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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.

  • Terry Butcher says:

    When I read the headline I wasn’t sure whether this was going to relate to how the flight would be for the baby, for the parents or guardian, or for the rest of the poor aircraft passengers who between them have paid tens of thousands of pounds for their seats and have a journey which is invariably completely ruined by screaming children who are partially abandoned by those supposed to be supervising them.

    • Andrew J says:

      I could offer to write an article from the perspective of the latter!

    • aseftel says:

      I won’t excuse the behaviour of inattentive parents (or any other sort of inconsiderate passenger with or without children), but fundamentally: if you are taking public transport you should expect to have to deal with the public.

      • TB says:

        100% agree. Get a private jet if your that important. Remember one passenger in F-on Emirates A380. Moaning about others. He was reminded by the cabin crew that Emirates do offer private jets if your that much of a big punter. Classic.

    • Andrea says:

      I have had parents close by who changed nappies in their Sears rather than using the toilet, small kids who were bored (which is natural) who discovered that the table could be used as a drum set, whose parents had briught a selection of noisy toys – not funny if you need the flight to prepare for last minute changes to a presentation.

    • Johnny Tabasco says:

      It you can’t accept the possibility of travelling alongside babies or young children, dont take public transport. And certainly don’t moan about it.
      It really is that simple.

      • Rob Collins says:

        So people should stay at home because of the behaviour of other people’s children and the inability of their parents to control them? Nonsense.

        • Jeff77 says:

          No. Just get over it and stop crying like a baby about being “inconvenienced” as no one cares.

          (I don’t have kids by the way)

        • P4D says:

          No sir, if your work and quietness are so important then you use private transport, not public transport. The option is there for you. It’s not complicated. Did you buy your ticket expecting that the other seats could only be a restricted subsection of the public? If you did you were simply mistaken. Feel free to rent a private jet if you need to be separated from others.

    • yorkieflyer says:

      I just can’t see the pleasure in taking a baby on holiday to a long haul destination, if travel is a necessity to see relatives etc fine otherwise why?

  • Qrfan says:

    I don’t think parents tend to abandon babies. School age kids maybe. Not babies.

  • TB says:

    We went to DXB in F with BA on 747 back when my oldest was 4 months old. Great flight. Had 1A & 1K which was perfect for little one to play in front of the wardrobe door on the floor and the ability for us to work together very easily as the seats are so close together in the nose of the aircraft…..really miss the 747. Other passengers at the end of the flight were very complimentary, which was kind, and some didn’t even know we had a baby!! Agree that 4-6 month age is perfect.

    One trip still makes us laugh though – another F flight on 747 BA. My parents were in the nose and we had 4E/F, as little one was now 3 years old now. Very quiet cabin – think there were maybe 2 or 3 other paid passengers. However, literally before taxi from the gate, another passenger was moved (guess from club) to our cabin. Think possibly her seat was broken or there was an issue with her seat assignment – but we thought nothing of it – flight was underway and we were enjoying ourselves. Little one moved between our seats and the seats at the front to see my parents. Play/talk to them etc, as you would with your Grandparents coming on holiday with you.

    Within a few hours into the flight, the lady had the cheek to complain directly to my wife and crew about our little one!!! Because she was walking back n forth. I was fuming – we had paid to be there!! Are you for real? She shouldn’t have even been there. Wasn’t happy to be fair! Non of the other paying passengers had an issue and thought the exact same. Maybe she was having a bad day, especially if the seat she wanted wasn’t working/available. That, I do appreciate for sure!

    Anyway….it all went relatively calm after that but the Cabin Manager was on our side and made extra fuss. BA crew are brilliant upfront.

    Done numerous F journeys on Emirates and they were great to. Can have little one in the seat, door closed, and there’s lots of space….

    Kids now 9 and 4 – off to MCO next week in Club with BA. See how that rolls….sure there will be other families with new babies and kids. We have been there and it’s nice to look on but also there to help them if you can see them needing it 🙂

    • Relaxo says:

      So basically travelling in First class with a baby is awesome…..I don’t think that was ever in contention….us plebs struggle on cattle class 😉

    • Jon says:

      I’m currently reading this on holiday having travelled out to LHR-MCO last Saturday in CW with wife and two kids 8 and 6. Our bags only turned up yesterday and BA still think they are lost somewhere unknown! As noted in the main article make sure you pack enough in the hand luggage allowance to get by for a few days!

  • Graham Ross says:

    So the choice is to be sat beside a screaming infant (not their fault) or an obnoxious drunk? personally I would choose neither. Anyone who says that a child crying throughout a flight is not extremely annoying is either deaf or virtue signalling. Personally I have never understood why parents who profess to love their offspring would subject them to the discomfort of flying. A baby is hardly benefiting from the experience of travel while fellow passengers are forced to endure.

    • Jeff77 says:

      It is annoying but it’s just something to get over rather than get all entitled about it.

    • P4D says:

      Each to their own, freedom of choice?

  • Beardysuhz says:

    I may be in a similar position (241 redemption in Club before baby is born and then having to add a baby to the booking after birth).

    What are the fees in the case of a 241 booking? I have read 10% of an adult ticket (so does this mean 10% of avios +taxes?) Can is it be paid in avios only or cash equivalent? Would be good to know if anyone can shed some light just to be prepared in advance.

  • No Kids! says:

    Children shouldn’t be allowed in premium cabins, full stop. It’s not a premium experience with screaming kids destroying the experience for everyone else. Harassed parents should use their cash and Avios on a peaceful kid-less break and leave the kids with grandparents, friends, anyone!

    • JohnG says:

      It’s a valid opinion but something you need to take up with airlines, because they do allow it, not the parents who choose to use it. You book business with BA and you are knowingly booking a cabin that allows children. You might as well morn about people eating popcorn in a cinema when you know the cinema sells it in the foyer.

  • MT says:

    There is nothing quite like the baby in Business or First to split opinion and get the public transport / private plane comments.

    Should babies not be allowed or people not travel with young children in the premium cabins, of course they should have that option. Equally especially in First am I relieved / happy when there is no baby in the cabin, yes, especially on a night flight.

    It’s quite possible to know a baby could be in the same cabin as you and accept it and be disappointed / have your experience spoiled by the said same fact.

    As long as the parents are responsible and do what they can to keep the children entertained that is all that can be asked and don’t expect the crew to do their parenting for them during a flight, which is my real pet hate. But they are no different from some of the other anti social adults on flights that also annoy me!

  • Niomi says:

    BA long haul was a disaster for us. We also booked prior to the birth and called up within days of the birth to add baby to the booking and get the cot seat. But our flight was cancelled a few weeks before and when we called AGAIN to ensure we got the cot seat on that flight, the guy had NO idea what we were talking about, and finally figured it out after an hour.

    But the day of, it turned out he hadn’t put us in the right seats after all and we weren’t able to fly with the bassinet. The crew was apologetic but couldn’t do anything about it even though the people sat there didn’t have a baby. Massive pain.

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