Today I am running a guest post from Head for Points reader Sam on travelling with infants on British Airways. Whilst I also have two young kids, Sam has more than me – including twins! – and is more up to speed with current practice. He has done a great job and I’d like to thank him publicly for putting it together.
Although not a subject of universal interest to HFP readers, I would suggest that it is in everybody’s interest that passengers travelling with infants are well accommodated. I’m sure many people would like to see a policy like that of Malaysian where infants are banned from First. However, given their premium passenger demographic, BA have chosen to have a policy of accommodation rather than exclusion of infants.
As someone who travels long haul fairly regularly for both business and leisure, people often remark to me that it must be difficult having to fly at the back of the plane when you are used to travelling in business. In more recent years (especially since my 2nd & 3rd children were born on the same day 15 months ago) my response has been that, when you are used to travelling long haul with infants, any flight without them (whether in economy or business) feels like relative nirvana.
Having travelled long haul with infants using a variety of airlines in all four classes, I believe that BA do a better job than most in accommodating infants. However it is worth knowing your way around the system to ensure you get the most (or, more accurately, suffer the least bad experience) when travelling long haul with infants.
At the risk of teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, you should be aware that bassinet / carrycot seats are one of the most important considerations when travelling with infants (unless you have the resources to purchase an infant their own seat). The alternative of a baby in your lap for 12 hours is not worth thinking about.
None of the main seat review sites show you exactly which of the seats are actually allocated for bassinets, they tend to focus on helping other passengers avoid sitting near bassinet seats. However BA’s ‘change your seat’ function in ‘manage my booking’ shows you exactly where the bassinet seats are (see screenshot below). ‘Manage My Booking’ will also show you if you have been allocated a bassinet seat with your infant – the passenger designation will show ‘cot’ against the infant name.
A few points I have found out on aircraft I have flown:
On a 747 in Club World there are official bassinet positions in the double seat in the middle. There are 2 of these in the ‘high J’ (large business class cabin) configuration (14E & 20E) and one in the ‘low J’ (smaller business class cabin) configuration (20E). These seats are great if you are flying as a couple with one baby and even better if you are flying alone with a baby in an under occupied cabin (because any person allocated in a double seat next to you with a baby will probably do their best to move to a different seat if possible, leaving you with a flat bed next to you for your baby and a virtual suite in which to cocoon yourself). There is also an unofficial bassinet position upstairs (64A) but you will only be able to select this in advance if you have a Gold Exec Club card.
On an A380 in Club there are three bassinet positions. Two are with pairs of opposite facing seats upstairs and one is in a double seat in the middle on the lower deck. The opposite facing option is better for adults flying alone with one infant but couples travelling with one would be better with the double option (see above). The washrooms upstairs are huge and much better for changing children than those downstairs
On a 777 in Club World there are three bassinet positions on one row. Like in the A380 two are with pairs of opposite facing seats and one is in a double seat in the middle
In First I’ve only travelled on an A380. The bassinet position is in seat 4F. It is within the seat space so seriously reduces the bed space of the adult passenger. Also for baby changing the washrooms in First on an A380 are tiny compared to the Club World washrooms upstairs (so I mainly used those upstairs). The First bassinet position can only hold the chair type seat and not the cot. I wouldn’t bother travelling in First on a BA A380 with an infant if you can help it
On all planes in World Traveller & World Traveller Plus the bassinet positions tend to be on the bulkheads at the front of each cabin section
British Airways has quite generous baggage allowances for infants. Infants are allowed 1 bag plus a car seat plus a collapsible buggy. The car seat (if packed in a bag) can effectively be used as an extra bag and you can pack the bag out with other luggage. Infants are also permitted hand luggage on BA unlike some other airlines.
If you buy a seat for your infant you can take certain forward facing car seats on board and use these. However I have never done this and can’t see the point for an infant on BA unless you have money to burn – the free carrycots are perfectly adequate.
British Airways has a great policy for infants that turn 2 years old between the outward and return sectors. You can pay the infant fare and you get a free seat on the return sector. My wife did this to Johannesburg with my (now) 4 year old. I wanted to do it with the twins in Club World next year but my wife wasn’t prepared to leave the 4 year old behind!
Infant bookings have not always worked for me properly with British Airways American Express 2 for 1 vouchers. However you can just book the adults online and then add the infants later via the service centre.
The infant fare will be 10% of the adult fare or 10% of the Avios + 10% of the taxes and fuel surcharge. The taxes and other fees vary depending on the route.
Obviously this post is not fully comprehensive and is based only on my experience and research. Other insights are very much welcome. For further reading it may be worthwhile referring to this post from March which refers to another more general ‘flying with infants’ post on a US blog.