Unless you are in business or first class where the seats are considerably larger and more comfortable, you’ll be down the back in economy. Here’s how to make the most of where you sit and discover the best airplane seats when you are flying with children. (If you are flying with an older baby, skip to the next section.
What Are The Best Airplane Seats For Kids? Plus Information On Baby Bassinets
Flying With an Infant Using an Airline Bassinet
Request a bassinet/skycot seat
What Is An Airplane Bassinet?
An airplane bassinet seat, is a small bed for babies which is usually fixed to the airplane bulkhead wall (the wall behind the galley, or toilets or another cabin). In some premium cabins, they can be built into the seat compartment.
Bassinets are sometimes referred to as skycots, baskets and cots. There are a limited number of these onboard which makes them very popular for families flying with infants.
How Do I Book My Bassinet Seat?
- These can booked by either calling your travel agent or airline and sometimes online. If you book directly with the airline, you often have better access to any online booking options versus booking with a travel agent or third party. This can sometimes be done online, but often you will need to call.
- A ‘bassinet seat’ is a normal passenger seat, which can either have the bassinet fixed to the wall in front of them, or has a special compartment built which houses the bassinet. Some airlines are charging extra for these seats, including Turkish Airlines, as there are at the bulkhead position – a desired place for extra legroom. I have detailed which ones in the comparison chart mentioned.
- Remember, it is only a request, and airline staff will do their best to accommodate you, but there is a limited availability of these seats.
- If you are travelling with a baby on a US or Canadian airline, you are only given the option of a bassinet at the gate. It is very much on a first come, first served basis, so it imperative you check in early and get to the gate as soon as possible to secure one.
- Some airlines give preference to the youngest babies ( eg Qantas) so you will not have your bassinet confirmed until all infants have been checked in for the flight.
- I always double check and call the airline to check my request has been noted. I also use the airline seat map to check it is correct by using www.seatguru.com and the airline website.
- At check in or bag drop, I always again check the status of the bassinet and ask if there is any potential for a spare empty seat.
- After take-off, a crew member should immediately get the bassinet and install it for you once the seat belt sign has been switched off. If they forget, do ask!
- Most airlines require you to remove your baby from the bassinet if it is bumpy. A bassinet cannot be used for taxi, take-off or landing.
Seats where bassinets can be fitted are often highly sort after by other passengers because they are on the bulk head, meaning there is no seat in front of them which will recline and further restrict your space. However, some airlines will block these out (or show them as grey) for passengers without infants and only offer them to other passengers when it doesn’t look like another family with an infant or a wheelchair passenger needs them.
Some airlines, including British Airways will let all members in the same booking, choose your seats online in advance if you are booking travel with an infant. Whereas with Qantas you do need to phone ahead.
Be aware that if there are several people flying in your party, you will likely NOT all be allocated seats in the bassinet row. This is because airlines like to keep the other bassinets available for other infants or passengers with additional needs. So be prepared for members of your family to be seated in rows behind.
Remember, if it is a codeshare flight, you need to request any seats or dietary requirements with the airline operating the flight. (Although it doesn’t harm to mention it to the airline you book with.)
Bassinet sizes and regulations vary greatly from airline to airline; from age limit restrictions between 6 months – 2 years, requirements to remove or allow a baby to remain in them during turbulence, to weight and length of your baby.
For full details on airline bassinets sizes and specifications, plus insider tips, see my airplane bassinet guide to over 60 airlines!
The best bassinet seats are …
The middle seats. If it is just the two of you plus baby are flying. Usually, these are the DEFG middle section seats. The reason being that D and G seats on a 4 across seat plan are aisle seats. Therefore, you and your partner only have to jump across each other if you want to stretch your legs, pace the aisle with a toddler etc.
The ABC/ HJK means that either you will have to climb over someone or they will have to climb over you. Either way a bit of a nuisance. This applies to large aircraft like the Boeing 777, Airbus A380, A340, A330, Boeing 747 etc. But varies with each airline and their configuration.
I highly recommend looking at www.seatguru.com when booking your flight, as you can review each seat. The benefits or negatives of each seat on your particular aircraft are easy to see – just by putting in the route or flight number into the search function.
Just a point to note, as bassinet seats are on bulkheads, the armrests generally do not lift up and you must keep the area on the ground completely clear during taxi, take-off and landing.
However, some arm-rests DO lift up on the E/F bulkhead seats on A380 and newer B777. However, this is rarely useful as it would likely be another family with an infant sitting next to you to use the other bassinet available.
The magazine racks are not as generous as the ones behind the regular seats – but to have your arms free when baby is sleeping is a bonus. Various airlines have different restrictions on the weight/age of a baby that can use the bassinet. I have a separate bassinet post detailing all this information.
Also remember to lift your TV out of the stowage under your seat before you or the crew put the bassinet up and baby in to sleep, otherwise you will not be able to unlatch it properly and will be left with no in-flight movie to watch…
Flying with a slightly older baby, toddler or child?
Always ask the ground staff/crew when checking in/boarding, if the flight is completely full. A half empty flight is a huge bonus as then you can ask the crew if you could have a row of seats and spread out.
Then you can make a bed for baby on the seats and take turns over watching them, whilst you or your partner has a sleep. If the flight is empty and you haven’t booked a seat for your baby and you have an airline approved car seat, then you always use that.
If a bassinet seat is available and your child doesn’t meet the requirements for weight/age, it is still worth considering asking for it. It is still a useful place to store items you need for the flight. However, the fixed armrest could be cumbersome if you have a long baby.
British Airways have bassinets available on international flights for up to 2 years old, (subject to weight conditions) and Qatar and Singapore have the longest bassinets, but many airlines have restrictions anywhere from 6 months to a year.
Check my bassinet post detailing all the bassinet dimensions and regulations in a quick easy to read format.
The Spare Seat Trick
If you flying with an airline that doesn’t provide bassinets (or you are flying with children in their own seat) and you can’t secure a bulkhead seat or prefer not to – try for a window seat section… usually three seats abreast. This is especially good if it’s just the two of you travelling with your baby or child.
A top trick used by those in the know is requesting the aisle and window seat as the middle seats are the last to go. You could end up with the whole row! If it doesn’t work out, whoever has been allocated the middle seat will always want to swap with one of you – so either way you’ll all end up seated together. This, of course, works for the middle DEFG section seats too. You may end up with a spare seat for free.
Several airlines provide a bit more space
Air New Zealand have the option of a sky couch on some of their aircraft – essentially 3 seats with extra width, great for toddlers or if you can’t get a bassinet.
Etihad have a bid for a free neighbour seat system. With Economy Neighbour-Free, you can bid for one, two or three neighbouring seats to stay passenger-free for the duration of your journey. The higher your offer, the better your chances are of an upgrade.
There is no guarantee that you will get the extra seat and if you have a booking of 4 people, you cannot bid for any additional seats, as the maximum seats in one row is four. Emirates have Skybid, a similar concept coming soon.
- Have you remembered any items you need to help your baby or toddler sleep on the plane?
- Would you like a free printable packing checklist? If so see here.
- Find out which airlines/airports provide courtesy airport strollers here.
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Monday 18th of November 2019
Hi great website ! I am flying with my 15 month old from London to Barbados with BA. We have requested one bassinet seat and two family remembers sitting behind me . I’m wanted to move to rows A-C so I can sit with my family however is it a silly move and should I keep my front seat esp if they can provide me with a toddler seat ?
Monday 18th of November 2019
Thanks Dhru! They only usually allow 1 person to sit at the bassinet seat with the infant and then the rest of the family normally behind or very close - like you currently have. I would be reluctant to give up the bassinet seat for a row ABC if your little one can fit into the toddler seat. Have you checked my bassinet weight chart to see if your little one will meet the weight requirements for the bigger bassinet? Here is the link https://www.flyingwithababy.com/essential-airline-bassinet-information-chart/
You may like the extra space too. What you could do is have your other family members request the A and C seats . If there flight is not completely full, the B middle seat will be the last to go, so you may get the option of a bonus spare seat.
Tuesday 12th of February 2019
Hi Genevieve- Glad it helps! On night flights the loos are definitely quieter but can be bothersome. I think row 54 or 82 near the galleys may be a better option.
Monday 11th of February 2019
Hi Carrie, amazing site, thank you! We are flying Emirates a380 from Sydney to Dubai end of march and was wondering which bassinet seats are best - ones near the galley or ones near the loo. Both seem bothersome.
Monday 22nd of October 2018
I have three kids, 1, 3 & 5 at present and travel once a year to japan. My experience is bassinet travel is best if they fit. in the UK Baby milk can usually be preordered online with boots airside avoiding the whole security tasting thing. For older children, go armed with preloaded iPad and phones etc and ween them off once you get home. Let them play with toys they have for as long as possible, colouring and basic craft, then slowly introduce newly brought toys - not to small to get lost and slowly give them out wrapped up, also magazines with toys which they are interested in are good as you can read to them as well. Volume protected headphones are good at home but with airplane noise sometimes too quiet. Earlier this year I got from amazon a small travel pack of magnetic flat building blocks which are great and compact. Oh, do make sure you have a small changing bag with carrabina or hook to hang in toilets and check them out as soon as you can, disabled toilets are bigger and I invested in a BabyZen YoYo compact urban buggy narrow enough for aisles and will fit in the overhead locker but comfortable enough for a toddler, i've had it for three years and still find it the best buggy out of the 6 I've had it's so light. If your budget won't stretch to this a gb Qbit Stroller is another option but found it less sturdy. In my view avoid business class if you are lucky enough to afford it or wanting to use air miles - just to stressful with the added pressure of other passengers expectancies, although amazingly with my eldest who is quite difficult have't had a direct complaint. If the kids a a bit elder and ultra well behaved - lucky you, grrrr. Don't think they will sleep just because you have a flat bed - although it can avoid the kids lying over you getting cramp because you dare not move! Good luck, if they are kept occupied and fed it's not too bad - home prepared food is good and on demand but not to many sweet treats apart for taking off/landing you don't want them to arrive ill.
Beatrice Serrao McCaul
Friday 17th of August 2018
Hi there! I'm about to travel Wellington-Rome by myself and my three children aged 7, 5 and 15 months old. We are flying with Etihad. I requested a bassinet but it's only for baby up to 10months/10kg so my baby is too big already.
What seats would you recommend me to get for all four of us? I don't know if baby has her own seat but I doubt it as I only paid $200 for her return tickets. I need all of us to get some sleep at least on the second flight Sydney-Abu (night flight). How can I make her comfy enough to sleep for a long stretch?
Many thanks Bea