Absurd: your airline ticket costs $60; your baby’s ticket is $1,280

Look up “absurd” in the dictionary, and you ought to find Lily Poon’s incomprehensible ticketing experience with United Airlines. The carrier charged her just $60 for her ticket. But it wanted more than 20 times that amount for her infant son’s fare.

How did it come to that?

Poon redeemed frequent flier miles for two business class tickets from Denver to Hong Kong. The total cost to her was $60 per ticket. United wanted $1,285 — 10 percent of the business class fare — for the lap child.

The Infant will be sitting on my lap. Unless the flight attendant is going to change his diaper and the airline will provide him formula and baby food, there is no way they can justify charging me $1,285 for a flight. An economy ticket for an adult is $1,300.

I have asked the airline if I could buy him an economy ticket and let him fly in my lap in business, they said no. If they did let me do that, then I could at least check two more pieces of luggage. I have tried to contact customer service, I get routed back to India. I have sent an email, no response.

Now, Poon isn’t just some tourist. She’s been a United frequent flier for two decades. I suggested she contact someone at a higher level at United, which she did.

A United representative called her a day later and reiterated its “no.”

This is a policy they’ve had in place that they will charge 10 percent of whatever cabin that the parents are in. She is not willing to budge as this is “not negotiable” and it is what it is.

She did say that she agrees that this is strange but that the policy has been in effect for a very long time.

United offered Poon a $300 voucher to “offset the cost” of baby’s ticket. But that’s not enough for Poon.

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You don’t need me to tell you that this pricing policy is a little ridiculous. At the very least, United could have offered the Poons an option of cashing in some miles to let baby fly.

As it stands now, Poon won’t travel with her son. It’s too expensive.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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