Flying business class with kids is amazing; it was almost as dreamy as our actual trip to New Zealand! However, it wasn’t as kid-friendly as I hoped and no way would I have paid the cost myself. £22k is pretty steep, even for the world’s best business class experience, don’t you think?!
So, I thought I’d share the lowdown on what it’s like for children in business class, particularly young children. Hopefully it’s food for thought if you’re considering splurging or perhaps will help reduce a bit of the envy. If you’re after a specific review, you can read what it’s like to fly in business class with kids via Qatar Airways here (coming soon).
Kids in Business Class – Everything You Want to Know
Can Kids Fly in Business Class?
In short, yes.
If you find yourself asking ‘can kids fly business class, like really?’ You’re not alone – I must have checked a million times before our flight and even at the check-in desk I felt like they were going to laugh at me for expecting my two young children to travel in business class. After two flights I can confirm that indeed they can.
Generally speaking, you can even take a baby in business class – you just need to check ahead if you need a bassinet as there are limitations on some aircrafts and in some cabins.
My Experience Flying Business Class With Kids
In April I experienced two business class flights with children, my 2 and 4 year old. One 17 hour flight from Auckland in New Zealand to Doha in Qatar and then one 8 hour flight from Doha to London Heathrow. Both with Qatar Airways.
Kids are unpredictable and so I was nervous about travelling in business class with kids. Excited, but cautious. I was worried about stuck up passengers making remarks about my animated children and I plotted my game plan if my 2 year old embraced the terrible twos. I felt like I needed my mini-explorers to be on their best behaviour so they didn’t interfere with other passenger’s experience.
Obviously, these concerns are fairly normal when travelling in economy, but in business class I felt it even more. Sure, our flight was free but others may have spent their own money. And those prices are high.
On the Flight
However, my worries disappeared almost immediately. My 4 year old didn’t make a peep on either flight. He was living his best life, watching movie after movie from the comfort of his lie-flat seat, snuggled in a big blanket. With a never ending supply of snacks and good meals – the boys even enjoyed afternoon tea on one leg of our flight – he barely looked away from the screen.
He stayed up way past his bedtime, but drifted off eventually because he was so comfortable and content.
My two year old was also amazing on these two flights. On a flight back from Egypt she’d screamed and wailed non-stop – admittedly due to a new tooth, but what I’m saying is she isn’t afraid to express herself. At home, she has no hesitation in using her lungs or throwing a strop, with a good ol’ footstomp or two for good measure.
During the two flights she was a superstar. She was beyond happy. She watched snippets of Frozen 1 and 2, Beauty and the Beast, and Mary Poppins – but never a full movie, because you know, 2 years old, so she has to touch the buttons every 15 minutes.
My 2 year old wannabe princess was absolutely ecstatic with her free make up bag, complete with face spray, lip balm and face cream. She spent a good chunk of the time emptying the bag, putting the stuff on both of us and putting it away…again and again and again.
Best of all though, she (and I) slept for 10 hours on one leg and a few on the other. 10 hours! I’ve never slept that long on a flight, even during my pre-kid travel days. We popped to the business class toilet, complete with window which gave me a scare tbh, and I changed into the complimentary pyjamas. Whilst we did that the staff reclined our seats into the flat position, popped on a mattress topper and made them up with blankets and pillows.
We already had the partition down so it was like a big double bed. And because we had screen doors on the outer sides of our seats, when they were closed it felt like a private room. I didn’t need to worry about her falling into the aisle or wandering off. And so we snuggled down for our girly sleepover and drifted off in no time at all. It was the definite highlight of the flight.
And those worries about other passengers moaning? No one said a bad word. Sure, there were a few side looks when we were boarding, but that was it. And once we landed we even had some lovely compliments. Phew!
The Perks of Family Travel in Business Class
I feel like I don’t even have to list these for you to understand that business class with kids is great. However, when you’re spending your own money and you’re not super flush, I thought it might be helpful to weigh up the pros and cons.
I’m not quite sure how I’ll ever go back to economy for long-haul. Having a lie flat bed on a flight is the absolute best. Without a doubt, it’s the single best perk of family travel in business class.
With a flick of a button you can recline the chair and if you tip it all the way back you’ll be horizontal, ready for the land of nod. It makes drifting off so easy. I found the flights just whizzed by in no time at all and that’s something I never thought I’d say.
With Qatar Airways, opt for one of the seats that can be made into a double bed with the adjoining seat. It’s the easiest way to get kids to relax and drift off.
2. So Much Space
In my opinion the big perk of travelling as a family in business class is super happy parents. If you’re travelling with young kids, whether they have their own seat or not, the reality is at some point they’re going to climb over you or sit or sleep on you. And so it’s an absolute joy to travel with so much space. Space to sit with your feet up or to lie down. Space to spread your things out – above, to the side and below.
If you have space to spread out, without fear of encroaching onto a nearby passenger or without your kneecaps digging into the seat in front, then a wriggly lap child is a breeze.
And if they sit in their seat, great. If they don’t, you’ve got a playpen, extra storage and just space to breathe.
My 2 year old was very happy lounging about in her seat. She obviously didn’t take up anywhere near the seat allowance. She loved being able to move up and down the bed, and snuggling up to me. Best of all, we had a seat formation that allowed us to create a double bed, so we really did have enough space and then some.
3. No Eyes
Parenting with an audience is tough at the best of times, but especially in a small space when there’s no escape. Business class takes care of that. With Qatar Airways, simply close your sliding door and enjoy your private parenting bubble.
Sure, people could peer over if they really wanted to, but who’s going to make the effort to stand up and crane their neck into your ‘pod’ when they have their own blissful pod to enjoy? Unlike economy, you don’t get people pacing the aisle or loitering near the galleys, so nobody is really in your eyeline.
I’ve had a few flights where fellow passengers have stared whilst I’ve parented. One woman even turned herself round so that she could watch me intently. In business class there was no chance of that. It took the stress out of parenting – I could just be and fully relax.
4. All the Help
And then there’s unlimited help at hand. To be honest, after a while it was almost a touch too much, but I’ll still take that than the alternative.
In business class, staff attend to your every whim. Save for taking my child into a playroom on the plane (could you imagine?!), they poured me drinks whilst stuck under my 2 year old, they made the bed (bed!) up for us, they adapted meal times and meal choices. When the guy said that yes, I could have the chunky chips from the steak choice and my vegetarian dish and the dessert from the other menu, I couldn’t wipe the sheepish grin from my face.
The staff were so kind and seemed to anticipate any request. Before I’d even had a chance to look around the whole cabin for a staff member they’d be there asking if I needed anything. A photo, a drink – they were more than happy to help. Sure, I felt a bit cheeky to ask for a glass of the Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Champagne when my 2 year old fell asleep, but to them it was as if I’d asked for a cup of tea.
5. Unlimited Food and Drink
Every time I travel with the kids I have a case full of snacks. A whole case. And most times they demolish the lot. In business class you don’t need to bother with any snacks. You can pick and choose what food and drinks you want and when.
In business class meals are served on tablecloths, drinks are served in glasses and best of all, it’s all unlimited. It’s amazing!
6. Skip the Line
A business class ticket usually means you can head straight for the shorter check-in queue, enjoy priority lane security checks and basically whizz through the airport.
If you’ve travelled with kids before you’ll know the waiting around is one of the hardest bits. This was especially true for us travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic. Longer queues means more chances for them to touch things.
I loved being able to coast through the queues and to minimise family travel stress. The red carpet also gave me a giggle.
7. Access to Airport Lounges
Talking of which, you can also ease it by accessing business class lounge(s) at the airport. This usually means somewhere away from loads of people, complimentary food, drink Wi-Fi, and more often than not, a playroom.
We pretty much locked ourselves away in the playroom at the lounge in Doha and it made the layover much more manageable.
8. Quicker Luggage
Business class ticket holders also have their luggage labelled accordingly, which means it’s one of the first to arrive on the luggage carousel. Again, less waiting about makes family travel much easier.
When we landed in the UK our luggage appeared in no less than two minutes of us walking to the carousel. It made the grab and dash approach totally doable, which is something to aim for during these uncertain times.
9. More Luggage
And let’s not forget you can take way more stuff with you in business class. Like almost 10kg more on most flights for your checked baggage and pretty much double the economy allowance for your hand baggage.
I’m a light traveller, but it does make everything much more manageable because you know, little people do seem to need the most stuff.
10. Quicker Exit
Of course it’s about the journey, but let’s face it, once you land you just want to get off that plane as soon as possible. Travelling in business class allows you to be one of the first ones, meaning you’ve got more chance of getting to the front of the queue for the loo, passport control and well, everything.
My two hate queues – so do I to be honest – so this was another big perk for us.
The Downsides of Kids in Business Class
Are there any? What can be so bad about business class? Well, you’re right, it’s amazing. However, I was super surprised at a few things. Admittedly, it could be down to when we travelled (during the Coronavirus pandemic), but I’ll mention them anyway.
Toddlers and glassware aren’t the best combo. Add in the potential for air turbulence and it’s a recipe for disaster. Thankfully my two didn’t break anything, but I was surprised that staff served them drinks in glasses, rather than plastic cups.
2. No Kids Entertainment Pack
Perhaps wrongly, I assumed the kids would get activity bags of some sort, but this wasn’t the case on either of our two long-haul business class flights. In comparison to our economy flight on the way over where the kids received colouring books and stickers, it could have been a bit disappointing (had we not have been travelling for free during the pandemic).
Don’t assume they’ll get something and if you have a choice of airlines, perhaps look into this.
3. Kids Are A Rarity
It’s probably not surprising, given the price tag, that you don’t see many young kids in business class. In my recent experience the staff kept talking over my little girl (rather than coming round to my side) or asking her grown up questions about the menu, rather than either simplifying it or asking me.
They were all lovely, but I think it would bother me a bit if I’d paid for the ticket. For the price tag I feel like you’re expecting a service.
- Study the seat map and pre-book your seats as early as possible, opting for ones as close together as possible. And if you’re flying with Qatar, try to nab the double bed ones.
- Bring a plastic beaker so they don’t have to use a glass.
- Pre-order kid’s meals online.
- Leave the snacks at home. There’s plenty on board.
- Leave the iPad and headphones too. The onboard entertainment and headphones are great.
- Pack PJs or dress them in them. In my experience the complimentary ones are only for adults.
Justifying the Cost
There’s a steep increase in cost when you compare the price of seats in economy and business class. Sure, you can get lucky using some points or a sale fare, but for the most part you’re looking at spending thousands more.
Whether it’s worth it or not depends on your perspective. It was incredible and I’d most definitely love to always travel in business class going forward, if only for the extra space and lie-flat bed. It makes family travel so much easier. However, I wouldn’t pay the cost on that basis.
Yes, we enjoyed lovely meals and drinks, but I wouldn’t say we ate and drank our money’s worth. The sleep and calmness was much more valuable to me.
We’ve travelled long-haul in economy on many other trips and although it’s been cramped and uncomfortable, we’ve survived and seen it as a means to an end – a rubbish snippet out of an amazing week or two.
For every trip I’ve always looked at the next class to see what the price difference is. For a few extra hundred I’d consider splashing out, but it’s always been thousands more. And in my head thousands of pounds is another holiday so I haven’t been prepared to do it.
However, now we’re in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic I think my views have changed. Flying in business class allows you to distance from other passengers. On Qatar Airways you can shut the partitions and not see other people. You can create your own travel bubble, if you like. And perhaps one for another post, but I think if travel becomes more difficult the days of frequent trips might be gone, and so I can kind of rationalise the cost a bit more. I’d certainly be more open-minded to spending more if it meant I’d feel safer.
Our flight home from New Zealand to the UK was £22k. £22k for two adults and two children – that’s insane! Admittedly that price isn’t an accurate representation of the ‘normal’ fare – we travelled during peak Coronavirus madness.
If you’re familiar with my blog you’ll know that we got stuck in New Zealand during the coronavirus pandemic, partly due to the virus and partly due to chickenpox. Anyway, you can recap the story here, but basically it meant that our insurance had to buy us new flights to get home.
Due to the various lockdowns and the FCO advice against all but essential travel, flights were sparse and mega expensive. Our insurance company was obliged to get us home on the earliest possible flight, regardless of class. And so that meant them buying the last four seats on those two flights. Economy had sold out, the next flights were days away and rumoured to be cancelled anyway, so they had to book us the business class seats.
We originally had economy tickets so I was full of excitement, anticipation and guilt. I’ve never been fortunate enough to fly business class, so flying long-haul that way was a complete indulgence.
So yeah, I guess, prior to Covid-19 I wouldn’t have considered splashing out, but going forwards I’d definitely look into it a bit more. Business class with kids is definitely a whole different ballgame than economy with kids, that’s for sure!
Have you travelled in business class? What was your experience like?
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