Parents: Save Tons Redeeming Etihad Miles on American Airlines Flights

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I noticed something very interesting about the Etihad Guest award policies when redeeming on American Airlines flights that could be very helpful to all you parents out there trying to navigate international award travel with babies.

Now, I’m not claiming to be an expert on infant lap travel. But I have gathered that there are generally three ways in which airlines charge for international infant lap awards:

  1. A flat fee (can be in cash or miles) defined by the cabin you are traveling in
  2. 10% of the mileage price + applicable taxes & fees
  3. 10% of the revenue price of the ticket + applicable taxes & fees

Across the board in these scenarios, an infant is defined as a child under two years old. The prices listed above are not for reserving the baby’s own seat, but for the cost of having the baby sit in your lap. They also do not apply to domestic travel, most airlines let children under two travel within the United States for free or a small extra flat fee.

The majority of airlines unfortunately use system #3 for ticketing infants on international travel, which can cost parents an arm and a leg– especially if they are traveling in a premium cabin. American Airlines, United, and Delta all charge 10% of the revenue price of the ticket + taxes/fees.

But when redeeming Etihad Guest miles on American Airlines flights for a lap infant award ticket, you are only charged 10% of the mileage price + taxes/fees.

lap infant award

The Deal

As you might already know since it’s something I recommend pretty often, you can still redeem Etihad miles at pre-American Airlines devaluation rates. This means that, aside from the mileage price tags I tout constantly as some of the lowest, you can also book lap infant award tickets for just 10% of the mileage price of the adult’s award + taxes & fees.

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Photo by Christian Haugen, taken from Flickr Creative Commons

This not expected or ordinary just because the two airlines are partners. British Airways for example, another American Airlines partner, never charged the same number of miles for American Airlines flights as American Airlines did, nor did it have discounts for American Airlines off peak awards. As a general rule: different miles, different rules, different chart. But for whatever reason, Etihad decided to copy American’s chart when using Etihad miles to redeem American flights, and they are still sticking to it– at least for the time being.

But, What About Alaska?

Etihad was actually not the only frequent flyer program to copy American Airlines award prices and stick to them even after American Airlines devalued their award chart. There was one other program that did the same– Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan.

That made me wonder if you could also book an infant lap award on American Airlines flights with Alaska Miles for only 10% of the adult mileage price + taxes & fees, like Etihad and pre-devaluation American Airlines policy.

The best answer to that I can find is from this snippet of information on alaskair.com:
alaska lap infant

So, it looks like if the award originates internationally and flies into the United States, you only have to pay a $17 fee. Great news. But if the award originates in the United States and flies to somewhere international, then you would be subject to that nasty 10% of the revenue price of the ticket cost, which can really get you if traveling in a premium cabin.

Booking the Infant Lap Award

Here is a full post on using Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights in case you’ve never done it before.

If the Etihad agent has a hard time figuring out the infant lap ticketing, The Points Guys says to advise them to look for T, U, and Z class for economy, Business and First Class award availability respectively.

Example

The award below, flying economy on American Airlines between New York and Rio de Janeiro, costs 57,500 American Airlines miles and $5.60 in taxes.

Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 7.52.34 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 7.52.24 PM

To bring your under two year old child along in your lap, it would cost roughly $600 (10% of the cash ticket, which is $6,004):Screen Shot 2016-07-12 at 8.06.30 PM If you used Etihad miles to book it, it would cost you 50,000 Etihad Guest miles and roughly the same amount of taxes (because the flight is during what Etihad defines as Off Peak season between North and South America region 2, March 1-May 31 and August 16-November 30)

Screen-Shot-2015-12-15-at-2.31.05-PM-1

If you booked this award with Etihad miles, then you could bring along your child that is under two years old to sit on your lap for only 5,000 additional Etihad miles and $5.60. That’s a steal.

Not Necessary for Domestic Awards

I said it above but just to clarify 100%, American carriers do not charge (or charge very little) for bringing along a child under two years to sit in your lap on domestic flights. I recommend reading each airline’s policy about it (some will let you travel with a lap infant free of charge to a few other places nearby right outside US borders)–just google [airline] + traveling with lap infant.

How to Get Etihad Miles

One of the fastest and easiest ways to get Etihad Guest miles is by transferring Citi ThankYou Points (they transfer at a rate of 1:1).

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases are made within the first 3 months the account is open.

My review of the Citi Prestige Card explains its many components like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

You can also transfer SPG points and Membership Rewards to Etihad Guest at 1:1. Below are some cards that earn them:

Bottom Line

If you are planning international premium cabin award travel with a baby under the age of two, then you should probably consider booking American Airlines award space with Etihad Guest miles. They only charge 10% of the mileage price + applicable taxes & fees while many airlines’ frequent flyer programs charge 10% of the cost of the cash ticket.

Like I said, I’m not an expert in infant lap travel, but I imagine it’s an issue many of you readers deal with. If anyone has valuable insight, please share your experiences in the comments.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Scott. Great article on sweet spot especially now that I am a father-to-be. 🙂
    btw, you can include 25% bonus points promo that is going on right now for Etihad Guest until July end. Best option for transferring Citi TY points. Your December article also will be valid with this promo.
    Question:
    Etihad has just stolen the old AA chart which has global zones. But if I want to utilize this chart to book from India to USA, is that possible by any means? As far as I know, I will either have to reach Europe or Asia to catch AA metal flight. Any workaround? Thanks.

  2. Scott, You should clarify (alluded to in the reference to Alaska) that this is primarily useful on international redemptions. Domestically, lap infants are free ($0.00 + 0 miles) when booked wtih a U.S. carrier. Most airports don’t even check to see if they have a ticket. So in your example above, a lap infant on AA might cost $600.40 (10% of the revenue fare), vs. 5000 miles + $5.60. By on, for example, a domestic economy r/t, on AA you’ll pay $0 +0, and on Etihad you’d pay 2500 + $11.20.

  3. I find this still to be a confusing area. In your examples with Etihad/Alaska miles, you discuss the seller of the ticket determining the lap child policy. I used Singapore Miles to fly on United metal from mainland to Hawaii and was able to take advantage of United’s free lap child policy (within US). I never even told Singapore about the child – United was able to ticket the child over the phone. So who determines the fee, the ticket seller or the carrier? Seems like it might vary between different situations. One of the airline programs with good lap child policies is Lufthansa, but I wouldn’t want to fly their own planes with their miles because they charge high YQ. So can I use Lufthansa miles on a United plane, thus getting around both bad lap child fees and the bad YQ? Hopefully I can figure that out before my lap child turns 2.

    • It’s the loyalty program whose miles you use to book with (ticket seller) that determines the infant lap policy, at least with international awards. So yes, as long as the United flight you want to take is international, I’m pretty sure the infant lap policy you would go by is that of Lufthansa. It seems like domestic awards are handled differently, and the policy is determined by the carrier because the child doesn’t need to be ticketed at all. I think this is the big difference–in cases of international travel, every person (whatever age) has to be ticketed. But domestic travel doesn’t require ticketing for children under two years old. This is my impression from what I’ve read, I don’t have any personal experience, so perhaps this would be a good question for Mommy Points as well.

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