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Most airlines that operate long-haul international routes supply a carrycot for infants that attaches to a bulkhead or interior wall of an aircraft. However, these bassinets (basically a box for the baby) are only suitable until a child is around six months old or starts sitting upright. Many families then choose to buy an extra seat and bring their own car seat to get their toddler a seat, which can add unneccassry cost if he or she are still younger than 2.
British Airways made our family’s travel lives easier (and cheaper) for the last four years because BA has another option for older children than the carrycot/bassinet box. It is called the “child seat” by Britax.
What Is the British Airways Child Seat?
The BA Britax child seat is more akin to a car seat in style but attaches to the same pull-down shelf on the wall or on in a buddy seat in first or in the new Club Suite. You still reserve the bassinet position when booking your seat but when on board you request the larger child seat from the crew. I’ve read reports of BA running out of the child seats on flights, although I have never experienced this. To be sure you get one, particularly if you’re travelling with a 16-month-old or older, ask as soon as you board for the crew to put one aside for you.
My boys flew in them right up until they turned 2 and weighed around 28 pounds, but the official guidelines are:
- Suitable for older babies weighing up to 12.5 kilogrammes (27.5 pounds)
- Available on all long-haul flights (except on the London City to JFK service)
- Not to be used during taxi, takeoff, landing or turbulence when the fasten seat belt sign is on
- Adjustable to different positions.
If your toddler no longer fits into a standard long-haul bassinet and you don’t want to buy a full-price ticket, the British Airways child seat is a great interim solution that saved our family thousands.
The Cost of a BA Child Seat
British Airways has one of the leading policies for under 2s on a points redemption: pay just 10% of the Avios plus 10% of taxes and fees for your under 2’s ticket. Other airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, charge up to 25% of the cash value of a seat on a miles redemption, making your baby’s non-seat turn into a several thousand pound ticket in a premium class.
Virgin Atlantic also has a great rate for infant redemptions with a fixed amount of Flying Club miles per class of travel. The Virgin Atlantic bassinet — aka Skycots — vary by class and aircraft, and would not have suited my children after 6-9 months old due to their box shape. The Virgin Atlantic 747 Skycots for economy and premium only go up to 9 kilogrammes (19.8 pounds).
TPG UK covered that British Airways gives a free seat for children turning 2, but the child seat is available from as soon as your child can sit upright until his or her second birthday.
For example, if you were to fly with your 1-year-old in a British Airways child seat from London to San Francisco in Club World like we did, you would pay just 7,500 Avios plus £85.42 for your child’s one-way ticket. And, most importantly, your child has an actual seat he or she can sit in despite paying the lap infant fare. To read more about redeeming Avios as a family, read here.
On a cash fare on British Airways, you pay 10% of the cash for your under 2. Our 12-hour flights to Bangkok in World Traveller were saved by having the BA child seat for our youngest. We paid less than £100 return for him to have the child seat.
I ran some calculations my flights longer than eight hours where we used the child seat with a child who would not fit in a traditional bassinet. The British Airways child seat saved my family over £10,000 by having my two toddlers in their own seats yet still only paying a fraction of the price of an adult seat whether Avios or cash.
Travelling long haul with a baby or toddler is not always easy and you face the dreaded baby jet lag on the other end. But at least you can delay the burn of a full-priced ticket yet also get your wiggly toddler a place to sit and sleep by using the British Airways child seat. If you’re wondering how we collect all of these Avios, check out the TPG UK guides to Avios and Amex Membership Rewards.
Featured photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy.
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