place in the United States, such as this festival at La Villita in San Antonio, Texas. [Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]
November 1–2: Dia de los Muertos (Worldwide, especially Mexico)
November 3: Diwali (Worldwide)
November 8–10: Fun Fun Fun Fest (Austin, Texas)
November 11: Cologne Carnival (Cologne, Germany)
November 28: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (New York, New York)
TBA: Punkin Chunkin (Long Neck, Delaware)

The colorful holiday of Junkanoo is the most elaborate festivals of the Bahamian islands. [Photo credit: Flickr user MissChatter]
December 2–3: Chichibu Yomatsuri (Chichibu City, Japan)
December 5–8: Art Basel (Miami, Florida)
December 26–January 1: Junkanoo (Bahamas)

So, what did we miss? Let us know what travel-worthy events you’re thinking about journeying to in the coming year in the comments below.

How To Stay With Strangers Around The World For Free

It’s no secret I’m a fan of couchsurfing. Finding hosts online to put you up in their living rooms sounds sketchy, but I’ve never had a real negative experience. The value isn’t just in a free place to crash. The biggest plus is meeting incredible people, real people who can show you a side of their city that you normally wouldn’t see as a tourist.

For me, that meant everything from a house party in Paris to sipping beers in Munich while discussing German historical consciousness. Oh, yeah. And staying for free.

Here’s how to crash with strangers around the world, without landing yourself in a shady situation du jour:

Be Discerning
When I was traveling alone in Europe in my early 20s, I set specific guidelines: I limited my search to women in their 20s and 30s with good English and favorable reviews from former guests. Luckily, I was traveling in populated areas with lots of options for hosts, and I used that to my advantage. You can actually filter your results by certain criteria like language skills, something I thought was important as someone traveling alone, so there were no misunderstandings.

Have A Backup Plan
You never want to be beholden. If you get a bad vibe, be prepared to leave. The best bet is a list of hostels or hotels in the area. It’s great to save on accommodations, but if you feel weird about a certain place, suck it up and pay. The closest I got to a bad situation was when I showed up at a host’s house and she told me I could stay in her roommate’s room, and use her roommate’s laptop. I gladly obliged … until her roommate came home and they started a screaming match. I was prepared to up and leave. Luckily, the roommate said it wasn’t my fault and I slept in the living room. Needless to say, I cut my tenure short by leaving first thing in the morning.Come Armed
When you show up to your host’s place, always come with a gift. It can be small, but you’re not paying, so be courteous. In my experience, the best gifts are less about money value and more about history or a back-story. Generally, as I backpacked from place to place, I brought my new host something from the place I was leaving. I brought a decorative plate from Madrid for my first host in Paris. She had never been to Spain and told me it was like a small piece of the travels themselves.

Follow Their Lead
Some hosts would rather act like your personal hotel: “Stay with me for a night, but I don’t have a lot of time, so leave with me in the morning when I go to work and be home by X time.” Others really want to bond and hang out. As a couchsurfer, it’s on you to figure out what your host is expecting, and to be adaptable. Hosts occasionally gave me keys, but not usually. That often means coming and going on their schedules. There were times my host and I would cook dinner together, share a bottle of wine – I spent a whole day walking around with one host, who took me to the hippodrome, the park and a museum. Others just don’t have the time.

Tell Tales
Everywhere I stayed, I asked my hosts why they chose to let people stay with them for nothing in return. I got a smattering of answers, but for the most part they fell into two camps: for some, they wanted to pay the kindness forward either because they had stayed with hosts in different countries, themselves, or because they’d like to in the future. For others, the only price they asked was for me to tell them stories of my experiences. My first Parisian host was also my best; she hosted couchsurfers all the time and wanted to embark on solo travel of her own someday, but had never worked up the courage. In the meantime, she traveled vicariously through us.

We stayed in touch, and less than a year after I stayed with her, she proudly told me that she had finally gone traveling, inspired by the incredible stories she heard from her guests.

[Image credit: Flickr user Wonderlane]

Fake Pilot Arrested After Flying Across Europe

Police in Italy have arrested a man for impersonating a pilot and fooling the crew and ground staff into letting him into the cockpit of a European flight, the BBC reports.

A man managed to pose as a pilot using a uniform and fake ID and fly in the cockpit of an Air Dolomiti flight from Munich to Turin on April 6. Reportedly he flew as a “third pilot” and did not touch the controls.

Police, who have not revealed the man’s name, say he is jobless. They are now investigating his motives. They’re also checking to see if he managed to become a “crew member” of any other flights. He was arrested at Turin airport and was found to be in possession of uniforms similar to those worn by pilots but lacking an airline logo, a fake ID and fake flight manuals.

The man used the alias Andrea Sirlo and even created a Facebook page for himself with fake flight attendants as friends.

The website Myflightbook lists Andrew Sirlo as the pilot on a Munich-Turin flight on October 23, 2011.

Bungling airport security seems to be a regular feature here on Gadling. We’ve covered a number of stories such as a child boarding an international flight without a ticket or passport, TSA workers claiming body scanners cause cancer, and an elderly woman being put on the wrong flight.

[Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

What You Need To Know About Oktoberfest 2012

I love Oktoberfest season. Just as the summer heat disappears, men in lederhosen with feathered hats take to the streets, and I can sample all the Oktoberfest beers that arrive in my favorite beer stores. (This year my favorite is the Otter Creek Oktoberfest, which is brewed with real Vermont maple syrup.) Munich’s Oktoberfest starts on Saturday and in the coming weeks, there will be Oktoberfest celebrations in cities and towns all over the U.S. and wherever there are ethnic German communities around the world.

But none are quite like the original Oktoberfest in Munich, which hosted nearly 7 million visitors last year with nary a Budweiser or Miler Lite in sight. To get a better idea of what the original Oktoberfest in Munich is all about, we talked to Isabella Schopp, from the City of Munich Tourism Bureau.

Why is it called Oktoberfest if it starts in September?

It used to be in October in the first years but as the weather was always very rainy, grey and sometimes there was even snow, some of the Munich caterers decided that the Oktoberfest should already end on the first weekend of October. It has started in September since 1872.

The Oktoberfest celebration in Munich is the most famous one but are there others all over Germany?

Almost every city and village in Germany has its own folk festival with beer tents and fun rides, which takes one to two weeks each year. They are not called “Oktoberfest” but have their own names and cannot be compared to the Oktoberfest, as they are much smaller and less well known.

What are the origins of the celebration in Munich?

The Munich Oktoberfest, the largest folk festival in the world, has its origin in the wedding ceremony of Crown Prince Ludwig – later King Ludwig I. of Bavaria – with Princess Therese of Sachsen-Hildburghausen in the year 1810.

How has the celebration changed over the years?

The Oktoberfest still remains the traditional Munich funfair with Munich hospitality and Munich beer. There still are many traditional parts like the parades on the first weekend and some nostalgic rides. However, it has also grown a lot. In the meantime there are 14 large festival halls (“beer tents”), many more rides and games (130 altogether) and the number of visitors has grown a lot.

Tell us a bit about the special Oktoberfest beers that are available during the celebration?

Only those breweries that brew within the city limits are allowed to sell their beer at Oktoberfest. There are, at the moment, six different breweries that provide their own Oktoberfest beers. Only Munich beer from the proven traditional Munich breweries – Augustinerbrauerei, Hacker-Pschorrbrauerei, Löwenbrauerei, Paulanerbrauerei, Spatenbrauerei and Staatliches Hofbräuhaus – which satisfy the Munich purity standards of 1487 and the German purity standards of 1906 may be served.

What does a liter of beer cost?

The price of beer in 2012 is €9.10 – €9.50 per liter.

Other than pretzels what other kind of food is traditionally eaten at Oktoberfest?

The beer is best accompanied by Bavarian delicacies such as radishes, obatzda (specially garnished cream cheese), sausages and roast chicken or spicy fish grilled on a skewer. Another Wiesn specialty is the ox roasted on a spit at the Ochsenbraterei. (The Wiesn is the festival area.)

I know it can be difficult to find a room in Munich during Oktoberfest, any advice for travelers who need a place to stay?

It is advisable to reserve rooms as early as possible. Rooms can be booked via München Tourismus: phone +49 89 23396550 or email gaesteservice.tam@muenchen.de.
There are also some camping sites in and around Munich where visitors with a small budget can stay.

How many people take part in Oktoberfest celebrations in Munich each year?

In 2011, 6.9 million people took part in Oktoberfest celebrations. The number of visitors has risen every year.

Other than drinking beer and oom-pah bands, what else happens during the course of the celebration?

The Oktoberfest is much more than drinking beer.
The festive setting for the opening of the Oktoberfest is the entry of the festival hosts and breweries, which has been the same since 1887. During the ceremonial opening of the fest, the families of the festival arrive in coaches adorned with flowers, along with the bands, waitresses on decorated carriages and magnificent horse drawn carts from the Munich breweries. This procession is led off by the “Münchner Kindl” – Munich’s symbolic figure – on horseback, followed by the festival coach of the Lord Mayor.

The procession of folklore and marksmen groups takes place on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest. Some 9,000 persons from Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Norway, Poland and Switzerland participate in this seven-kilometer long parade. There are people in historical uniforms, marksmen, folklore groups, local bands and thoroughbred horses. This procession was held for the first time in 1835 on the occasion of the silver wedding anniversary of Ludwig I. and Therese of Bavaria.

A big band open-air concert of all Oktoberfest bands with some 300 musicians takes place on the second Sunday of the festival. For the grand finale of the Oktoberfest on the last Sunday, some 60 marksmen give a farewell salute.

Do locals take off from work to take part in this, or do they show up for work hung over the next morning?

Some locals take off from work to take part in the Oktoberfest but usually locals go to work the next morning, some probably a bit later than usual!

Have there been security issues with people getting too drunk and causing problems in previous years?

The security measures have always been good. But there are always some conflicts between drunken visitors that can be solved quickly by the security people. After some critical reviews of security procedures, the taskforce “Security at the Wiesn,” introduced measures that enabled security at the Wiesn to be steadily increased.

What’s your favorite part about Oktoberfest?

What I like best at the Oktoberfest is the procession of folklore and marksmen groups, which takes place on the first Sunday of the Oktoberfest, as well as the special, happy vibe all over the Oktoberfest grounds, as well as in the beer tents.

[Photos courtesy of The German National Tourist Board]