Flying business class with kids (TATL)

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retire2044
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Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:14 am

Hello and thanks in advance for any advice this forum has on my question.

My wife is originally from Europe and her family is still mostly located in Europe. My wife and I travel often as a couple and usually fly business class or first class for the comfort on flights longer than 3 hours. Our boys are 5 and 3, and we have traveled extensively with them throughout the US but never to Europe. When we travel with children we always fly economy. We usually figure the extra space would be lost on small children. Another concern we have is with spoiling our children.

We are looking to book our trip to Europe with the children for next summer (boys would be 4 and 6). I enjoy the lie flat seats for such long flights, and I think the children would sleep much better on the flight over. We can afford it and are on track with retirement savings, but we wonder if long term this luxury would be negative to our children's growth into (hopefully) responsible adults.

I have mentioned in other posts that my family lives a relatively frugal lifestyle. House purchased for ~$114k, paid off vehicles (08 Toyota, 2015 Nissan). We prioritize travel in our budget more than many people, but also prioritize home and vehicles lower than most.

Basic question- Are we going to wreck our children by letting them experience traveling in such comfort?

If curious, my children are very used to traveling and they know what is expected of them on flights/restaurants/etc. I am not worried about them disrupting other passengers. I tend to find loud, drunk adults in business class more annoying than any child on a plane. Just my opinion though.

student
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by student » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:17 am

If your main concern is spoiling the kids, I don't think it is a big deal if this is only on special occasions.

dak
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by dak » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:19 am

Your kids are too young to be "wrecked" by this luxury. Our family has traveled a fair amount, and we did point out to them that we could either a) travel less but in a nicer style, or b) do more travelling. More travelling was always the choice - they learned to travel light and not worry too much about the airplane ride.

Enjoy your trip!

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HueyLD
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by HueyLD » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:22 am

If you limit the children's business class travel to international only, I don't see how they could be spoiled.

As a compromise, you could consider "premium economy," but you won't be nearly as comfortable in premium economy section.

NoVa Lurker
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by NoVa Lurker » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:31 am

I agree with the posters above. With kids, it feels better to spend on luxuries on vacation while being frugal in every day life. I would not be worried about spoiling them in this case.

Although I have to say, traveling business class to Europe while living in a $114k house takes this thinking to the extreme. I travel to London and Paris pretty regularly for work, and I usually take economy even though my work (reimbursed by clients) will cover business class for everything over 5 hours, which is basically all my travel. I have full access to the lounges anyway. When I travel to Africa/Asia/Middle East, I go business class, but the flights to Western Europe, at least, are just too quick for it to matter. And the cost of business class is so much higher, I don't want to impose it on my clients unless I really need it. I did do Marrakesh in economy once and it was pretty awful (Dulles to Paris-CDG, then to Casablanca, then Marrakesh), but otherwise economy has been fine.

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:32 am

HueyLD wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:22 am
If you limit the children's business class travel to international only, I don't see how they could be spoiled.

As a compromise, you could consider "premium economy," but you won't be nearly as comfortable in premium economy section.
I have considered premium economy, but since leg room really isn't an issue with children I wouldn't see much of the benefit. The lie flat offered in business class is my main draw. I could care less about the difference in food and service between economy and business, just want the seat. Thanks for your input!

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:39 am

NoVa Lurker wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:31 am
I agree with the posters above. With kids, it feels better to spend on luxuries on vacation while being frugal in every day life. I would not be worried about spoiling them in this case.

Although I have to say, traveling business class to Europe while living in a $114k house takes this thinking to the extreme. I travel to London and Paris pretty regularly for work, and I usually take economy even though my work (reimbursed by clients) will cover business class for everything over 5 hours, which is basically all my travel. I have full access to the lounges anyway. When I travel to Africa/Asia/Middle East, I go business class, but the flights to Western Europe, at least, are just too quick for it to matter. And the cost of business class is so much higher, I don't want to impose it on my clients unless I really need it. I did do Marrakesh in economy once and it was pretty awful (Dulles to Paris-CDG, then to Casablanca, then Marrakesh), but otherwise economy has been fine.
Our house of $114k is actually a nice 3 bed, 3 bath home, but not the open layout and large square footage that many people in my community spend on. Someday we will build a larger home, but it seems to get pushed down the list often.

Our flight would be to Eastern Europe form the midwest. Flight time is 10 hours if that makes any difference. From the east coast I don't think I could justify business class to Western Europe (unless it was paid for by someone else!). We are in a Delta hub so have lounge access, although we never take our children in there (too many other things kids like to explore at an airport!).

The cost difference is about $1200 per person round trip. So we would be paying about $60 per hour per person to fly up front. Not chump change by any means, and I realize I could just invest this money but we have budgeted a certain amount to travel and this fits in the budget. Mainly just don't want to raise entitled kids, but I guess if this is a relatively rare occurrence it shouldn't hurt.

Thanks for the input!

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:43 am

dak wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:19 am
Your kids are too young to be "wrecked" by this luxury. Our family has traveled a fair amount, and we did point out to them that we could either a) travel less but in a nicer style, or b) do more travelling. More travelling was always the choice - they learned to travel light and not worry too much about the airplane ride.

Enjoy your trip!
My wife and I have traveled Europe extensively before kids and always did the hostel route to save money. On shorter flights (London for example-7 hours) we would fly basic economy and the money saved basically paid for the rest of the trip. If we did cut down on the luxury portion of travel, we could possibly travel more. I am a dentist, so I feel there is a certain amount of time I can be away from the office before I start letting my patient base down. Therefore, we try to do (2) one week trips a year and maybe (5) long weekend trips. Seems to work so far, but when kids start being more involved with activities we will have to cut back!

dcabler
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by dcabler » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:51 am

We fly business class to Europe with our kiddo but only if I have the frequent flyer miles to do it or if the airlines does it for us automatically after some delay or such. Now, as a now 16 year old, she does like business class, but she understands that it happens only under certain circumstances.

All of that said, it still helps to make sure our daughter actually understands that business class, when fully paid for, is in the ballpark cost of a cheap used car vs. 8-10 hours of comfort. :shock:

Even when we don't get business class, I make a full effort to at least try and purchase an upgrade to premium economy. Cost is usually pretty reasonable, at least for those flights where it exists....

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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by THY4373 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:55 am

I do a lot of points collection via credit cards (more spend than bonus offers) and do a fair amount of "travel hacking" which mostly amounts to keeping an eye fare sales and fare mistakes (though I am trying to teach myself for advanced stuff like fuel dumping). Anyway this means my son has traveled almost exclusively internationally in First and Business because of this (in the last couple of years Jordan, UK, France, Spain, Italy and next year Japan and Taiwan). I live a pretty frugal life other than my travel hobby (never owned a new car, buy mostly used clothes, etc.). So far he shows no signs of being spoiled. He doesn't really ask for much in general, works hard at school and takes the whole front of the plane thing as cool but whatever. I actually try to use it as a teaching moment about working hard and thinking outside the box to achieve what you want.

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Pajamas
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by Pajamas » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:03 am

If you can easily afford it and want to fly business, not wanting to spoil your children shouldn't be an issue, especially at their age.

What you wouldn't want to do is raise in a bubble in which they become spoiled teenagers and adults who assume everyone is as privileged as they are and lack any understanding of how other people live. Perhaps while you are in business class you could talk to them about first class and business class and coach and how there are different choices that cost different amounts of money and how anyone who can afford to fly at all is privileged compared to the vast majority of people in the world.

When they are a little older, you could watch this film with them while flying to provide a basis for discussion:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706620/
Last edited by Pajamas on Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

ResearchMed
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:03 am

retire2044 wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:14 am
Hello and thanks in advance for any advice this forum has on my question.

My wife is originally from Europe and her family is still mostly located in Europe. My wife and I travel often as a couple and usually fly business class or first class for the comfort on flights longer than 3 hours. Our boys are 5 and 3, and we have traveled extensively with them throughout the US but never to Europe. When we travel with children we always fly economy. We usually figure the extra space would be lost on small children. Another concern we have is with spoiling our children.

We are looking to book our trip to Europe with the children for next summer (boys would be 4 and 6). I enjoy the lie flat seats for such long flights, and I think the children would sleep much better on the flight over. We can afford it and are on track with retirement savings, but we wonder if long term this luxury would be negative to our children's growth into (hopefully) responsible adults.

I have mentioned in other posts that my family lives a relatively frugal lifestyle. House purchased for ~$114k, paid off vehicles (08 Toyota, 2015 Nissan). We prioritize travel in our budget more than many people, but also prioritize home and vehicles lower than most.

Basic question- Are we going to wreck our children by letting them experience traveling in such comfort?

If curious, my children are very used to traveling and they know what is expected of them on flights/restaurants/etc. I am not worried about them disrupting other passengers. I tend to find loud, drunk adults in business class more annoying than any child on a plane. Just my opinion though.
I actually think there is a huge advantage for children to be exposed to a variety of lifestyles as they are growing up, and to learn "how to act" and to be comfortable doing so.
It helps them to understand what is going on in the world, and also - and especially - will help them in the future if they find themselves in those situations socially or professionally someday.
It could also be used as a learning experience about the value of saving, and of making financial choices, in terms of spending more on X vs doing more of X at a lower price point. (This will be more useful as they get a bit older, but children can absorb a surprising amount even when quite young.)

But it is also important to remind them of what is "special" and not a regular occurrence/lifestyle.
If you've got a predominantly frugal lifestyle and home, then they aren't likely to become "spoiled" by occasional splurges (of whatever kind).

Do what is comfortable for *you*, if you truly can afford this.

RM
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retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:19 am

dcabler wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:51 am
We fly business class to Europe with our kiddo but only if I have the frequent flyer miles to do it or if the airlines does it for us automatically after some delay or such. Now, as a now 16 year old, she does like business class, but she understands that it happens only under certain circumstances.

All of that said, it still helps to make sure our daughter actually understands that business class, when fully paid for, is in the ballpark cost of a cheap used car vs. 8-10 hours of comfort. :shock:

Even when we don't get business class, I make a full effort to at least try and purchase an upgrade to premium economy. Cost is usually pretty reasonable, at least for those flights where it exists....
I like the idea of comparing to a cheap used car. Good comparison to use when the boys get older. Thanks!

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DaftInvestor
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by DaftInvestor » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:21 am

I flew my kids several times first class (mostly due to having plenty of frequent-flyer miles) and I wouldn't say we spoiled them with the experience. I would explain to them (if you are paying for the tickets) that everyone prioritizes their spending habits differently.

My kids were also very well behaved on these flights. This didn't stop some obnoxious traveler from asking us if we were in the wrong seats when we sat down however. My response was "Yes - we are in the right seats - and don't worry - our girls are very well behaved - they won't bother anyone nor poke into anyone's business by asking questions unnecessarily".

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:23 am

THY4373 wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:55 am
I do a lot of points collection via credit cards (more spend than bonus offers) and do a fair amount of "travel hacking" which mostly amounts to keeping an eye fare sales and fare mistakes (though I am trying to teach myself for advanced stuff like fuel dumping). Anyway this means my son has traveled almost exclusively internationally in First and Business because of this (in the last couple of years Jordan, UK, France, Spain, Italy and next year Japan and Taiwan). I live a pretty frugal life other than my travel hobby (never owned a new car, buy mostly used clothes, etc.). So far he shows no signs of being spoiled. He doesn't really ask for much in general, works hard at school and takes the whole front of the plane thing as cool but whatever. I actually try to use it as a teaching moment about working hard and thinking outside the box to achieve what you want.
Thanks for sharing your story! My wife and I already try to let our children know that they live in a life of luxury compared to most of the world. My wife grew up in communism in some fairly bad living situations, so she can truly appreciate how nice we have it in the US. Hopefully we can get the message through to our children that life isn't as comfortable for most people and we are very lucky.

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:26 am

Pajamas wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:03 am
If you can easily afford it and want to fly business, not wanting to spoil your children shouldn't be an issue, especially at their age.

What you wouldn't want to do is raise in a bubble in which they become spoiled teenagers and adults who assume everyone is as privileged as they are and lack any understanding of how other people live. Perhaps while you are in business class you could talk to them about first class and business class and coach and how there are different choices that cost different amounts of money and how anyone who can afford to fly at all is privileged compared to the vast majority of people in the world.

When they are a little older, you could watch this film with them while flying to provide a basis for discussion:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706620/
Thanks for the film suggestion. I agree on not raising kids in a bubble. Traveling to Eastern Europe is going to be an eye opener for them. My wife's family lives comfortably and has done well for themselves, but midwestern boys will find the living situations in Europe quite small. How could a family of 4 live in a 2 bedroom townhouse with only one bathroom? :wink: I am looking forward to this trip to watch their reactions.

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:32 am

ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:03 am
retire2044 wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2017 10:14 am
Hello and thanks in advance for any advice this forum has on my question.

My wife is originally from Europe and her family is still mostly located in Europe. My wife and I travel often as a couple and usually fly business class or first class for the comfort on flights longer than 3 hours. Our boys are 5 and 3, and we have traveled extensively with them throughout the US but never to Europe. When we travel with children we always fly economy. We usually figure the extra space would be lost on small children. Another concern we have is with spoiling our children.

We are looking to book our trip to Europe with the children for next summer (boys would be 4 and 6). I enjoy the lie flat seats for such long flights, and I think the children would sleep much better on the flight over. We can afford it and are on track with retirement savings, but we wonder if long term this luxury would be negative to our children's growth into (hopefully) responsible adults.

I have mentioned in other posts that my family lives a relatively frugal lifestyle. House purchased for ~$114k, paid off vehicles (08 Toyota, 2015 Nissan). We prioritize travel in our budget more than many people, but also prioritize home and vehicles lower than most.

Basic question- Are we going to wreck our children by letting them experience traveling in such comfort?

If curious, my children are very used to traveling and they know what is expected of them on flights/restaurants/etc. I am not worried about them disrupting other passengers. I tend to find loud, drunk adults in business class more annoying than any child on a plane. Just my opinion though.
I actually think there is a huge advantage for children to be exposed to a variety of lifestyles as they are growing up, and to learn "how to act" and to be comfortable doing so.
It helps them to understand what is going on in the world, and also - and especially - will help them in the future if they find themselves in those situations socially or professionally someday.
It could also be used as a learning experience about the value of saving, and of making financial choices, in terms of spending more on X vs doing more of X at a lower price point. (This will be more useful as they get a bit older, but children can absorb a surprising amount even when quite young.)

But it is also important to remind them of what is "special" and not a regular occurrence/lifestyle.
If you've got a predominantly frugal lifestyle and home, then they aren't likely to become "spoiled" by occasional splurges (of whatever kind).

Do what is comfortable for *you*, if you truly can afford this.

RM
Thanks for your advice. Since finding the Bogleheads website, my wife and I have actually increased spending on travel and charities significantly as our income has grown. Bogleheads has led us to great conversations about priorities in spending and saving. We don't drive luxury cars or live in a mansion, but we will spend on travel. The money part of booking business class seats for the family is within the budget, I was just looking for opinions about doing so with children. This forum never ceases to amaze me- I thought I would get run off of here for suggesting spending on frivolous things like this! :happy

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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by United2008 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:34 am

Do it. We have traveled extensively with our kids, and for long flights we always shoot for first or business class. While it *may* be a luxury for the kids, it is definitely a luxury for my wife and me that I am willing to spend a bit on (or burn upgrade certificates / airline points for). The additional comfort, space, service, and entertainment make it much easier for us to travel with the kids. We also fly Southwest regularly for shorter flights. While there may be an occasional joke about "why there's no desert on this flight" (just among us), they realize that the first/business class trips are special perks that we are fortunate to experience.

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HueyLD
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by HueyLD » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:35 am

I think the OP may have a point in his concerns about annoying drunk adult passengers in business class.

I am allergic to alcohol and the mere smell of alcohol (if strong enough) can cause problems. I think that was what happened to me last time.

YMMV.

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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by Hikes_With_Dogs » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:37 am

Do it.

My 3yr old was upgraded to first class before because of status.... she had a blast. We are flying trans-Atlantic business class next year. Probably also to Europe will be business class.

In my mind, it's all about "me" and what I want. Kiddo isn't old enough to fly in coach alone yet. :)

And yes, I am hoping as well the reclining seats will encourage sleep.

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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by DrGoogle2017 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:52 pm

We didn't have this problem when my kids were younger. I think your children are too young to fly in a different class.
I have no problem if they are older.

retire2044
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by retire2044 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:41 pm

Thanks again for all the comments. I truly am surprised at the number of Bogleheads that have flown first/business class with their children!

I just booked the flights for our trip next summer. Delta One across the pond, KLM business class to finish the journey. Hoping for some sleep for the whole family on the flight!

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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri Sep 01, 2017 1:50 pm

An anecdote: Our youngest was taking his first really long flight. On the way over, we flew business class with lie-flat beds (my wife traveled a lot at time, and had miles to burn). On the way back, we were unable to get an upgrade, so we walked on the plane, headed to coach and arrived at our seats, and my son said: "what?! No beds?!"

Fwiw, he hasn't objected to coach seats on subsequent flights. It's hard to spoil kids, especially if you make it clear that it's a treat for you also.
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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by msk » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:06 pm

I used to fly Business or First only on business trips and Economy with the full family when the kids were small. But we did take the nanny with us all over the world. Nanny coming along for the full vacation was far more important than hours of sleep on planes. Now the kids are fully grown, and following BH advice, we have switched to Business for our vacations (retired so no more business trips). Our grown-up kids normally fly Economy with their kids, with or without nanny depending on their family economics/priorities. This summer one daughter decided that her kids no longer need a nanny on vacation and she now takes all her kids in Business. Do the kids get spoiled? Not sure. They are the only kids who are sub-teen that I have heard talking about billions and trillions, $ that is... I also know one or two families who have nannies that install their kids+nanny in Economy while the couple goes up front. I think the danger of spoiling starts with the teenage years. Teenagers should be shoved into Economy :annoyed

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Re: Flying business class with kids (TATL)

Post by aristotelian » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:59 pm

At 4 and 6 they have no conception of how bad economy is. First class will just be normal to them. If you don't mind shelling out for the ticket, don't give it a second thought.

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