Family of 8 in Business Class

Old Nov 18, 19, 3:02 am
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Family of 8 in Business Class

My husband, myself, and our six kids (ages infant to 11) will be flying business class from U.S. west coast (LAX, SEA, or SFO) to Tokyo courtesy of husband's company. Three of our kids are pretty responsible, but we have a 7yo with special needs, a 4yo, and the infant who will all need our attention. What airline seating would fit best (for example, suites on Delta vs. herringbone pattern on American), and how would you assign seating for best supervision?

Please no snarky comments about our kids flying. It is a necessary flight, and both my husband and I work our tails off to keep our kids well-behaved and under control.
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Old Nov 18, 19, 3:46 am
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My 2 cents.

1. You need more adults

My concern is you don't have enough manpower literally to handle 6 kids (1-3). Having another adult (like family and/or relative) traveling will help you a lot (1-2).

2. Business class may not be the best idea.

It is great that you don't have to pay anything. But the problem is based on how economy class is designed, each of the adults (assuming sitting at aisles) will have better control of the children nearby. Business class is individual seating. So you will need to run up and down the aisle taking care of your children.

I am also concerned that the airline may make a thing because of how emergency is being handled.

BTW - welcome.
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Old Nov 18, 19, 4:00 am
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Or better yet premium economy for one parent and the 4y/o and 7y/o, and business for the other parent, infant, and the responsible kids.
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Old Nov 18, 19, 2:09 pm
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garykung, thank you for the welcome. I've learned a lot from FT!

Unfortunately, more adults is not an option. If it was, we sure would have loved to whip one up so my husband could have seen his youngest kids be born. So, life may be tough, but we handle our six in public/traveling as a couple or solo on a regular basis. Also, I count my two oldest as a significant help (also my middle somewhat a help, at least he is self-sufficient). They do best with babysitting the 4yo or infant, but 7yo is best handled by a parent.

I see the idea about kids who need more attention staying in economy with my husband. Lucky him. We'll consider it.

What about the configurations with movable partitions? My 7yo would actually do best in his own suite, maybe with a partition next to Dad. Being around a lot of people puts him under brain stress, which causes everything to spiral downward, but if he can be closed in and (relatively) alone, he will be happy to color and look at books and stay cocooned in.

My understanding is AA does not have suites, so it is easier to get up and move between adjacent seats?

I was thinking 7yo SN isolated at a window, next to Dad (aisle). If there are three in the middle, I'd have big kid, then 4yo, then me with infant. The other two big/middle kids are fine to sit together across the aisle from a parent (me). If there are two in the middle, I'd put the 4yo next to me with Dad across the aisle.

I'm just not sure about Dad and 7yo and 4yo in the back. 7yo would be more likely to freak out with all the commotion going on around in economy.
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Old Nov 18, 19, 4:54 pm
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You are missing an important point - the airline.

To the airline, safety is everything (in theory). So when the airline feels that the parents can't take care of the children, they will offload everyone in the party.

For example - who was going to put the life vest on the children? Who was going to put the oxygen mask on for the children?

My apology for not saying this out front. But with economy, you can access to all the children sitting next to you, which was not possible in business.

So this is a reality check - it is not how you want to make this work, but this is how you can convince the airline what you plan will work.
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Old Nov 18, 19, 5:16 pm
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There are some airlines that have mini cabins in business class. These are typically two rows of seats behind the galley. This might be a way to be able to more easily focus on the children who need it. If I were you, I'd look at the seat maps for the possible airlines that you can fly on this trip and see if any offer it.

Will the baby have his/her own seat?

Welcome to FlyerTalk. This sounds like a great adventure for your family. I hope it all works out well for you.
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Old Nov 18, 19, 10:04 pm
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garykung, thank you for that thought. When you say "offload everyone," are you saying you think the airline would sell us the tickets, then deplane us before takeoff because a flight attendant suddenly doesn't like the ages of our kids? If it's a possibility, I'm glad to know about it ahead of time.

I called Delta and American and laid out the numbers and ages, and the Delta representative I talked to said no problem about the kids ages. She was more concerned about finding out whether a lap child can ride in Delta One (which I already knew the answer to). She had to put me on hold to find out, which worries me that if there is a restriction on number of children, she doesn't know anything about it. American rep thought I was kind of weird to be asking, and stated American has no policy on ages or numbers of children in business. Should I expect a change in "policy" during boarding?
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Old Nov 19, 19, 1:17 am
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SanDiego1K, thank you for the idea of mini cabins. I will look. However, I think our options are AA, DL, JAL, ANA, and I don't think they have those.

Company will pay for baby to have a seat, but I am flexible about lap, since I don't think car seats install in many business class seats.
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Old Nov 19, 19, 8:37 am
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Originally Posted by kktalker View Post
My husband, myself, and our six kids (ages infant to 11) will be flying business class from U.S. west coast (LAX, SEA, or SFO) to Tokyo courtesy of husband's company. Three of our kids are pretty responsible, but we have a 7yo with special needs, a 4yo, and the infant who will all need our attention. What airline seating would fit best (for example, suites on Delta vs. herringbone pattern on American), and how would you assign seating for best supervision?

Please no snarky comments about our kids flying. It is a necessary flight, and both my husband and I work our tails off to keep our kids well-behaved and under control.
Don't buy into the scare stories. I've had 2 adults travel with 6 kids between 2-11 years on my long-haul flights too. It works out fine on the carriers of most likely relevance.

Is it safe to assume that the youngest three children are the 7-years-old, the 4-years-old and the infant? I have to assume the 11-year old child is old enough to help you somewhat at least with the 4 year old. Then this can work out fine easily enough, at least assuming you get 8 business class seats.

Non-stop, is my suggestion. Anything else is a greater hassle IME of irregular operations.

ANA has a nice 8 person business class mini-cabin that goes from LAX to HND, it's 1-2-1 in terms of seats in a row. The struggle with that flight it is that it leaves around midnight; but at least then young kids sleep for much of the flight and can adjust time zones usually pretty quickly on arrival IME. They also have the same kind of cabins for LAX-NRT with daytime morning departures, but they get into Japan mid-afternoon and that most often means more time for kids to adjust to the new time zone. In other words, it's sort of a case of pick the lesser evil but still pick your poison.

As someone who has done lots of long-haul travel with young kids and as someone who flew a lot on long-haul flights as as a young kid, I will say that when it comes to children in business class or otherwise you are generally going to be better off service-wise on non-US carriers than on US carriers.

Last edited by GUWonder; Nov 19, 19 at 8:49 am
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Old Nov 19, 19, 9:35 am
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As someone who flies business class with a small child, I’m glad to hear you are flying business class. The children will be able to lie flat and SLEEP unlike flying in economy. No one is going to offload you if your kids are well behaved.

I can’t speak to your specific layout options but just try to stay away from too much “suite” type seats so that you can access one another a little easier.
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Old Nov 19, 19, 10:28 am
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GUWonder, thank you for the encouragement. My big kids are 11 and 9. They have a lot of experience with responsibility and helping with younger kids. My 6yo (now I realize, likely 7yo by time of flying) has leap-frogged my 7yo (soon 8yo) and is joining the "Big Kid Club." If not super helpful, he is at least more helpful than needy. All of them love babysitting the baby. I'm really thankful for that.

Thank you for the tip about ANA. I saw the new 212-seat layout with the wide business class seats *drool*. Too bad they are only on Tokyo-Europe flights. I can't find the 8-seat 1-2-1 business cabin, but perhaps you mean first class? All the Tokyo-LAX flights I see are the 250-seat (2-4-2) configuration in business. I think the midnight flight is a good tip. They're all going to be so wound up about being on an airplane that a midnight flight won't hurt so much.
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Old Nov 19, 19, 6:47 pm
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This sounds like a great adventure for your family! There are definitely some airlines/equipments that will be more challenging than others. For example, I would avoid JAL, as their business-class seats are generally "boxes" with walls around them, so next-to-zero sight lines. I would also avoid any DL flights with their "Flagship Suites", as they are also walled in (e.g., the 330-900 out of SEA). At this point, most of the equipment on AA, UA or non-suite DL are going to be 1-2-1 herringbone, which isn't ideal, but you can see everyone with a bit of leaning. I would suggest parents sit in two separate rows in the middle, sitting next to the infant and 4yo, with the 7yo across the aisle from one of you. The other kids presumably can manage reasonably well without being in arm's reach.

I agree with the mini-cabin suggestion, and AA has them in J on their 777-300s, which fly the LAX-HND route. That would definitely decrease your concern about bothering others, but you will need to book well in advance to lock down all eight seats on a single flight!

Also, ignore the ignorant responses about flying in economy--definitely no reason to do so if you can afford to fly in business. The sheer fact that you're asking these kind of questions suggests you're much more considerate than many who frequent the business class cabins.
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Last edited by Erasmus; Nov 19, 19 at 6:53 pm
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Old Nov 19, 19, 7:08 pm
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For the youngest ones if you are planning on using child seats, make sure they are able to be used in the business class cabin you are considering, as they aren’t able to be used in all configurations.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 12:21 am
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wrp96, good point. I am thankful to not be traveling with a 2yo. My 4yo (the second-youngest) will be ok in a standard belt. I am assuming the infant will need to be a lap child, but if a car seat will work, I'd consider taking a ticket for the infant if the configuration works.
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Old Nov 20, 19, 12:32 am
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Erasmus, thank you for the tips and encouragement. We are really excited about the trip. We have already started practicing good behavior. Flying eight people (then booking a large van and multiple hotel rooms) is not something we would try to afford even domestically, so the kids are over the moon.
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