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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.

  • CamFlyer says:

    As a few data points for BA with children, we have done a few short haul CE segments.
    – BA cabin crew have been universally terrific, going out of their way to help with food & drink, extra meals to help out with a hungry child (who wasn’t satisfied with the snacks we brought), etc.
    – other passengers also mostly great
    – 2 year old, BA twice (outbound & return) seated the child separately from her parents, in CE. When we pointed out that was a breach of CAA regs, check in staff at LHR said that was for the crew on board to sort out, and that they could only issue boarding passes for the seats allocated by the computer (we had CE Avios seats, and I am EC Silver), and that BA would never separate a parent and child (!)–though BA had clearly done exactly that. The ‘supervisor’ at LHR checkin refused to provide identification beyond her first name. On the return, the apologetic Swissport contractor, after initially giving us a similar response, and even being told the same by telephone when she called BA, managed to seat us together after some further clicking on her keyboard.

    We have LHR-SFO in VS PE with a 2.5 year old booked for this summer…will see how that goes.

    • CamFlyer says:

      BTW, both agent and supervisor at LHR also told us that they could not physically seat a three person family ‘together’ in CE, due to the 2-2 configuration, even when we repeatedly said that we fully understood that ‘together’ meant seats C, D and A or F in one row, or A and C (or D and F) in one row with C or D in the following row and indeed that was what we had pre-reserved before travel, and that as BA EC Silver/Gold for 15 years I knew very well how CE was configured.

      I guess this all might be good for parents who are happy to let a 2 year old sit 4 rows away amongst strangers, but that isn’t us! We have no intention of flying BA any more than necessary to use up Avios and 2for1 vouchers.

    • pigeon says:

      If you had 2 seats together there is no breach of CAA regulations – the crew would get the child to sit with one parent.

      That said, no excuse for BA messing up advance seat reservations.

      • CamFlyer says:

        BA put the adults in 8C&D, and the 2 year old in 4F instead of [reserved] 8F.

        • pigeon says:

          Yes, the crew will meet CAA regulations by asking one parent to sit in 4F, so that the child is next to the other parent in Row 8. Pushing this point probably just antagonized check-in.

          Of course, what you probably wanted was to sit together as a family, and this is totally reasonable and you were let down. BA should really do better than minimal compliance.

        • Thegasman says:

          So the child sits in 8C, one parent in 8D & the other in adult in 4F? They’ve complied with the rules although I understand it’s annoying both adults can’t be together.

          • CamFlyer says:

            Yea, though BA decided instead that the passenger in 4D should be moved. And then on board we discovered that 8A and D were assigned to another split family group, and 8F to a passenger on staff companion travel. It was obvious that we had been split up to make room for staff.

  • Bonglim says:

    At what age is it appropriate to book yourself and husband/wife in to club suite of first…..
    and book child or children in to economy and just leave them there?
    I’m going from age 4
    (just kidding)

    • Thegasman says:

      Just checked & it’s 5 as minimum age to be in a different class to parents which is astonishing! I regularly travelled in Y with my brother & sister as teenagers whilst parents were in business & didn’t have a problem with it at all. It’s good to be taught that luxury isn’t handed to you on a plate at that age.

  • davedent says:

    I’m a big fan of JALs seat map which shows you where the babies are seated.

  • steven says:

    We flew BA246 last week back from Sao Paulo having paid extra for the peace quiet and ability to sleep at the very front on a long journey in business class .
    We were astonished and outraged that small infants are given priority over all the other passengers and allowed to shout and scream all night .
    One extreme reviewer summed up this highly selfish approach, by saying disgustingly and rudely, “Screw them !”
    We were told that BA were scared of being sued for infringing their rights .
    Well what about the right to quiet and sleep for the 99% of others in the cabin who paid extra to get this privacy and sleep on a long overnight journey?
    They are not all fat, overweight, drunk businessmen, as described rudely and aggressively by one commentator here.
    I think it is summed up in that the minority really could not care less, except for their own selfish desire to inflict their uncontrollable children on the 99% of other passengers ruining their peaceful sleep.

    • Nick says:


      • TB says:

        A350 with 56 seats in club. I would never expect that to be quiet 🙂
        Its a club seat with BA. Lol.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      “One extreme reviewer summed up this highly selfish approach, by saying disgustingly and rudely, “Screw them !”

      Just to be clear, my “screw them” comment is not about all other passengers. Of course parents should make absolutely every effort to be as considerate of their fellow passengers. It was a comment to the OP about feeling observed and judged; about the nasty self-entitled tutters and snide commenters that stress the poor parent out when they are trying hard, making parent, and therefore child, more anxious and less likely to settle and therefore choosing to make things worse for themselves and everyone else. idiots, and completely unnecessary. For those people I repeat “screw them”,

      “We were astonished and outraged that small infants are given priority over all the other passengers and allowed to shout and scream all night .”

      Give a step-by-step guide how you would not allow babies to cry. I’m sure the world would love to know 😀 😀

      “who paid extra to get this privacy” You didn’t. It’s an open public cabin, not a private booth, and clearly advertised as such.

    • Tim says:

      Take a private plane next time otherwise put up with what is public transport

      • TB says:

        Some self entitlement people thinking club or even 14 first class seats with BA etc should warrant them a hotel style peace and privacy experience. Funny. Get yourself in Emirates new first class – that’s basically a little room. Can’t hear much in there. If you were getting disturbed in there, I’d be with you on it. Until then, it’s open to anyone and everyone who wants to pay for it. Yes, keep (we have 2) in order but things happen, and a plane isn’t the best place to sleep, never mind a small kid who is probably out of sync. It happens! Someone paying a few grand for a seat is not exactly the biggest deal in the world. Get off your high horses!!!!

    • Andrea says:

      This (usually) helps: ask for a complaint form, you’ll be asked why, you state that you purchased a level of comfort with your ticket which does not include the environment you experience. I always state that I understand (I don’t but it keeps the conversation friendly and constructive) that they may feel reluctant to talk to parents and that I would like to make my views known to BA. In the majority of cases they will talk to parents because they do not want to be mentioned in a letter which states that you – as a frequent flyer – had a very bad experience and that the crew did nothing. If there is no reaction, send the letter to BA (don’t hand it in when you depart, it may disappear never to see the light of day. You can’t do anything with babies but toddlers and small bored children are a different matter.

  • Rma says:

    As a well travelled parent and grandparent, because of work and family living in different continents, the worst time to travel with a baby is the stage before walking when all the baby wants to do is crawl. Aircraft floors….. ugh. If you can avoid long haul travel at this stage, do so. I agree with many of the other comments that adult passengers can be as antisocial as children but for badly behaved children, blame the parents.

    • Brian says:

      Yep 12 months to 3 years I’d suggest – essentially the time when random extreme tantrums can occur!!

  • Magic Mike says:

    Aside from the whataboutery of comparing with disruptive adult passengers, those can be restrained or arrested for their behaviour. Children not so much.

    I am not a fan of children in premium cabins, but understand why it is sometimes necessary. For babies, please do not change nappies in the seat though, gross.

    It’s the uncontrollable older kids who have been brought up in the style of the Modern Parents from Viz who are often the real issue!

  • Alastair says:

    I was the first contributor this morning and the thread went very much as I thought. Those that have babies or children in one camp and the others in the second. I was treading carefully as I have two young grandchildren and perhaps have a foot in both camps.
    When children, of all ages , are involved those with parental responsibility can often see nothing or nobody else. Sometimes to the detriment of other people.
    Everyone had paid for the enhanced place on my plane, there were no businessmen or drunks but the crew didn’t have the time to treat everyone equal.

  • Will says:

    In CE, it seems like a complete own goal to me to not allow 2 parents and one child to book a row of 3.

    I’ve often thought a half avios centre seat for a child would be very nice feature.

    We now book economy in preference to CE as you get the row of 3.

    As a data point, recently flew Oman air long haul with a baby, they seated us in non bassinet seats despite at least 2 rows with bassinets being empty when we boarded. We were also very late at the airport so likely last time check in.

    Moved ourselves on the aircraft after take off which the flight attendants were fine with.

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