Most travellers would imagine that they would only have to pay a small fee, if anything at all, to carry an infant (under 2) on their lap during a flight.
But research conducted for a new guide dedicated to travel with kids by travel search engine Kayak, has found that in some cases, the cost can be up to four times that of the adult fare.
According to Kayak, Ryanair is currently advertising flights from just £4.99 on its website (from Stansted to European destinations). However, the fee for travellers to take an infant on their lap is £20 each way, four times the adult fare. This means it would be far cheaper for travellers to book an extra adult seat for their baby instead of carrying them on their lap.
It is a similar story with EasyJet. It currently offers prices from £20.49 (flying from Gatwick to Belfast). Yet once again, booking an infant fare (£22) costs travellers more than an adult seat. The research found that Jet2 also charges a flat fee of £20 to carry a child, regardless of the cost of the adult fare.
However, other airlines take a fairer approach to infant fares, meaning parents can avoid being stung in the pocket if they consider their airline options carefully before travelling. Flybe, for example, charges 12% of the adult fare for an infant on any route. British Airways has a similar fare structure, charging 10%.
So, what do parents get for their money when it comes to baggage? All airlines in the research will carry a stroller or pushchair, with some offering two items in the hold.
British Airways allows parents an extra bag on board and in the hold. Infants flying on Ryanair receive a cabin luggage allowance of 5kg – half the normal cabin luggage allowance for an adult fare. However, Flybe and Jet2 do not offer any additional baggage allowance according to their websites.
Suzanne Perry – travel expert at KAYAK, commented: “The research shows that some airlines are considerably more parent-friendly than others. While a flat fee to carry infants offers better value when the ticket prices are higher, that doesn’t translate so well for cheap flight deals.
“Our advice would be to check the policies of each airline before travelling with children – and if an adult fare is less, check if you can purchase an adult ticket for your baby instead. Not only could it be cheaper, you may get far more space as you will also get an extra seat, and you will get a higher luggage allowance too.”
10% of adult fare
75% of adult fare
£20 each way
12% of adult fare
£22 each way
What airlines offer for infants
Date you can fly to
End of 36th week
Extra cabin bag allowed (included in your allowance) if you have an infant. Extra checked bag of same allowance as adults also allowed. Pushchair/car seat allowed free of charge
End of 33rd week for return flight
No extra luggage allowance. Pushchair/car seat allowed free of charge if combined weight is under 10kg
End of 33rd week (after this need clearance from Flybe)
No extra luggage allowance. Pushchair allowed free of charge
End of 35th week
No extra luggage allowance. You are able to travel with two of the following items free of charge:
Collapsible or non-collapsible pram
Baby back carrier.
Extra cabin allowance of up to 5kg allowed free of charge. Pushchair also allowed free of charge in addition to one of the following items: car seat, booster seat, travel cot