My daughter (not pictured above) turned two in January, so it has been a little while since I’ve had to book a lap-infant ticket. However, upon completing such a booking for a client today I was reminded of the #1 rule when it comes to lap-infant fares: always ask the airline agents to double check the lap-infant fare quoted if it seems too high.
Regardless of whether it is an award ticket or a revenue ticket, the majority airlines charge a percentage (most commonly 10%) of the currently available fare for the class of service the parent is flying in to determine what a lap-infant fare should be. Figuring out the exact fare upon which the lap-infant fare is calculated from is far from an exact science. As a result, airlines constantly quote incorrect lap-infant fares. Occasionally, the mistaken fare quoted can work in your favor. However, more often than not, airlines will quote you a lap-infant fare that is higher than what the correct fare should be, sometimes much higher.
For the reservation I was working on today, United initially provided me a quote of $359.40. That seemed awfully high for a one-way economy class lap-infant fare to Japan, so I asked the agent to double check the fare with her rates desk. Lo and behold, a couple of minutes later she came back with a lap-infant fare of $147.40, less than half of what she had initially quoted me.
Whenever the lap-infant fare quoted appears to be higher than it should be, ask the agent to double check the fare with the rates desk.