ANA now charges 10% of mileage fare for lap infants


In response to this morning’s post about ANA Sweet spots, a reader commented to ask if I could confirm that what ANA charges to add a lap infant to a reservation. My past experienced had matched what I had seen on other blogs: I was charged 10% of the adult revenue fare early last year. However, according to the terms now reflected on ANA’s site at the experience of at least one traveler at Flyertalk, ANA is now in fact charging 10% of the adult mileage fare for a lap infant. I believe this is a change in policy and I’m not sure when it changed (sometime during 2019 likely), but it makes for a great deal given ANA’s low award costs as outlined this morning. Note: People have differing opinions on lap infant travel. We have previously covered the baby in business class debate. Wherever you stand on that, this post is meant to inform those who intend to travel with a lap infant. I encourage everyone to do their own research and determine what makes sense for themselves.

I was able to request a baby meal in advance (something you can do with most airlines) and ANA provided meals with baby food, a bib, and some toys / activity packets. Service was excellent.

Lap infant policies vary: do your homework

Lap infant policies vary from carrier to carrier. In general, you pay the lap infant fee based on the ticketing carrier’s policy (with some rare exceptions).

For instance, let’s say you were planning to fly on Cathay Pacific and you have the choice of using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, or British Airways Avios to book. The price you would pay for the lap infant would vary:

  • American Airlines would charge you 10% of the adult revenue fare. Oddly, the adult revenue fare that American uses as a basis for this is sometimes significantly higher than published fares.
  • Cathay Pacific would have charged you 25% of the adult revenue fare for flights to/from the US in the past, though my more recent experience with them has been 10% of the adult fare.
  • British Airways would charge you 10% of the adult mileage price.

Given that premium cabin fares can be quite expensive, a program like British Airways may be quite appealing in that example depending on the details.

Most airlines follow the American Airlines model: 10% of the revenue fare. Few airlines follow the British Airways model. However, it seems that ANA now charges 10% of the mileage fare.

Here are the relevant terms from ANA’s website (thanks to reader Mike for pointing this out):

Infant passengers who do not require their own seat will be able to use flight awards by paying 10% of the required flight award mileage for the same boarding class as the accompanying adult. In this instance, the infant must be registered as an award user.
Alternatively, an infant fare ticket can be purchased separately for the same boarding class as the accompanying adult.

Again, this was news to me. In preparation of my trip on ANA last year, I had checked One Mile at a Time’s guide for infant award travel and they show the same 10% of the revenue fare that I was quoted. I further found this Flyertalk thread which began in 2018 with discussion about ANA charging 10% of the revenue fare for lap infants (note that the original post is about a flight booked with Virgin Atlantic miles — Virgin actually charges a set number of miles to add a lap infant to an ANA award, but that’s neither here nor there as you’ll see people reference 10% of the revenue fare as you get further into the discussion). In September 2019, a response in that thread quotes the policy above at 10% of the adult mileage fare for the lap infant.

That is a huge change. Last April, I added my son one way on what was originally a round trip business class flight. I waited until the last minute to add him and it ended up costing me almost $500 based on the one-way cash fare. Had I instead been charged 10% of the adult mileage fare, I’d have either paid 9000 miles (based on the round trip price) or perhaps 4500 miles based on the one-way price (since I only added him one way). I’d have much rather moved over that many Membership Rewards points.

It further means that some of the sweet spots noted in this morning’s post are even more compelling with ANA miles. Aeroplan has long been the gold standard for lap infants on Star Alliance given that Aeroplan charges a set 10K miles or $100 to add a lap infant in business class (or 12.5K / $125 in first class). The trade-off is that Aeroplan’s award pricing for the adult tickets is higher than ANA’s.

We noted some sweet spots this morning where this seems like a terrific deal — adding a lap infant to a 75K round trip business class ticket to Japan for just 7500 miles or to a round trip business class ticket to Australia for 10.5K miles seem like fantastic deals. I expect that this same policy applies to partner awards, which would mean a round trip lap infant on an award to Europe would be just 8.8K miles.  Note that I assume you’ll also pay the taxes for the infant fare.

For those considering traveling with a lap infant in the future, ANA is now a program to keep in mind.

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