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Q regarding child turned 2 mid trip, airline says too bad, AC segment, UA ticket

Q regarding child turned 2 mid trip, airline says too bad, AC segment, UA ticket

Old Yesterday, 2:50 am
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Q regarding child turned 2 mid trip, airline says too bad, AC segment, UA ticket

a family member booked a RT for the entire family on UA stock YUL-EWR-TLV and return direct TLV-YUL flying AC metal.

a child in the family was under two before booking; he turned two mid-trip while in TLV.

no date changes were made to the ticket; they returned on the originally scheduled date.

A few days before his return, he happened to mention to me that his little one seems to drop off the reservation for the return. He called UA and they told his someone would get back to him and that he shouldn't worry; no one called back and make a long story short, he was told after multiple phone calls that with only one seat left on the flight, he'd better buy the last ticket (in premium) for the child-- or he would find his child, and by extension, himself, stuck without a way back.

I say be gentle because frequent flyers- myself included- would probably not have purchase such a ticket online, knowing things are complictaed in such situations-- but still, it seems to me, that if he purchased a ticket for a certain person with a known-to-airline birthday, and leaves as scheduled on all legs (as opposed to a ticket change which would trigger a different fare for an older age), it seems a bit desingenoius legally, for an airline to collect a fare, create a contract with a traveller, and then simply not allow them to board because of an age change? Surely, they could put on the website when you try to book a notice that says "PASSENGER AGE CHANGE DURING TRAVEL MAKES FARE UNSELLABLE" or such?

Had he known, and purchased (half or full) ticket for that child when he did all the others, he would have paid much less-- and in any case, I think that from a legal standpoint, airline acceptance of payment and no notice (and UA agents on the phone saying he would be fine not to worry) is unfair.

What is his best approach? the airline said "too bad." a DOT letter? small claims court?

Knowing I am the frequent flyer in the family, they have asked for advice- and saying "tough noogies" is not my preffered response.

Thank you for any help and suggestions.
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Old Yesterday, 4:28 am
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The separate tickets for age 2+ are mandated by law, so they certainly shouldn't have told him that it would work out. Once the airline realized that the child wasn't eligible to sit on a lap as an infant, there was no chance that they were going to allow him to board without a separate seat.
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Old Yesterday, 4:39 am
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It's considered unsafe for a kid 2 or older to occupy a lap rather than its own seat during takeoff, landing, and turbulence. Hence the regulations forbidding this. AFAIK no airline performs a check/warning but rather they assume that someone buying (since this is international, so the 10% fare + 100% taxes and government fees would apply unlike free domestic travel for lap kids under age 2) an infant ticket is aware of the age limit.

It's not unusual to hear stories of people buying infant tickets at the last minute and being shocked at the expensive fares that must be used for this, including cases when the adults have award tickets.
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Last edited by WineCountryUA; Yesterday at 8:21 am Reason: Stick to the airlines in issue
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Old Yesterday, 7:26 am
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Since this was ticketed by UA, OP's issue is with UA, so I'm moving this to the United forum.

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Old Yesterday, 8:22 am
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Did UA or AC cancel the infant reservation?
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Old Yesterday, 9:06 am
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Originally Posted by tapuach View Post
A few days before his return, he happened to mention to me that his little one seems to drop off the reservation for the return. He called UA and they told his someone would get back to him and that he shouldn't worry; no one called back and make a long story short, he was told after multiple phone calls that with only one seat left on the flight, he'd better buy the last ticket (in premium) for the child-- or he would find his child, and by extension, himself, stuck without a way back.
It's unfortunate that he didn't receive better customer service from United.

Originally Posted by tapuach View Post
but still, it seems to me, that if he purchased a ticket for a certain person with a known-to-airline birthday, and leaves as scheduled on all legs (as opposed to a ticket change which would trigger a different fare for an older age), it seems a bit desingenoius legally, for an airline to collect a fare, create a contract with a traveller, and then simply not allow them to board because of an age change? Surely, they could put on the website when you try to book a notice that says "PASSENGER AGE CHANGE DURING TRAVEL MAKES FARE UNSELLABLE" or such?
There was no contract, because the purchaser misrepresented the child's age. Furthermore, as pointed out, AC would have been in violation of the law if they'd allowed the child to fly without a seat.

Originally Posted by tapuach View Post
Had he known, and purchased (half or full) ticket for that child when he did all the others, he would have paid much less-- and in any case, I think that from a legal standpoint, airline acceptance of payment and no notice (and UA agents on the phone saying he would be fine not to worry) is unfair.
By contracting directly with an airline, your family member has represented that he didn't need a travel agent. That makes it his responsibility to understand the product. Caveat emptor, as it were.

Originally Posted by tapuach View Post
What is his best approach? the airline said "too bad." a DOT letter? small claims court?
"Your Honor, I tried to break several laws, and United didn't stop me soon enough."

Originally Posted by tapuach View Post
saying "tough noogies" is not my preffered response.
I can sympathize, but I don't see a better option for you.
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Old Yesterday, 9:42 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
It's considered unsafe for a kid 2 or older to occupy a lap rather than its own seat during takeoff, landing, and turbulence. Hence the regulations forbidding this. AFAIK no airline performs a check/warning but rather they assume that someone buying (since this is international, so the 10% fare + 100% taxes and government fees would apply unlike free domestic travel for lap kids under age 2) an infant ticket is aware of the age limit.

It's not unusual to hear stories of people buying infant tickets at the last minute and being shocked at the expensive fares that must be used for this, including cases when the adults have award tickets.
So it's safe for a kid 1year and 364 days old but unsafe for a kid 2 years and 1 day old? Wondering .....
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Old Yesterday, 9:50 am
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It appears that BA and VA will offer a free seat to the infant if said-infant turns 2 during the trip. Maybe OP's friend heard of such stories from other families traveling. Regardless, it's up to the traveler to understand the airline's rules...

https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/...hildren.html#/

To be fair, it's buried in the page as a caveat...

The childs fare applies only to children under age 12. Youngsters age 12 and up will pay the adult fare. If your infant childs second birthday occurs between the departure and return segments of an international trip, you have the option to pay:
  • The full published child's fare for that flight (and be certain to have a confirmed seat both ways), or
  • The infant fare on the departure, and the published child's fare on the return. Call Air Canada Reservations to book this option.
United is even more vague... https://www.united.com/en/us/fly/tra...-children.html
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Old Yesterday, 9:50 am
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Originally Posted by Rpg101 View Post
So it's safe for a kid 1year and 364 days old but unsafe for a kid 2 years and 1 day old? Wondering .....
Actually, it's not safe for any child. However, if they were going to allow lap travel for infants, they had to set a limit somewhere, and unless you'd like to start weighing kids at the airport, a hard limit based on age is the easiest to enforce.

There's actually no good rationale for allowing lap children on intercontinental flights. On domestic flights, they've actually done cost-benefit analyses. It is undoubtedly safer for a child of any age or size to be seated in an approved restraint than to be held in a parent's arms. However, what they found was that if they required infants to be in seats, some people would drive instead. And since flying is orders of magnitude safer than driving, it made more sense to let parents hold lap children than to have them drive as a way to save money.
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Old Yesterday, 10:03 am
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Originally Posted by Rpg101 View Post
So it's safe for a kid 1year and 364 days old but unsafe for a kid 2 years and 1 day old? Wondering .....
Much like anything else... where do you draw the line? 2 years 2 days? 3? 4? etc...

In the spirit of keeping it airline related: just look at the old carry on sizers, or the current bag weight limits... its (generally/outside of status allowance) 50... not 51, not 52.

Using age is very objective... its defined. Sure, we can all cite 2 year old kids that are SMALLER than 18month olds, and vice versa.
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Old Yesterday, 10:34 am
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Originally Posted by TorTraveler View Post
The separate tickets for age 2+ are mandated by law, so they certainly shouldn't have told him that it would work out. Once the airline realized that the child wasn't eligible to sit on a lap as an infant, there was no chance that they were going to allow him to board without a separate seat.
I wonder what law? Over 2's w/o seat used to be allowed on several carriers if on the outbound the kid was under 2.
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Old Yesterday, 12:13 pm
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Originally Posted by Rpg101 View Post
So it's safe for a kid 1year and 364 days old but unsafe for a kid 2 years and 1 day old? Wondering .....
Under the regulations which govern US airlines, it is LEGAL for a baby who hasn't reached their second birthday and it is not LEGAL for one who has.

It is safest for all babies to be strapped into aircraft-certified car seats. If regulation is going to allow lap-infants, and some say that they shouldn't, there has to be a cutoff somewhere.

The argument in favor of the lap-infant rule is that requiring the purchase of an additional seat will result in more injuries overall because more families will choose to drive which exposes them to a statistically higher accident rate. Not sure how you quantify that to calculate a conclusive measure of which is safer.
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Old Yesterday, 2:38 pm
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The point is that the traveler disclosed to UA the childs age (by virtue of giving the dob) and UA decided, after that disclosure, to sell the ticket. So UA technically waived its terms and conditions and therefore should not be falling back on them. Its akin, in a way, to a mistake fare in that UA didnt mean to sell the ticket but did so mistakenly. You can argue whether the traveler should have, or might have, known. But the principal blame lies with UA and it should be UAs responsibility to sort it out at no, or reasonable, cost to the OP.
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Old Yesterday, 2:52 pm
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Originally Posted by lhrsfo View Post
The point is that the traveler disclosed to UA the childs age (by virtue of giving the dob) and UA decided, after that disclosure, to sell the ticket. So UA technically waived its terms and conditions and therefore should not be falling back on them. Its akin, in a way, to a mistake fare in that UA didnt mean to sell the ticket but did so mistakenly. You can argue whether the traveler should have, or might have, known. But the principal blame lies with UA and it should be UAs responsibility to sort it out at no, or reasonable, cost to the OP.
The principal blame lies with the person who booked a ticket for a two-year-old without paying the fare for a two-year-old.

You get airlines involved and suddenly everyone's a lawyer looking for a loophole.
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Old Yesterday, 2:58 pm
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What is missing in this discussion is an appreciation of how many miles Uniteds newest MileagePlus member will earn on his last minute one way ticket.
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