On U.S. domestic flights, babies fly free as a ‘lap infant.’ Children under 2 years of age don’t need their own seat and it doesn’t cost extra to bring them on a plane.
Outside the U.S., policies vary. And for international travel there’s usually a charge – which can be as high as 10% or more of the cost of a paid ticket, plus taxes.
A couple arrived at the Tel Aviv airport for Ryanair 4710, the 12:55 p.m. flight to Brussels-Charleroi on Tuesday. They were traveling with their infant son, but hadn’t paid the airline’s €25 (US$27.14) fee for an infant in lap. While some reports have said that the parents “refused to pay the fee,” in fact Ryanair’s check-in counters were closed and they could not pay.
They left the baby at the ticket counter and proceeded to security. Ryanair called Israeli police. The parents were located, and taken into custody for questioning. The baby was returned to the its parents.
According to the airport authority,
A couple with a baby, holders of a Belgian passport, arrived on a Ryanair flight at Terminal 1 without a ticket for the baby. The couple arrived late for the flight after the flight’s check-in counters had closed. They left the basket with the baby and wanted to go up to the security check in Terminal 1 to get to the departure gate.
The ground services shift manager took the couple back to the flight counters to pick up the baby. and called the police and a security guard. After that, the couple took the baby.
Because I’m optimistic, I choose to believe that the parents were going through security to find someone they could pay in order to bring their child. Most of the stories around this have framed it as ‘parents leave baby behind’ as though they were giving Ryanair their baby instead of $25. They couldn’t proceed through security without a ticket for their son, which they couldn’t get without paying the fee.
While it’s unfortunate that there wouldn’t have been any later Ryanair flights from Israel to the ‘Brussels South’ airport (they only serve the route three days a week) the correct answer of course is not to leave your baby behind. Brussels Airlines offers a 4:10 p.m. departure, which was selling tickets ~ $270 per passenger plus around $50 for the infant. At least one passenger might have stayed behind with the infant and traveled later.
Travel is complicated, and it’s understandable to think that a ticket pays for a seat so a baby who is allowed to travel without a seat wouldn’t need a ticket. Facing unforeseen costs can be daunting. But losing your child seems.. worse?
(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)