While travelling in Australia with an infant is a relatively painless process, the same cannot be said for international journeys, particularly those which can span 12 hours or more.

All airlines have some version of an infant policy, but these can vary depending on the route and class of travel. We’ve compiled a list of twelve major international airlines which fly from Australia, and can be easily booked with frequent flyer points. 

This guide covers travelling with children and infants internationally. For domestic travel, check our dedicated guide here.

What do airlines mean by infants?

Infants have a specific definition in the world of airline tickets – in short, they are children under two years old. Lap infants don’t get their own seat, but share one with their accompanying adult and a special infant extension seatbelt. Priority access to bassinets can be requested where available.

Kids over the age of two are classed as ‘children’ and require their own seats. In terms of pricing, international child tickets are usually cheaper with cash. But when booking with points, children will need the same number of points as adults.

Some ambiguity can occur where the child is less than two when their trip starts but turns two while they are away. That scenario is treated differently and we’ve tried to list each airline’s policy where possible.

This guide will cover all commonly asked questions you might have about the infant and child policies for twelve major international airlines, grouped by category for easy comparisons.

Comparing international lap infant fares

The most common way to calculate infant lap fares is 10% of the commercial adult fare, even if your flight was originally booked with points or miles.

QF International Business
Example of adult vs infant pricing for a Qantas international business class fare

If you’re adding an infant to a reward seat booking, beware of this cost. For a long Business or First Class flight, you could be looking at more than $1,000 to add your infant to the booking.

These airlines charge a flat 10% of the adult fare (excluding taxes) for international journeys in any available cabin class:

  • Qantas, Virgin Australia, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Delta and United.

The following airlines have different rates depending on the travel class:

  • Qatar Airways appears to charge full fare for infants travelling in First Class (the amount remains 10% in Economy and Business Class).
  • Etihad appears to charge 25% of the base fare for infants in Business and First Class (the amount remains 10% in Economy Class).
Qatar Airways Infants
Infants don’t get a discount in Qatar Airways first class

Finally, Jetstar charges a flat $50 for an infant, per international flight with a JQ flight number. These amounts can vary with other currencies depending on which flight you’re on. 

Comparing international lap infant baggage allowance

Infants travelling on heavily-subsidised tickets usually have a cut-down luggage allowance as well.

Most airlines follow the status quo by offering some general check-in allowance and/or a number of infant-specific items such as strollers and cots. Here’s a table for comparison, though be sure to check the airline’s website for the most up-to-date info.

Checked bagsInfant itemsCarry-on
Qantas1x 10kgThree itemsNone noted
Virgin Australia1x 23kgTwo items1x 7kg extra
Singapore Airlines1x 10kg (or 1 piece*)Two items6kg extra for feeding
Cathay Pacific1x 10kg (or 1 piece*)Two itemsSmall infant items
Emirates1x 10kg (or 1 piece*)None noted1x 5kg extra
Qatar Airways1x 10kg (or 1 piece*)One itemNone noted
Etihad1x 10kg (or 1 piece*)One itemNone noted
Air New ZealandNone notedTwo itemsOne item
American Airlines1x bag**Two itemsNone noted
Delta1x 10kgTwo itemsNone noted
UnitedNone notedTwo itemsNone noted
JetstarNone notedThree itemsNone noted

*This may be 1x 23kg bag for routes to The Americas. See the airline website for more details.
**American Airlines allows infants one bag identical to the allowance their accompanying adult has, if any.

Virgin Australia infant allowance
Virgin Australia recently introduced a generous infant allowance
Ad – Scroll down to continue reading.Minimum spend, terms & conditions apply.

Infant bassinets

All major airlines offer bassinets for infants on their long-haul widebody aircraft. This includes Airbus A380s, A350s, A330s, Boeing 777s and 787s.

Bassinets are extremely limited and usually have to be reserved over the phone.

Comparing international child fares

Unlike infants, most airlines treat child fares as the same as adult fares, although a small discount may apply. Children usually get the same adult luggage allowance, but some airlines still allow children to check-in items such as strollers for free. Infants under two who have their own seat will also be charged at the applicable child fare.

Here is a quick rundown of how each of our twelve airlines treats child fares internationally. Note that these only apply for cash fares. Booking children using points or miles always means you will need to pay the full adult rate for that redemption.

Child cash faresAdditional child items
QantasEconomy, Premium: 75% fare
Business, First: Full fare
Two items
Virgin AustraliaTrans Tasman: Full fare
International: 50-75% fare
USA Business Class: Full fare
Two items
Singapore AirlinesEconomy, Premium: 75% fare
Business, First: Full fare
None noted
Cathay PacificAll classes: 75% fareNone noted
EmiratesEconomy: 75% fare
Business: 90% fare
First: Full fare
None noted
Qatar AirwaysEconomy, Business: 65% fare
First: Full fare
None noted
EtihadEconomy, Business: 75% fare
First: Full fare
One item
Air New ZealandEconomy, Business: 75% fare
Long-haul Business: Full fare
Two items
American AirlinesEconomy, Premium: 75% fare
Business, First: Full fare
None noted
DeltaCall Delta ReservationsNone noted
UnitedEconomy, Premium: 75% fare
Business, First: Full fare
None noted
JetstarNo child discountsTwo items

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if my infant turns two during their travels?

Good question, the answer to this varies per airline. Surprisingly, Jetstar has the most generous policy, openly stating that the full trip can be ticketed as an infant, as long as all flights are on one booking.

Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad allow for half the journey being ticketed as an infant, and return flights as a seated child once they turn two. Virgin Australia says that the infant has to be ticketed as a child for the whole itinerary in this case, which is the least friendly policy.

Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and the US-based airlines don’t explicitly answer this question on their websites, so it’s best to call up and ask.

How do I add an infant to my booking?

Most airlines allow you to book lap infants online, which is priced automatically. If you’d like to reserve a seat for your infant at child prices, you’ll need to call them. Also, if your infant hasn’t been born at the time of booking, you’ll need to contact the airline to add the infant to your booking. Fees may apply in this case.

Can I book a child seat for an infant?

Airlines do not supply child seats for infants. If your child is booked in their own seat but cannot sit upright, then they will need to be fitted into an appropriate car seat. All airlines have differing policies in this regard – it is best to call them and book well in advance. Your infant will require a separate seat and will likely have to pay the child fare.

Can I bring a stroller onboard?

Some airlines will allow you to bring a stroller onboard as long as it fits within cabin dimensions when folded up. It can’t be used during the flight. Contact each airline for their policy on bringing strollers onboard.

Summing up

Overall, most airlines are similar in the way they treat infants onboard. If you’re travelling in a premium cabin with an infant, nearly all airlines will still only charge 10% of the cash fare, except for Qatar Airways in first class. If you’re planning a much needed holiday break, it might make sense to travel with your infants before they reach two.

Once they hit two years of age, they’ll almost certainly need to use the same number of points as adults for all redemptions – that can add up very fast. With cash fares, discounts are usually not applicable in Business and First class cabins as well.

When it comes to infant luggage allowances, Australian and Asian airlines tend to have more generous policies compared to their Middle Eastern and American counterparts. In particular, Virgin Australia has the most generous policy with a 23kg checked bag and two infant items allowed.

While we were only able to cover twelve major international airlines in this guide to keep it concise, there are many other international carriers serving Australia. Feel free to ask infant or child-related questions for any other airline in the Point Hacks Travel Community or in the comments below.

Travelling on international flights with children and infants was last modified: April 19th, 2022 by Evin Tan Khiew