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Flying long-haul on British Airways with a baby – how is it?

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A reader recently got in touch with his experience flying British Airways with a seven month old after Sinead’s recent article about flying Singapore Airlines with an infant.

I don’t have kids and Rob’s are now into their teens so we thought it would be a useful companion piece to Sinead’s article for any new or expecting parents.

Over to Rob (a different Rob!):

Flying long-haul on British Airways with a baby - how is it?

Booking and seat assignments for family bookings on BA

We used our companion voucher following a failed covid travel attempt in 2021. We called BA to reassign our tickets to a fresh batch of reward flight seats to St Lucia, having missed out on a set of Barbados seats that were snapped up during the call waiting time.

We booked prior to the birth of our child and phoned back to add her to the booking once name and date of birth were known. This was very easy, except for the phone waiting times, and once done they assigned us the best seats for travelling families and made the system request for the bassinet. Seat 9A & 10A on the left of the plane were deemed the best and I would concur. These seats have multiple benefits:

  • The cot area is in front of 9A to allow for easy access – you wouldn’t have this option in the middle seats – although some parents may opt for sleeping routines that have them lay by their side on the flat bed.
  • Parents being behind each other means ease of walking round for passing baby and help during cot set up. This removes unnecessary logistics of circumventing the galley to get to the other side of the plane.
  • Disembarking together on the same side has its benefits when unpacking overhead compartments.
  • The larger baby changing toilet is directly ahead in the galley – spacious and practical, not the case for 9K & 10K.

BA’s baby luggage allowance

The BA baby luggage allowance is very generous and without repeating what’s on their website I’d pass along a couple of useful tips:

  • 1 backpack / holdall. Mainly includes 3 days’ worth of emergency clothes and toiletries, in case suitcases get lost. This has been life saver on previous trips, especially if you wear contacts and/or access to shops is limited at your destination.
  • 1 shoulder tote bag. Quick access to passports, child’s toys, water, kindles / tablets etc.
  • 1 changing bag, including food, water beaker, nappies & change of clothes etc.
  • 1 YoYo pram – covered in previous articles this is a perfect infant travel companion.

All of the above was a very manageable as carry-on luggage and ensured it was divided fairly evenly between us.

Flying long-haul on British Airways with a baby - how is it?

Lounges and boarding with a baby

We used the quieter Galleries Club lounge at Heathrow T5B. This was very relaxed and allowed for us to grab some pre-flight food and the baby to be fed in privacy and do nappy changes etc.

When we boarded the 11.55 day flight to St Lucia the BA staff were extremely accommodating, pulling us out of the queue during boarding at the gate.

Our YoYo pram took us right to the plane door before quickly being folded up and placed in the overhead locker.

Flying British Airways Club Suite business class long haul with a baby

We were pleasantly surprised this flight route had installed the new Club Suite seats, which was a nice start to the trip. It’s a serious upgrade from the old club seats and begs the question why pay or upgrade to first seat other than the added privacy and pre-flight perks. This was an option on our return leg and I’m glad we never went for in, predominately because no such pre-flight perks existed at St. Lucia airport.

We timed our naps from morning wake up to ensure we could do a quick feed during take-off to prevent any irritation to her ears, and then nap soon after take-off. We did this shortly after seat belt signs were switched off, having requested a cot from the cabin crew.

The staff offered us a flat cot or seat designed cot. We opted for the flat bed to try encourage sleeping, but if your child is sitting up unaided then they recommend the seated version.

We were given a fresh bedding set with it and was up and running ~20 minutes after take-off. Although staff did mention the fact they only had one cot available, so we were lucky no other child required/had booked one.

We brought a Cozigo wrap-around with us which provides a darkened environment for sleeping. After 10 minutes of extensive wriggling, she was asleep.

I would note our 7-month-old is very small for her age and the flat bed was a tight fit for her, so may not be an option for many babies of similar age or older. This seemed to be the same for Singapore Airlines in this article covered by Head for Points.

There are Velcro flaps that restrain the baby lying down but these can be awkwardly positioned and were too close to our daughter’s head so we unbuckled her – but I would not advise this, especially if your child is a prolific wriggler. Since it was a day flight, we were comfortable as we could constantly keeping an eye on her.

You also have to take your baby out of the bassinet if the seatbelt light is switched on for turbulence. And, yes, the cabin crew do come and check. Despite these logistics, our daughter appeared very comfortable and took several long naps in the bassinet so it more than served its purpose.

Initiating nap soon after take-off had a secondary benefit – we could both enjoy the meal service undisturbed, especially since the food is delivered in sequence, starting with the seats closest to the front of the plane.

The flight time was ~8 hours and other than boredom at the end and a cranky baby due to delayed bedtime, it was a pleasant experience overall.

Flying long-haul on British Airways with a baby - how is it?

The return journey was less successful ….

Whilst the original plan was to return in premium economy, we decided to upgrade mid-holiday when reward flight availability in Club and First opened up.

As such, we were allocated the same cot seat but on the right-hand side of the plane, 9K & 10K. This is less optimal as it has the galley area that stores post meal snacks and as such has a heavier footfall and was noticeably noisy with crew movement. The toilet is also smaller and results in a tighter changing area.

Aside from that, the flight was an evening affair. Had BA run on time for its departure (6.30pm) we may have kept to plan and saved our daughter from entering the terror phase of being overtired, which to those in the know feels like an unsalvageable world of hell.

As such, the first two hours were horrible. We abandoned the cot for various alternative sleeping arrangements on the flat bed and eventually in mum’s arms, which signalled additional advantages over a premium economy seat.

It was all very stressful. It felt like we were on show to the entirety of the cabin which heavily induced stress when peak crying levels were reached. It was made worse with the fact another infant of the same age was in the middle row next to us and had a near silent experience for the entirety of the flight.

Despite the success of the first leg of the journey and amazing two week holiday, we did ask ourselves “would we travel with an infant again .…?”

I say this having now depleted our Avios and short of the next companion voucher. The reality is in two years we will forget the pain and hastily book a flight following an alert of reward seat availability …. so until next time .…

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Comments (85)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Dev says:

    I just travelled QR (777) and KQ (737) in economy bassinet seats … the truth is that the baby had the best flight in a flat bed whilst myself and my wife were cramped in an incredibly narrow seat made worse by having tray tables and IFE in the arm rests!

    Truth is that once your baby is able to sit up-right, buy a seat!

  • Lewis says:

    I swear HFP and other sites love posting stories like this every few months to get the page views up 🙂

    We have learning nothing new from the article or the comments; people are still a bit mean when it comes to children on aircraft.

    Our eldest flew Club to Calgary and Vancouver at 4 months and was a dream, at 11 months F to LAX in the nose and got to hang out with a legit superstar actor and his wife. Literally nobody said a word, even on the odd occasions he cried. We then flew with Jet2 in economy (is there any other option on Jet2?) to Canaries last year for our post-pandemic holiday and in both directions had nearby passengers complain about one thing or another.

    I think real regular travelers are more understanding than the keyboard warriors.

  • Sunil says:

    For the experienced travellers in the comments section – Can you please advise whether I should explicitly request for bassinet for the baby(<6 months)? Going to travel in BA economy in less than 2 months. Thanks

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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