If you are planning a trip within Europe with an infant, you must read on to learn how you can buy three seats in Business class for LESS than the price of two seats in Economy…
Our little family travels a lot. Last year we went on an epic five month, three continent, 10 country road trip with our nine month old daughter. This year we’ve been hopping around Hong Kong, Canada, and France, to name a few recent trips, again with our toddler, Rosie, in tow.
Needless to say, we spend a lot of time researching the most pain-free and cost-effective travel routes!
Anyway, on a recent British Airways flight we noticed that the seats in Business class were the same as those in Economy. The only difference was the fact that the middle seat, in each row of three seats, was covered with a table to provide some additional space between passengers. See the photo below.
It occurred to us that perhaps this table could be removed, which would reveal three seats in a row in Business class. To our delight, we discovered that this was possible. The table simply folded up under the seat.
It’s important to note at this point that this “table seat” is not officially a ticketed seat, so it can’t be booked and used by an adult as all adults are required to have a seat assigned on their ticket. However, children under the age of two are legally allowed to travel the lap of an adult, which posed the question… Could this seat be used for an infant?
Generally you have three options for how you book flights when traveling with a child under the age of two:
You can pay 10% of the regular fare, and attempt to reserve a seat that is assigned a bassinet. This is ideal if you can actually make it happen, but it’s not straightforward. First of all, not all flights are equipped with bassinets, but even if the flight is equipped, there may be more babies than bassinets. Different airlines have different systems for assigning the bassinets to the babies, so it can be a bit of a gamble as to whether or not you’re actually going to get one. To further complicate things, some babies are too tall or too heavy to use the bassinet, even if they are within the age limit. Rosie, for example, outgrew the bassinet at around 10 months!
You can pay 10% of the regular fare and have your child travel on your lap, without their own seat. This is how most families travel, and it can be quite uncomfortable for both the child and the parent.
You can pay full price for your infant's fare and reserve them a regular seat. This is obviously the most comfortable, but also the most costly option. Plus, some airlines don't actually allow you to book a seat for an infant online. You can usually organize it with a phone call, but it’s rarely an efficient and streamlined process.
However, now there is a fourth option if you are flying British Airways within Europe, and we tested it out last week.
Flying from Toulouse to London, we booked two business class seats (with the table in between) and paid 10% of the regular fare to have Rosie travel on my lap. The cost for us to travel in Economy would have been €232 per adult and $23 for Rosie on my lap. We had been an extended trip, so we were traveling with a fair amount of gear, which would have meant significant additional charges for excess baggage. We would also have been responsible for paying for our own snacks.
In business class, the cost was €240 per adult and $24 for Rosie “on my lap”. So we did pay €17 more for the tickets, but we paid nothing extra for all our luggage, and snacks were also included.
As soon as we got on board, we asked the flight attendant in Business class to please remove the table in between our two seats. To my amazement, this was absolutely no problem whatsoever. Then hey presto, we had a row of three seats in business class for the price of two.
When the plane is configured in this way, the seats in business class are not larger or more special than those in economy. However, there were a loads of other advantages for us, especially given we were traveling with a toddler.
1 free seat => A free seat is obviously a huge advantage! Rosie had her own seat, at no extra cost, and wasn’t uncomfortable on my lap.
Expedited airport experience => When you’re traveling with a toddler in tow, long queues at the check-in counter and security screenings can be really tedious. Let’s be honest, they’re tedious for people of all ages. It was awesome to skip these queues with priority check-in, and then whizz through security clearance using the fast track lanes that come with traveling in Business.
First off the plane => It’s tough for little people to sit still in their seat for the duration of a flight, so being first off the plane was another bonus.
No waiting for bags => Priority tags on our luggage meant our bags were also first off the carousel.
Use of the Business class lounge => Our flight was delayed, so we also made good use of the business class lounge. Rosie was able to play in a safe and contained environment, we got some work done, and everyone had some complimentary snacks. This definitely made the delayed departure less of an inconvenience.
Increased bag allowance => You always end up with more luggage than you intend to have when you’re traveling with a kid (diapers! toys! a million changes of clothes!) so the increased luggage allowance was hugely helpful. We were entitled to check in 2 x 70 lb bags per adult, and 1 x 50 lb bag for Rosie, plus her stroller and her car seat, all free of charge.
Free food => Lastly, a small perk, but a perk nonetheless; free in-flight food and drinks.
For those of you wondering if we could have traveled even less expensively on a budget carrier, we could not. While the ticket price may have been lower on some other airlines, by the time we added on the cost of each piece of luggage the overall cost of the trip was higher. This means it would have cost us more to fly in Economy with only two seats on a budget carrier, than to fly in Business class with three seats on British Airways.
DISCLAIMER: This post is not sponsored in any way. It was just such a fortuitous discovery that we wanted to share it. Traveling with a toddler can be challenging at times, and anything that can genuinely make it easier for families seems like advice worth sharing :-)
Fare prices will vary depending on your travel dates and destination, but if you (or a friend) is a planning a trip within Europe with an infant, I would highly recommend you look into this awesome travel hack. Please share and happy traveling!