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Helping children to sleep in airplanes; Is sleeping equipment allowed by airlines? Family Travel

Sleeping equipment compared to the aircraft

Do sleeping devices and children's leg cushions really make long-distance flights easier on the plane?

First, what on earth is an aircraft sleeping device? In my time, they never had such a thing …

I am sure that every parent who has flown on a long distance with a small child knows it. Comfort in the air is not only of paramount importance for a safe arrival with intact health, but also for a good start to what awaits you during a stopover, how the jet lag continues to affect and how quickly life can recover after a long time. " can be normal "flight.

What price do you set for comfortable flying? The whole family is flying Business Classor even Premium Economy – is probably out of reach for most. And even with a full-service airline, it will not be a comfortable or enjoyable experience for anyone, no matter how much your seat is different from good entertainment. Is there a compromise to survive long-distance flying with children?

In this article we deal with:

  • Various seating options, so your children feel comfortable on a long flight
  • Explain how an aircraft dorm actually works
  • Which airlines actually allow the use of a sleeping device or a sofa bed?
  • Various brands of sleep equipment / airplane leg cushions
  • More tips for toddlers and toddlers when sleeping in airplanes

This post is part of our Flying with Kids series – covering everything from airline reviews to travel toys and top tips to keep your health healthy.

This post was first published in October 2018 and updated in October 2019 with the latest products and airline information.


How do you make children sleep comfortably on a long flight?

When it comes to children, these are children who have grown out of the baby cradle on the plane – depending on the size of your child for more than 10 to 12 months.

(Are you not sure if you still fit with a bassinet? Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Baby Bassinets – It contains a guide to the guidelines for the size of bassinet by airline.

What is the easiest way to organize your kids on the plane to make them fall asleep, from babies with larger rounds to 2 years old and beyond?

car seats

Now I say in advance: I am not an advocate of car seats on long distances. There are two different camps, but as frequent flyers for long haul flights – the car seat method is NOT our preferred choice.

For one, a child just should not be left in this position for so long from time. For me, it's a matter of hands. When traveling with 3 small children, it is simply not practical to fly through the airport to fly with them.

However, if you know that your child sleeps well in his car seat, you can try this method. For children under 2, you must book a children's ticket if you want to bring a car seat on board.

Always check the airline's car seat regulations and make sure that the brand you use complies with the airline's regulations (FAA guidelines are worldwide standard – but they are NOT the authority on any airline in the world!)

Join our Globetrotters online community to get our 21 best tips for long-haul flights with kids

Hope for a free place

For many years this was the best solution we could hope for – a space left between your group so that the legs can spread laterally.

We have been Gold Guest members on Etihad for a number of years and are fortunate enough to automatically assign us a seat, if one is available. With every other airline, it's free for everyone!

My best advice – just ask! Before the flight, check with the airline's service center how full the plane is before you reserve seats (if this is possible with your ticket – you may not have a choice at the lowest rates). Otherwise, you should join your flight as early as possible on the day of the flight to inquire with the check-in staff.

The further back you are from the plane, the bigger your chances are usually. nobody wants a middle place in row 73! If you are three, book the middle row of 4 and leave room E or F. In a 3-page series try to leave room B empty. The combinations get harder the bigger your family is but you get the difference !!

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In the worst case, if the free seat is occupied, they will certainly seek a change with the flight crew, if that is possible at all. If you still are not lucky, one of your groups will change with you – nothing lost.

Note that if you also have a child and have booked one bassinet series, The armrests DO NOT move in this row. If you have older children, there's no hope they'll spread out here, so maybe you'd like to try to separate your group – one adult with the baby in the bassinet row and the other back with older kids trying to to play the replacement seat trick!

The only airline where we know where you can actually buy the replacement seat and make a bed in a threes row is Air New Zealand – Read more about her revolutionary Skycouch here.

Extend the child seat with a sleeping device to get a toddler bed for an airplane

Here is the new innovation! After years of makeshift aircraft cubes, leg hammocks, and the use of our own bags-no doubt completely against the airline's rules-there are now sleeping aid products that allow you to extend the length of your economy-class seat so you can stretch your little legs and smaller children even lying flat!

They come in several variants. There are now several inflatable cushion brands, which we will describe in more detail below (which are inflated by the mouth or the foot pump), as well as the bed box, which is a heavy case that can be used to extend the length of the airplane seat. and an inflatable bed – Flyaway Crib.

But are they really allowed?

Jet Kids Bed Box tested by the frequent flyer family The Globetrotters
The bed box is folded out of a trolley to receive a child-friendly bed with mattress

Safety rules: put on belt!

Note that you use both the reserve seat strategy and a sleeping device Wearing a seat belt is still required, You can loosen it a little to make yourself comfortable, but it should always be strapped around the child's waist when it is seated and visible to the flight crew.

Do not let children sleep on the floor of the plane

Even if you've gotten away in the past or friends have recommended it, please keep in mind that toddlers or children sleeping on the floor of the plane are a big no-no – also refer to wearing a seatbelt have to. Even hiding under your legs, sorry people, rules are rules.

Read the manufacturer's instructions

If installed correctly, these devices must not create obstacles in the cab. But we know from experience that this is not always easy. Even if you use these devices at home, when you are in the air and the pressure is on, the seats are incredibly tight. It can be difficult to install the products exactly as they are needed for a perfect fit.

Note that you should only use equipment during the flight, not during takeoff and landing.


Are you looking for neck pillows instead? We have this detailed overview of the best travel cushions for children and teenagers


Why the controversy about children's aircraft sleep equipment?

While it may sound somewhat revolutionary to the novice to actually be able to build an economy-class miniboard, others immediately believe that this is a safety issue – either because the object is attached to the seat or blocks the exits from the plane.

Some airlines have come out and have expressly banned them for safety reasons. Others have taken a more precise approach and specified the exact seats on which they can be used so as not to hinder other passengers. Many other airlines simply did not say anything. Ultimately, it may be up to the final flight crew decision for your flight.

This guide from Singapore Airlines is the most helpful, which explains exactly how to use a sleep aid best when it does not hinder other passengers.

Picture of Singapore Airlines on the Dafe yes from convertible beds in a plane
Courtesy of Singapore Airlines

If your aircraft has 4 seats in the middle, this is allowed in the two middle seats.

Which airlines allow children's sleep products / convertible beds?

So here's what you're waiting for, who exactly will let you take these products. This list is correct to the best of my knowledge (last updated October 2019) However, please let us know if you are aware of any changes or updates we have not received.

"Not explicit" means we can not find anything on the airline's website that would be acceptable for any of the products mentioned. The manufacturers themselves list many more "licensed" airlines than we could find based on publicly available information.


Further reading: Are you still traveling with a toddler? Read our full guide to baby cribs installed by airlines


Which aircraft sleep products for children are best?

We have now flown with various leg cushion brands and can give you a comparison based on our experiences and those we have collected from our readers.

Child leg cushions for airplanes

We have excluded from this list all leg hammock style products installed on the back of the front release. The airlines that have specifically approved sleep products have expressly prohibited these items, so we can not recommend them to you.

Important things to consider before buying a leg pillow / mattress

  • How easy is the article to transport? Can you just put it in your existing hand luggage (size and weight) or use it as an alternative child hand luggage?
  • How fast and easy can they inflate (and stay inflated) – or is a hard box of mattress better?
  • If it needs a pump, this battery will run (possibly loud); needs a foot pump (maybe it blocks the passage), or is there with good old Puffkraft?
  • Does your airline permit the use of the item? Although the manufacturer's websites may claim to be safe about these products, some airlines have banned their use.
  • Note that most children who are over 120 cm tall are unlikely to be able to sleep with their legs outstretched. You may still find some comfort in sleeping in a semi-reclined position. If you do this, make sure that the head is also supported, either with a pillow provided by the airline, or take a look at these special brands of children's travel pillows that are ideal for small heads.

Related Reading: Best cots and baby cots for travel


More tips to help toddlers and children sleeping in airplanes

In addition to the actual sleeping comfort and sleeping position of the child, there are some proven things that most parents will try to help their children fall asleep:

  • Fly overnight. If they are naturally tired anyway, they will sleep sooner. Night flights tend to darken the cabin and close the blinds to extend the darkness.
  • Think carefully Snack times and what kind of food they eat before they fly. Giving them something sweet before boarding can lead to a burst of energy and the excitement of a TV screen, and anything else that happens on the plane could be the last thing they think about.
  • Keep the routine, If you normally have milk and get into your pajamas before you feel drowsy, try to maintain that routine to get the right nights sleep. The same goes for all your favorite sleep daddies.
  • Create a cave! It's usually the light and the noise that distract the kids the most from falling asleep on the plane. Minimize this by placing a blanket over the child seat (usually available on premium long-haul flights with the airline).
  • Let's dare to say … Drugs? If you want to learn more about how and why medicines are used to help children feel sleepy, read this article, where we introduce the information in more detail so you can decide if it is a method that it's worth trying out.
Our Miss Z sleeps comfortably in Business Class

Related Reading: 10 Mistakes in flying infants that should be avoided


Children's leg cushions in airplanes – are they really worth the investment?

In my best judgment, the jury is still undecided, as I flew 400,000 miles with my children.

No doubt, they make it easier for a small child to cuddle. But the effort required to carry, inflate, or install the products, especially as a mother, often traveling alone with three children; I'm not entirely convinced that they are worth the investment.

They certainly helped, instead of playing Toddler Tetris at 36,000 feet; With uncertainty about their continued acceptance by major airlines; and then you actually need to get the right fit in the plane where it can be installed. and an attentive flight crew who understands the rules and allows you to inflate that product without complaining about blocking the aisle.

There are still too many variables for me to suspect that this is absolutely correct.

Our globetrotter guide to flying with children

It all depends on the flights you take, the plane, the age of the children and the length of the flight. For example, if you're considering whether you can get a cheap long-haul flight without entertainment, but add up the cost of a sleeping device to make it bearable, you can certainly count and justify the purchase.

With three children already paying for premium airlines and using the other methods mentioned above to make the children drowsy, I would not be able to justify the cost of buying an additional sleep aid. I would now put my money in a more comfortable pillow for the neck, which can be easily attached to the bags.

BUTTTTTT … .. a last final thought. We talked about using these products in an airplane. Do not forget that they can also be used on a train, a long car ride or a means of transport that makes the journey more pleasant by lifting your legs.

Now over to you!

Did they revolutionize long-distance travel for you? Are you still at the fence and need some additional advice? We would be happy to hear your thoughts and help you decide if an aircraft sleeping product is right for your circumstances.


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Disclosure: Some of these products contain affiliate links for which we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We were not paid to mention any of these issues, and all opinions remain our own. Some products were provided to us by the manufacturer for free. Please check all the information you have received directly from the airline before you fly, as the information and rules of the air traffic may change. See ours complete disclosure statement.

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