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!):
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.
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.
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 .…
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2023)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard
Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
EDIT: Applications for this card are temporarily suspended due to IT issues with the British Airways On Business SME loyalty scheme.
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.