Kids are famously one of the major reasons people hate flying and in some ways, parents are already unfairly judged for bringing along their offspring before the plane even leaves the runway. Yes, passengers may be able to recount plenty of nightmare flights of teething babies and kids kicking the back of their seat for hours on end, but not every kid is disruptive. If you’re confident that your child’s in-flight behavior is up to scratch, you might be considering taking them on their first ever...wait for it...first class flight. Eek!
Flying with young kids can be a pretty stressful undertaking, period. So choosing whether or not to bump them up to first class is not a decision you want to make lightly. Sure, a first class cabin of a plane may make them feel more comfortable and less restricted, but to look at it another way – you may not want to lower your child’s boundaries for a 5 hour plus flight! Especially if they have a tendency to be a tad hyperactive or easily bored.
When it comes to flying with little ones, the parents or guardians are always going to be the best judge of the situation. Some parents may prefer to fly first class while leaving their kids in economy and others may have the budget (and bravery!) to fly their whole family first class. To help you along, we’ve come up with 10 pros and 10 cons of embarking on a first class flight with kids.
20 PRO – Your Child Will Be Much More Comfortable
Often, what makes a flight with a child go smoothly is when your kids feel comfy. A comfortable child makes for a happy child (most of the time at least!) so all that extra legroom permitted in a first class cabin can only be a good thing when small children are concerned.
If you’re flying long-haul, knowing your kids have a little more room to stretch their legs and walk off a little steam can be a godsend.
Just don’t let them run off steam by treating the premium cabin like a jungle gym and you should be all set!
19 CON – You Can Still Be Asked To Move If Your Child Cries
It’s easy to assume that because you’ve paid for a first class ticket, you have the privilege to stay in your first class cabin no matter what the circumstances. The reality, however, is that a crying or noticeably irritable child can have you kicked out of the premium cabin fairly quickly if enough passengers complain.
Most first class passengers will have likely paid more to avoid being seated near a crying child in economy, so if you’re bringing a toddler or newborn into the premium side of the plane, you should be prepared for being downgraded in the event of a tantrum fit.
18 PRO – Your Airport Chauffeur Ride May Come With A Custom Child Car Seat
More and more airlines are providing a chauffeur ride service to and from the airport as part of their first class package and if you’re traveling with kids, this can certainly make the process a lot easier for young families.
If you opt to fly with Lufthansa, for example, staff representatives in the first class terminal are able to provide the specific car seat for your child’s needs based on their age –
this can take a huge amount of worry out of the flight process for parents, not to mention making your child feel cool and comfortable to not be settling for a booster seat when they’re way past the age.
17 CON - Some Airlines May Not Even Allow It
If the airline you’re traveling with flat-out forbids kids from flying in first class, then it’s probably not a great idea to spend all your energy (not to mention cash) on trying to convince them otherwise with bribes or trying your luck at scoring an upgrade at the gate.
If you’re quite desperate to have your kids fly first class on your next flight, at least make sure you’re aware of your airline’s policy on this beforehand. It may be worth flying with a different airline than your usual choice altogether if this is so vital to you because parting with a small fortune on the day of your flight is going to make the ‘luxury’ flight experience seem a little redundant later on.
16 PRO – More Kid’s Entertainment For Your Buck
Unlike the air travel of yesteryear, economy flights rarely have much in the way of in-flight entertainment these days and whatever they do have on board normally has a small fee attached to each element of it. Why pay for a set of headphones for a movie they might hate anyway?
On a first class flight, kids have more than just the token children’s film or TV show to choose from. So if they’ve worn out their copy of Hannah Montana at home, it’s reassuring to know they have a multitude of channels to choose from. In addition to the TV screens, many premium cabins have a “flight nanny” on board to entertain kids with arts and crafts and magic tricks. What could be better than an in-flight Mary Poppins?
15 CON – Babies And Toddlers May Carry A ‘Lap Charge’
If you’re planning on traveling with a child under 2 years old, most airlines will qualify them for a ‘lap seat’ since they’re too young to occupy their own passenger seat. Just because they may be sitting on your lap though, it doesn’t always mean you get to swerve paying for their occupancy on the flight, and this will inevitably increase for a premium ticket.
Flying with an infant or young child first class could mean paying an additional ‘lap charge’, and this can differ depending on which airline you go with. Some airlines are not always upfront about this charge, so if it’s advertised as free, you could incur some steep fuel surcharges. Look before you book!
14 CON – Executive Passengers And Kids Don’t Mix Well
The most common passenger complaints are likely to come from executive flyers in first and business class. If you ever felt uncomfortable trying to avert the gaze and disapproving tuts of your fellow passengers in economy, executive flyers have a tendency to make parents feel like they’re on trial.
As snobby as it might seem, try to put yourself in their shoes. Most first-class passengers have paid more to avoid being disturbed by a wailing baby and an exec may not look too kindly on a kid run riot while they attempt to work or make an important call on the commute.
13 PRO – Some Airlines Have A Child-friendly First Class Lounge
Easily one of the most boring parts of air travel is the endless waiting around in the airport or at the gate. Fortunately, a first-class ticket helps to reduce a lot of the usual waiting around, but with a small kid in tow, a 10-minute wait can seem like an eternity, especially if you’re sitting in a quiet luxury lounge.
Thankfully, many airlines are beginning to cater to families, and not just business execs and socialites, when it comes to the first class lounge experience.
In many airports around the US, first class passengers with Lufthansa may be pleasantly surprised to find a children’s play area tucked behind the lounge bar complete with books and toys to let restless kids let off some pre-flight energy.
12 PRO – A Wider Variety Of Children’s Meals
Parents of fussy eaters everywhere rejoice! Sometimes, the cost of flying your kids first class is entirely justified by the fact that your kids have a wealth of choice when it comes to their in-flight meals. Airline economy food leaves a lot to be desired and if you’re flying long-haul, you don’t want to land with a cranky, hungry child who refused to eat for 4 hours.
Many premium airline cabins thankfully have the parents back where tasty and varied kids menus are concerned. As long as you inform the airline beforehand, most carriers will be happy to offer kids aged 2-12 a more personalized meal experience. Etihad and Emirates airlines even package their kid's food like a happy meal!
11 CON – Premium ‘Pod’ Seats Can Be A Tad Inconvenient
The pod seat design of many first-class cabins may feel like something out of a cool sci-fi film for your kids, but as much entertainment value as it provides them, it can be a little restricting for the parents when it comes to checking up on them.
Pod seats are great for providing kids with extra privacy and space on a long-haul flight and make for a far comfier bedding arrangement than in economy, but having to reach over to assist them during meal times, to pass them their toys or help change the buttons on the control panel can be a little problematic. So just be wary of this when booking a long or overnight flight.
10 CON – First Class Space Can Give Unruly Kids Free Rein
The rules of keeping still and buckled up during takeoff and landing still apply to the first class quarters, but with the extra space and relaxed atmosphere, troublesome kids may feel like they have license to let their normal public facade drop, and this can be a particular kind of hell for parents (and first-class passengers) flying long haul.
It’s super important to let kids know about what kind of behavior is acceptable in first class and to prepare them for the fact that boundaries still apply – even if it seems like a playground compared to the restricted economy seating.
9 PRO – The Premium Kid’s ‘Amenity Kit’
You may want to save some space in your carry-on bag if you’re flying premium with the kids since some airlines will provide child passengers with a little goody bag of stuff. Lufthansa and similar airlines like to provide first class kids with an ‘amenity kit’, which can be heaven-sent for parents who might have forgotten to pack the coloring book and crayons.
A child’s amenity kit can include entertainment bits and pieces like toys, puzzles and activity books, as well as actual useful amenities that might come in handy for the flight and beyond like a pair of slippers and a spare PJ set.
Something to keep parent and child pretty happy!
8 CON – Not All Kids Are Crazy About The Finer Things
While most of the adult passengers on board first class are happily coiffing champagne or enjoying a platter of decadent nibbles, kids are likely to find all the little luxury touches dull beyond belief.
Adult eyes may light up at the sight of an extensive wine menu and a complimentary cheeseboard, but kids are going to be craving chocolate milk through a curly straw.
For that reason, paying a small fortune to bring your kids on board first class can seem a little worthless if you know they won’t be making the most of it. Airlines might be making more of an effort to make their premium cabins appear more family-friendly, but in many respects, it still has an adults club vibe about it.
7 PRO – Some Airlines Provide A Comfy Bassinet For Infants
As previously mentioned, flying with a newborn or young toddler may come with a lap charge depending on who you fly with. And if flying with them on your lap won’t work for you,
a few airlines will be more than happy to accommodate infant passengers with a specially wall-mounted bassinet fitted to the bulkhead.
It’s essential that babies get as much rest as possible throughout the day, which is why quite a few premium airline cabins allow infants between 0 and 9 months to sleep as comfortably as possible in a setting familiar to their home cot or basket. Be sure to research if this is available before you fly, as a long-haul lap snooze is no fun for mom or baby.
6 CON – First Class May Spoil Them For Flying Economy
Treating your kids to a first-class flight on holiday is all well and good, but what happens when you have to fly economy again? Kids can grow accustomed to things pretty quickly and once you expose them to all the luxuries of first, they may get a little antsy once reality kicks in over in economy class.
If it was difficult to settle them down on an economy flight before, it may be twice as hard to get them to sleep once they have to make do without sleeping pods, extra soft pillows and free-flowing juice and snacks. It could even set their expectations sky-high for the hotel once you arrive, too!
5 PRO – Assistance With Luggage At The Airport & Connecting Flights
Depending on the size of your family, this extra help may seem a little unnecessary, but for a tired family of five or even just a single parent trying to juggle a wriggly toddler while rooting for their purse and boarding pass, the smallest of gestures can go a surprisingly long way.
That’s why a first class ticket will sometimes provide ground assistance in the form of a staff member grabbing your luggage off the carousel and escort you through the terminal to get to your gate smoothly – much like a bellboy at an upscale hotel. This service can also check in for you, saving you oodles of time and sanity trying to catch connecting flights with toddlers dragging their heels.
4 CON – It Can Be (Unnecessarily) Expensive
The most obvious downside to flying your kids first class is how needlessly pricey it can be. A first-class ticket may include many more amenities than economy, but when you break it all down, there are many things you can do to keep your kids entertained and comfortable within budget, like packing plenty of snack boxes, games, and home comforts.
The extra comfort and space of a premium cabin may seem more tempting if you have many hours to kill, but otherwise, opting for premium economy rather than paying the full works may be better suited to you. It really all depends on your journey length and what you feel is best for your kids when traveling.
3 PRO – Luxury Sleeping Arrangements May Guarantee More Peace For You
Anyone knows that trying to nap sitting bolt upright or even on someone’s lap is not the comfiest way to drop off. And though catching 40 winks in a plane as opposed to a jerky car road trip may be a little easier, it doesn’t exactly provide your kid with the most comfortable way to sleep.
Mercifully, first-class cabins are designed to make kids feel as at home as possible with a fully flat bed set up with soft pillows and blankets.
So if you’re planning a long-haul flight, a first-class cabin can be well worth it for the extra shut-eye for your kids (and fellow passengers!).
2 PRO – A Spacious, Homey Atmosphere May Combat First-flight Nerves
If you’ve only ever flown a gazillion times as an adult, it can be easy to forget how intimidating and frightening the first ever flight can be to kids. The best thing you can do in helping to combat their nerves is to get them excited about the process, and let a premium cabin put them at ease.
A first-class cabin may not be able to stop turbulence, but since it’s a far quieter, spacious part of the aircraft, it can certainly help a particularly nervous young flyer cope, and even perhaps enjoy their time. At the end of the day, your child will love flying first class for the same reasons adults do – the legroom, the complimentary refreshments, and a relaxed lounge atmosphere. It can be like a mini holiday in your kid's eyes.
1 CON – The Unhelpful And Disapproving Stares
Make no bones about it, if you bring a couple of toddlers into the first class cabin, you’re probably going to get a few disapproving glares from fellow passengers. This happens in economy too, but in the quieter and more spacious lounge setting of a first-class quarter, the parent-shaming is probably going to seem amplified.
You needn’t let people’s pre-judgment make you feel self-conscious for the entire flight though. A good way to disarm fellow passengers and put yourself at ease can be to hand out goody bags with things like earplugs, homemade cookies and thank you notes to let them know you appreciate their patience!