Kids under 2 years of age can usually fly for free if seated on your lap. This is no fun longhaul, so where else can we seat them? Well some lovely airlines will provide a bassinet for you and once the fasten seatbelt sign is switched off, the cabin crew will pull a table down from the wall and attach the bassinet for you.
Even if you don’t think your baby will sleep in a bassinet, it is still worth requesting for the extra storage space or somewhere for them to play!
Through travelling with young kids over the years, I have found there is no consistency in ensuring you get that bassinet seat. Flying longhaul with young kids can be troublesome enough without this extra worry to your journey. Here is my step-by-step guide on how to book it!
Every airline offers a different kind of bassinet, which can vary by aircraft model. Some offer both a Moses basket, with a car seat style for older babies. Check the weight and height of your baby to see if they would be suitable for your chosen airline’s bassinet. For example, I have deliberately chosen to fly Virgin over Cathay in the past as my little one was too big for a regular bassinet and they provide the car seat style.
If you book flights using a travel agent (as I do in Hong Kong) then have your travel agent try to book the bulkhead bassinet seat for you. If booking independently, I would advise you to phone the airline instead of booking online as sometimes it’s easier to talk to a real person who is looking at the aircraft seating map and can advise you what is available. Again, ensure you know the weight and height of your baby as you might get asked this to see if they will fit.
Phone your airline a week in advance to check that you have your bassinet seats confirmed. Also, please remember that even though you may have the bulkhead seat booked, the aircraft carry limited bassinet and car seats onboard and they are often assigned on the flight with the youngest infants getting priority.
Leave yourself at least 2 hours to check-in at the airport and reconfirm your bassinet seat at the desk. This still doesn’t mean the uphill battle is over! I have had a check-in assistant reassure me that we had the bulkhead bassinet seat, only to find onboard that we didn’t! Ask how many babies will be on the plane and how many bassinets are available.
It doesn’t hurt to keep asking! When you get to the gate, reconfirm whether there will be a bassinet available.
Once you are sitting down, ask a passing member of cabin crew to bring the bassinet as soon as you are up in the air. After the fasten seatbelt sign is switched off, they will fix it for you.
Note that bassinet quality depends on the airline. They also vary on the rules as to whether you need to remove your baby if the captain turns the fasten seatbelt sign on during the flight… which brings back memories of finally getting my baby to sleep in the bassinet only to have to remove her again!
Tips for getting baby to sleep in a bassinet:
- Get a Travel Grobag. It is like a standard Grobag, except it has an opening in the back for a 5-point harness; very useful for easily transitioning a sleeping baby into – and out of – a car seat-style bassinet.
- Pack a black pashmina in your hand luggage. I’ve found that on overnight flights from Hong Kong to the UK that depart at midnight, they often don’t dim the lights for the first few hours. I create a drape over the bassinet to darken it to get my baby to sleep.
For more information on airline bassinet policies, check out the fantastic kids travel blog Traveling With Kids