The timing of this toddler’s birthday cost this family an unexpected $4,000


Leslie Hillandahl and her husband received an unpleasant surprise recently, when they tried to check in for their return flight from Italy. If they wanted to bring their newly-turned-two-year-old son back home with them in business class, they would need to pay an additional $4,000.

Of course they wanted to. But now they also want a refund.

Are they entitled to one?

This case shines a light on the controversial topic of lap children on flights and the monetary consequences that can arise when parents do not familiarize themselves with the policies that pertain to such children before they purchase their tickets.

“When purchasing our tickets to Italy, we told the agent that my infant son was going to be less than two years old when the trip began but turned two a few days before our return,” Hillandahl recalled. “I asked if he was going to need his own ticket. I was told multiple times that he would not.”

Hillandahl went on to explain that she and her husband purchased these tickets and then upgraded to business class using miles.

They did not purchase a ticket for their “infant” son — the infant that was about to turn two — and she intended to hold him on her lap the entire round-trip.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t consider a two-year-old an infant. And surprise! The airlines don’t either.

The family’s trouble came when they attempted to return home after their son turned two.

“Upon arrival at the Florence airport we went to check in with Lufthansa and were immediately told that we would be required to purchase a ticket for our infant son, despite the assurances of several United and Lufthansa representatives that it was not needed,” Hillandahl told me.

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Because the family was flying in business class, the walk-up fare for this flight home was over $4,000. Given no other choice, the family paid the fare and they all flew home.

But once they arrived home, Hillandahl began her campaign for a refund.

“This was truly a nightmare to live through and I expect that United will cover the over $4,000 we had to pay to get my two-year-old son back to the United States with us,” she demanded.

Not surprisingly, she was turned down. Both United and Lufthansa pointed Hillandahl back to their terms and conditions.

These terms are readily viewable online, and both airlines make it clear that it is only possible to carry a lap child onboard until that child reaches their second birthday. Once a child reaches their second birthday, they no longer qualify to be a lap child.

Both airlines specifically address what will happen if a child turns two while traveling.


United’s policy states:

Once infants turn two years old, they are required to have a purchased ticket and occupy a seat. Infants who reach their second birthday after their outbound flight must have a purchased ticket and occupy a seat for their return flight(s).

And Lufthansa has very similar wording in its policies: “Children who turn two years of age during the trip require their own seat. In this case the child fare will be charged for the entire trip.”

A quick check of other airlines show that this is the policy across the board. The airlines define lap children as infants who have not yet reached 24 months of age.

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It is unclear where Hillandahl’s confusion about this policy arose, and frankly, I found it difficult to believe that multiple employees at both airlines gave her this erroneous information pertaining to such a widespread standard policy.

So I asked her if she could provide me with the name of any employee who gave her this poor advice.

And that is when she stopped responding to me.

We couldn’t help Hillandahl because the facts were not on her side. Her son did fly home from Italy in business class, and according to the policies of both airlines, this was the correct protocol.

But no story about lap children would be complete without pointing out that there is a push to ban all lap children from flights — because sitting on a parent’s lap does not provide any type of protection for the child.

As the Federal Aviation Administration explains:

The safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap. Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.

Many children have been injured and even killed in airline incidents that were completely survivable — but not for a lap child.

So please consider all the available safety information when you book your child’s next flight. Because though it may be legal for your child to fly unrestrained on your lap, it is not safe, and safety should be your primary consideration in your decision to purchase your child a seat or not.

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Michelle Couch-Friedman

Michelle is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, consumer advocate, writer and photographer who spends as much time as possible exploring the world with her family. She is Advocacy & Editorial Director at Elliott.org.

  • Mark

    “Many children have been injured and even killed in airline incidents that were completely survivable”

    Source? The article you link to shows three deaths in 32 years, and none in the past 17 years. Whilst every death is a tragedy, I wouldn’t describe that as “many”

    Some countries require a loop seat belt for infants in laps. Surely this is a more pragmatic answer?

  • sirwired

    Well, at least they had the sense to attempt this trip in business class. I cannot even IMAGINE trying to keep a toddler confined to the lap of a parent stuck in a coach seat for a trans-Atlantic flight. If we aren’t going to ban lap children entirely, at least they shouldn’t be allowed to lap with flights over a certain duration (a couple hours, at best.)

    I can totally believe that she got the same wrong answer from a bunch of different phone agents, none of which are graded on the accuracy of their answers until they get caught, but ARE graded on how fast they can get you off the phone.

  • Altosk

    No lap children, period. I’m glad the airlines started checking ages because I have a vivid memory of a lap child that was telling her parents about how excited she was to start first grade. Ahem.

    My kid has never been a lap child. When she first flew at 4 months, I bought a seat for her. On that flight, the FA was giving me grief and kept wanting to let someone move to the seat, and I would have to continually tell them it was purchased. (I bought a row of three across–wife, kid, me but boy did people want that “empty” econ plus seat!)

  • Bob Curtis

    “A nightmare to live through”? I hope she never experiences a real nightmare.

  • Alan Gore

    This is another sad case of not getting it in writing.

    If a child is of lap age, is it possible to buy a separate ticket anyway, or if the child turns two during the trip do you have to fly lap outbound and buy a one-way return? And when the infant does fly on a ticket if her own, wouldn’t a car seat be required?

  • taxed2themax

    For me, this is kind of a “he said, she said…” case.. and absent some proof — any kind of proof that reasonably shows an error on the carriers part, I have to fall back to the objective facts — call me the carriers contract — which supports the carriers position.. Could it be that the airlines agents erred many times? Sure — that is very possible.. it is ALSO possible that the passenger didn’t state the question as such or the answer given was correct, but was understood differently… So, I can’t say with enough certainty who erred, and there’s no real proof that the carrier did..but there is proof of the rule..

    Therefore, I must agree with an earlier reply.. you’ve got to get these kinds of things in writing, or documented in someway/shape or form..

  • John Baker

    Sorry … My oldest daughter started flying at 4 months and her sisters at 2 mos. They never flew as lap children. If I couldn’t afford their tickets, we waited until we could.

    In an accident, unrestrained lap children become projectiles. Given the forces in a crash, a parent simply can not hold them (if you don’t believe me look at the FAA film of the crash they did in the late 80s early 90s).

  • Mel65

    I agree. Perhaps I’m just cynical old witch, but my opinion would be that they asked the question in such a manner as to get the answer they wanted–which was “no you don’t need a ticket” (which by the way as an aside isjust awful; who flies transatlantic with lap child–not an infant a child! That’s insane.) But anyway I think they were hoping they could use that erroneous information as leverage to not have to pay for the entire flight if questioned on the return and that once they had the lap child to get in hand they were golden.

  • Mel65

    Per the story above: “And Lufthansa has very similar wording in its policies: “Children who turn two years of age during the trip require their own seat. In this case the child fare will be charged for the entire trip.”

  • Rebecca

    I’ve had this same thing happen twice. Once when I just had my daughter and once with both of my kids (they’re 13 months apart). The first time the FA asked once, I showed her the ticket, and that was pretty much the end of it. The second time the flight was oversold. They really wanted those 2 seats, and several people wanted to sit in them because we were near the front of the plane.

    I have exactly zero patience for lap children. And I have 2 toddlers. It’s a glaring safety issue, and it should absolutely be banned. Let alone it’s rude. I don’t want my own toddler on my lap for hours, let alone be stuck next to someone with a toddler on their lap for hours.

  • Bill___A

    It might be “he said she said” but it is also “she didn’t look at the rules”. Their fault, they had to pay.

  • Rebecca

    The laws of physics prevent a parent from securing their child in the event of severe turbulence or certain types of emergency landings. The force is too great; it isn’t physically possible to hold onto the child.

    Loop seat belts present their own dangers (again, laws of physics). There ARE harnesses meant to secure an infant (a real infant, not a toddler) to your body in the event of an emergency that preclude this problem. But it’s always safer to have them in a car seat. I have harnesses for my toddlers, they both easily fit in a pocket in a backpack or bag and make it so you don’t need to lug a car seat. You can check a car seat if you need it for tour destination.

  • Dutchess

    10 hours in business class is hard!! The amenity kits just aren’t what they used to be!

  • BubbaJoe123

    Clearly, small children on planes are safer in their own seats than as lap children. The reason the FAA doesn’t ban lap children is because, if we required families to buy seats for kids <2, it would result in MORE, not fewer, child deaths. Given the higher cost, some families would choose to drive, and kids are MUCH MUCH safer in a lap on a plane than in a carseat in a car. It's an unintended consequences problem.

    Should parents buy a seat for their kids and put them in a carseat? Absolutely. I do with mine. Should we REQUIRE them to do so? No.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Clearly, they didn’t need to pay $4k. They could have told Lufthansa “fine, just downgrade us to coach, and we’ll buy a coach ticket for the child.” Right now, walkup coach tickets FLR-FRA-IAH (a quick Google shows the letter writer lives in Houston) are about 1/2 the price of walkup business class tickets.

  • Hanope

    I saw the article just said “agent.” Was that the airline agent or a travel agent? If it was the airline agent, aren’t those calls recorded? Now I’ve flown with my kids as lap children some years ago, and frankly once they are over 1 year and significantly more “squirrmy” I would never fly with them as “lap child”. As an infant under 1, the airplane bassinet is decent, but holding them in your arms the entire time (or even in a wrap) is uncomfortable, especially for a long trip. I can’t imagine doing that with a child over 1.

    But over 2 is over 2 and there will be a passport to prove it on an internatiolnal flight (I suppose theoretically, you might get away with it on a domestic flight, you just claim the child isn’t yet 2 and IDs aren’t yet required for children on domestic flights).

    If it was a travel agent that gave bad info, they should at least report it to the agency. I once got bad info about “lap child” at a travel agency (we were told to pay the taxes when we checked in, on the day we flew, not the day we actually bought the tickets months earlier, which ended up costing us an additional $500 – we were not happy with that travel agent).

  • Michael__K

    It’s not a “he said she said” case because the lap infant still needed a ticket for the international flight (which requires the payment of taxes and fees) and the airline sold this ticket knowing and verifying the infant’s birthdate.

  • Michael__K

    Even lap infants don’t fly without lap infant tickets. And you can’t buy one without providing the infant’s birthdate. And it’s the airline’s fault if they sold a lap infant ticket for a passenger who is not eligible to be a lap infant.

  • Michael__K

    So then why did the airline sell the lap infant ticket? [You still need a ticket and you need to pay taxes & fees for a lap infant and the infant’s birthdate is required before purchasing such a ticket].

  • Michael__K

    If we’re really going by Lufthansa’s own rules, a lap infant must have a ticket (which costs 10% of the adult fare) and the infant’s birthdate must be provided.
    If Lufthansa sold a ticket in violation of its own rules, that should be primarily on Lufthansa, not on the passenger who they misled.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Reading closer, this story really doesn’t make sense, since the child would have required a ticket for an international flight, even as a lap child. Typically that ticket is 10% of the cost of a ticket in the cabin used, even if there’s an upgrade involved.

  • Skeptic

    I’m aware of this logic. But it fails in many situations. I live in Southcentral Alaska, and very few people are going to drive to destinations in the Lower 48, especially in winter, as an alternative to paying for airline seats for their children. Many locations within my state are not road accessible at all, so flying is the only way to travel. Travel to and from Hawaii is also impossible by road. Flying is the only practical way to travel between most continents. So the NTSB’s rationale for allowing lap children as a safer alternative to driving is not very rational.

    In addition, there’s another compelling reason to require that all passengers have a seat and that they are effectively restrained: they represent a threat not only to themselves, but to everyone else on the flight, if they end up functioning as uncontrolled projectiles. If I’m not allowed to have my eight pound laptop in the seat pocket — which provides some restraint — during takeoff and landing, how come it’s OK for the 25 pound lap child right next to me to be held by nothing more than its parent’s arms? The child will “depart controlled flight” during severe turbulence or a takeoff/landing emergency, and a 25-pond object accelerating through the air and hitting me in the head could easily kill me. Do we have to wait until this actually happens for our government regulators to accept the basic laws of physics?

  • Michael__K

    By that reasoning, the infant should never be unstrapped from their car seat for the entire 8 hours or whatever on board, just like in a moving car. Because… physics.

    It’s true that during take-off and landing, in the event of a high speed crash, a loop belt or baby carrier is inadequate (at lower forces than an adult seat belt becomes inadequate).

    However, more than 90% of all injuries occur from severe turbulence. And there are baby carriers, if not also loop belts, which are designed to adequately handle the mostly vertical forces of severe in-flight turbulence.

  • Michael__K

    On some airlines these infant tickets can still be paper tickets with highly manually processing, and my bet is that the ticketing agent (who also misinformed the passenger) messed up.

  • Lindabator

    considering that airline phone calls are monitored by the FAA, and giving incorrect information like this would incur a fine that could get an employee fired, I HIGHLY doubt anyone told hr it was okay to do so – I think she just thought she could squeek by – and with a stickler like Luftie, NOT gonna happen

  • BubbaJoe123

    1. While I suppose the FAA could try to have a policy that says “lap children are allowed, unless it’s impossible to drive from point A to point B,” that would be a logistical nightmare. Also, it’s really very rare, given that the VAST majority of the US is accessible by road. Alaska and Hawaii represent only about 2.5% of US air travel, of which Alaska is well under 1%.
    2. I get the “projectile” argument, but the risk is incredibly small (I’m not aware of any passengers who have been hurt by flying lap children), and it again needs to be balanced against the risk to children from being in cars.

    The FAA has done very significant work on this, and it’s not an easy question, but the analysis has consistently come down in favor of allowing lap children, but urging parents to put their kids in carseats.

  • Lindabator

    actually untrue — FAA monitors calls – if they do not relay proper safety information, or code share info – they get hit with a HEFTY fine – and the airline will usually can you for it – and Luftie is the STRICTEST airlien out there, so do NOT see it happening

  • BubbaJoe123

    Given where she lives, and the trip she was discussing, I assume she did UA IAH-FRA, and LH FRA-FLR. Wouldn’t she have needed to book an infant ticket for the outbound of this trip?

  • BubbaJoe123

    Interesting, I’ve never had anyone try to get me to give up a seat with my child in a carseat.

  • Lindabator

    since the date of birth prices the ticket roundtrip, I think she may have “flubbed” the date, and got away with it going over, but Luftie being the sticklers they are, caught it on th return and no go

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    We encountered the same problem with our son when he was under the age of 2.

  • Lindabator

    if you give them the wrong birth date – and I have seen MANY folks do so – it might not get caught on the outbound – but Luftie is a stickler, and when that passport was scanned it would clearly show she was over the age, and thy could not override the system at that point

  • Lindabator

    again – not necessarily so – if she did over the phone or online, could have given the incorrect info — and when they scanned the passports on the outbound it only registers for the travel date at hand, and no one caught it – happens. Unfortunately, WOULD get caught on the return – which is what happened.

  • Lindabator

    how would they know if she knowingly flubbed the date online? IT HAPPENS – trust me, came across, and STILL come across it

  • Lindabator

    or take turns 1 in biz and in coach – exactly

  • Michael__K

    There is no rational motive to give a wrong birth date on an international flight where a passport is required. She gave the right birthdate and the ticketing agent didn’t know the rules.

  • Lindabator

    she never said it was a travel agent, just agents at the airline she spoke with – and frankly, if you were “assured” there was not going to be a problem, why continue to ask? I think she is just busted and looking to still not have to pay

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    We had FAs 1) telling us that our car seat wasn’t FAA approved and 2) asking to see the FAA sticker on our car seat…in an attempt to grab the seat. Since we traveled so much as well as being exposed to the hot heatsunlight in Arizona, the sticker came off; therefore, I ended up carrying the document from the manufacturer stating that it is FAA approved and etc. Most of the times, we were flying First Class domestic or Business Class international.

  • Lindabator

    true, but you can easily “flub” the birthdate in the system – like changing one month. When they scanned the passport going out, it would not be caught, and the agent does not usually look at dates of birth, as those are more for TSA and pricing that for their use. HOWEVER, when scanned on the return, it would CLEARLY show a discrepancy between the age as od today and the fact she was ticketed as a lap child, and would not allow them to let her fly that way

  • Michael__K

    So assuming LH’s ticketing records show the correct birthdate you agree she should be refunded?
    She was speaking to an agent so this was very likely done by phone. And the birthdate would have been re-verified at checkin for the outbound…

  • Michael__K

    I’ve come across agents who don’t know or remember to apply their own airline’s rules and issue an invalid ticket.
    Anyway, this is not a “he-said, she-said”. Why not check the original lap infant ticket record?

  • finance_tony

    Just call the child you emotional support animal and it can ride on your lap or in the aisle for free.

  • BubbaJoe123

    She should be refunded the difference between (a) the walk-up ticket plus the return half of the infant ticket and (b) the cost of a one-way child business class ticket for the return leg, had it been booked at the time the other two tickets were booked.

  • AAGK

    Why did she bother to inform the airline her son would turn two during the trip if she was unaware. Also, it is offensive that she suggests the airline tried to force her to leave her kid in Italy. They were 3 people and required 3 seats. If she couldn’t afford business class then she should’ve purchased ecomomy. Perhaps this could have been done at the airport.

  • AAGK

    She tried to snag a free busIness class seat. I don’t think safety was OP’s concern.

  • Rebecca

    What does that have to do with them being removed from the car seat? The question was why the lap belts don’t work. The answer is the laws of physics.

    Obviously, being out of the car seat negates the benefits of the car seat. Duh.

  • Rebecca

    This was on Southwest, which may have made a difference. At the end, there’s only middle seats in the back left. So people were asking to sit in the aisle seat in our row 8 or whatever it was.

    I have heard of FAs being rude about the restraints, which I have. But the FAs were interested in them and all said they’d recommend them.

    Those of us commenting probably fly more often too. My kids fly every couple months. Most toddlers don’t.

  • FQTVLR

    Unfortunately people try to game the system all the time. I do not believe that multiple agents told her no ticket was required because her child turned 2 during the trip. One person I can believe but multiple strays into the realm of exaggeration and disbelief. And I also believe that the OP did not realize that when the passport was scanned that the information would highlight the age discrepancy in Lufthansa’s computer.

  • Annie M

    I agree with Lindabator. I also am not buying that she was given this information by a Lufthansa agent. But how did she actually buy the ticket – did she purchase directly or through one of the OTA’s?

  • BubbaJoe123

    Now I’m confused. If you had the kid in the window in a carseat, why wouldn’t someone be able to sit on the aisle?

  • Rebecca

    My kids were in the middle and window seat in their flysafe harnesses, which are not even kind of bulky and look like seatbelt extenders. So more than one person asked me to pick up my kid in the middle seat and put him on my lap so they could sit where I was, in the aisle seat.

  • Rebecca

    $4000 is definitely a rational motive. I’ve seen people play this game too. This is an issue that just grates me.

  • Altosk

    The <2 rule you mentioned about "more highway deaths" predates airline deregulation which caused a drastic drop in flight prices.

    (And quality of service….but that's another story)

    TL;DR: The argument that "lap children keep people safe because it's cheap" really doesn't hold water any more.

  • Michael__K

    How would they save $4,000 exactly given that the passenger must present a passport corroborating the name and birthdate provided during ticketing?

  • Rebecca

    I think a lot of times people look the other way. My kids have passports, but they’ve never checked that or their birth certificate (which you’re told to bring) for a domestic flight. I understand this wasn’t a domestic flight. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t think they could get away with it. The regulation is very clear. It is not ambiguous.

    That and I feel very, very strongly about lap children. These idiots can drop $4k at the last second at the airport, but can’t buy the kid his own seat? Screw them.

  • Michael__K

    The regulation is so clear that there are airline employees (from my own experience) who don’t know it and volunteer bad information. If the ticket was sold with the correct birthdate that’s the airline agent’s fault and the passenger should be reimbursed.

  • Alan Gore

    Lufthansa’s insane pickiness is why despite its extensive network and overall competence I avoid it unless there is no other reasonable choice. Somehow that pickiness is always to their advantage, never the passenger’s advantage.

  • BubbaJoe123

    The FAA most recently did this analysis in 2005. That’s more than a quarter century after airline deregulation.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Bizarre.

  • Rebecca

    If it’s a full flight on a plane configured this way, that’s how we sit, with my husband across the aisle. We take turns sitting with the kids. If it’s not a full flight, we take the whole row. I thought it was bizarre too, but people are very averse to middle seats in the next to last row. What I don’t understand is why they would think I wouldn’t leave the seat open on a full flight. The FAs always ask, and I expect them to. It’s the couple times I’ve gotten pushback that it was weird.

  • BubbaJoe123

    Oh, I didn’t mean you were bizarre, rather that someone would see a child strapped into a harness, and think the seat is free.

  • Rebecca

    I didn’t take it that way. Just wanted to explain, because it did sound odd.

  • Bill___A

    I don’t really care what airline sold what. The kid was 2 on the return flight and the parents should have read the rules beforehand. They didn’t and they had to pay.

  • PsyGuy

    I voted yes, but because I personally define an infant as a child one ear or less of age.

  • PsyGuy

    Unless your child was one of the three, in which case I imagine it is FAR, FAR too many.

  • PsyGuy

    Physics can be very unforgiving.

  • PsyGuy

    This isn’t entirely true, the FAA does not monitor live calls, but reviews recorded conversations after they have occurred.
    I do agree however that LAA is one of the strictest global airlines and the strictest of the EU carriers. While this would be highly unusual for LAA, it’s possible this was an experienced CSR.

  • The Original Joe S

    Video record the liars, get their names, note the date and time, then ask a supervisor to confirm. Of course, pieces of dung like those will say that a supervisor is unavailable.

  • The Original Joe S

    The laws of physics are suspended in YOUR KITCHEN? You cook grits in less than 25 minutes?

  • The Original Joe S

    I don’t care what YOU want – I PAID for this seat. Go away!

  • The Original Joe S

    Good move – bring the documentation.

  • The Original Joe S

    Duck off!

  • The Original Joe S

    You paid for it. It’s YOURS. Too bad on them. Where’s THEIR confirmed reservation for the seat? GO AWAY!

  • The Original Joe S

    Stop the shy-and-reticent bit and say what you REALLY mean!

  • The Original Joe S

    One ear? Vinnie Van Go?

  • Michael__K

    But airline agents don’t need to know the rules and are entitled to issue invalid tickets, and their employer is entitled to collect a windfall when this happens.

  • Michael__K

    The physics say that the g-force during severe turbulence is comparable to an ordinary sedan driving around a turn. A turning sports car would produce more g-force than an aircraft during severe turbulence.
    The loop belts are designed to handle this. The issue is high-speed crashes during take-off and landing. Not turbulence.

  • Shirley G

    Finally, a voice of reason! No child should be held in a lap during a flight. I don’t want to hear that “they don’t like it and will cause a fuss.” Do you not use a safety seat in a vehicle because “they don’t like it and will cause a fuss?” If you can’t afford to fly because of this, then don’t until you can. Your child’s safety and life is more important.

  • Shirley G

    Good one! Don’t forget “yutes”

  • Shirley G

    Well said.

  • Shirley G

    So you paid for an aisle seat, but they want to sit there? People are unbelievable.

  • Shirley G

    And it’s not just the child at risk but other passengers who may be hit by your airborne child at great speeds.

  • Pegtoo

    I was surprised the computer didn’t catch the age issue when purchasing the tickets. Didn’t the op need to enter the child’s birthdate?

    Nevermind… I see the answer below.

  • The Original Joe S

    Dese yutes.
    Excuse me?
    Sorry, Your Honor. These Yooooooooooooooothes!

    Whistle blows him out of bed:
    What the **** was THAT??????????

    Ha hahahahahahahahahahaha!

  • FQTVLR

    All we need to do is read the summary of the UA crash in Sioux City in 1989 to see why lap children should be banned. It is harrowing reading. But the FAA (the tombstone agency) still balks are requiring that all infants be in FAA approved car seats on flights–saying parents want that option. The FAA should be concerned with safety above all other things. The wants of parents to not pay for a ticket for a child under the age of 2 should not be a factor in making rules regarding passenger safety.

  • Skeptic

    1) It’s the NTSB, not FAA, that researches and makes policy in this area. See https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/Pages/Children.aspx
    2) Given the distances involved, and increasingly short vacations Americans take, the “drive” alternative is not a practical one in the majority of family trips. So it’s a false alternative. They could also walk, which would likely be much healthier than both flying or driving (carrying that lap child is good for the parents’ bones and cardio health!).
    3) There’s no reason separate seats for children could not be required for flights between AK & HI and other destinations, along with transoceanic flights. Alaskans pay extra flight taxes. Why not establish separate safety regulations, too?
    4) Just because you are unaware of injuries from unsecured lap children, to the child, adult who is supposed to be holding them, or to other passengers, does not mean there haven’t been any. The absence of data is not proof of the absence of an effect.

  • BubbaJoe123

    1. Actually, it’s the FAA, not to the NTSB, which has done the research and made the decision. NTSB doesn’t agree with the decision, based on their assessment of the data, but it’s the FAA’s call to make. Original decision was in their 1995 report to Congress, reaffirmed in 2005.

    2. “So it’s a false alternative. ”
    Except it’s not. NTSB doesn’t think the magnitude of the diversion effect is substantial enough, but they certainly agree it exists.

    3. No reason except being a significant logistical effort for minimal, if any, benefit.

    4. If you’re making the case that these injuries justify additional regulation, it’s on you to show that it’s necessary. While it’s true that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it’s equally true that it’s impossible to prove a negative. I can’t prove injuries did NOT take place.

  • BubbaJoe123

    FYI, here’s NTSB’s white paper on the topic, which is the most cogent argument out there for forbidding lap children.

  • BubbaJoe123
  • jim6555

    You’re confusing things by using the code LAA. The IATA code for Lufthansa is LH.

  • jim6555

    International one-way seats can cost as much or more than a round trip ticket. The separate return idea works fine when both ends of the flight are in the USA. Not so fine flying between Europe and USA.

  • KanExplore

    How many infants have died in highway accidents in the same period of time? And how many more will die if families decide they will drive instead of paying for that infant’s seat? Flying remains by far the safer method of transportation. Be aware of unintended consequences.

  • KanExplore

    Couldn’t they have bought the third seat in coach, then have one of the parents use it while the other sat with the toddler in business? They were putting a lot of money at risk.

  • Maxwell Smart

    the question

    “Should lap children of any age be permitted on flights?


    really is a bit silly. We’ve all seen women breast feeding their 10 yo brats. You have to have an age limit. Some airlines change the same price for everyone & everyone has to have a seat. The only difference is govt international taxes & charges, which vary by age. Should children of any age be allowed in business class ? Probably not. If I’d paid to fly business class, I would want some kids near me.

  • KanExplore

    Thanks for all your input to the discussion. The fly/drive discussion comes up all the time among my friends and cost is one key factor. Really if we were to ban lap infants on airplanes we should ban driving with an infant altogether because that is many times more dangerous, no matter what type of car seat is used.

  • pauletteb

    Lap children should be prohibited . . . period.

  • pauletteb

    A well-worn and proved inaccurate analogy.

  • Mel65

    I completely agree. Were hoping that once they got their tickets outbound and they started their travel, nobody would question the age of that child on the way back.

  • Mel65

    I’m not sure I agree. Years ago I worked for bank one doing their phone center while I was in college same thing we had people monitoring the calls and you were of course encouraged to get through as many as you could. But, it takes no longer to say “yes your child needs a ticket once they turn 2” than to say, “nope your child doesn’t need a ticket”. I just don’t see an incentive for the ticket agent on the phone to say the wrong thing.

  • Tricia K

    Ask the flight attendants who survived the Sioux City Iowa crash (1987?) how they feel about lap babies. They instructed parents (per policy) to lay their babies on the floor and hold onto them from the brace position. When the plane flipped on the runway, the babies were ripped from their parents arms. Several were killed. And while it is an extreme example, turbulence bad enough that unbuckled passengers hit their head on the cabin ceiling (happened recently on a flight from Greece) is enough to kill a baby who is not buckled in. Turbulence is enough of a concern on airplanes that pasengers are asked to remain buckled while in their seats. And it is time for the FAA step up and require ALL children be secured–and not under the same seatbelt their parents are using.

  • Perhaps the OP might have been able to plan their travel dates to return prior the child’s 2nd birthday and avoided all this mess? While a little after the fact for this situation, it’s something for others planning trips with young kids might now keep in mind. I certainly did not know about such rules, but then again, I don’t have a toddler anymore so would not be as careful to read the fine print about that one!

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