`Luckily for parents, most airlines operating long-haul international routes supply a bassinet or carrycot for infants. The in-air crib attaches to an aircraft’s bulkhead. Most bassinets on an aircraft are only suitable until a child is around six months old. After a child sits up, many families buy an extra seat to avoid holding their baby or toddler on their lap. Yet buying a seat for a child younger than two is an unnecessary cost because it isn’t required. Luckily, we found a way around it.
British Airways made our family’s travel lives more manageable (and cheaper) for four years because BA has another option for older children than the carrycot/bassinet box. The miracle? 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. However, it attaches to the same pull-down shelf on the wall as the box-style bassinet. The process for booking is the same. You reserve the bassinet position online, but when on board, you request the larger child seat from the crew. To ensure you get one, particularly if your child is larger, ask the crew as soon as you board to put one aside. I’ve read reports of BA running out of the child seats on flights, although I have never experienced this.
The official British Airways bassinet guidelines
My boys flew in them right up until they turned two and weighed around 28 pounds, but the official guidelines are as follows:
- 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.
Related Reading: My Two Year old needs his own seat!
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.
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. On a cash fare on British Airways, you pay 10% of the cash for your under 2.
The Virgin Atlantic Bassinet aka “skycot”
The Virgin Atlantic bassinet — aka Skycots — varies by class and aircraft but most would not have suited my children after 6-9 months old due to their weight limits. Some of Virgin’s Skycots for the economy and premium only go up to 9 kilogrammes (19.8 pounds). British Airways is joined by Virgin Atlantic which also has an excellent rate for infant redemptions with a fixed amount of Flying Club miles per class of travel.
Related Reading: How to Sign Your Child up for a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Account
Our cost savings by using a bassinet until age 2 for both kids
I ran some calculations for our flightsover five hours when we had a child aged 6 months to two years. While our sons would not fit in a traditional “box style” bassinet, we used the British Airways larger bassinet instead. By our two toddlers sitting off our lap yet paying a fraction of a full-price ticket, we saved a lot. In total, the British Airways child seat saved my family over £10,000.
Travelling long-haul with a baby or toddler is not easy. At least you can delay a full-priced ticket while your wiggly toddler is in a seat. Using the British Airways child seat, we saved over £10,000 or $12,000. If you’re wondering how we collect points, check out our guide to Avios and Amex Membership Rewards.