February 1, 2007

Airlines Eliminating Infant Fares

This oughta help the kids stay quiet on the plane. American Airlines discontinued its discounted fare for kids under 2-yo on Jan. 13. Their spokesman said, presumably with a straight face, "We found out that this was very rarely used, frankly."

This explanation, from a McClatchy article, sounds a bit more accurate:

In the past, the discount for pint-sized passengers brought the airlines more revenue, because parents often opted to simply carry the child rather than pay the full price.

But today, empty seats have become scarce on the nation's airlines, thanks to cuts in capacity coupled with increased demand.

That means a baby could be taking up a seat at half price that might otherwise go to an adult traveler paying the full fare.

In other words, there was no need to pay even 50% for an infant ticket, since you could be pretty sure you could get an empty seat next to you for the kid for free. Now that empty seats are in short supply, they raised the stakes.

The article reports that Delta eliminated their 50% discount fares for babies Dec. 26. Continental offers infant fares only on some routes. Southwest still offers discounted infant tickets, though.

Apparently it was too arduous for the McClatchy reporter to call the other four comparable airlines--US, UA, NW, & JB--to see what their deal is. AirTran, well, we already know.

update: Well that took five minutes. Northwest still mentions a discounted fare for an infant seat on their website. USAir and United both say kids under two will have to buy a full-fare ticket to get a seat. JetBlue doesn't bring up the subject at all, which means "full fare."

Airlines Dropping Child Discounts [theledger.com via consumerist]


Just flew Alaska Airlines on their MD-80 - no changing tables anywhere in the airplane. Nasty old stewardess got all snappy when I told her how surprised I was. I paid full price for a seat for my 1 year-old on that flight.

I ended up changing him on the toilet seat lid, kinda gross and no space at all. I shoulda left that stinky old nappy in the magazine pouch in front of my seat for the old dragon-lady.

I flew JetBlue with my one month old son in August (on the very day of that the liquids ban went into effect, actually). I chose not to buy a seat for him at all, but rather gambled that they would have an empty seat available for him and his car seat. The gamble paid off - I was able to bring him in his car seat on the plane, and they kindly switched me to the very last row on the plane, and the staff was endlessly helpful. I had a wonderful experience flying JetBlue with an infant - especially considering the ultracheap price I paid.

However, it helped that I knew up to the time I left the house that there were still available seats on the flight I was taking. For our upcoming trip to Las Vegas, we just bought a seat (at full price, on Delta).

We just flew Southwest (woo hoo! pre-boarding!), and I called about their infant fares, and it was cheaper to buy an adult fare with the internet price.

I'm flying to Florida with my daughter and her grandparents (and grandma has a serious fear of flying) this summer. Someone hold me.

Anyway, kids under 2 don't need to pay for a seat on JetBlue, as they're considered "lap infants." So, no bringing the car seat onboard, but free ride for the kiddo.

We did the carseat on the plane for several reasons: (a) in the case of bad turbulence, we didn't want my daughter flying all around, (b) it is familiar, and thus comfortable for her, (c)we wanted to make sure she stayed in her seat.

Plus, it helped her see out the window (which lasted all of 15 minutes, then she wanted us to lower the shade.

That's just our thoughts on the carseat thing...

I discovered when buying tickets for our upcoming trip to Hawaii with our 23 month old twins that when they talk about 50% fare, it is 50% of the lowest APPLICABLE fare. We ended up doing fre. flier miles, but our tix would have been $600 or so, and their would have been $500 (50% of the $1000 fare!).

The logic unfortunately makes sense, but it sucks either way. Knowing that we now have to buy 4 tickets to fly makes us not want to travel as much. Then again, we were almost always getting three seats. Best compromise with twins.

All that said, and money aside, I am so glad never to have to fly with a child on my lap again!

I recently travelled American Airlines and I was irritated that they no longer offer complimentary snacks. Things must be getting tight.

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