There’s no way around it: Unless you’ve got the world’s best-behaved child, flying with a baby can be difficult.
There are the obvious challenges — crying, screaming, blow-outs, mid-air diaper changes. But there’s also the fact that you have to spend the entire flight holding your baby on your lap, which can be exhausting.
As it turns out, airlines have a free tool to make your life slightly easier when you’re traveling with baby: a bassinet. Many airlines offer this perk for certain types of aircraft, including American Airlines, United Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Asiana Airlines and other international carriers.
How To Request A Bassinet
“(A bassinet) allows both you and baby to get better sleep on a long flight and of course frees up your hands — a commodity you don’t realize the value of until you’re trapped at 32,000 feet,” says Keri Hedrick, who blogs at Baby Globetrotters.
This baby bassinet usually attaches to the wall in front of bulkhead seats, according to travel writer and mom Katie Dillon.
“The flight attendant assembles it to ensure that it’s done properly, usually after the plane is in the air, and will remove it prior to landing,” Dillon writes on her blog La Jolla Mom.
Many of these airlines offer a limited number of baby bassinets, so it’s important to book your flight as early as possible.
You may have an easier time booking a bassinet if you call to book your tickets, rather than purchasing them online. You may also need to request a seat specifically in rows that face bulkhead walls.
She recommends checking with the airline prior to your flight for the dimensions of the bassinet — you want to make sure your baby will fit in it lengthwise.
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Once you’re booked, it doesn’t hurt to call the airline a few times before your trip to double-check that your bassinet reservation was recorded.
A Few Other Steps To Consider
Because you’re likely going to be sitting in a high-traffic area (read: near the bathrooms or a flight attendant station), you may want to consider getting a bassinet cover to help your baby sleep.
If you’ve got older kids, there’s another genius tool you should know about: the JetKids BedBox.
The BedBox is a suitcase that turns into a bed or, at the very least, a way for your kids to prop up their legs in flight.
The boxes are about $200 but can double as entertainment or a chair as your child rides on them through the airport!
Your Pre-Flight Checklist For Kids
Wondering how else to make flying with children a breeze? Mom Lindsey Roberts recommends you start the process way before you even arrive at the airport during the flight booking process. Her advice? Book a daytime flight, not an early morning or late-night flight.
“You might think that a red-eye is a good idea because your children will sleep. The truth is that it’s much more likely they’ll stay awake, disturb the sleeping passengers and then be wired the next day,” she writes in The Washington Post.
She also recommends packing snacks upon snacks upon snacks — you can never have too many, she writes. (This sounds like a good general rule for adults too, don’t you think?)
“Pacify with individually wrapped snacks, doled out judiciously on the hour,” she suggests.
What’s your best survival strategy for traveling with young children?