How to Get an Airplane Baby Bassinet

Our little girl is just under a year old and already she’s been on ten separate flights in five countries. It’s safe to say that she’s flown more in her first year of life than most adults do in any given year. This was very intentional on our part as we wanted to make sure she was accustomed to air travel as early as possible. In fact, she was only a few weeks old when we first applied for her passport. Although I had never traveled with a baby before, I had been on enough flights with kids nearby to know some of the tricks. The most important of them all is the airplane baby bassinet. If you can secure the baby bassinet, you’re home free. It’s the holy grail of traveling with a baby. “How do I get this?” you ask? Don’t worry, I will teach you.

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What Baby Bassinet?

The baby bassinet (also called a cot, baby basket, carrycot, or cradle) is a tiny bed that connects to the wall of the aircraft that’s designed just for babies. Kids under two get to travel on planes for free without a seat of their own. For most parents, this means holding the kid the entire time and letting them sleep on their chests. This isn’t the most comfortable way to travel if you’re an adult. Especially if you’re on a 12 hour flight. The baby bassinet allows you to safely place your baby in their own bed so that you can sleep as well and not worry about their safety. This is a huge score if you’re the adult. And also a pretty sweet gig for the baby. Usually the bassinets can accommodate babies up to about 20 pounds. Unfortunately, this means our little girl is about to outgrow them!

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Book Early

There may only be a single baby bassinet on an entire aircraft so it’s important to book early. The earlier the better. Make your booking on the phone so that you can get your baby’s ticket right on the spot. Usually you can’t do this online and, depending on where you’re going, you may need to pay a tax for your baby’s “free” ticket. When booking, don’t waste any time. Put in your seat request for a bassinet right away. The bassinet should always be free. Most parents show up at the airport thinking the airline will accommodate them. They end up with a baby sleeping on their chest the whole flight. Don’t be that guy. Make a plan.

Airplane cups make a great toy too!

Airplane cups make great impromptu toys!

Know the Layout

Knowing the layout of the aircraft is just as important as booking early. Chances are the person you’re making your booking with will have no idea what they are doing. You need to make it easy for them. Use SeatGuru to know the exact layout of the aircraft you’re booking on. In order to use the bassinet, you need a seat with a special mounting bracket in front of it. Some of the schematics will actually show where a bassinet can be placed while others won’t. Generally you can figure it out based on where bulkhead walls are. These are the walls that separate sections of the aircraft. You want to be sitting behind them.

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Call the Airline an Obnoxious Number of Times

Okay. So you’ve made your booking early, studied the layout of the plane and the airline assures you you have the bassinet reserved. Time to sit back and relax, right? Definitely not. Airlines are terrible! You need to call an obnoxious number of times to make sure that thing is yours. No matter how many times someone assures you it won’t be a problem, call and check again. Remember: just because the airline may have more than one sets of seats that can accommodate a bassinet, it doesn’t mean that they will have more than one bassinet on board. You have to make sure it’s yours. Those other babies on board are going to be out of luck.

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Enjoy!

Once you’re on board and in your bulkhead seat you should be all good. The crew won’t setup the bassinet until you are airborne and the seat-belt sign has been shut off, but after that you’re home free. Tuck that little bundle of joy in for the long haul and fasten the safety cover so that they can’t fall out. If you hit some minor turbulence and the seatbelt light comes on, the crew may come around and say you need to remove your baby from the bassinet. We’ve found that this really isn’t enforced. Politely resist and explain that your baby just fell asleep and removing them would cause screaming. They will most likely back down. Now you can get some sleep for yourself! (Of course, if turbulence is bad, safety first and take that baby out!)

Dave & Samara Business Class

Besides securing a bassinet, we’ve found lots of great gear to use while traveling with our baby. Do you have a trip coming up with your baby? Tell us about it in the comments and maybe we can help with more tips. And hey, if you aren’t able to secure a bassinet, there’s always the train!

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2 Responses to “How to Get an Airplane Baby Bassinet”

  1. Raju
    March 7, 2014 at 1:31 am #

    Hi Dave.. Thanks for this wonderful information. I am flying with my baby (18 months) two weeks from now. The itinerary says, bassinet is confirmed for my infant. But there is no number for it. Also my spouse and my ticket number is 29D, 29E in AI-191 which seems to be third rows from the nearest bulkhead seat (checked in SeatGuru.com). Does this mean, my baby would need to be 3 rows away from us if we are to make her sleep in the bassinet.. Please advice.

    Regards,
    Raju

    • David DiGregorio
      March 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      The airline shouldn’t confirm a bassinet for you without you being in a bassinet capable seat. What did they say when you called? I know some airlines also have bassinets that sit on the floor so it’s possible they are giving you that. See if you can clarify with them if it’s a bulkhead mounted one or not. What airline are you flying and what route? Obviously you won’t have her sleeping anywhere but beside you so hopefully you can work out these details.

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