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The lap infant international fee nightmare

Buying plane tickets with miles may seem the best solution for family vacations but there is a hidden nightmare for first time users if a lap infant is involved.  We recently did just that, and when I called the airline to include my 1yr old I was told to call the partner airlines to include her as well. I was also informed that there may be other fees owed to the partner airlines for having a lap infant and I would have to call to inquire about those. It was the beginning of the most frustrating day of misinformation and being passed off for others to deal with. The first three hours involved being on hold multiple times and calling both Alaska Air and American Air six times in all. Neither could tell me at first what the fee would be or how to pay it. They both kept insisting I needed to take it up with the other airline. I finally reached someone helpful with American air and ended up being on the phone with him for 84 minutes with the fees not paid but I learned a great deal about the correct wording to get to the bottom of these fees and how they calculate them.  I also read through the website while on hold which seemed the only way to get a basis for what we were going to pay.

The American Airlines website says the fees charged for the lap infant are 10% of the adult fare plus tax. That may seem pretty clear cut but it is far from that. Another location on the site  clarifies that 10% of the international portion of the flight is what is charged. That’s a big difference and I was quoted from both perspectives on different calls. I was also told three separate times that it couldn’t be done over the phone and I would have to do it at the airport. I find it deplorable that this was the info being passed off as factual because of what it will mean if an unsuspecting parent shows up at the airport on the day of departure expecting to pay this fee. It means the fee will be calculated from the cost of buying a ticket on the airline last minute. It seems to me that this was the pushed agenda. Either that or they have some impressively uninformed employees working the phone lines.  A few times I was quoted from what they said were current prices and then when I informed them that I was looking at the same flight on the website and being quoted for a far cheaper price online I was put on hold for awhile then a new quote would be given for a less but still unreasonable amount. At this point I was tired of talking on the phone and gave it up for the night. And I’m glad I did.

When I called back the next day I was calm and courteous and was able to work my way up to a helpful supervisor who reached a reasonable price I agreed to. I still had to argue, point out that the website states the price should be based off only the international portion, point out that the taxes are already calculated into the price quoted on the website and explain that I didn’t WANT a refundable fare for my infant because my fare wasn’t refundable either so it would be redundant. I was put on hold at least ten times and on the phone for 73 minutes but in the end I only had to pay $200.  Why did it have to be so difficult? I’m still not sure but I was close to giving up and just buying my youngest her own seat. If that last call hadn’t ended with the reasonable quote I was going to go with the next reasonable offer of $506 for her own seat. I’m glad it’s over and even more happy that I didn’t put it off to find my family blindsided by a crazy high fee at check in.

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