If you are travelling with your little one, you’re probably looking for the easiest option to “seat” your baby during air travel. A great option for parents travelling with an infant under 1 year old is an airplane bassinet! This is usually fixed to the airplane bulkhead wall or built into the seat compartment – which means your baby doesn’t have to rest in your lap for the entire flight!

An airplane travel bassinet is reserved in advance and different airlines have different policies on booking and using them. Most airplane bassinets are recommended for use by infants that are six months old or younger, as the weight limit is usually about 20lbs. This is a great option for a domestic flight or an international flight!

Whether you are scrambling to find information ASAP or want to learn about airplane bassinets for any future travel with small children, this guide will break it down for you! In this article, we present five things to know before booking and using an airplane bassinet, tips for flying with one, and answers to frequently asked questions about bassinets. Let’s fly right in!

Five Things to Know Before Booking & Using an Airplane Bassinet

There are Weight and Height Restrictions

Each airline and aircraft have their own restrictions based on an infant’s height and weight. Some airlines may place age restrictions too – since there are a limited number of bassinets on any given flight, some airlines tend to give it to the youngest child.

Be prepared to answer weight and height questions by the airline when confirming your airplane bassinet. Generally, these bassinets can comfortably fit an infant up to 12 months. Check the airline’s policies before you book with them, and double-check with the flight attendant before boarding the aircraft.

Baby Bassinets are Not About Safety

The safest method to fly an infant in a plane is to be seated in their car seat. Airplane bassinets aren’t used for safety reasons. You cannot place your baby in the bassinet during take-off, landing, or any turbulence. Think of it this way; airplane bassinets are simply a cot for your baby to sleep or rest in for the majority of the flight, in case you don’t want to keep them in your lap. This is not about any extra safety for your baby and should not be considered something to secure your child down while you get your much-needed sleep time. If you are travelling with a partner, make sure one person is always keeping an eye on your baby in the bassinet.

You Must Call the Airline to Confirm

Most parents assume when they reserve airplane bassinets, they will get a bulkhead seat. But this may not be the case. You must call the airline to make sure your seats will be in a proper location for a bassinet and confirm that you will be using one.

If you are booking online, you may not see an option to include an airplane bassinet. For this reason, you must have a phone call and answer their questions to secure yourself a bassinet for your travels. You should probably call a few weeks before your flight to check that nothing has changed and you’re good to go so that there are no surprises when you get to the airport.

There Are No Guarantees You’ll Get One

Airplane bassinets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Each airline has its own policies surrounding it, and each aircraft can only provide a certain amount. Even if you call early and reserve an airplane bassinet – things may change in the days leading up to your flight.

baby hand on airplane window

Some airline policies state that their airplane bassinets are dependent on age and weight, so they will be given a limited number of bassinets to the smallest and/or youngest of the infants – which means they may have to see the baby before making a decision. Try your best to check-in as early as possible to make sure you are one of the first in line for a bassinet.

But just know that there is no 100% guarantee when you book an airplane bassinet. So always make sure you’ve planned and packed a plan B (car seat) or be prepared to keep your baby in your lap for the whole trip.

Be Prepared to Pay Extra for Bulkhead Seats

Some airlines charge more money for bulkhead seats. So just because you’ve booked an infant ticket and asked for an airplane bassinet, you shouldn’t assume that the airline will automatically give you priority over bulkhead seats. Some airlines will be sneaky and give you a regular seat and offer the bassinet to be secured to the overhead compartment.

It’s very common for airlines to avoid this topic when you reserve an airplane bassinet so they can sell the bulkhead seats to other people for more money. So what you need to do when you call in to reserve a bassinet is to keep asking and pushing until you get the bulkhead seats. Keep in mind that the sales rep is probably just adhering to airline policy and not actively trying to keep you from getting what you want. So be polite and stand your ground to get that bulkhead seat for your baby’s airplane bassinet!

Tips for Using an Airplane Bassinet

Packing for your baby is probably your first priority. So keeping that and safety in mind, you should always carry around a pack of antibacterial wipes when traveling with your little one! Wipe down the bassinet before placing your baby in it. Airlines aren’t exactly known for cleaning thoroughly and efficiently so it’s better that you always be prepared to clean beforehand.

Being seated in a bulkhead seat area, you should expect heavy foot traffic. Whether it’s other passengers frequenting the washroom or flight attendants making their rounds, try to find a bassinet cover to keep your baby safe from the commotion and sleep soundly.

Airplane bassinets are typically only used for international or long-haul flights. If you are flying within a few hours domestically, those flights probably don’t offer the use of baby bassinets.

During the flight, if there is any turbulence, you must remove your baby from the bassinet and hold them in your lap with the infant seatbelt that was provided to you during take-off. Despite the zipper on the bassinet holding the baby more securely, most airlines enforce that during take-off, landing, and turbulence, the infant is in the parent’s lap.

Even if your baby is sleeping or just went to sleep, be prepared to take them out of their slumber spot to hold in your lap and secure them with a seatbelt at any sign of turbulence. They can go back in the carrier when the seatbelt sign is off.

There may be a chance that only one parent scores a bulkhead seat while the other may have to sit in a regular seat. It’s normal to feel irritated at this and panic. Just breathe and be grateful that you got at least one bulkhead seat which means your baby can sleep comfortably in the bassinet and you have legroom. If your flight is long and you need to get some rest, you and your partner can take turns sitting in the bulkhead seat to watch over your baby.

If your baby can crawl or is slowly able to stand, make sure they are not too active in the airplane bassinet. The bassinet itself is secure, but it is frowned upon to have a child jumping around or standing in the bassinet. That is why airplane bassinets are geared more towards young infants who mostly sleep and aren’t as active yet.

If you are just one parent flying with your baby alone, make sure to ask the cabin crew for help. They will be more than willing to hold your baby or watch over your baby as you go to the bathroom or need to stretch your legs.

If your baby is getting agitated in the airplane bassinet, you can take them for a walk up and down the aisle and rock them to keep them distracted and take in the change of scenery. Seeing something new or being entertained by someone new in your neighboring seat may be all the distractions your baby needs to stop crying!

FAQs About Airplane Bassinets

Q: Are airplane bassinets safe?

Airplane bassinets tend to be safe under regular flying conditions. It is typically set up on to the airplane bulkhead wall, which is secured or, depending on the airline, maybe distributed after take-off by the flight attendants. Your baby will have their very own seat to lay down and rest in, without you worrying about them being okay in your lap!

For safety reasons, the airplane bassinet cannot be used during certain times. So when the pilot announces to stow away any belongings and your tray table, you will probably have to take your baby from the bassinet and hold them in your lap, secured with the special infant seatbelt supplied by the airline.

Q: How do you book an airplane bassinet?

Whether you are booking your flight ticket online, on the phone, or through an agent, you must find the option of an airplane bassinet after booking your tickets. Since there are a limited number of bassinets on any given flight, they should be booked as early as possible to avoid any disappointment.

Before you go ahead and book a ticket, it’s recommended that you read over the policies of the airlines you will most likely fly on. If you are booking directly on the airline’s website, you should call them immediately after making your reservations to reserve and confirm the need for an airplane bassinet. They will ask you the age and weight of your infant. Ask how the bassinet will be secured and whether you will be getting the bulkhead seats.

If you book your tickets months in advance, you should follow up with your airline to ensure that your baby bassinet is good to go in the weeks leading up to your trip. They might put you on hold for a long time, but better to be safe than sorry!

Q: Do airplane bassinets cost extra?

It depends on the airline you choose to fly with. Try reading up on their policies on traveling with infants and the airplane bassinets they offer. Typically, baby bassinets are free, but you may need to pay extra to secure the bulkhead. The earlier you book your flight, the better chance of you getting an airplane bassinet and the options being cheaper (depending on airline policy).

Q: Can I bring a bassinet on a plane?

You can bring a bassinet on an airplane but be prepared to treat it like any other piece of luggage you bring with you. You must store it in the carry-on compartment or under the seat. Most airlines allow parents to bring a baby car seat or stroller as a complimentary offer – but be warned bassinets are not part of this offer and will be considered carry-on luggage.

The best way to make sure is to visit the airlines’ policies around infants and newborns. What you can bring, what you can’t bring, what is free, and what costs money are some of the questions you want to investigate before booking your flight ticket.

Q: Can a 1-year-old fit in an airplane bassinet?

Depending on the availability and size restrictions of the airline you book with, you may be able to book a bassinet for infants up to 18 months of age. But there is no guarantee you will get the bassinet upon boarding because, according to some airline policies, bassinets are given to the youngest and smallest child in priority. Your best bet is to book an infant ticket and bring a car seat since it is allowed as “checked-in baggage” for your infant. It also happens to be the safest way for them to travel on a plane.

Final Thoughts

Airplane bassinets are a cot for infants under 1-year-old to sleep and rest in. This comes in handy for parents who want to be able to move around freely without fearing that their baby may wake up from their sleep. A bassinet gives the baby a secure and comforting spot for most of the flight, but don’t mistake it for being the safest option.

The safest seat for a baby is a car seat placed beside the parents. Bassinets are merely an option offered to parents who don’t want to keep their child in their lap for the entire trip. Every airline has its own policy about traveling with infants and the usage of airplane bassinets. It’s best to look over the policies of the airlines you plan to fly with before booking your flight.

In this article, we discussed five things you should know before booking and using an airplane bassinet, tips for using an airplane bassinet, and answered some frequently asked questions about it. Hopefully, this guide has prepared you to book and use an airplane bassinet for your and your baby’s next trip! Stay safe, and enjoy your much-needed vacation time!

About the Author Hannah

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