Should Airlines Charge Additional Fees For Lap Babies? One Industry Expert Thinks That This New Fee Is In Our Future.
Should airlines charge additional fees for lap babies? One industry expert thinks that this new fee is in our future.
I came across a brief and not entirely helpful article on the Houston Chronicle, guessing that airlines may begin charging additional fees to parents who elect to hold their two-years-old and under babies on their laps. We all know that airlines are always looking for ways to "offset" their costs -- you know, charging per-bag fees for customers to bring their luggage, charging high fees (some well over $150) to cancel and reschedule a flight, etc. I guess this is another way to "offset" costs. The creator of Airfare Watchdog shared his opinion for the article, noting
Some fees, such as for an infant on a passenger’s lap, make sense, Hobica said. After all, airline employees must check strollers at the gate, and a baby is an extra liability during a flight for the company.And while it is true that the airline employees do have to tag a stroller at the gate and load it, I'm not sure whether that's the best argument in favor of charging for lap babies. Airlines must also load wheelchairs and I should hope that they don't charge extra for those. Additionally, in my experience, when I didn't purchase a seat on the plane for my baby and I had to check a car seat, it counted as one piece of *my* checked luggage. So beyond the stroller, which I can't imagine creates that much additional work, airlines aren't really putting that much extra billable effort into a lap baby. Beyond that, I sometimes wonder about lap baby policies. I've mentioned that I flew very frequently with my son when he was between ten months and 22 months old. Whenever feasible, I purchased a seat for him. That was probably mostly due to our unique circumstances -- he wasn't used to being held at the time we adopted him, so forcing him to sit in my lap for long flights would have been...difficult, to say the least. However, when it comes to laps and "babies," is a two year upper age limit too generous? Not all babies are the same size, and when it comes to a toddler who is approaching two years old, size can matter in a small airline seat. Is it fair for passengers who are seated next to a mom or dad with a 23-month old lap "baby" who is tall for his/her age and weighs 30 (plus) pounds? I don't have the answer, but it is something I have considered. Airlines require adults who need more than one seat to purchase a second. Of course a 30 pound child doesn't take up another seat, but one certainly makes things more cramped when placed on a parent's lap in an already-crowded isle of seats. Regarding airlines charging for lap babies, I'm not in favor of it. One could argue that this is standard on international flights. And I would agree. But you know what else is standard on most international flights? Food, wine and flight attendants who don't make me feel like they're doing me a favor by showing up for their jobs.* Until domestic flights become as accommodating as international ones, I question charging parents for lap babies. I say that we call the lack of just about everything these days (you know -- snacks, meals and a clean Ecoli-free blanket) a fair trade for the gate agent having to check a stroller. * By no stretch of the imagination are all flight attendants unfriendly or unaccommodating on domestic flights, and my slightly sarcastic statement is not meant to apply to all flight attendants. However, our experience with international flights vs. domestic flights has been very different!