Why Parents Should Fly Business Class

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Those who have been around here for a while have probably heard what I’m going to say before, but I think it is one of those things that is worth repeating every so often. I’m a very normal mom who will be at school pick-up this afternoon and then at Mommy and Me gymnastics tonight, but who spent the previous night flying in a lie-flat business class seat to get home from Hawaii. It’s a bit of a dichotomy to be sure, but one that sort of makes sense when you dig into it a bit.

I’m clearly not some high powered executive, or Hollywood elite, or trust fund recipient, or anything remotely of the sort, but I’ve learned that splurging a bit more to lie flat and sleep on an overnight flight makes it possible for me to land and simply do life the next day. Big kudos to you if you can make that happen while sitting up in an economy airline seat and saving the extra money or miles, but that’s just not me. I don’t care if it is the smallest most cramped business class seat out there (and it probably was), as long as it goes flat, just hand me my pillow and blanket and I’ll see you tomorrow.

My bed last night, Seat 2F on the United 777 from Honolulu

I’ll do a full review of the few minutes of the flight where I was conscious in another post, but after getting to partake in the final United 747 flight to Honolulu on Tuesday, spending one night in Hawaii, and squeezing as much as I could into my one day on the ground there, it was time to fly home back to my family and life here in Texas.

From surfing Waikiki to…

…gymnastics with the girls in just a matter of hours

I was dead tired before I ever boarded the United 8:25 PM nonstop flight back to Houston last night, but no matter how tired I was going to be today, there was work to do and kids to take care of, so I needed to sleep on that plane as much as possible.

I know for some of us, it can make you feel guilty to book the lie-flat seat for yourself when you can cut corners and sit in the back, but finding a way to get the rest you need while traveling is a strategy that has worked well for me for years. In fact, that is the only way that I am able to squeeze family life and travel right next to each other. I could care less about the pre-departure drinks, wine and cheese courses, or ice cream sundaes or anything like that, in fact, I stayed awake long enough for dinner to come out last night just to try it and take a picture for the site, otherwise, I would have gone straight from 10,000 feet to sleep. Heck, my first time flying Lufthansa First, which is really quite fancy, I passed out before the caviar and champagne and don’t regret that decision in the slightest.

For me, flying business or first class is not at all about enjoying the fancy stuff, it is just about finding a way to not waste a day or two being too tired to function. I suppose that is really why it was created in the first place, so that those folks traveling for business could get some rest on the plane and then hit the ground running to a very important meeting, but frankly, I think that getting home to my kids and functioning for them is pretty important, too.

When it is affordable via a decent price, an upgrade certificate, or using miles, I am Team Book Business Class when you think it will make the difference between functioning upon landing and being the next member of The Walking Dead. I also have to add, while this is a gender neutral recommendation, I will emphasize it again for moms since I almost always see a premium cabin full of men, but very rarely see anywhere near a representative sample of females. Mamas, if you have the miles, money, or upgrade certs, get yourself up front so you can get rest, too. It doesn’t make you a spoiled monster or turn you into a Real Housewife of Wherever just by taking a spin or two in a lie-flat seat, it just makes you someone who knows how to be sure they get the rest they need in order to be there for others.

24 hours in Waikiki

Stay tuned for more about the flight itself and my 24 hours of maximizing time in Hawaii…after I do a little more life here at home.

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  1. I’m not knocking the business class decision in the slightest, but the sight of that middle seat….! A flat-bed seat is a flat-bed seat, but ugh, come on UA.

  2. Do you book business apart from your kids, or only book business if you can get the whole family? This is becoming our dilemma.

    • Currently, yes, their business class can be as much as 2-4-2. It isn’t ideal. They are moving to all aisle access with their Polaris product.

  3. We are a family of five, 2 adults and 10,7,4 years old. We are making our first ‘points’ trip this summer on an overnight flight to France in BA first. Had to book the day the schedule opened, but after reading this article, am really happy about our decision. I agree with Billy D, you have to be very good at planning ahead, or very flexible to book the whole family up front!

  4. Wow…I must say that that middle seat looks very tight, but I guess if you’re traveling with kids it would work out fine. Sometimes I feel that I am so far away from my kids when the seats are so spread out in first class.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your posts about your farewell 747 flight. Looks like so much fun! I was shocked to see 2-2 seating in the bubble on United. We travelled on Delta to CDG and the 1-1 seating upstairs provides a more exclusive atmosphere.

    Thanks again for the great posts!

    • So glad you liked it! It was a great experience on the final UA 747 flight. Yes, the middle is quite tight, though I was so tired it was not a problem at all.

  5. Completely agree, we r a family of 4 and the reason i got into this hobby was for comfort travel.. Been going to Asia on a 17 hr trip with kids that sleep on your lap and had to pee every few hours is recipe for lack of sleep.. That happened to me the last time we went on vacay and i told my husband never again.. Hence for our trip next summer back to SE Asia, its two biz for my girls and two firsts for hubby and me… Its a little tricky figuring out the logistics but we got it and couldnt be more excited for nxt summer..!!!so lie flat seats for anything above 12 hrs travel for me..

  6. I totally respect your decision to buy a business class ticket, I am in the same camp, but I think you miss the mark when you say you “splurge a little” to get a lie flat. It seems a bit more than a splurge for most people.

    I know you say you’re not a powerful executive or a trust fund-er, but the cost difference between economy and biz is generally huge. Especially when you’re taking about traveling with an entire family.

    I travel to Europe and Asia in biz or first frequently, and the difference in price between economy and biz is typically in the thousands of dollars. Even for one person, that’s a significant amount of money.

    Not to say that if you can afford it you shouldn’t go for it, but it’s simply not reality for most families whose net worth isn’t in the seven figures to consider flying in biz a “splurge” or a treat.

    • Jim, the cost can be huge, but it isn’t always, especially if you have miles or upgrade certificates in the mix. I do totally agree that the gap becomes wider when you are booking for a whole family than it was just me getting myself home this week. It is possible though, even without out of pocket costs thanks to miles. As an example, I flew my crew back from Hawaii in first over spring break just using American miles and that is something that most in this hobby can pull off if they set it as their goal. If you are talking just about the cost difference between coach and business to Europe and Asia then yes the gap is often in the thousands, but that is a situation where I would turn to miles as the difference there is though more miles.

  7. Most parents would appreciate how to score those Upgrade certificates (or otherwise get upgrades comped due to having a blog). Everyone likes comfort, but not everybody can / would get free Certs / comped flights. One of my biggest pet peeves is bloggers almost NEver disclose who is paying for their trips, even if they do, dont disclose things like free upgrades etc.

    • I’ve never had an airline give me a free flight, so while I hear you, that isn’t the situation around here. Upgrade certs typically come from having elite status (or friends with elite status), though there are exceptions to that such as via the American Airlines Business Extra program. In this case, I booked the cheapest first class flight home which connected in LAX and then crossed my fingers that I could same day change to the lie-flat nonstop that otherwise would have been way out of my price range and thankfully this time it worked.

      • thanks for the reply, but the fact that you need 4 cavets to answer a very simple question, tells me that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes to score these trips, versus just applying for credit cards and using those miles… so, kudos to you, but please spare the regular mom stuff.

        • They aren’t caveats, they are different paths to the same goal. If you are implying that there is covert or sponsored sort of stuff going on to score the good seats, there is not here. I gave multiple snipets of paths to try to paint a picture that there is more than one way to do it and it isn’t always just spend a bunch more money to sit upfront. Yes, regular folks can do this and do do this, though of course not everyone does. Happy to try and help more if you are interested.

          • Hey, considering your profession/business and it’s not determined to be a “hobby”, you must have the opportunity to write-off flight and hotel costs off your income taxes as “business expenses”. Josh undoubtedly does that for his business.

  8. Park – Not sure why the hate. These are things that are attainable in the points and miles World. You do not have to be rich, far from it. I flew my family of four out to Asia and back in first class using miles. Summer is just explaining that a splurge in miles can be worth it so you are rested to make care of the kids.

  9. Seems to me you could make the same arguments and more for why parents should get a private LearJet and fly that way. Doing so is easy. Just buy a hundred million of dollars worth of art, charge it to your American Express black then use the points to pay for your NetJets membership. Anyone can do it. The Amex Black concierge will even book the flights for you.

    The push back is that nobody needs to be told why parents should fly business, first class or private 747 like the Sultan of Brunei over being packed like a sardine economy. Everyone knows it is better. Telling people why they SHOULD live a life of luxury is just rubbing their noses in it.

    Sort of if Richard Branson wrote a post about why everyone should have a private luxury island, exactly why it is so great, why it is so much better than your drab life and that everyone can do it, why don’t you? This post drips of 1% pretentiousness. I didn’t buy that $75 million private jet because it is not at all about enjoying the fancy stuff, it is just about finding a way to not waste a day or two being too tired to function. Too bad the rest of you trying to scrape up a few hundred thousand miles just so you can book your family those five economy red-eye, three connection flights for your one vacation a year aren’t as smart as me to not waste a day or two being tired.

    Stick to posts about how to enable people to improve, no need to brag.

    • It isn’t to brag, it is to tell my story and encourage others to make the leap. I write 20+ posts a week on how to earn and use points and have for about seven years. The entire site is focused on how to travel more for less and this is one of those posts encouraging parents who may feel selfish spending more of their points (or cash if the price is right) to sit up front if they are on the fence.

      • Showing people how to travel for less. Great! Even talking about the amenities of luxury goods, Super. Lots of people used to love watching the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I love reading about exotic five star $10,000 a night resorts that most likely I will never have the chance to go to.

        However explaining or justifying why you or anyone needs to live in the lap of comfort is simple elitism. Trying to explain why, unlike everyone else, you should not have to put up with being tired after flying is like having that rich frenemy who drops by to talk about why she just HAD to buy those $5,000 shoes when you are agonizing how to afford those $50 basketball shoes your kids wants for Christmas. You are happy they can afford the $5K shoes but you hate her for rubbing your nose in it and trying to act like $5K shoes are an everyday necessity that you cannot get due to being less.

        Like my hypothetical frenemy you don’t intend to sound condescending, she is genuinely trying to tell you why everyone needs to pay $5K for a pair of shoes and not feel guilty about it but all the listener hears is Nah nah, nah, nah, I got to fly business class because darn it, I am special rich and I deserve not to be tired and you suck because you can’t afford it.

        I think you already understand this deep down. If you feel guilty about a luxury then you are really feeling guilty that you have it so much better than everyone else. Trying to justify the luxury means you are trying to rationalize why you are better than everyone else and deserve the luxury. Billionaires love pretend they are “middle class” like everyone else because they feel guilty of their privilege.

        My point is stick to helping people get there, feel free to talk about the amenities but avoid at all costs justifying why you deserve the luxury at risk of sounding like a boorish elitist.

        • It’s the exact opposite. The traditional elite are not the only ones who deserve to land as rested as possible. Miles can make it attainable for a far greater reach, and I will stand by encouraging folks to expand their vision of what they think is possible whether it is a better seat, a further away destination, a longer trip, or whatever else miles, points and deals can make possible.

  10. It seems MP’s advocacy and justification for the sole choice of Business Class for Moms is ONLY to be selfless and for the good of the family as Summer points out above in her statement:

    ” Mamas, if you have the miles, money, or upgrade certs, get yourself up front so you can get rest, too. It doesn’t make you a spoiled monster or turn you into a Real Housewife of Wherever just by taking a spin or two in a lie-flat seat, it just makes you someone who knows how to be sure they get the rest they need in order to be there for others.”

    Maybe not bragging but possibly elitist?

  11. All of you hating on this post need to either grow up or take your nonsense elsewhere. I never sense elitism or bragging from Summer’s posts and tone. She is always trying to be helpful and informative. This was just a simple post reminding parents that they CAN put themselves first sometimes and not feel guilty about it, especially if you have points or miles to use. I am a father of two small kids and I understand where she is coming from.

  12. Thanks, Summer for the post and the reminders of the sweet spots, enabling us to fly business class for a lot fewer miles. We just need to be aware of those possibilities. I think most people don’t want to put the time, effort or research into finding out how to fly business class for fewer miles, rather than just looking at American or United sites. I appreciate these posts, so please ignore those who say you’re bragging or have an elitist attitude. I just see jealousy!

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