I recently flew business class with my toddler to Brisbane for a quick holiday (check out tips on Brisbane with kids here) I’ve flown business class with her before but it only really occurred to me this time just how much of a difference it makes!
DOMESTIC VS LONG HAUL
Unfortunately, I have only had the pleasure of flying domestic in business class. I have done international flights (Australia to UK and back) with a toddler though. If I could have afforded Business I would have snapped the airlines hand off!!
I’ve flown domestic with my toddler so many times I’ve lost count. Six of those occasions I decided to go business class. Although short flights in economy are not too bad with a toddler, Business is like a whole other world!
Most domestic flights will have a relatively small Business class section and at least one dedicated flight attendant. We’ve been lucky enough to be the only passengers seated in business class before and most of the other occasions there have only been one or two other passengers. This was gold in itself because the attendant could not help us enough with our daughter! Blow up glove animals anyone??
I know people who have been lucky enough to fly business long haul with their infants too. Every single one of them agrees it made their journey run so much smoother and they arrived feeling much better and a lot less frazzled.
Most long haul business class sections have lay flat beds which friends said was the biggest advantage. Once infants reach the 6 month mark, it becomes much more difficult to find an airline that can provide you with a bassinet or toddler seat in economy, as they all have very low weight restrictions. A 12 hour overnight flight with a toddler is made much easier if there is somewhere you can lay them down for their sleep!
If you’ve ever cared for a toddler you’ll understand they’re tiny eating machines! Lounge access before your flight is like a buffet heaven for toddlers.
We use the Virgin lounges even when we’re flying economy. They’re amazing value when you consider the amount of entertainment and free food a toddler can get through.
Dad will have a beer or a couple coffees and I can usually be found knocking back an orange juice or two (pregnancy ruining my fun). We also make sure to turn up slightly hungry and fix ourselves something to eat. I usually grab a few toddler snacks for the plane as well.
It’s just one less thing I have to plan in advance or pack the night before and I’ll take any small time saver nowadays.
Lounges can be a great place for young kids to wander around exploring to burn off a little energy and stretch those legs before the flight. A few of the lounges we’ve used have great views out over the tarmac. Our daughter will happily wander up and down the window stretch pointing at the planes and vehicles.
You are much more likely to get complimentary wifi or entertainment options in business. If you are very anti screen time, you may not consider this to be a perk but it’s definitely an extra help if you really need it to fall back on.
I prefer to pack my own airplane activities for my kids, just because I know the best things to keep them entertained. If you need some inspiration, check out this article on the best airplane activities for babies and toddlers.
On one particularly testing flight, my daughter was being a total nightmare and the in flight entertainment included in business was the perfect fallback to cheer her up, when nothing else seemed to work.
My favourite part of flying business class has always been the fact that you get an actual meal served to you in real dishes. Real glasses for drinks and proper cups for tea and coffee. It really is the small things I guess.
Problem…..how do you sit with a toddler on your knee and still enjoy the yummy food. Answer? Unfortunately, you don’t!
If you are travelling solo it is nearly impossible to enjoy the meal and I just didn’t even bother trying as I knew it would be a disaster. If you are traveling as a couple though, it’s easy enough to take it in turns to hold the baby and eat. We’ve done this on nearly every flight and always found the staff to be incredibly accommodating and understanding.
IS IT REALLY WORTH IT?
If your toddler is under 2 years old, just like in economy, they travel on your lap for free. This might seem like a benefit (free business class for babies wahoo). But just take a second to think about it? Toddler on your knee for the whole flight?? Really?
I’d say if your child is under 2 business class is only really worth it if you’re travelling with someone else. At least that way you can take turns. One person enjoys the benefit of a fancy meal whilst the other holds and then swap.
If your child is under 2 and you are travelling alone though? Personally I wouldn’t bother unless I scored a super cheap deal.
If you have older kids and you’re paying for the seats it’s a tough decision! I think the benefits of Business Class are probably lost on a 2 to 3 year old. They don’t care about extra space, are usually easy to entertain or might even sleep. I personally wouldn’t fork out the extra dollar.
However I think the older your child gets, the more they will start to appreciate the experience. Being able to stretch out? Free entertainment/Ipads to use? Being able to ask for snacks whenever they want? When they’re older they will love the feeling of importance!