F Review with Infant

Old Jan 15, 17, 2:06 pm
  #1  
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F Review with Infant

I previously submitted a couple of questions about travelling with an infant in F in advance of an upcoming trip (NCL>LHR>IAD, BOS>LHR>NCL), receiving some very helpful info, and as promised here is a mini trip review for you all, which will hopefully provide some advice for other users travelling with little ones – please be gentle, its my first one!

We flew down to LHR from NCL on the 07:50am flight. Although we live only an hour away from NCL we felt it would be easier to head up the night before, staying in the Novotel which is a 5 minute drive away.

BA Lounge at NCL

We were disappointed with the lack of baby-change facilities in the BA lounge – all it takes is a fold-down changing table really. Once in the lounge (beyond the “no return past this point” doors) we were effectively stuck. Luckily I remembered that the Aspire lounge had baby change facilities enquired and asked if we could use theirs, and the friendly guy on the desk was happy to let us do so, but we still had to sneak back through the one-way doors for this.

BA1321 NCL>LHR

Boarded and departed on time. The flight was extremely full. We were in row 7, with UTFB Jr. on our laps for the short flight. He was no trouble at all really. This was only his 3rd ever flight and he was as mesmerised by it all as he was on the first 2.

LHR CCR

We had reserved a cabana and made it to the CCR at around 09:30am. Our next flight was 11:15am, and was departing from the C-gates – so we didn’t have that long really to enjoy the CCR facilities. We got settled in the cabana then went and sat in the dining area and had some breakfast which we both quite enjoyed – Eggs Benedict for me, a bacon roll for Mrs UTFB. Little one sat in the high chair, made a bit of noise, but nothing major, and we tried our best keeping him as quiet as possible, however didn’t seem to stop a couple opposite gawping at us as if we didn’t belong...

I felt we didn’t really have enough time in the CCR – around an hour in total, which with an 8 month old soon flies by.

Boarding

We made our way across to the C-gates and by this time little one was asleep. Everyone was boarding, the usual scrum. We hung around til the very end. A helpful gate agent asked if we would like to board via fast track (he didn’t know we were F, he offered as he saw we had a small child which was a nice touch) but we were happy to wait and let him sleep.

Got down the airbridge and prepared to board via 1L. As we were undertaking the Krypton factor-like challenge of collapsing the pushchair and putting it in the bag to leave at the a/c door, the barrier was put across 1L. Once we were sorted I asked one of the CC if we were still able to board via 1L – the words had barely left my lips as I was told rather matter of fact “This door is ONLY for First Class passengers” – doing my best to avoid a DYKWIA moment I politely explained we were seated in row 4, showed our boarding passes, and she opened it up again and we made our way down.

BA217 LHR>IAD

Once onboard the CC were great. They made a fuss over little one who was still doing fine, explained to us about the bassinet / upright seat that they would bring after take-off and helped us get settled in. Started with a glass of LPGC each.

We departed slightly behind schedule, nothing major. Once airborne drinks came round again. Was asked if I’d like another champagne, but was slightly disappointed to note I was now getting Castelnau, not LPGC. I pointed this out and she apologised. Really not sure if this was an error, or just because that was the nearest bottle to hand for her…anyway, first world problems and all that...

Little one was awake for practically the full flight. He was happy to sit on both of our laps in between the odd short nap / feed. Despite their earlier promises, the CC did not offer to bring a bassinet / chair for him, but this wasn’t required in the end. We were in 4E/4F, with 4K being empty. I asked if we could put him down to sleep in there if required, and they said I could. Anyway we did not need to. We kept him entertained, we walked him around a bit, we used the CW bathroom upstairs to change him as its much bigger. He was absolutely fantastic and barely made a noise. Smiling and laughing for our fellow passengers – who I am sure were a little apprehensive when they first saw him, but we talked to some of them who remarked how good he was.

Landed on-time at IAD however things were not to go smoothly now. We were amongst the first off, and as we departed we were told we could collect the pushchair just next to where the terminal transfer buses (or whatever they’re called, the big people movers that look like something from Star Wars). So we got there and waited patiently. And waited. And waited. By this time everyone else was disembarking and getting on the people movers. We continued to wait. Some 15 – 20 mins later, after everyone had disembarked, including crew, we were told by an airport worker that the pushchair would now need to be collected at the baggage carousel. So we were now at the back of an extremely long immigration queue, with a child who was now starting to get restless and desperately needed a sleep. We were very disappointed – had we been told that we’d have to collect it from the carousel it wouldn’t have been a big problem as we were off first and would have been straight through immigration, but here we were behind almost everyone off our flight. So, 45mins later we made it through eventually, the previous 45mins being infinitely more trying than an 8.5hr transatlantic flight with an 8 month old child. I emailed BA about this, expecting them to shift the blame to the ground crew, which may be the case. But then other families travelling with pushchairs in all cabins got theirs and we didn’t…so we are really not sure what went on. Anyway I’ve recently had a reply apologising, they did not say what actually happened, but offered me 10k avios in compensation.

Apart from the pushchair incident, we really enjoyed the flight. The crew in F were warm and friendly with us and the little one, and eager to chat about our trip and give us pointers, and my only slight complaint about the service itself would be the champagne substitution, for which an apology was offered.

(The next leg of our trip was in AA F DCA>BOS. I won’t go into much detail but it was acceptable. I was disappointed that we were unable to access the lounge in DCA despite travelling F (we were Bronze BAEC at the time so couldn’t get access based on status). Had I realised this I would have just booked an economy ticket for such a short flight. It wasn’t a huge amount more for F, but I was willing to pay a premium for lounge access so we could keep the little one calm and relaxed).

BA214 BOS>LHR

After a fantastic time in both DC and Boston it was time for our short TATL hop back home. We were departing at 21:20pm so headed to the airport for 18:30ish and made our way to the lounge.

The lounge in Boston was average I would say, the First lounge being much smaller but appearing to offer all the same features as the Business class lounge at the other end. I decided to dine in the lounge and the service from a guy called Juan was superb. The wife sat with little one near the TVs for a bit whilst I ate.

Boarding involved us joining the general boarding queue – the “Priority” lane was actually longer.

As this was the sleeper service most people settled into their sleepsuits and requested their beds to me made up when we got airborne. The cabin crew were fantastic with us and once airborne we had the bassinet seat set up and the little one went straight to sleep in it – after making a few initial noises which we did worry about as people were trying to sleep by this point (speaking of noise, later in the flight, a fellow passenger emitted one of the loudest farts I’d ever heard whilst he was asleep, which woke me up – the only turbulence we experienced).

So the wife and I decided we would dine together in peace, the first chance we had of the whole trip. Even though I had already eaten something in the lounge I ordered the beef which was fine. I had a couple of glasses of the Bordeux.

Landed in LHR on-time and made our way to the CCR. We had a few hours to enjoy it this time. Had some breakfast which we ate out on the terrace. Freshened up with a shower in the cabana however was quite disappointed in the cabana itself – the wifi was completely down in the whole lounge, meaning I couldn’t catch up on a bit of work that I’d planned to, and also strangely enough the television would not change channel at all or even turn off. The tethered remote control would not work, so our only option was to have the TV stuck on a blurry sky sports channel with no sound or turn it off at the socket. Opted for the latter. I know its not a big thing, but you would expect something as simple as a TV and a remote control to function without issue…I put all this in my email to BA along with the pushchair issue.

BA1332 LHR>NCL

Fairly uneventful short flight up to NCL, all on time. Managed to get 1D/E/F.

Overall Summary

A very nice experience, especially with it being something we don’t do regularly. I would say we got good value for money considering we paid a very reasonable price during a sale (less than what you would normally pay for a reasonable TATL J). Had I paid the usual price I’d probably have been a bit disappointed.

We have done F in EK on the A380 a couple of times previously which is probably a more impressive experience, but there is something a bit more, dare I say, “classier” with BA – EK is all golds, browns and creams – very blingy. Each to their own of course.

It was nice having all the extra space for our little one to be comfortable. He was absolutely fine with it and had a great time. Whether he would be as comfortable if we were in Y remains to be seen, but I am sure we will experience that one day.

Would we do it again? Yes, and we shall be in Sept ’17 – to SEA via a reward booking / 2-4-1 Amex voucher. Until then my only BA movements will likely be LGW>ALG in CE for work (ALG lounge is atrocious BTW, but that’s a discussion for another day).

Thanks.

UTFB.
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Old Jan 15, 17, 2:25 pm
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Thanks for the detailed write-up. Having travelled with our daughter since she was tiny I know how useful these reports can be.
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Old Jan 15, 17, 2:33 pm
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Thanks for the report.

Did you have much trouble adding jr to your 241 booking?

Come May I will have mrploddy jr to contend with and slightly longer travels - Japan to Manchester so interesting times ahead for me

-mrploddy
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Old Jan 15, 17, 2:50 pm
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Love these TR. An enjoyable read.
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Old Jan 15, 17, 6:00 pm
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Thanks - a good read. Strange re the buggy - yours being the only one not delivered at the door. I didn't think much of your welcome onboard, but glad the F crew were good.

The bassinet positions are booked on both our F flights in the Spring, so it will be interesting for me to see the experience first hand!
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Old Jan 15, 17, 6:20 pm
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Thanks for reporting back, glad you enjoyed it.

Enjoy SEA, can recommend Pike'a market, the chewing gum wall and the troll under the. Ridge!
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Old Jan 15, 17, 6:21 pm
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Very enjoyable read. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. Wish I had known about FT when my little ones were babies.

Had a large chuckle about the "turbulence".
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Old Jan 16, 17, 12:14 am
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Thanks.
currently in lounge just off SIN-LHR in F, with our 16 month old.

One tip we got (on this very forum) is the BabyZen YoYo pushchair. It's perfectly good as a pushchair, but its USP is that it folds up into a cabin-bag-sized shape, meaning we could take it on board with us, and more importantly, no wait on arrival... just straight off the plane, open it out, and walk the walkway from C to A in timely fashion!
My best travel related purchase of the year!
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Old Jan 16, 17, 12:37 am
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Thanks for the TR!
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Old Jan 16, 17, 1:39 pm
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Originally Posted by mrploddy View Post
Thanks for the report.

Did you have much trouble adding jr to your 241 booking?

Come May I will have mrploddy jr to contend with and slightly longer travels - Japan to Manchester so interesting times ahead for me

-mrploddy
It wasn't straightforward - we rang up and were told we had to add him to our household account and create an Executive Club account for him. We booked our reward flights online, did this, then rang up and added him at a cost of 10% of the Avios plus some charges.

Worryingly though they used my wife's maiden name as his surname (she hasn't updated hers to her married name yet as her passport and Amex cards are in her maiden name, so her BAEC needs to match this). I rang up again to query this and was assured this was just what is shown in MMB and the actual boarding pass, when issued, would be correct and as per his passport! Hopefully that is the case but just to be sure I will call up again a good couple of months before the flight...
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Old Jan 16, 17, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by navylad View Post
Thanks for reporting back, glad you enjoyed it.

Enjoy SEA, can recommend Pike'a market, the chewing gum wall and the troll under the. Ridge!
Thanks for the tips, will look out for those. We are intending to stay in Seattle for a few days and head north up into Vancouver and spend some time north of the border before heading back for our flight home (sadly there was no availability to return from Vancouver). We are there for about 2.5 weeks so need to put together an itinerary!
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Old Jan 16, 17, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by McCoy View Post
Thanks.
currently in lounge just off SIN-LHR in F, with our 16 month old.

One tip we got (on this very forum) is the BabyZen YoYo pushchair. It's perfectly good as a pushchair, but its USP is that it folds up into a cabin-bag-sized shape, meaning we could take it on board with us, and more importantly, no wait on arrival... just straight off the plane, open it out, and walk the walkway from C to A in timely fashion!
My best travel related purchase of the year!
Will certainly look for one of those - ours was quite compact when we folded it down and put it in the bag, we didn't actually think to ask if we could carry it on board. Something to consider next time!
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Old Jan 16, 17, 1:44 pm
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Originally Posted by Flexible preferences View Post
Thanks - a good read. Strange re the buggy - yours being the only one not delivered at the door. I didn't think much of your welcome onboard, but glad the F crew were good.

The bassinet positions are booked on both our F flights in the Spring, so it will be interesting for me to see the experience first hand!
Yes the bassinet in F for our LHR>SEA flight in Sept is currently shown as booked - not sure if this means there is another party with an infant or if someone has just managed to reserve it before we got chance to? Are they only available to reserve if you have an infant?
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Old Jan 16, 17, 2:14 pm
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ON a trip we did recently in F which involved LHR, PHL, MCO, PHL, LHR we eventually took to checking in the buggy as all it did was delay us getting off the plane, negating the benefits of F priority disembarking. Worst was LHR to PHL where waiting for the buggy meant we then had over an hour in the immigration queue.

On the last leg PHL to LHR it was checked through, it took 15 minutes from the door opening to getting in the taxi.

Sling until they're too big and then just carry them is my suggestion. Check/ditch the buggy :-)
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Old Jan 16, 17, 4:01 pm
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Thanks for the TR, I was looking forward to this one!

Originally Posted by UTFB View Post
Will certainly look for one of those - ours was quite compact when we folded it down and put it in the bag, we didn't actually think to ask if we could carry it on board. Something to consider next time!
I'm currently working on one about our recent trip with our 3 kids in F which was a good adventure, http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-...ter-break.html . As noted, we asked and then the first class cabin crew stored it and then they had it unfolded and ready for us when we disembarked. There's no guarantee that this will be done, but it worked well for our sample size of two attempts.

Originally Posted by UTFB View Post
Yes the bassinet in F for our LHR>SEA flight in Sept is currently shown as booked - not sure if this means there is another party with an infant or if someone has just managed to reserve it before we got chance to? Are they only available to reserve if you have an infant?
I believe there's only one seat, so if they have an infant, they got it first. That said, in F, BA does not block the bassinet seat by default, so you could give YouFirst a call or email to ask.

Originally Posted by DWB1873 View Post
ON a trip we did recently in F which involved LHR, PHL, MCO, PHL, LHR we eventually took to checking in the buggy as all it did was delay us getting off the plane, negating the benefits of F priority disembarking. Worst was LHR to PHL where waiting for the buggy meant we then had over an hour in the immigration queue.

On the last leg PHL to LHR it was checked through, it took 15 minutes from the door opening to getting in the taxi.

Sling until they're too big and then just carry them is my suggestion. Check/ditch the buggy :-)
We brought the buggy this trip because we knew he would fall asleep in trains, etc., though we also brought a carrier. Really though the buggy was ready for us before we reached the jet bridge, which was pretty convenient (so no delays at all).
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