Should An Infant With No Seat Have To Pay A $320 Fuel Surcharge?

Here’s an interesting situation. When babies fly domestically, they fly for free — but international flights require a ticket and, apparently, a huge fuel surcharge.

From Elliott.org:

The agent asked for our ticket for our son. I will not go into all of the details, but an hour later (and 35 minutes to flight departure), we were forced to pay 332 euros ($423.10) to get my son a ticket so he could return back to the states.

Words cannot describe my outrage at the time, especially the justification of the fees ($320 fuel surcharge – $160 each way??!!). How can they legally charge that much when our ten pound infant does not even have a seat?

Delta responded to this complaint with a form letter explaining that kids need a ticket — which is 10% of the regular fare. The only problem? He’d already paid that fee when he booked the tickets. The $320 was explained to him as a fuel surcharge.

Should passengers who don’t even get a seat and weigh 10 lbs be charged this fee? Seems a little silly doesn’t it?

Waaaa! Baby gets socked with surprise $320 fuel surcharge on Delta flight [Elliott] (Thanks, Shaula!)
(Photo: So Cal Metro )

Comments

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  1. starshard0 says:

    For that price they ought to at least give him a seat. And a free dinner. And a new TV.

  2. raleel says:

    yes, i love how there are still fuel surcharges now that oil has nearly in half, and how they didn’t need them when oil was at this price before.

    btw, I paid $30 for 1 checked bag, round trip, on united in the last two weeks, so yes, I’m cracky :)

    • jamar0303 says:

      @raleel: Some airlines are dropping the fuel surcharge now. The ones that still have them are unfortunately mostly big international airlines.

      • janespeak says:

        @jamar0303: the airline i work for not only dropped the fuel surcharge, but if your fly date was booked AFTER the fuel surcharges dropped, then we refunded that amount back the our passengers, only if they asked for it. (which has nothing to do with being greedy, but more the man power to sift through millions of files to checked when the booking was made and if FS was added as bookings can be made up to a year in advance… so we left it up to the passengers)

    • emilymarion333 says:

      @raleel: @raleel: I usually end up paying $150-300 every month for checked bag fee…I get cranky about it be at least work reimburses me for it.

    • triggerh says:

      @raleel: Actually, you should be grateful that the airlines are still in business and willing to ship us whiny passengers around. Most airlines are not getting rid of the surcharges because they are still trying to make up for the HUGE amount of money they lost this past year. The surcharges didn’t even come close to off-setting the high fuel costs.

      • DH405 says:

        @triggerh: Do you work for the airline industry? You sure sound like it.

        • triggerh says:

          @SMSDHubbard: Yes, I work for the airline industry (but not for Delta). And to be honest, I don’t like the surcharges either because I believe its a deceptive practice, but it appears one of the reasons behind it is that the companies were afraid raise their “published fares” too much.

          • backbroken says:

            @triggerh: Soooooooooo….
            raise the prices of your tickets enough for you to stay in business rather than adding on a hidden, deceiptful fee.

            “Staying in business” is not justification for pulling a bunch of BS on your customers.

            • triggerh says:

              @backbroken: I didn’t make the call on this one, champ.

              • RedwoodFlyer says:

                @triggerh:

                trigger…stop, just stop!

                You’re an embarrassment to the rest of us in the industry.

                I work for a new airline and can’t believe how much crap we had to put up with (2+ years) due to United and Continental (replace the o with a U) filing opposition after opposition. Basically proves that they’re fully aware that they have a sub-par product.

                For everyone else…I hate to say this, but expect worse – the Delta/NW “merger” (like how Germany merged w/ Poland) gets rid of a huge piece of competition, and less competition = get out the KY next time you’re at the airport (but make sure it’s under 3.4 oz!).

                In the meantime, support airlines like Southwest..vote with your feet!

      • suprfli says:

        @triggerh: Your attitude is EXACTLY the attitude that’s putting the airlines out of business. Your comment is one of the most hilarious I’ve read in a long time – “…you should be grateful that the airlines are still in business and willing to ship us whiny passengers around.” Here’s an idea, how about charging a fee that’s reasonable, providing good service and being on time? It’s a pretty simple formula but most airlines can’t seem to figure it out and execute. The airlines that can’t figure it out deserve to go out of business. When they go out of business other businesses will start which will fill the demand hopefully correcting the mistakes of the previously failing companies.

    • Con Seannery says:

      @raleel: I remember listening to the Alan Handelman show when he started onto how the fuel surcharges are total BS and just sitting in the car after I parked and nodding in agreement…

    • uomdeacon says:

      @raleel: The fuel surcharges are still in effect, because many airlines hedged their fuel prices. This means that even though the current market price is ~$60-70/barrel, it doesn’t mean the airline is necessarily paying that amount. They could be paying much more, because a year ago, they predicted that it would be higher, and thus maybe hedged at $100/barrel. That’s one of the reasons Southwest came out of the high fuel prices looking like a champ, they managed to hedge it super low.

  3. Howie411 says:

    This is the same thing that pisses me off when I need to fly somewhere and take my dog. For instance United now charges $150 each way (this is to bring my dog on the plane and squish him under the seat in front of me) I can see paying a fee if I had him in cargo, but now I’m giving up my 1 carry on and leg room and still paying extra. On a side note its cheaper for me to buy an extra seat rather then pay the pet fee now.

    • Tankueray says:

      @Howie411: Can you buy an extra seat and not pay for the dog?

      What would the agent have done if they would’ve just handed her the kid and went on their way?

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @Howie411: The fee still covers insurance and the added preparation needed for an animal to be in the cabin. I’ve flown with my cats before, and there are restrictions on how many pets are allowed per flight. Animals being in the cabin can be a pain for the staff as well, depending on who’s nearby. A passenger threw a fit once and demanded to be moved to the opposite end of the plane because they were in the same row as my cat. (I had offered to move right off the bat, they didn’t like cats and made a scene, etc etc.) I wouldn’t expect any airline to deal with those possible inconveniences for free.

      • Luckie says:

        @h3llc4t: I would rather sit next to a dozen cats than one three year old. *luvs kittehs* Children are way more of a pain than animals.

        • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

          @Luckie: We only have 1 kitty now out of our 3 that I would ever bring into the cabin with me, and I don’t think it will be that way for long. NaughtyKitty #1 would slowly gnaw her way out of the carrier, and NaughtyKitty #2 would bawl relentlessly since he is a momma’s boy and would be pissed I couldn’t hold him the whole way. The abovementioned OldLadyKitty was a great flyer as she was quiet and generally slept the whole time, but as she gets up in years her travel days are limited.

          I’ve sat next to some wonderful children on flights and it’s been a few years since I’ve had to deal with a truly heinous one. The bane of my existence on planes is usually the overly chatty seat neighbor. See this book? It’s titled Shut The Hell Up, I Don’t Like Strangers. You should try it, it’s great!

          • RedwoodFlyer says:

            @h3llc4t: Reminds me of the time we took our ferrets on a Delta flight and I fell asleep..I was awoken by a flight attendant who informed me that one of them had escaped from the carrier (they’re good at opening zippers apparently) and stolen someone’s Croc sandal!

  4. Parting says:

    If the fee wasn’t disclosed in advance, than I cannot see how it could be justified…

    • janespeak says:

      @Meltdown: @Howie411: yup.. that is definitely a really stupid fee, seeing as you are able to have 2 carry-ons.. too bad your dog isnt allowed to count as one..

    • janespeak says:

      @Meltdown: ah, but it was. on the itinerary it said fuel surcharges apply and they can be a significant amount. i truly dont know how it came to be $320 as that’s a lot… pretty much a new ticket… but it all depends on where you are going, the distance covered.. yada yada yada.. the airline i work for really tried to steer clear of sky rocketing FS fees so we set a standard rate, $20/short haul, $40/med haul $60/long haul up to xxx of miles, and $75 for any miles over xxxx. we also tried to find other ways to cut cost internally as to not try to cut back on how much $$ we are extracting from passengers.. tho, there are only 2 airlines that actually ‘care’… so i’m really not surprised that other airlines dont give a damn.. that and their damn union allows them to be assholes.

  5. soloudinhere says:

    these parents clearly haven’t learned the lesson of how valuable it is to purchase a full seat for an infant child so you don’t have to have the kid on your lap for 8 straight hours. Buying a row of seats and leaving the middle one free gives you soooooo much more breathing room on a crowded plane. In this case, it probably would have been cheaper, too.

    • NikkiSweet says:

      @soloudinhere: that’s *if* the airline manages to put your family together on the flight :)

      I’ve also sat through flights where i was having an asthma attack, and needed my boyfriend with me to keep me calm, and the flight attendant told me to “quit acting like a child”… i couldn’t really help the fact that the person next to me smelled like they bathed in the cologne, and it was affecting me… i mean, damn me for booking my flight at the same time as my boyfriends, and requesting that we be seated together…

      • dewsipper says:

        @NikkiSweet: Just about everyone on a plane will bathe in cologne/perfume just before boarding it seems. Those wonderful little paint masks you can get in the hardware store should be the first thing you pack in your purse when flying if you’ve got the least bit of an asthma problem. At least it’s worked wonders for me for years.

        When asked, “why the mask?” I have no problems in telling them it’s because of the overabundance of harmful manmade chemicals with which they’ve doused themselves.

        • wiggatron says:

          @dewsipper: I have no problems in telling them it’s because of the overabundance of harmful manmade chemicals with which they’ve doused themselves.”

          Give me a break. Why insist on insulting the person next to you for no good reason? Talk about man-made, you’re flying around in a giant aluminum tube filled with jet fuel.

  6. misokitty says:

    As a nanny I would argue that the infant should have a seat and be in a car seat for the majority of the flight. I have traveled with infants and held them in my lap, it is really not fun and to be honest not safe. But I do think that an infant’s ticket should be at a reduced price because they are not benefiting from other parts of the flight (in flight entertainment, food/drink).

    • unpolloloco says:

      @misokitty: I would argue that they actually cost airlines more than regular passengers if they are in a seat. They make more of a mess and the food/drink offset would amount to approximately $1

      • kathyl says:

        @unpolloloco: In what way are you 100% sure that an infant makes “more of a mess”? I’ve been around adults who act like untrained pigs on airlines, and I’ve not left a single thing behind for the flight crew to clean up after my daughter either time I’ve flown with her.

        I really hope you were kidding, and not just making the gross generalization that “kids are messy”. Adults are far more experienced and tend to care a lot less about the wreckage they leave behind, in my experience.

    • TechGromit says:

      @misokitty:
      I would have to agree, every person on a flight should be required to have a seat, weather they are a 10 pound infent or a 300 pound adult. It really puzzles me why it’s not a requirement, children are required to be restrained in car seat, in vehilces that travel 60 MPH, but a plane moves at 10 times that speed and you can hold them on your lap?!!! In the event of a crash, He-Man couldn’t hold on to that baby, it will be shot forward like a missile. It’s irrsponsible to have get a baby there own seat so you have properly install a car seat into it.

  7. Fujikopez says:

    They should have just stuck the baby in her handbag. Delta would have been none the wiser.

    (Totally joking, please nobody take me seriously.)

    • lincolnparadox says:

      @Fujikopez: How much does a extra bag cost on Delta? $50? $100? That seems fair for a 10 pound infant.

      Sticky prices, ladies and gentlemen. Write your Congresspeople and DEMAND that we never bailout the airlines again. If they’re going to bend parents over a barrel like this, let the big companies fail.

      • jamar0303 says:

        @lincolnparadox: YES! Let the old ones die; I’m amazed there were people who actually wanted that bailout. While we’re at it, get some foreign airlines flying in the US- then we’ll have some real competition.

        And the TSA too- get rid of them.

  8. vildechaia says:

    Tankueray – That is hysterical!! Yeah, what would the airline reps do then??!!!!

  9. altryan says:

    Anything to keep children off planes.

    They should charge a child surcharge where for every time your child screams, cries, hits my seat, runs around, backtalks, looks funny, smells, shits itself… The surcharge is you have to buy everybody else on the plane a little mini vodka and coke so they can pass out and not have to listen to your little devil.

    • Luckie says:

      @altryan: AMEN! Preach it.

    • GothamGal says:

      @altryan:

      Agreed. You shouldn’t be allowed to take a baby on a flight without paying for a seat. It would hopefully discourage them from ruining other people’s flights and why do I need a seat belt and the baby doesn’t? What type of superhuman powers do these parents possess where they are as strong as the seat belt?

    • emilymarion333 says:

      @altryan: I recently flew from California to Virginia..and a baby screamed and cried the entire flight! It was horrible..

      Same thing happened on my flight to vegas last week – a children about 4 years old shrieking..and there was also no room on the flight since 1/2 of the flight was a college football time…

    • shufflemoomin says:

      @altryan: I wish I could take the moral high ground and argue with you, but I have to relent and agree. I had a kid next to me on a flight who repeatedly threw a metal toy car at me which his mother insisted on having me move so she could get it back. Some kids are bastards and I don’t like the idea of being in a metal tube at 35,000 feet with them or their studid parents for that matter.

    • tyep says:

      Vodka and Coke, never heard of it sounds disgusting.@altryan:

    • Sugarless says:

      @altryan: Why stop with babies. They should charge a surcharge for every man who plans to hit on a fellow passenger, or women who wear too much perfume or the person who talks loudly on their cellphone. We could come up with a list of ALL the things that might bother another passenger.

      On topic, I think the child should have had a seat. But that phony fuel charge is lame.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        @CreoleSugar: oooh, yeah, got stuck next to someone with perfume i was allergic to once. the flight was only a couple of hours but i sneezed the whole way and my eyes were burning. honestly, i can tune out a crying child after a while [3 years of working in a toy store and you can too!] but the perfume …. i think pervasive is the best word. heck, I’D pay extra to not have to sit next to someone with too much perfume.

      • Parting says:

        @CreoleSugar: You should design and sell a t-shirt. ”If you talk on the cellphone, let your child run around, or wear too much perfume, you authorize me to slap you”.

      • lbell says:

        @CreoleSugar:
        Absolutely! I don’t understand why babies get a bad rap when grown adults are much worse and harder to tune out. I once sat next to a man who had an OCD thing going on with his hands and his mouth. He kept knocking on the window, making odd signs with his hands, whistling and talking non stop to me and to no one in particular. He kept saying how he had lost his reading glasses right before the flight so I gave him mine in hopes that he would read and be quiet, which he finally did. I would much rather have had a baby next to me.

    • Unchained says:

      @altryan:

      So what you’re saying is children don’t deserve to go places on planes? That doesn’t seem fair. Just because you don’t know how to deal with children (or their parents if need be) doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve to fly. As someone else stated, their are far worse things then children on flights.

      • parnote says:

        @Unchained: Get over it … life isn’t fair! What also isn’t fair is to allow “parents” with children on a flight who have a complete and utter lack of parenting skills, who insist on “letting the child express himself.” It isn’t a matter of, as you say, “don’t know how to deal with children (or their parents if need be).” Just try and get away with that in today’s suit-happy society.

        No, to be fair, “parents” should parent, and if they cannot or will not, then it’s up to the rest of the “village” to step up and take over. Then, you’ll have no more of the snot-nosed little hellions screaming, running through a plane in transit, or kicking the back or people’s seats that (these days) they paid a damn good amount of money for.

        • SadSam says:

          @parnote:

          I don’t think its safe that babies/kids up to two can fly without having their own seat. If I were in charge, I probably would allow babies up to 6 mos. to fly in a lap (if it was safe which I don’t think it is) parents would need to bring a copy of the baby’s birth certificate because they are so small.

          I sat next to a couple and their large 2 year old (I would have guessed 3) who grabbed me, grabbed my hair, my documents (work documents), and spent much of the flight trying to crawl into my lap. No the dad and mom did not switch seats or switch the child from the mom (middle seat) to the dad (window). I suggested to the mom, the dad and the FA that the parents switch seats or otherwise control their child with no luck. Like most flights, I couldn’t switch seats myself b/c it was full and I couldn’t find anyone else to switch with me. I think children who can grab, crawl, walk and talk need their own seat for the benefit of the rest of us.

      • Jaynor says:

        @Unchained: Most parents undervalue the efficacy of ether.

        Seriously though – if you can’t control your children you shouldn’t take them out in public.

    • Canino says:

      @altryan: Another easy solution to this is to replace anything that used to be a smoking section with a children section. Airplanes (in the back), restaurants (a separate room), etc. If it used to be smoking, it’s now children. They can all sit together and scream their little heads off and run around like little precious idiots while the rest of us relax in peace.

      • ????Waka???? says:

        @altryan: This is why I always ask for a seat in the back of the plane, usually they sit parents with kids in the front so they can leave earlier, or because they carry a lot of stuff/baby carts etc

    • Joeyjojo says:

      @altryan:

      Perhaps all you baby haters should be paying premiums for adult-only flights, eh?

    • Anonymous says:

      @altryan:
      Seriously.
      A 9 hour flight to Brazil, and some little hellspawn decided he wanted to scream, cry, and kick the back of my seat for five hours straight. The plane was full, so I couldn’t relocate. I glared at the mother, who scowled at me and said nothing to her offspring.
      Hell, I would pay a premium to fly in a child-free plane. Can’t stand the little bastards.

  10. saintpetepaul says:

    That kid should have had a ticket all along. Preferably on a specially labeled “kid friendly” flight. Flying across the Atlantic in coach is a big enough horror, who in their right mind would add to that horror by holding a child in their lap the whole way? Madness. Buy the extra seat and some benadryl.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @saintpetepaul: Unless your child has the opposite of benadryl, some kids do. They go into overdrive taking that.

      Anyone reading this, if you’re going to TRY benadryl on a flight, please, for the love of GOD, try it at home BEFORE the flight. Anyone who’s ever seen a kid go off the handle on benadryl knows what the hell i’m talking about.

      It’s horrific.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @saintpetepaul: Haha, yeah. The first time I took benadryl that I recall I was 10 and I was bouncing off the damn walls before I totally crashed.

  11. sleze69 says:

    They are angry that a small little baby is forced to pay a surcharge? Should they start charging surcharge based on weight? Would the parent be less outraged? I hope they aren’t obese.

    • jamar0303 says:

      @sleze69: When it’s a *fuel* surcharge and the price of *fuel* has halved, yes, I would be angry too.

    • bobcatred says:

      @sleze69: there’s a vast difference between a BABY, and a full-grown adult. Babies rarely weigh more than a regular suitcase, and the fuel surcharge for a heavy bag costs less than what they were charged for that baby.
      Also, I know a number of airlines that make obese people buy two seats, which is effectively a fuel surcharge for their added weight, as well as a means of preventing an overloaded plane, so airlines pretty much already do charge based on weight. If they’re going to do that, then they ought to be reasonable about it.

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    They should waive the fee, change it to a deposit. Parents of Goofus lose it, while parents of Gallant get it back, plus a pair of Golden Child of the Airways lapel pin.

    (For the record: the fuel fee is absurd)

    • Segador says:

      @Trai_Dep: I Agree. As the parent of a small child, I would have no problem signing something that stated that “If you cannot or refuse to control your child, you waive your right to your deposit”.

  13. Derek Balling says:

    Delta’s web site for people traveling with children:

    [www.delta.com]

    Has this to say about international ticketing for children in one’s lap:

    “International Taxes & Fees-For infants under the age of two and held in the adult’s lap, the cost is usually about 10% of the adult fare plus any international taxes and surcharges, which can be significant.”

    So it seems as though they ARE warning you that the international taxes and surcharges, quote, “can be significant”.

    Sounds like someone didn’t find out how significant before they got on the departing plane.

  14. Pylon83 says:

    Why should the child fly for free anyway? Regardless of whether they have a seat or not, they are being transported from point A to point B by the airline. Isn’t the airline entitled to payment for providing the service? Granted, if they don’t use a seat it shouldn’t be full price, but I don’t think it’s outrageous to have to pay taxes and fees. On a more morbid note, if the child flies for free, and there is an accident, the insurance company doesn’t get to not pay for the child’s medical expenses or pay for their death just because they flew free.

  15. kepler11 says:

    “…The agent asked for our ticket for our son. I will not go into all of the details, but an hour later (and 35 minutes to flight departure), we were forced to pay 332 euros ($423.10) to get my son a ticket so he could return back to the states…”

    “I will not go into details”? Umm. That’s where the story is, and we need to know the details if we are to be convinced to take your side.

    It sounds as if you’re saying the kid didn’t have a ticket at all. Did your infant not have a ticket to begin with? If not, and you went to the airport thinking the kid could travel without a ticket, what defense do you have? You were “forced” to buy a ticket, because all persons on an airplane have to have tickets, regardless of age.

    Tickets have surcharges, and you’re upset that because of your lack of planning, you suddenly had to pay for a ticket that had a high surcharge. What right do you have to be angry? How did your child get to Europe without a return ticket?

    If on the other hand, the infant had a ticket, you need to explain why the airline was collecting the surcharge on the return journey, and why it wasn’t collected when the trip began. How did that happen?

    This story has lots of holes, and it’s wrong to jump to criticize the airline with so many unanswered questions.

    The question is not, “Should An Infant With No Seat Have To Pay A $320 Fuel Surcharge?” The question is, Consumerist, why don’t you find out more about the story first? With only these thin details presented, this is a shoddy story.

  16. MsAnthropy says:

    Ahh, how did I know this was going to be about Delta as soon as I read the headline (and this was before I registered the picture of a Delta plane)?

    Delta utterly suck. I am SO delighted I live in a city with an airport that is, basically, Delta’s bitch. You want to fly somewhere? You’re flying Delta. And you’re going to pay through the nose for it.

    Ugh.

  17. humphrmi says:

    Folks – anyone who thinks that “lap flying” their child is safe – you must know that if the plane hits unexpected turbulence, you will be unable to keep ahold of your child, and it will be injured or killed.

    Read any story about sudden aircraft turbulence, and inevitably the injuries and deaths were people who were not seat belted in to their seat…

    [www.cnn.com]
    [cbs4denver.com]
    [www.denverpost.com]

    Those injuries and deaths will be your child if you lap-fly them. Don’t be cheap with your child’s safety – buy them a seat!

    • Skipweasel says:

      @humphrmi: Same with cars – you see people in quite expensive cars who just can’t part with that extra bit for a car seat. Junior’s allowed to wander around on the parcel shelf.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        @Skipweasel: There’s a big difference there, though. In cars it’s illegal in all 50 states for a child to ride without a car seat. The exact age limit varies, but it’s pretty much the same everywhere. And parents can and do get ticketed for driving without one. Or sometimes they just get paparazzi pictures pasted all over the news.

        • JustThatGuy3 says:

          @Shadowman615:

          Agreed on getting a seat for the kid when he flies, but it’s a bad idea to _require_ it. A lap child in a plane is far safer than taking the same journey in a car strapped into a car seat. If you require that infants get their own seats, you push some people from flying to driving, which kills kids.

    • triggerh says:

      @humphrmi: Totally agree with you on that. It drives me crazy every time I see an infant or toddler (FAA states the limit is 2 years old) not occupying their own seat. Its just not safe and the poor kid would probably be more comfortable in a car seat anyway. And PLEASE give them a bottle or pacifier during takeoff and landing. Like when chewing gum, the motion of the jaw naturally stretches the membranes in the ear and helps with the pressure change.

  18. Amy Alkon000 says:

    Those above who say the child should be in his own seat, buckled into a car seat, are absolutely right. No child should die, and horribly, because they were born to parents who think saving a buck comes before child safety.

    Furthermore, if your child is one of those who will spend the flight yowling, please stay home until this changes.

    And things cost what they cost. My Yorkshire terrier weighs just under three pounds and it costs me $150 each way to France with her under my seat in a tiny case, plus shots, vet certification, and USDA paperwork. Complaining about it won’t make it cheaper. Leaving my dog home with the neighbors will. I bring her when I go over for a month, and leave her with the neighbors when I’m there for a week.

    P.S. Because I travel, I got a breed of dog that has hair and not fur (so as not to provoke people’s allergies). She is trained to be perfectly silent and lie down — for hours — when I tell her to. She also goes in a litterbox. I bring a little Tupperware thing filled with litter for her on the plane, but a United pilot of a Paris flight once found her very cute and walked her on the tarmac in San Francisco.

    • prophet_5 says:

      If you’re going to travel, don’t own a pet. And certainly don’t get on a plane with it. I have a dog, and we board her when we travel. You don’t own a dog, you own a mobile slipper.

    • Paperclippe says:

      @Amy Alkon: It’s not the hair or the fur that irritates people’s allergies, it’s the dander. So pretty much if your pet has skin, it’s going to irritate someone.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Ok, this isn’t true (at least in my case). My wife and I have flown 4 times on 3 different airlines in SE Asia (China Airlines, Cathay, and Tiger Air) and have never been charged extra. And this includes a flight with an infant (with four diaper changes in a room the size of a phone booth) from Narita (Tokyo) to LA (fifteen and a half hours). On each of these three airlines we were not only not charged extra, we were asked at check-in if we wanted a bassinet for our son. Our five year-old however, was charged, but only 2/3 price for his seat at the most expensive (China Airlines).

  20. guspaz says:

    Dear lord YES! As has been pointed out, airline is paying to transport a person and their luggage. If they’re an infant, they’re still being transported, and they probably have luggage, even if their parents are handling it.

    That, and babies are bloody annoying on flights when they get going. They’re even more trouble than a regular (quiet) person.

    Look at it this way; they’re already getting a super steep discount on the price!

    • lihtox says:

      @guspaz: Lap infants don’t get a separate luggage allowance.

      And by the way, when you were a baby, you were a pain in the ass too (guaranteed), so that baby in the next aisle? Payback.

  21. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Flying is bad enough — the smells, the air quality, the earaches (which babies can’t control) — but not even having a seat? I know sitting with Mom is generally a good time for a baby, but probably not when she’s wedged in a tiny seat and stressing out over the flight. Get that baby a car seat and let him have a chance at a nap.

    • lihtox says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: let him have a chance at a nap

      I have a one-year-old daughter who has flown quite a bit. She’s a toddler now, but as an infant she slept best when she was on top of one of us: for a long time it was the only way she would nap. She was a lot quieter in her parents’ arms (or later, climbing around a bit), than if she had been forced to sit in a carseat for the entire trip.

      We flew with her as a lap child for her first year, but got lucky… a lot of times we got a whole row to ourselves. (It helps having two laps so that we could take turns.) She’s big enough now that she’s going to start getting her own seat (with carseat, so that I can strap her in and not worry about her trying to escape down the aisle!)

  22. Jevia says:

    I noted that the post indicated “return to the US.” It sounds like what happened to my family several years ago. The travel agent we booked with apparently didn’t charge us for our baby when we bought our tickets, so at the airport, we paid for her “free ticket” (which by then was a lot more expensive). But the airline ticket counter person just put the baby on as an “e-ticket” rather than a paper ticket. Fast forward two weeks later in France returning home, the airline we were returning on wouldn’t allow our baby to be an “e-ticket” we had to have a paper ticket for her. So we had to pay again. It took quite some time and hassle to get reimbursed from the first airline.

    So yeah, moral of the story, just buy the extra seat.

    • janespeak says:

      @Jevia: ah… i know what that is like, but from a different angle.. i happend to work for an airline, and i know, i know, a lot of mistakes are made yada yada yada, but you would be surprised at how many bookings are royally messed up bc of the travel agents. here`s the thing. airlines and travel agents are completely separate entities.. dont get me wrong, tho there are some kick ass travel agents out there, there are definitely some travel agents from hell, and a lot of the time, its me, the airline worker who has to deal with the angry passenger bc the travel agent couldn`t get the booking right or left something out.. yeesh.. they are the ones who are supposed to know all the rules etc… but here`s a tip.. for every itinerary you get, READ ALL FINE PRINT! i cannot stress this enough.. and if u do get your

      • janespeak says:

        @janespeak: oops, …anyways, if you do your booking through the a web travel agent (ie expedia, travelocity etc) make sure you get not only it itinerary from the booking company/agent, but the official airline one as well..

  23. Ben_Q2 says:

    I can see all points. Major one is, they had her by the balls to speak. What was she to do, leave the kid at the airport?

    I have found its cheaper for me to pay someone I know to fly me there then to fly airlines. I have a daugther that has Austim. On a plane with use she if fine. On a lg plane that is another story.

    Its still cheaper, and NO TSA Ya.

  24. powerball says:

    I’ve flown next to kids on “laps” which is usually a joke because most kids won’t sit still even if sleeping. Buy the seat or don’t fly, there isn’t enough room for one person, never-mind one and a half. They should drop this kids fly free policy.

  25. brokedickrooster says:

    Fuel surcharges should be based on the weight of both the passenger and her luggage.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I have to pay $100 each way for my 8lbs dog to sit crated UNDER the seat in front of me. That being said, at the very least, I believe infants or any kids not requiring a seat, be charged the same fee (regardless of domestic or international)!

  27. digitalgimpus says:

    That’s a ridiculous charge for a baby without a seat.

    That said, baby’s shouldn’t be allowed to fly without either a seat with a car seat securely fastened. May want to read up on Jan Brown Lohr and Flight 232 disaster, after which she started a crusade to end this silly idea that kids are safe on the floor in the event of an emergency.

  28. closed_account says:

    Why wouldn’t they have to pay it? I weigh 120 lbs. The people that weigh 300 lbs. and take up half of MY seat pay the same surcharge as me….

  29. Anonymous says:

    I think that there should be a special closed off section of a plane for parents traveling with children under 10 years of age. $320.00 for an international ticket for a child, that’s a bargin, what’s your complaint? If you don’t like it leave the kid at home next time.

  30. AgentTuttle says:

    NO, and babies shouldn’t count in the car pool lane either. If babies count, dogs count.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Regardless of whether you should have to pay for a seat for an infant or not have to, I had a similar thing happen with Delta, with a slight twist.

    I was paying for our seats with air miles, and had more than enough to buy four seats, which I gladly would’ve – the agent on the phone said we didn’t need to buy a ticket for our infant. We got to the gate, they said there was a $620 surcharge (round trip, New York City to Barcelona). Of course, at the gate, I couldn’t use air miles.

    I hate Delta.

  32. OmarMojojojo says:

    Solution: don’t fly Delta. Or if you must fly Delta, don’t check any baggage.

    Those idiots lost my luggage on my flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta, then found it, then lost it again permanently. I SERIOUSLY spent 80+ hours on their stupid phone line over a period of five months trying to get that luggage back. It was nearly impossible to get those idiots to lift a finger to help me. In the end, only one employee I reached my phone was helpful at all – the guy who went just slightly out of his way to do a manual computer search and initially located my luggage. I was never able to persuade anyone else to do the same thing again, and in the end I was paid a fraction of the luggage’s value due to a maximum liability per kilogram clause in a fifty year old international treaty.

    They encourage you to wait a couple weeks before filing a loss report in case the luggage shows up. Their system is so backlogged and screwed up, when you fax them a list of what was in your luggage, it won’t be transcribed or seen by a human for 4 to 6 weeks. This is a major problem because they only keep luggage at the airports for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, unmatched luggage gets sent to a regional warehouse which is effectively a black hole. It is basically a holding site until the luggage gets auctioned. In theory, customer bags can get retrieved from these warehouses, but in practice it never happens. Trust me, if there were any possible way for me to get my luggage back, in those five months I would have tried it. Eventually they started just hanging up the phone on me. (Mind you though I became extremely frustrated I was never impolite, just very logical, articulate and persistent.) I even made a few in-person visits to my local international airport just to obtain printouts of their documentation about my case. Lost luggage is supposed to get computer-matched by its contents, which is a great idea, however the people describing the contents of orphaned bags don’t know how to spell! My baggage supposedly contained a “tucsedo” (tuxedo) among other misspellings which caused their automatic matching system to fail in my case. The people actually did have the ability to initiate manual searches. But all the employees (with one exception) consistently refused to do this – preferring instead to lecture me at length on how great their system is, and how I need not worry.

    This was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. Only Blue Cross has given me a worse time.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I don’t want to be rude, but as a frequent international flyer, I am more than willing to pay 160 euros to have your baby removed from my flight (If you sit next to me). The chances of getting spilled on and urinated on, is too high. I also need to work or sleep during my flight, thus his crying and smell is unbearable. You should be grateful that they allowed your baby on the plane at all.

    I am sorry if anyone got offended by my comment, but if you fly half as much as I do, you will feel the same way.

  34. johnnya2 says:

    I think the child should pay full fare. Why do parents think the rest of the world wants anything to do with your brat. If you honestly say you flew over the Atlantic Ocean with a child in your arms, I will say you are an unfit parent and should have the child taken into custody for neglect and child endangerment. You can’t do it in an automobile, and you shouldn’t do it on an airplane.

  35. Tallanvor says:

    I don’t care if the child is 2 weeks old (although why anyone would even consider flying with a child of that age is beyond me), parents should be required to purchase a ticket for the child the same as any other passenger.

  36. Anonymous says:

    We had a similar experience flying to Central America, a two hour flight. Fortunitly, we checked a few days before the flight for any changes and were told then about the charge. We have twin toddlers and bought the ile and window seats hoping to have the middle seat vacant. We had to pay nearly a full adult fair for each child because we used miles to buy our seats. I asked if we got an extra bag since we were essentially paying for a full fair plus and not taking a seat. NO, we didn’t even get to take an extra bag for the expense. We have learned to buy a seat for each child and bring their car seats on board. The car seat is recommended by the FAA and they can not charge for them unless they provide car seats and they don’t. That way we don’t have to take the car seats and check them or rent car seats when we arrive. In the long run we pay a little more, but are more comfortable and save a little having our own car seats that the kids are more comfortable with anyway.

    Now, here is a new rule that will really get you thinking. We have twins. When we got to the airport we were told that twins can NOT ride together in the same row. There can not be two kids in the same partial row because the FAA allowed the airlines to reduce the number of masks that drop down in case of emergency (to cut cost they reduced safety and charge higher fares). There is now only one mask per row section. So, I can understand not being able to sit in the same part of the row, but why can’t we sit across the isle from each other. Twins are close and want to be together. Separating them make them insecure and causes them to cry a lot on the flight. Now I understand fussy babies on flights more. If you don’t want twins to be scared and not cry-let them be together.

  37. bdgbill says:

    Actually, every baby I have seen on a plane seems to come with a metric ton of crap, all of which must be dragged down the aisle at a maddeningly slow pace. So it probably makes more sense to charge babies a fuel charge than many adults flying with a briefcase.

    I also think the parent should have to pay a $100.00 fine for every minute the kid is screaming and another $100.00 for every minute that other passengers can smell shit.

  38. tekmiester says:

    Babies are kind of pudgy and not very aerodynamic, so you can understand how they can reduce fuel efficiency. I am sure that is how the airline can justify it.

  39. prophet_5 says:

    And Delta posts losses, and wonders why. Southwest will keep kicking them in the butt until Delta realizes that there is no substitute for good customer service, and word-of-mouth.

  40. xwildebeestx says:

    That’s why it’s still cheaper to ship an infant via parcel post than it is to bring them on a crowded airplane where everybody is on-edge and the consensus is that nobody enjoys flying with crotch droppings.

  41. Segador says:

    The problem here isn’t noisy kids- its the growing expectation that if you’ve “paid good money” for something, you’re always entitled to a completely quiet, stress free, perfect experience. Grow up and learn to deal with the disruptions that are always going to be a part of life, or you’re going to have a pretty miserable existance.

  42. Jevia says:

    One thing to remember on trans-Atlantic (and I presume trans-Pacific) flights is that most airlines provide a basinet for lap babies, IF you’ve arranged for it prior to the flight. This is a folding basinet that is slid into place on brackets in the front middle row of each section of the airplane. You have to arrange for it when you buy your ticket/seat, because it is ‘seat-specific.’ You need a knowledgable travel agent to set this up (or call the airline directly to book).

    My family used it a couple of times when we’ve flown with our two children (one time for each) and its a real nice compromise between holding the baby on the lap and buying the seat. You can hold the baby on your lap while its awake and when it sleeps, you can place the baby in the basinet. I’d really only suggest this for infants (under a year) because they will tend to sleep more than older babies, so its useful (older babies will only try and stand in it, which isn’t good). There are straps in the basinet as well, which while not as sturdy as a seatbelt (or a carseat), do provide some help for mild turbulance.

  43. vladthepaler says:

    Assuming the infant cried or shat at some point during the flight, $320 is far too small a charge to compensate for the discomfort of all the other passengers.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, Segador!

    We recently flew for the first time with our infant. I had to fly home for my grandfather’s funeral when my son was 2 1/2 months old.

    All the other passengers were glaring at us before we got on the flight – I guess they were mad we had to go anywhere. Turns out my son slept right through all 4 flights (2 out/2 back). We made sure that he had a pacifier in his mouth on departure and landing and he didn’t utter a peep. Needlness to say, my hubby and I were thrilled and the other passengers quickly forgot there was an infant on board.

    And yes, he flew in his car seat which he usually detests.

  45. Geekybiker says:

    They should require them to have crates to travel, just like pets.

  46. gkelly says:

    If you think this is bad, give it another year. This has nothing to do with oil prices but with….drum roll please….MERGERS. Lack of competition = airlines industry right to screw you.

    Bastards.

  47. Ms. Pants says:

    When will someone start an airline catering only to persnickety adults who don’t want to be bothered with anyone under the age of 21? (Hell, make it 30.) Huge business opportunity here, people! Would that I had unlimited funds to start it myself….

  48. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s even more ridiculous that my >7 lb dog is charged $100 each way on an hour long trip, when he not only fits UNDER a seat, but is also far quieter and better behaved than any child I have had the misfortune to have shared a plane with.

    If I have to pay for him, you should have to pay at least as much for your kid.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Simply put the airline has to pay in the form of extra fuel spent to carry your son/daughter across the atlantic. Since there is extra cost associated with this why do you think the airlines and thus the rest of the passengers should subsidize the cost? Leave your son at home next time instead of being outraged. We’ll all appreciate a quiet flight.