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What Are The Best Seats On A Plane For Kids? + Info On Baby Bassinets

If you are reading this, you are like me. I’ve spent ages deciding the answer (mostly before long haul flights) with various different airlines.

The answer does change depending on the age of your child and the aircraft type.

I’ve covered the best airplane seats when you are flying with children – whether babies, toddlers or older and if one or more.

I’ve sat in the best options for my kids and had some bad seats too ( the very last row by either noisy galley or toilets and helped many families on a plane as a flight attendant, so I’ve seen which are the best seat options.

Our thought process may help you find the best seating arrangements for your family too, plus we have a few tricks and tips on how to increase the chance of more space and being comfortable.

best airplane seats, baby bassinet, airline, family travel, best airplane seats information and tips

SECTION ONE – Best Seats for Flying with a Baby or Toddler under two

This section first covers if you are flying with a lap baby and thinking of a bassinet and then covers if you are flying with a baby and plan on using a car seat.

The Best Airplane Seat when Flying With an Infant Using an Airline Bassinet

  • Request a bassinet/skycot seat
british Airways bassinet for young babies
British Airways cot style bassinet.

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.

We have used them on several different airlines and seen the different types available, so just because one wasn’t suitable for you on one flight, doesn’t mean all will be the same.

Our favourite airlines for bassinets are:

  • British Airways – they have two styles, lie flat and a reclining chair type suitable for older babies
  • Singapore Airlines – one of the largest bassinets around
  • Virgin Atlantic – they allow you to keep baby strapped in the bassinet when turbulent
  • Qantas – they also allow you to keep baby strapped in the bassinet when turbulent

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 (e.g 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 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 and have extra legroom, meaning there is no seat in front of them which will recline and further restrict your space.

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.

VERY USEFUL TIP: For full details on airline bassinets sizes and specifications, plus insider tips, see my airplane bassinet guide to over 60 airlines!

These are the bulkhead seats in the middle section, typically seats DEFG where there is usually space for two airplane bassinets.
These are the bulkhead seats in the middle section, typically seats DEFG where there is usually space for two airplane bassinets.

Window or Middle section?

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 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 for storage 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…

best airplane seats
Emirates A380 seats DEF Seat E/F armrest moves up at the bulkhead bassinet seats.
Best airline seats, best airplane seats for kids
Emirates A380 ABC bassinet seats (Arm rests do not move)

Pros of bassinet

  • Baby has somewhere to lie flat
  • Baby sleeps and you can get some rest
  • Extra legroom & storage

Cons of bassinet

  • Armrest does not lift up
  • Size and rules vary on airlines
  • Most airlines need to remove baby when seatbelt sign comes on

The Best Airplane Seat when Flying With an Infant Using a Car Seat

If you are flying with baby and planning on using a car seat, then there are some restrictions. We saw a solo mum being offloaded sadly because of one of these reasons.

  • Your car seat must meet the airline rules. USA airlines follow the FAA and are much more used to seeing a car seat being used on a flight and have more accommodating rules. eg if the car seat is approved for use, that it can be used on board a US airline in an appropriate seat. regardless of age of child or if forward or rear facing.
  • On other countries airlines, they may restrict you to using a forward facing car seat only that does not restrict the armrest coming down and limit the age of the child that can use it – e.u up to two years only.
  • All car seats MUST be used in window seats -so not to restrict other passengers.
  • Car seats can not be used on emergency exit rows and not in places where bassinets can be used.
  • The best seats for using a car seat are therefore limited. We think the best are not too far from the airplane lavatories.

Pros of Car Seat

  • Safe and recommended by FAA
  • Familiar to child
  • Can keep child contained

Cons of Car Seat

  • Restricted to 2 hours use if a baby is using
  • Uncomfortable if long haul flight
  • If flying to another country, might not be legal to use in cars
  • Bulky to carry around

Emirates seat map A380 2 class
Emirates seat map A380 2 class

SECTION TWO – Best Seats with a Toddler or Kids OVER two

This section covers ways to increase your space on the plane, airlines that offer extra seats at a charge and ways to try and get them for free.

Whether you have one or two small kids, deciding where to sit can be tricky decision. Emergency exits are always a no go and generally opting for seats towards the front of the aircraft can be beneficial as it allows for quicker access to the lavatories and reduces the amount of time spent walking through the cabin.

Which are the best seats on a plane for families with kids?

For a toddler and older kids, the best seats depend a little on the aircraft configuration.

Window or Aisle or Middle Section?

e.g. if the plane is smaller and has 2 seats by the window and then 4 in the middle, then a family of 4 may prefer two rows of two seats. This solves the argument kids have over who has the window seat! and allows them to lean against it to rest without getting bumped by a cart.

Emirates offer this option in the Upper Deck economy section on the A380 2 class.

Alternatively, seats away from the noisy galley but fairly near the front are good for disembarking fairly quickly and reducing queue time at immigration.

Window seats are generally easier to contain younger children, so a family of four may prefer a row of 3 by window with a parent on each aisle.

Extra seats on a plane

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 your child 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 flying in low season, is requesting the aisle and window seat as the middle seats are the last to go. You could end up with the whole row!

Virgin flight_rows_to_ourselves
Virgin flight with rows to ourselves and the spare seat trick

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.
  • Aer Lingus you can pay for an additional seat for comfort
  • 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.

  •  Eurowings also have this feature from $10
  • Philippine Airlines has Seat Select Neighbor-Free which is available on certain Philippine Airlines flights for less than $30.
  • Qantas offer neighbour free options. If eligible, you’ll be sent an email invitation to reserve a Neighbour Free seat from 48 hours before your scheduled flight departure.
  • JetBlue provides details  on how to book an empty seat on its website
  • Vueling. You can purchase one extra seat per passenger in the front or back rows of the plane only.

Don’t forget:

  • 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.
Want to know which are the best seats for kids on a plane? Read on and I'll tell you! #familytravel #flyingwithkids

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Dhru mehta

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 ?

Carrie Bradley

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

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.

Genevieve Knevitt

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

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