Business Class and Upgrades

In case you wondered what life in front of the curtain was like, let me tell you the bad news first. You are still on the plane for the same 18 hours and the toilets are still too small. Same magazines, too. It costs about as much as a couple of nights in the hotel you'll stay at whenever you finally get there.

However, that bad news is only to try and make you feel better. Business class is great! The seats are w-a-y bigger and nicely firmer. The food is better (the same special meals are available), and because there are fewer passengers per cabin attendant, the service is much better.

So what does this have to do with kids?

What we have done on more than one occasion is to take the two-and-two rule of seat configuration out to its logical conclusion, and bought two coach/economy seats and two in business class.

If one of your kids is older, they can sit up front with one parent. The parents can then switch off who gets to sit with the little one in back. The moving around alone makes the flight go by faster.

If you are really organized, or have a travel agent who is, try this (let's assume two adults and two kids, though your mileage may vary). Get two seats in the last row of business class and two seats in the first row of economy class. This separates you and Kid One in business class from your spouse and Kid Two in economy. Switching around is easy and if your kids are old enough to sit by themselves, you are only one thin (expensive…) curtain away should they need your attention. To make this work you'll need to get seat assignments very early, as you are asking for four very specific seats out of a whole plane full.

With the younger kid, we just can't justify the extra cost of business class, but the chance to spread out and relax up front has made a couple of long flights feel a bit shorter. Needless to say, the airlines are not too thrilled to have us all switching seats throughout the flight, but if you do it so that you are not in the way for the meals service and don't otherwise make too much trouble, I think you too can pull it off (hint: don't ask for anything just as soon as you hit that business class seat. Take a moment to blend in first).

Upgrades

Hah.

Maybe it is my poor luck, but in all our time of traveling internationally with our (let's assume for argument's sake) well-behaved kids we have never, ever, been upgraded to business class. We did once serve as the catalyst for a tired businessperson with a head cold to get upgraded after he complained about having to sit/sneeze next to our grumpy child. If you are out there now businessperson, an e-mailed thank you would be appreciated.

One Last Thing

That brings up one last point about seating. The cabin attendants can broker on-the-spot seat exchanges if both parties are willing to swap and the attendant is not otherwise consumed with other tasks.

This almost never can happen once the plane is in the air so if you want to try for a seat switch (say to get away from the businessperson with the head cold) go for it as soon as possible and hope for sympathetic partners in the deal. Like a lot of life, smiling and making eye contact can ease a situation toward your side.

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