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Most airlines require you to buy a seat once a child turns 2 years old.

David Joles, Star Tribune

The ins and outs of fare discounts for kids

  • Article by: TOM PARSONS
  • Dallas Morning News
  • November 3, 2012 - 3:06 PM

If you are flying with kids, you may be able to get a discount depending on the children's ages and your destination. You can often find discounts of 10 to 25 percent off for kids ages 2 to 11 on international routes.

The discounts that offer a percentage off the fare are taken off the base fare only. The fuel surcharge on international routes is not included in the discount, and it's a hefty part of the fare. For example, the fuel surcharge to many European cities runs well above $400.

The airlines do not offer the kids' discount off government taxes and fees.

For domestic flights, kids younger than 2 can fly free as lap babies. On most international routes, there is a charge of 10 percent of the base fare for lap babies, plus some taxes and fees, but in most cases you will not be required to pay the fuel surcharge. If you want to purchase a seat for your infant under 2, the child's fare for kids ages 2-11 would apply on those airlines that offer a kids' discount.

When flying with a lap infant abroad, contact the airline or your travel agent to purchase the infant ticket before you depart. If you plan to fly with a lap baby and the child will turn 2 before you return, most airlines will require you to purchase a seat for the return leg for both domestic and international travel.

There are kids' discounts on international flights to most of the world, including Central America, Europe, Australia and Asia. If you want to fly in business or first class, there are discounts for kids, with an average of 25 percent off. Some airlines won't allow kids younger than 12 in first class. In the past, kids' discounts to Mexico and the Caribbean were as high as 50 percent off, but today those discounts don't exist.

You can find savings on travel with the family with package rates. There are often kids-fly-free offers for ski-season packages and to other destinations.

When you are booking children's fares on bestfares.com and many other sites, look at the total price for all tickets, so you know you are getting the best fare. Enter the number of passengers who are ages 2 to 11 so you know you are getting the discounted rate when it applies. Just because a child's discount is offered, it doesn't mean that that airline's fares will be the cheapest option for your trip, so be sure to comparison-shop for the total price of all tickets.

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