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6 Steps to Help Book That Infant Bassinet

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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.

Once the fasten seatbelt sign goes off, the air steward will pull a table down from the wall and attach the bassinet for you.

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!

NB – Even if you don’t think your baby will sleep in a bassinet, it is also worth requesting for the extra storage space or somewhere for them to play.

Stash spot under the bassinet

STEP 1

Every airline offers a different kind of bassinet which can also vary by aircraft model.  Some offer both a moses basket and car seat style (for older babies).  Check the weight/height of your baby to see if they would be suitable for your chosen airline’s bassinet.  For example, I have deliberately picked to fly Virgin over Cathay in the past as my little one was too big for a regular bassinet and they provide car seat style.

There are a few airlines e.g. Air New Zealand that will allow you to pay extra money to guarantee the bassinet on your flight.  Well worth the extra money in my book.

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STEP 2

If you book flights using a travel agent (I do this in Hong Kong) then have your travel agent try to book the bulkhead bassinet seat for you.

If you are trying to book flights online, I would advise you to phone the airline instead.  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, know the weight/height of your baby as you might get asked this to see if they will fit.

STEP 3

Phone your airline a week in advance to check that you have your bassinet seats confirmed.  Also, please remember that even though you might have the bulkhead seat booked, the aircraft have limited bassinet/car seats available and they are often assigned on the flight with the youngest infants getting priority.

STEP 4

Leave yourself at least 2 hours to check-in at the airport.  At check-in, reconfirm your bassinet seat.  This still doesn’t mean the uphill battle is over, I have had a check in assistant reassure me that we have 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 will be available.

STEP 5

It doesn’t hurt to keep asking!  When you get to the Gate, reconfirm whether there will be a bassinet available.

STEP 6

When you are sitting down, tell a passing air steward that you would like the bassinet as soon as you are up in the air.  After the fasten seatbelt sign goes off, they will fix it for you.  Bassinet quality depends on airline.  They also vary on the rules as to whether you need to remove your baby when the captain turns the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign on.  This 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.  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

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14 comments

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  1. andrea

    While we loved using the bassinet on our last flight with it we were on an older plane with only the main screens for entertainment and the bassinet was right below it and the light from the screen was on her face the entire time, it was not good!

    1. Nicola

      Great point, I haven’t encountered that yet – sounds very annoying!

  2. Jo addison

    Great article – a bassinet makes the long flight so much easier.

  3. bavariansojourn

    Some great tips there! It really does make all the difference getting a bassinet doesn’t it?

  4. Siuling

    Just wanted to add that the bassinet size seems to differ on different airlines- I found that it was significantly smaller on China Airlines than on Qantas. Perhaps Asian babies are generally smaller in size than Western babies?

    1. Nicola

      That’s a very good point. It can also vary on the same airline depending on the aircraft model!

  5. ellekhayess

    Hi Nicola, very helpful article thanks! My baby will be about 10 months old when we fly from HK to London – do you think the Cathay bassinetts will be much too small by then?

    1. Nicola

      I squashed my 1 year old in there so you should be ok.. have a search through the Cathay flight reviews and you should see a pic of her in the bassinet. I think she weighed about 10.5kg at the time. Happy flying!

  6. Michele Charles

    Nic, very useful! One question – Why the bulkhead seat/ bassinet in particular?

    1. Nicola

      Hey Mich, it depends on the age of your baby. If you’re flying with an airline that offers a bassinet or car seat style bassinet then those are located in the bulkhead. Not all airlines offer them but certainly BA, Virgin, Cathay, Qantas etc do. It just gives you that extra place to put the baby so they’re not on you the entire flight and also extra storage. Unfortunately only a few airlines offer the ‘car seat’ style e.g. BA & Virgin and they are more suited to older babies and very useful for those that don’t fit in the traditional box style. If you can try to get the bulkhead bassinet seat then you know you’re at least in with a chance of getting a bassinet as they can’t put it up anywhere else. However, it is on a limited basis with younger babies getting priority. I still like the legroom of the bulkhead too – gives babies a good place to crawl around, even if they do tell you off!

  7. jpy

    who did you fly with that picture? thats a huge bassinet!! most are ~70cm long

    1. Nicola

      That’s a good old British Airways one!

  8. Ullas

    Good Article , but a quick question. Will the travel agents be able to book the bassinet seat in advance? I contacted one travel agency and they told that all the bassinets are already booked for that date. But when I contacted airlines , they told the book the flight and then make a request to bassinet seat and they will confirm that before 24 hrs of the flight

    1. Nicola

      You should be able to book the actual bulkhead seat with the bassinet allocation in front of you. However, the bassinet itself is not allocated until you are onboard (although you should be able to secure it at check in)

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