The Michael W Travels Family recently got back from a quick trip to Ireland.
While I typically try to book our flights with miles and points, due to a cheap fare (and also no award flight availability) I bought the tickets for around $400 each.
At the time of booking I decided to not add Theo on as a lap baby. I figured that I could just add him on after. While this was never an issue while flying with Lucas as a lap baby, this would be a costly error on my part.
I booked our flight through an OTA called Explore Trip. I came across them in a Momondo search and can’t say that I’ve heard of them before.
The flights I booked had us flying on Iberia Airlines from JFK to Madrid. After a few hour layover, we flew Aer Lingus to Dublin. On the way home we flew Aer Lingus to London Gatwick (where we visited the most interesting Priority Pass Lounge) and then back to NYC on British Airways.
All of our tickets were code-shared with a BA ticket number so naturally, I figured that I could call British to have them add Theo as a lap baby.
When I called British Airlines, I was told that they could not ticket a lap baby, only the travel agency that sold the tickets could. I found this odd but not a big deal.
I rang up Explore Trip and the agent tried to add Theo without luck. I told him that BA said they would be able to add a lap baby. After a couple of times being placed on hold, I was told that they could not add Theo and not to worry, he could be added at the airport.
I hung up and figured I’d call British back and then Explore Trip if necessary.
I waited another couple of weeks and called British Airways to try to add Theo.
The rep again told me that the travel agency that booked the tickets needed to add the lap baby. I was also told that if they had an issue, then they would need to call the airline. I was even told the name of the desk that Explore Trip would need to ask for. (I’m pretty sure that it’s called the trade desk.)
I called Explore Trip right after and was placed on hold a couple of times before the rep said he could not book the lap baby. Again I was told not to worry, it could get done at the airport.
I wasn’t happy and told the rep how British Airways told me that they could add a lap baby. If there was an issue, they’d need to call the airline to make it work.
After being told it couldn’t be done, I asked for a supervisor.
Another hold before the supervisor answered… He said that Explore Trip could not add the lap baby and that it could 100% be done at the airport. I then told the supervisor how BA said they could add the lap baby ticket. His response was something like “if I could add the baby why wouldn’t I”.
The conversation was going nowhere fast so I hung up, defeated but not really worrying much…
Fast forward to the evening of our flight.
We show up at the Iberia ticket counter at JFK Airport which is more or less shared with BA. The friendly agent tried adding Theo as a lap baby but had lots of trouble due to Aer Lingus being involved. She went to the next counter to who I assume was a supervisor. Again, she couldn’t get the lap baby ticket to price out.
She then walked down the counter area to British Airways while we waited.
After around 15 minutes, she said that BA didn’t want to add the lap baby even though our flights were ticketed by them. A few minutes later she came back and said she got it taken care of- all we need to do is give a credit card to pay the taxes of $363.47!
My reaction was WHAT! I mentioned to her how our seats didn’t cost much more than that.
She sincerely apologized but said that the taxes for the lap baby were based on the price of a coach ticket that day which was around $2,000!
This made little to no sense to me but what could I do? We weren’t leaving Theo at the airport! I reluctantly paid the ridiculous tax and walked away pissed, not at the Iberia rep but at Explore Trip for refusing to call BA to book Theo’s ticket.
$363.47 is an absurd amount to pay for taxes, especially since we could’ve just bought an extra seat for a few dollars more (Lucas’s ticket cost $377.22). Yes I was pissed but I certainly wasn’t going to allow this mishap to ruin our trip.
Lesson learned- if you book tickets with an OTA, make sure to book your lap baby ticket at the same time.
This was never a problem over Lucas’s two years flying as a lap baby but it cost us this time.
The one thing I want to know is what the taxes should’ve cost had Theo’s ticket been booked by Explore Trip. Any guesses?