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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.

  • Alastair says:

    Risking getting shouted down by parents, it isn’t so much fun being in the vicinity of the distressed child as a fellow passenger.
    My wife and I flew the night flight in business last week with BA to Mauritius.The cabin was full of young children and doting parents.
    Whilst some of the children were comfortable and content, some howled a good deal of the time.
    The crew worked very hard on their small customers and the parents leaving little time for anyone else.
    An error to book a trip during half term but who knew that so many children would be in BC?

    • TB says:

      Why? Can kids not afford it? Strange thing to say. Get what your saying, but it’s business class….Hardly Air Force one 🙂
      Maybe they should call it leisure class?

    • Guy Incognito says:

      I personally have more issue with parents who just plonk their young (4 – 9 year old) kids in front of a tablet or portable console to save themselves having to actually engage with or parent their offspring. Bonus points for when they have the volume up.

      • Helen A says:

        Whilst I totally agree the need for headphones and some occasional parental engagement, I’m not sure as regards expectations here for ‘parenting’ in what even in premium cabins is a fairly limited space. I suspect you’d soon be pleased to see the peaceful tablet zombies back after a few hours of lively parlour games, Twister and the Buckeroo pieces flying around the aisle.

  • Paul Hickey says:

    our baby (our first) born Oct 29, 2021 has done x2 BA club journeys. Maldives for Christmas and Dubai in Feb. I’ve got to say that BA were brilliant – as were the club suites. A bit more tricky on the old club seat on the 380 to Dubai but the other 3 flights = superb. We accidentally left some baby clobber in the seat compartment and the loverly stewardess took the things home, contacted us on FB, and forward them on at her own expense along with a little travel log book for the boy, all filled out with the travel data (flight, miles, seat, caption, equipment etc). Suffice to say she got a nice bottle of wine sent in return.
    2 tips. (1) Take a camera (Sony QX10) that can stream to your phone over WiFi so when you are reclined, you can see baby in the bassinet. (2) the LeClerc travel pram is absolutely fantastic for air travel and holidays. So easy to use and great quality.

  • The Savage Squirrel says:

    “It was a 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.”

    To all parents: don’t ever feel stressed by this. To those that say babies shouldn’t be in the front end, screw them. I’ll take being seated near a baby any day over that more common passenger group: drunken overweight business reps indulging heavily in the lounge then spending the whole flight snoring and farting loudly…

    • NC says:

      Couldn’t agree more. The author is a clearly a considerate guy and that’s obviously commendable, but should never feel stressed out by others – you have as much right to be there as they do. I’ve been there several times and IME other passengers aren’t watching you anywhere near as much as you might feel they are, and most of those who are will be sympathetic. As for the others, they have noise cancelling headphones in the premium cabins…

    • Bonglim says:

      Totally I agree.
      I don’t have children and have travelled loads of times and seen families with children – some children managed really well, some found it more uncomfortable and cried. I never once thought it was might right to exclude them. If anything the biggest emotion was sympathy and admiration for how hard work the parents were working on keeping their child happy.

      There was one experience which stuck with me though – with older children, 7ish (siblings) travelling together without their parents. This was some 20 years ago. A random middle aged passenger was cross with the child jumping around and moving the seat. At one point the younger child jumped back as food was being served and something got spilled. The man was really cross – stood up and started really screaming at this poor child, who was not his, and travelling without his parents.

      The child didn’t seem upset about it though – stood up on his seat to look behind him to see what all the commotion was about……
      then promptly projectile vomited right in to the shouty-,man. There was universal approval from all the other passengers in the cabin. Although the chap went to the toilet to clean himself off, he would essentially have had to spend the rest of the 9 hour flight with vomit all in his clothes.

    • AJA says:

      I don’t think it’s an either or situation. Neither group should have to be tolerated. If you’ve paid the fare then of course you’re entitled to sit in the business cabin but that also comes with responsibilities to behave appropriately. It is just courtesy not to annoy your fellow passengers, whether that is farting or screaming or crying incessantly. Now of course sometimes it is difficult to calm a child and I am sympathetic but to a point. What annoys me is when parents do nothing to try and calm their child. Likewise I’m also annoyed by drunken shouty passengers but if you’re that drunk you can’t control yourself then I’d suggest you wouldn’t be allowed to board.

    • Denis P says:


    • Nav says:

      To all parents: You should be stressed and you are indeed on a show – a bad one.

  • ACK says:

    Interesting, especially that we’re going to fly with a 1 year old long haul. Quickly checked our seats, 9 and 10 does not have bassinets, row 15 has them, which is where I booked. Must be a different plane, would be great to know what Rob flew with.

    • Rhys says:

      Each aircraft is different – BA staff will tell you where they are on your flight

      • Nick says:

        Yes, it’s more than a little odd that there’s a detailed description of the specific seats and benefits but no mention of aircraft type at all!

  • Helen A says:

    Thanks for the useful write up. Would be great to have an insight next into how the new BA seats work with young children age 2 plus that require their own seats but lots of supervision. The old Club seats were actually great for this with the centre pair backing onto the bulkhead.
    I’m actually nostalgic for the ‘easy’ days of travelling with an immobile baby that doesn’t require their own seat!

    And totally agree with the comment that I’d rather be travelling with families than drunk, aggressive idiots. I think most reasonable people are fine with a bit of overtired/ear pain crying versus 8 hours of booze hounds emptying the trolley.

    • Will in SJC says:

      I can help here. I traveled on Wednesday evening with my two young children, 4.5 and 3, in the new Club Suites. We have traveled extensively before COIVD with them in the Old Club World seat and First.

      We, like you, like the old Club World seat center pair on the bulkhead- it was super easy to put the kids in the middle and have each parent on the aisle.

      Faced with the new seat, we ended up selecting the E and F seats. One adult in 17E with a child in 17F, the other child in 18E and the other parent in 18F on the 777-300. The advantage here also meant we had a walkway behind us meaning each parent could easily cross to the other aisle. I would strongly advise sitting at the back of the cabin so you can take advantage of this.

      Our layout meant we each had a child on our side of the aircraft and also one sat next to us. This seems to be the only way to be able to see your child in the new layout. The window seats are offset against the aisle, so if you sat in aisle you can’t see your child sat by the window.

      Did we have any issues? No not really. This was a night flight so they quickly went to sleep. I did have complaints from both kids that the seatbelt was annoying- it was the shoulder strap that would ‘cut’ into them, of course, outside of take off/landing we didn’t use the shoulder strap and for takeoff/landing I was a bad parent and just had them put the shoulder strap under their arm. They also found they had to sit on the knees to eat because the tray couldn’t be lowered (we would have had the same issue in the old club world cabin). It was great that they could watch the kids programs from the gate- I just put on Paw Patrol and they were quiet for the whole of take off/landing. It was easy enough for me to stand in their cabin with the tray table out to help them with their dinner.

      Not related to the seat, this was the first CW/F flight we have taken where the crew weren’t particularly helpful regarding the children. On previous flights they have ensured their food was served first and ours last to allow us to help them eat. That didn’t happen this time around.

      My wife and I were seriously worried about the new seat. We almost switched to a flight with the old seat but we need not of worried. It was all fine. Hope that helps.

      • Helen A says:

        Thanks so much for that. Very useful, particularly the tips for which seat to opt for. We’re going to find it annoying to start paying the pre-booking fees having enjoyed the free option when travelling with an infant over recent years (and not having the status to get this included).
        The inflexible meal service is poor, particularly when they need to start competing with carriers that have had dine on demand as standard for years.

  • qrfan says:

    Flying with one baby sounds like a doddle. Twins is where it’s at! We have our third long haul trip coming up by 8 months – never had doubts. Anyone with triplets who has done long-haul with babies (not sure if any airlines even allow that with 2 parents) I shall doff my cap to thee for you truly must have known challenge!

  • aseftel says:

    One of the big advantages with BA that isn’t mentioned in the article is that the whole party gets free seat selection if you have an infant and you can select your seats *before* you book your ticket. Most other airlines have bassinet seating only ‘on request’ or you can only find out if one is available after you’ve bought your tickets (unless you use something like Expertflyer).

  • Chris L says:

    We flew to Vancouver in Club World when our daughter was 6 months. Yes there were issues, but that’s just a normal day when you have a baby. A couple of the other passengers were absolutely lovely and made a point of letting us know that we shouldn’t worry about a bit of noise. This really put us at ease and probably made the whole thing better for everyone. So I try to do the same now. Any frequent flyers with half a brain cell know to bring noise cancelling headphones. Normally I find the crew make more noise than babies.

    On a practical front, the BA rocker chairs are a great next step after the cots, which our 6 month old was already too big for. Also note that some airlines have stricter weight limits for bassinets so this is worth checking. BA are quite good in this respect.

    In reality, babies quickly become toddlers when the game changes completely. I reckon around the 6 month mark is an ideal time for a long haul journey. Much easier when babies are still primarily on milk and they will be more flexible in terms of jet lag.

    • lumma says:

      To be fair, noise cancelling headphones won’t really help block out a screaming baby.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        They help but it also depends on what headphones you have and your sleeping posture. Mine are bulky (Bose QC35) and I usually sleep on my side or my stomach. So they’re pretty good while you awake watching a movie or reading but not so great when trying to sleep.

        BTW I had to wear them on an overnight from MIA because the cabin crew wouldn’t STFU!

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