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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.

  • T says:

    Having had a full career as a childcare director, I would like to point one thing out that does not seem to be taken into acount much in this discussion.
    I for one think kids can travel, in every class, and parents at all times are responsable for them, their behaviour, attitude whilst on board.
    But just because they are entitled, should they?
    What baffles me is people that are taking their newborn babies on long haul flights as their first flying experience.
    Changing cabin pressure during a flight causes temporary changes in middle ear pressure. This can trigger ear pain. Young Children and babies have not got totally developed hearing, and can be prone to ear aches, even without flying!
    Taking your newborn on a longhaul flight as a first time flyer, is like testing your child for a peanut allergy by giving them a whole bag of peanuts. Or checking for a dairy intolerance by giving them a big jug of milk!!
    In my opinion It is very adult led and selfish towards other passengers to have a newborn dumped on a long haul flight without any other prior flying experience. The wellbeing and safety of your child should be paramount at all times. You have no idea how your child will react, but who cares, let’s find out on the way to Thailand?
    I dont understand why the Dubai, Maldives, St Lucia Holidays of the world Could not become a few short haul flight first.
    Children learn incredibly fast and after 2 shorter flights ,as a parent, you would be able to assess the whole travel process ( check in, boarding, etc). And make an informed decission if long haul travel is in your child’s best interest or not yet!
    Taking your child on a long haul flight as their inaugural experience, is NOT thinking in the best interest of the child!

    • bafan says:

      Right. It is selfish parents every step of the way refusing to acknowledge they can’t have everything their own way for a few years until their kids know how to behave.

  • Alastair says:

    A common sense response.

  • lcylocal says:

    Useful article. Couple of things to add. There is a dedicated family check in area at T5 which may be useful particularly if checking a pushchair, cot etc.

    Onboard you should ask for a Skyflyer log book that the crew will complete and sign as a record of their BA flights.

    Just a reflection of some of the comments here on whether babies should be in Club. One of the main selling points of premium cabins is space so it isn’t surprising that parents (who can afford it) will often pay for it with their kids. Just checked the Club World page on and it doesn’t say anything about quietness as a selling point though on the other hand.

    Of course I will try and keep my little one as quiet and happy as possible in wherever cabin they are in. But they aren’t a machine and what works one day might not the next. The kid screaming through the whole flight might have done 10 before absolutely fine. As it happens our little one has been great on her flights so far and was one of 13 under-2s on our last flight.

  • Tarmohamed says:

    I regret not buying a Doona pram/seat for our 1st born. It’s aviation approved and on a flight with spare seats EK let us strap it in. I was constantly changing our seats in J to ensure the seat beside us remains empty. This worked pretty well on the old J with EK as it’s 2-3-2 config.

    • Benilyn says:

      And if the seat became taken late on what would be course of action with the Doona?

  • Brian says:

    I did long haul n Australia with our then baby in biz, now 8 year old. I remember him crying for 15 minutes and feeling it was a nightmare. A nice lady came up and said you’re a great dad we’ve all been there.

    My main thought when i see or hear crying babies on planes (especially when I’m not with my own kids) is hallelujah it isn’t mine!! I feel so relaxed.

    I can’t believe this whole thread has no mention of sudofed on it – lol!

  • BP says:

    Took my daughter in Club to Bangkok when she was 7 months. The flight was great and we had a happy baby – she maybe cried for 15 minutes of the entire flight which felt like an eternity for us parents.

    Have flown Emirates economy since then with our toddler and took our Britax airline approved car seat on board which is great. The toddler gets a comfy familiar seat and sleeps well. Emirates check-in at DXB had no clue that it was OK to take an approved seat onboard.

  • Benilyn says:

    Have done:
    Small 8 month old in BA Club Suites to Male, both cots useless as too small, it was ok on the lie flat next to mum but mum prefers the EK J A380 fit with space
    8th J Etihad narrow body, front row had plenty floor play space
    8 month on Old Club World seat, got the couple seat, this was better than Club Suite for comfort for mum. Plenty of floor space if you pick the right seat
    12mth old EK J A380, night time flight (slow dinner service so took nearly 3hrs to turn off the lights to put baby to sleep). Return flight was day time from Dubai, spent 3hrs+ at the bar, staff amazing with him, fed him (and cleaned up after) at the bar seating area, the space was a godsend to stretch and let him play around.
    Etihad + Emirates staff attention to baby with food, amenities, smiles, distraction very good, BA I don’t think they noticed the baby.
    Our next long haul flights are at 18mths, 20mths, and 21 months (old Club World x2, and 1x Club Suites). Drop your itinerary below and I can tell you if I’m flying your dates 😜
    I’m sure they’ll be tricker as he will want to be running around. We found the 8mth flights easy (he couldn’t crawl), the 12mth ones he could craw more challenging.
    EK J A380 with the bar for the win from our side, we had a few more couples using it for baby space too I’m sure everyone loves to hear.

    • Benilyn says:

      Forgot to add the Etihad cot too small as well
      Didn’t try EK cot, but will be too small I guess.
      They were all coffin like basically

      • TB says:

        Next trip for us is Friday. LGW-MCO. Club. Wife wanted to do LGW for the very reason above – two seats in the middle. Would have chosen LHR for new club suite but there we are!! Agree with EK – very good with kids. Still cracks me up when your at the bar and ask for a glass of Dom Perignon…..”sorry sir, that’s reserved for First class passengers”
        I am in First Class….love the way they think your not interested in using the bar if your upfront 🤦‍♂️

  • ACK says:

    Interesting comment thread from both sides, sometimes quite straightforward opinion. I’m far from experienced flying alone compared to most readers here, having gained gold recently for the first time. We have a 6 months old and here is what we did knowing, that we’ll fly long haul when she’ll be 13 months old. First flight after 2 rounds of vaccination (~3 months), it was a short haul CE, two hours, so we saw how she took it. 4 months old, a short haul plus CE flight, approx 4 hours, as the previous flight was ok. During which we realised how much for us to learn. She did well, an old lady turned around after landing saying ‘wow, i love how calm and quiet she was the whole time’. Third flight, at six months old, again shord haul CE, approx 2 hours. Used it to see if we mastered it. These were all family visits, so we didn’t fly just to fly. We have a few short hauls coming up, and hopefully we’ll be fine for the long haul as well. From our limited experience, it was annoying when a ~5 year old girl saw our baby and decided she wanted attention so did everything to wake ours up. Seat kicking, screams, loud noises – you name it. Father sitting next to her did nothing. Yes, I let mine cry out loud for a minute before calming her down, in return.

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