Although children under two are able to travel without having to purchase a separate seat, research carried out by flight comparison site Skyscanner has found that in some cases it is actually cheaper to purchase an additional seat for an infant than to pay the fixed infant fee charge.
Many of those travelling with children under the age of two may be unaware that they can purchase a seat for their tot, providing they travel in a car seat and are over six months of age*. This means that parents get more room, often additional baggage allowance and may even save money too.
While many airlines charge a percentage of the full seat price for infants to fly on their parent’s knees, most carriers charge a set infant fee of between £30 and £50, often a similar cost to the price of paying for a seat on a low cost airline.
For instance the research found parents flying with an infant on bmibaby could actually save £7 if they bought a seat rather than paying the set infant charge on some flights, as per the example below. Although all the other airline examples in the study showed that it cost more to book a seat than pay the infant fee, this was a relatively small amount, ranging from just £3 to £30 for a return flight:
|Airline||Journey||Cost for seat||Infant fees||Saving/cost if seat bought for infant|
|bmibaby||Manchester to Knock, 6 Oct - 13 Oct||£43||£50||SAVE £7!|
|easyJet||Luton to Dortmund, 19 Nov - 27 Nov||£43||£40||PAY JUST £3 EXTRA|
|Monarch||Gatwick to Malaga, 8 Oct - 15 Oct||£59||£30||PAY £29 EXTRA|
|Aer Lingus||Manchester to Shannon, 17 Nov – 23 Nov||£67||£38||PAY £29 EXTRA|
|Jet 2||Manchester to Prague, 15 Nov - 22 Nov||£60||£30||PAY £30 EXTRA|
The study also revealed that, due to the disparity between some airlines charging a fixed cost for infant fees and others charging a percentage of the full fare, the total cost for one adult and one infant could vary considerably.
For instance in the example below using a similar route and dates, Thomson becomes a cheaper option than both Ryanair and easyJet for one adult and one infant, and although BA remains the most expensive, the difference is minimal:
|Airline||Journey, 6 Nov – 13 Nov||Adult fare||Infant fees/fare||Cost one 1 adult + 1 infant|
|Monarch||London Gatwick to Malaga||£67||£30||£97|
|Aer Lingus||London Gatwick to Malaga||£68||£38||£106|
|Ryanair||London Stansted to Malaga||£85||£40||£125|
|easyJet||London Gatwick to Malaga||£86||£40||£126|
|Thomson||London Gatwick to Malaga||£94||£30||£124|
|BA||London Gatwick to Malaga||£123||£12.30||£135.30|
Skyscanner’s Mary Porter, mother of one, said: “Many parents may not know that it is even an option to purchase a seat for under 2’s, but this could be a very appealing option for parents who don’t want a wriggling toddler on their knee for the duration of the flight, especially those booking longer journeys and if they can get this benefit without having to pay a huge amount extra then it’s the perfect situation!”.
All fares and fees correct as at 20 Sep 2011. Prices taken from Skyscanner.net
*Restrictions may differ between airlines and booking a seat for an infant may involve calling the airline directly. Please check with the airline before booking.
Please note, Ryanair have not be included in this study as it is not possible to book a separate seat for a child under 2.
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