Travel can be expensive for one, right? So, when you start adding two, three, four and onward to the booking flow, the simple joy of multiplying can become less joyful.
For smart travel companies though, the pain points of family travel are a commercial opportunity to win business over others. If one company has a kid friendly policy and another does not, it’s not too hard to narrow the list down.
In that regard, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic offer one of the most generous policies of any airline, which potentially saves thousands for trips with young children.
That policy? If a child flies out as an infant, but becomes a “child” over the age of 2 during the trip, they won’t charge extra fo the return flight. They get their own seat on the way back for no additional charge. I recently took advantage of this to the tune of thousands.
One Last Hurrah
Our daughter, Olive, turns 2 at the end of January (time flies!).
Palm Springs has become an annual pilgrimage for us from London (weather, ugh!) during the winter, and we wanted to get in one last trip before Olive turns 2, and needs to start paying full freight (in points, or cash) for seats.
Well, I’ll still pay for the seats, she won’t, but you get the idea.
Anyway, a variety of factors meant it would become necessary to leave at the end of January for our one month trip, so I saw this as an opportunity to enjoy one last travel savings.
Many airlines offer modest discounts for kids aged 2-11, but for business class flights it’s like $1750 instead of $2000, rather than $200 rather than $2,000 that infants under the age of 2 enjoy.
Anyway, I made it work and we leave a week before Olive’s 2nd birthday, which allows her to fly with us in any cabin for just 10% of the fare in points or cash. I booked cash tickets in premium and upgraded to business class using miles, and thanks to this kid friendly policy, Olive was barely noticeable in the line items on price.
With virtually every other airline, even if the infant is under 2 at the time of departure, but turns 2 before return, a children’s ticket is required for the whole journey. On this journey, that would’ve added about $1500 to the expenses — which is significant.
Naughty, Or Nice?
In a world with hundreds of airlines, and at least 20 decent candidates for any trip, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic narrowed the list down to two, thanks to this policy.
It saved me more than $1,000, which I’m always grateful for, but did I take advantage of a somewhat “loophole” element, or did I just use this as the airlines would’ve hoped, as a way to encourage bookings. I think there’s different ways of looking at this.
In my opinion, this is a discretionary leisure trip, with no necessity. Because of this, you could call this incremental business earned, rather than a missed opportunity to earn more from me.
Had it not been for this policy, there’s no guarantee I would’ve booked with Virgin or BA. I would’ve had a much wider “net” of airlines to sift through based on the schedule, price, seats and other factors.
At the same time, I totally aimed our trip to line up with dates that would fall into this transitional period, rather than later where the offer would no longer apply, so that I could take advantage for one last hurrah, with a 2X in the price, rather than 3X.
So, did I use this policy well, or abuse it? Either way, it’s a nice nugget for parents with young children to be mindful of, in case there are any discretionary leisure trips in the next year!