Lap Babies Eligible for £250 EU Delay Compensation Awards!

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If you have flown to or in Europe you are probably at least somewhat familiar with the EU Regulations that provide for monetary payments if you arrive at your final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours, as long as the delay wasn’t due to extraordinary circumstances such as political instability, air traffic control, weather, or security situations. For those not familiar with how this compensation works, we aren’t talking about getting a small airline voucher for your troubles, we are talking about actual real money of up to 600 EUR per person impacted by the delay.


The regulations also cover travel by rail, bus, and ship, though things work slightly differently depending on how and where you travel, so read up on all those details here if you are interested.

In terms of flights, you are covered under these regulations if your flights are within the EU, you arrive in the EU from outside the EU on an EU airline, or depart from the EU to a non-EU country on a flight operated by an EU or non-EU airline.

EU means the 28 EU countries , including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion Island, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland

Lap Babies Eligible for £250 EU Delay Compensation Awards

You may have known all of that already, but you might not have known that even lap babies can be eligible for EU261 compensation for delayed and cancelled flights!

A court recently ruled that even a lap baby without a seat is eligible for EU delay compensation! This particular situation involved a 2015 Ryanair flight from the Canary Islands to Birmingham that was delayed for nine hours. The other family members were each eligible for €400 due to the delay, but the baby’s claim was denied as they did not have their own seat.

Lap baby in the EU

Lap baby in the EU

Instead of paying the roughly £104 per ticket that the family members with seats had paid to fly Ryanair, the baby was charged roughly a £20 fee as a lap child. Because of paying this smaller fee with no assigned seat, and that her age that made it where she “wouldn’t suffer trouble inconvenience due to the delay”, Ryanair asserted that she should not be eligible for delay compensation.

However, the court ruled that babies are passengers and are thus eligible for a €250 EU261 compensation…and I can tell you from experience that babies and toddlers very much can and do suffer trouble and inconvenience for massive delays at least as much as adults.

We came up about 20 minutes short of a qualifying EU delay that would have paid us over 1,000 EUR

We came up about 20 minutes short of a qualifying EU delay that would have paid us well over 1,000 total EUR. Obviously the kids were thrilled during the delay…

I can also tell you that pricing with Ryanair can be interesting, as here is an example of this exact route where the infant fee actually costs more than the adult ticket.

Ryanair infant fee.jpg

Not surprisingly, Ryanair is not happy about this ruling and said it could lead to them doubling their infant fee to cover these sort of claims. In the example above the infant fee would then be more than 2x the going adult seat rate.

I have mixed feelings on this one, but do agree that if compensation is awarded based not on the price of the ticket, but on the length of the delay and the resulting inconvenience to passengers, that a baby is just as inconvenienced as everyone else. Additionally, even if the fare paid was taken into consideration, not all infant tickets are only £20 as they can easily be many hundreds of dollars, especially if the parent is flying in business class.

Either way, if you are make a EU 261 claim and were traveling with a lap child, don’t forget to include them in your paperwork!

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  1. Does the EU require lap fares to be offered? Ruling sounds like a good reason to require all airline passengers to have a seat. Lap babies are an inconvenience all around – do I get compensated when a passenger has lap child sitting near me (flailing arms/legs into my space or kicking the back of my seat because they are too mobile to reasonably travel as an infant in arms, especially in coach?)

    NO MORE LAP BABIES! It’s unsafe for the child, and a profit loss for the carrier as this ruling has proved.

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