How to Get Your Nearly 2-Year-Old a Free Seat on British Airways

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While many exciting things happen for parents after a child turns 2 years old, such as watching them develop speech or throw a ball, there is a major financial milestone that makes family travel more expensive. Of course, that is the dreaded jump up to a full-price child airline ticket after 23 months of ‘lap infant’ fares.

British Airways has a unique policy if you can plan a trip around your child’s second birthday. No matter the class of service and whether you booked an Avios reward ticket or paid with cash, your 2-year-old will have his or her own free seat on the inbound flight as long as your child was a lap infant at departure.

When a Lap Infant Becomes a Child During a Trip

British Airways has been my go-to family airline for the past four years because we’ve only paid 10% of the cash or Avios fare plus 10% of taxes and fees for our lap infants in any class. While some other airlines will charge you for a child ticket for your return journey if your child turns 2 while away, BA will only charge you for a lap infant ticket.

The official BA policy:

“If you’re travelling with an infant who reaches the age of two during their journey, your child will need their own seat for any flights on and after their second birthday. We won’t charge you extra for this; you’ll only pay the infant fare for the entire journey.”

It’s worth noting that your outbound flight cannot be an overnight flight during which your child turns 2, but a day flight the day before still qualifies as a ‘lap infant’.

Personal Experience With a Lap Infant Turned Child Ticket

Before my oldest son turned 2, we flew to San Francisco in premium economy and returned from Boston a few weeks later. I paid full price for my ticket plus 10% of the fare for my son, totaling £737.02.

There are varying reports over whether the infant will receive the points for the flight. The British Airways rep I spoke to said categorically no because it is just a seat reservation rather than a ticket.

Do You Earn Avios on the Free Seat?

When I dug into my 4-year-old’s Executive Club history as part of our Household Account I found his first entry was from his BOS-LHR trip that straddled his second birthday in early June. He did receive Tier Points and Avios for the return leg, even though I only paid the lap infant fare for him.

My 2-year-old's earned Avios and tier points on a lap infant ticket after his 2nd birthday
My 2-year-old’s earned Avios and Tier Points on a lap infant ticket after his 2nd birthday

I double-checked that I also earned the Avios for that booking, in case my son had incorrectly been allocated the Avios. Low and behold, I had also earned Avios, including my Tier bonus:

My earnings with bonus on BA
My earnings with bonus on BA on the same trip that my lap infant

How to Book

I was tempted to try this again with my youngest son when he turned 2 earlier this month, but the timings did not line up to take him away. I confirmed with a British Airways agent that my 2-year-old would have his own seat on the return in any class — even first. The agent stated that he would not receive Avios or Tier Points for the flight, so my experience may have been a one-off.

To book, you book your lap infant ticket as usual, including your seat selection for yourself. Then ring British Airways to add the seat reservation for the return leg. Some agents say you must call after the child turns 2, and others say you can do it straight after booking, so it is likely a case of calling and trying.

This British Airways policy can be a nice second birthday gift for your 2-year-old to plan while you can still travel outside of the school holidays. If you do take the flight, here are some tips for travelling with a toddler and surviving jet lag to make it a bit smoother.

Featured photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy.

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