This airline is now charging you $30 to carry your infant on your lap
This is enough to cause any parent to fly into a rage.
This week, Jetstar, a budget airline based in Australia, began charging people $30 per domestic one-way journey to carry a child up to two years old on their laps. Its low-cost competitor, Tigerair, also charges this fee. “Giving customers’ choice and charging each customer for what they actually need helps us to offer the lowest possible fares, every day,” a Jetstar spokesperson told The Sydney Morning Herald.
While U.S. airlines typically don’t do this, George Hobica, the founder of AirfareWatchdog, says he is surprised they haven’t done it yet. “In an era where everything is de-bundled and where fees are a significant way for airlines to pad of their bottom line, no fee or charge is out of the question,” adds Gabe Saglie, a senior editor at Travelzoo.
And this is far from the only way that airlines are making the skies less friendly to children and their parents. Here are five more. (A spokesperson for Airlines for America notes that “many family friendly initiatives are already in place to ensure a pleasant experience for these valued customers, including early-boarding, offering specific child-friendly meals and even entertainment options.”)
1. Infants sitting in their parent’s laps on international flights are charged 10% of the adult’s fare — even on U.S.-based airlines. That’s Delta’s policy and United notes that children under two traveling internationally in their parents lap “are required to have a purchased ticket and are subject to infant fares and taxes.” Hobica says he heard from two parents flying in business class recently who were “shocked to learn that their lap child would be charged $500 each way.” Delta and United did not respond to a request for comment.
2. “No-cry” zones of planes. A number of airlines have announced child-free zones on some of their planes. They include India-based IndiGo, which last year announced that kids 12 could not sit in its special “quiet zones.” In 2013, Scoot Airlines, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, and Air Asia X announced similar things. Despite the fact that a zone like this may make a family feel unwelcome, some airlines defend these zones because they allow quiet for business travelers.
3. A fee for advance seat seat selection, which makes it harder for families to sit together. A number of U.S. and other airlines now charge to pick your seat, which means that parents will need to pay to ensure they get seats together — or have to deal with the hassle of trying to talk to the gate agent into rearranging other people to accommodate them.
4. Not allowing a teenager on a flight without an adult coming with them. Allegiant does not allow minors under the age of 15 on its flights unless a ticketed adult comes too. That means you must buy two tickets. Allegiant says this is because its business model — the low-cost airline doesn’t have different classes onboard so there are fewer flight attendants and many of the people servicing the airline at the gates are contract employees — isn’t conducive to allowing that. Most other U.S. airlines charge a fee for unaccompanied minors — usually anyone under 15 — of about $50 – $150 each way.
5. Few perks for the kids on U.S. airlines. If you fly on many non U.S.-based airlines with your kids, you may see how good you could have it. Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has on-board nanny who will “provide an extra pair of hands – whether it’s helping to get the children settled for bed, keeping them entertained or simply offering advice and support to parents.” She comes armed with hand puppets, face-painting supplies and magic tricks. And Emirates has a whole program and special meals for children, as well as speical family check-in kiosks. Meanwhile, United refuses to warm your kids bottle: “Our flights are not equipped to heat baby bottles. You may request hot water or ice from a flight attendant to keep items hot or cold.”
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