What’s it like flying business class with a baby? Do people give you the side eye, and is it worth the expense of bringing them since they don’t fly free? Here’s everything I learned flying with my baby from Los Angeles to Japan and back again in business class.
Do Babies Belong in Business Class?
Do babies belong in business class? After an Instagram reel of mine went live on The Points Guy yesterday and I saw the sea of comments debating whether or not babies should be in business class, it became clear to me this requires some discussion.
As far as I’m aware, there is no business or first class on any airline that does not allow babies or children. Although, yes, people have paid a premium in order to be able to have a peaceful flight and get some sleep, there’s never a guarantee that the person next to you isn’t going to be a loud snorer, too talkative, or a loud talker to their seat-mate. Babies and children aren’t the only potentially loud flyers!
We’ve also learned over 25 flights now with my 8-month old that babies who are feeling well and aren’t colicky aren’t usually bad travelers. As long as you plan correctly, they might cry a little but generally will sleep or play quietly for most of the flight. At least, that’s been my experience.
As plenty of commenters pointed out, it’s public transportation, and we’ve all got to put up with each other!
So yes, babies are allowed in business class, and yours is unlikely to be the only baby anyway.
Benefits of Flying Business with a Baby
Although the vast majority of my flights with my son have been in coach, I wanted to fly business for our trip to Japan since it was the longest we had ever flown at 13 hours straight. With lay flat seats he could still have tummy time, and we could more easily have some semblance of nap time. My goal was to land as well rested as possible so that jet lag wouldn’t be as bad. These were the major benefits:
So much more space
The biggest benefit was all of the added space. The older my baby gets, the more space he takes up on my lap. On a recent coach flight on southwest when he was kicking the seat in front of us and there was very little I could do to resituate, that became all too clear.
But with the Sky Suites on Japan Airlines, we could have plenty of privacy. There was a shade that I could send up between our pods for when Garrett and I traded off, or if it had just been me and I wanted total privacy from the person next to me.
It also made it possible to take turns eating dinner. I could pass him over to Garrett in his pod while I ate and while we could do this in coach, it’s hard to imagine we would be successful as he’s at the age when he grabs everything within reach.
I recommend making sure that the configuration of the business class you’re booking has this feature or at least fully lays flat as not all business classes are created equal. When you are looking to book the flight, Google the route and see what kind of plane they are using and what their business class is like. You can probably find a full review before you book.
Lay-flat seats for tummy time
That brings me to the lay-flat seats, which most major airlines provide on their longer business class routes. We had it on both Japan Airlines on our outbound flight and All Nippon Airways on our inbound.
This made it simple to give Felix tummy time as well as making it easier to sleep next to him. Although he sleeps well in a baby carrier (this is the one I always use on flights and this is the carrier I used when he was younger), I sleep much better when I can lay flat, too.
Much more flight attendant attention
Apart from additional space, there is a much better flight attendant to customer ratio in business class. On Japan Airlines, which has legendary service, they were offering warm water for his formula and toys all throughout the flight.
We didn’t get quite the level of service on the ANA flight, but if that’s what you’re looking for, Singapore, Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, Thai, JAL, and Cathay Pacific, among others, all have excellent service.
Possible bassinet in your pod
Although our seats could not accommodate a bassinet on either flight, many business class pods have this capability, like the Q suites on Qatar airlines. Some airlines, like Emirates, will specifically keep their front seats for those who need a bassinet. It’s best to call and ask ahead of time if this is possible/available. If all else fails, the bulkhead seats at the front of the plane or at the front of your section almost always have capability for a bassinet, which the airline staff will provide and install for you.
Cons of Business Class with a Baby
Although there are many pros, there are some cons of flying business class with a baby. These are some of the things to consider:
They don’t fly free/It’s much more expensive than coach
Although babies fly free for domestic flights, that’s not the case for international, where the cost of the ticket is usually 10% of the list price for the regularly priced adult seat. Yes, even though your baby is just on your lap, they cost extra on international flights.
If you’re flying coach, that might just be $50-$100, but on business class, we’ve paid $900 for the privilege on an upcoming Emirates flight and $450 for an upcoming Singapore Airlines flight. We also had some confusion when the Emirates flight appeared to want the same amount of miles as a full-priced ticket to add the lap infant. The only way to sort this out was to call.
To add him as a lap infant on Singapore we also had to call and pay separately. It’s a pain and took an hour of our time for each. On United, it’s been as easy as booking and paying through the platform when we booked our seats.
You might get the side-eye
Although most reasonable humans understand that babies are a part of society and that flights are, in fact, public transportation, some people will still react when they see a baby board. That’s true of both coach and business.
I haven’t had the side-eye that I’ve noticed, but someone from my Instagram community told me via DM that an elderly couple gasped when they saw her board in business class with her baby, who was pretty much silent the entire flight.
“I felt like they owed her an apology,” she added.
I personally don’t care if a stranger is bothered by my child being present. That’s their problem, not mine. But for some it could feel uncomfortable.
Overall, I’m flying business as much as miles and budget will allow, especially while our son is young enough to still be a lap infant. Even though it costs more to add him than it would in coach, it’s still cheaper than getting him is own seat. The space, easier sleep, and extra attention all make it the best choice when we can swing it.
Just make sure you like the configuration and seat options when you book so that you feel it’s worth the extra expense. For us, it has been every time.