Southwest’s International Lap Child Policy – Do You Really Pay the Full Taxes & Fees & How to Book?

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southwest lap child international

Southwest Lap Child International Routes

My wife and I are planning to take baby Elizabeth down to Mexico to meet her grandmother in September. Thanks to Southwest’s new Mexico City service, we are going to be able to keep this pretty economical by using my wife’s Companion Pass and Southwest’s generous lap child policy.

Southwest generally doesn’t charge anything for lap children, however that isn’t always the case. Here is their policy regarding international flights:

Traveling with an infant on an international flight:

  • One child over 14 days old and under two (2) years of age, not occupying a seat, may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (12 years of age or older).
  • If you plan to travel with an infant as a lap child, you will be required to pay the taxes and fees that apply to the international portion of the infant’s itinerary.
  • The taxes and fees must be paid prior to travel at the Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter or by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).

How Much Are Taxes & Fees

That policy makes it sound like you will be on the hook for an extra set of taxes. On that route taxes can be quite expensive. Lets look at a breakdown:

+Passenger Facility Charge $13.50
+Security Fee1 $11.20
+U.S. Customs User Fee $5.50
+U.S. APHIS User Fee $5.00
+U.S. Immigration User Fee $7.00
+Mexico International Airport Departure Tax $44.54
+Mexico Tourism Tax $21.49

That is a lot of money for a “free” infant. Well thankfully we found that all of these fees don’t apply to a lap child. In fact, most of them don’t apply.

Booking an Infant Lap Child & Which Fees They Pay

southwest lap child international

To book one of these itineraries, you must call Southwest. We simply called 1-800-435-9792 and my wife was connected to the international department. They booked her ticket, added my companion ticket and then charged for the lap infant fees. Those fees need to be paid ahead of time, so don’t just show up without letting them know that you will have a lap child.

While we were scared that the baby would have to pay the entire $94.73 in taxes, as you can see, her cost was only $17.50. I can thus deduce that the Passenger Facility charge, Security Fee (TSA) and the Mexico taxes were not charged. Basically you are paying the U.S. Customs & Immigration Fees.

A Great Deal

southwest lap child international
This is a great deal on points! Especially with the companion pass.

On a side note, the prices for flights from Las Vegas to Mexico City on Southwest are very reasonable. While the cash rate was $342 roundtrip, the points cost was only 13,860 roundtrip. Subtract out the taxes and we used 13,860 points for a $247.27 fare which equates to a redemption value of 1.78 cents per point. Of course, you can the multiply that by 2 and add in the value of the lap child!


I was scared when I saw the lap child language regarding Southwest’s international flights. While I am sure each country/route will have its own different costs, it is nice to know that when flying to Mexico it seems only the U.S. Immigration fees apply. $17.50 is a lot nicer than $94.73!

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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