Once you have had a taste for flying in the front of the plane it’s quite difficult to fly any other way. At least it is for my family. There are a few exceptions for shorter flights or amazing deals, but for the most part I am one of those people who is merrily turning left when I board the plane.
“The whole thing is actually tremendously exciting. Not just getting on the plane, but getting on the plane and turning left.” – Jean, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
When we fly as a family even with our young daughter we still choose to fly in premium cabins. The majority of our flights tend to be long-haul international flights where space, a bed and entertainment are essential for keeping our sanity. We have flown with Lucy both as a lap infant and with her own paid seat in premium cabins. (Even though she flies “free” under the age of two.) It is important to way out the pros and cons of flying with a lap infant vs. a paid seat. *There are regulations that come into play in both scenarios, and quite frankly, the rules can be a bit fuzzy. The Federal Aviation Administration allows a child under two to fly as a lap child, but that doesn’t always mean that it is the safest option.
For a child under two who has a purchased seat, there are rules about how that child must fly in that seat. Let’s say you are flying on American Airlines with a paid ticket for your child under two. According to the weight of your child you must fly with an FAA approved Child Restraint Seat, or an FAA approved Harness. If you purchase the ticket and do not have an FAA approved safety seat, your child will need to be on your lap for take off and landing, and any time the fasten seat belt sign is illuminated.
Another factor you will consider are the price differences. For example, on a recent mistake fare we paid for Lucy to have her own seat in business class because the fare price was actually much cheaper than if we only paid the taxes of a full fare lap infant in business class. On most domestic flights your lap child will fly free, however on international routes it commonly costs ten percent of the full fare plus the taxes.
Another great benefit for us when we buy a seat, is that Lucy acquires miles when she has her own seat which will help us to offset any cost on future flights after she turns two. By the end of this year and before her second birthday, Lucy will have achieved Gold Status on American.
When we walk into a premium cabin with an infant we tend to get more glares than welcoming smiles and I get it, I just brought a baby into your premium space. Most people have already decided that I have ruined their flight, but I just exhale and try to relax knowing that this is my child’s sixtieth-something flight and I can handle whatever comes our way. It’s after our 16 hour flight in first class that I enjoy the praises that people give us as parents and her, that rare well behaved baby, as they smile and say “Wow! She did amazing!”
Stayed tuned for 7 Tips on Flying in Premium Cabins with a Small Child.