Helping kids sleep comfortably on an airplane continues to be one of the most popular topics on the Bébé Voyage boards. These products are lifesavers for parents flying long-haul flights with little ones! Not only do they expand the available space for sleeping, they also help children feel more at ease. A variety of products make the most of the limited space that airplanes offer. We turned to our 18,000+ members to find out which ones really work.
These fit on the floor in front of your child’s seat. They fill the space and create a flat surface with the seat for sleeping. They also provide a leg rest to help kids sit more comfortably during the times they’re awake on a flight.
Flyaway Kids bed
This bed’s innovative design features two chambers with separate valves that can be inflated with a hand pump in just 90 seconds to fit securely into economy, premium economy, or bulkhead seating. A third pressure-relief valve automatically releases air to adjust to pressure changes in the plane’s cabin throughout the flight, or to changes in available space if the passenger in front reclines their seat. The Flyaway Kids Bed can be packed into a carry-on. Created with safety in mind, the bed is made of BPA-free materials and has been approved by the International Air Transport Association as an inflight comfort device.
Inflatable Travel Foot Rest Pillow
This affordable pillow garners rave reviews from Bébé Voyage members. It can be inflated in just a few minutes using the convenient mouth valve, and deflates quickly as well. Economy and first class seating accommodate the pillow’s dimensions. Bébé Voyage member Nicole Stanaland recommends this product for anyone embarking on a long-haul flight with little ones. These pillows helped her daughters sleep perfectly during a flight from Atlanta to Paris. Even the flight attendants were impressed by how well they worked!
1st Class kids Travel Pillow
The 1st Class Kids Travel Pillow is another inflatable pillow that fills the gap between two economy seats. The lower price point makes it a winner. When folded up, it’s small enough to fit into carry-on luggage. However, some users have found that it may not fit tightly enough, depending on the size of the space in front of the seat.
One of the first inflatable beds on the market, the FlyTot also remains the most well-known. It is very popular within our community. The FlyTot’s angled design allows for a better fit between both economy and business seats. Although quite large when deflated, and therefore sometimes cumbersome to carry, it can be inflated in under 3 minutes with a foot pump. FlyTot works actively with airlines to prevent problems with the product’s use on flights.
The Plane Pal has been reviewed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, as well as the International Air Transport Association, and deemed safe for onboard use. It comes with a hand pump and small hose that connect to the pillow for easy inflation. This controls the amount of air filling the Plane Pal so that it can fit into budget, bulkhead, and standard seating. Our Bébé Voyage member Karen, from Travel Mad Mum, loves this product so much she started selling it. “We travel at least once a month with our 2.5 year old toddler and there just isn’t anything like the Plane Pal for sale in Europe.”
JetKids Bed Box
The JetKids BedBox takes a different approach. The lid of this ride-on suitcase flips over and extends to bridge the gap between the seats. A small mattress then sits on top of it. Although it is the most expensive option, it does conveniently allow older kids to pull it through the airport. A few additional items can fit into the suitcase along with the mattress. Read more about the JetKids BedBox in our review.
Are flying beds allowed on all airlines? Unfortunately, some major airlines DO NOT allow fly beds on board. As always, it’s best to verify with your airline before you fly. You can do this by calling the airline’s customer service line directly. Or, check the airline’s website in the sections about flying with children, assistive devices, or in-flight comfort devices.
Can you still buckle the seat belt? You can still buckle the seat-belt while the bed is in place. Ask the flight attendant for a seat extender if necessary.
Can the seat still recline when the fly bed is in place? According to our members, these travel pillows do not prevent seats from reclining.
How can I help my child sleep comfortably with their fly bed? Most kids won’t be able to lay flat on the pillow. If your child is longer than the distance between the back of their seat and the seat in front of you, you will have to angle your child in order for them to lie flat. They may be most comfortable sleeping in the fetal position. We also suggest packing a favorite lovey and soft blanket to help your child sleep comfortably during the flight.
- If you plan to use one of these devices, you must have a seat purchased for your child.
- None of these devices are certified by the FAA or any other regulatory body. As a result, usage in the cabin is limited to cruise and at the discretion of the flight crew. You may be asked to put it away during turbulence. You will certainly have to stow your bed during the critical phases of flight (taxi, takeoff, and landing).
- Flight crews on various airlines do sometimes prohibit passengers from using these products. You might lug your bed onto the plane, only to be told it cannot be used on that flight. The companies we contacted all told us that they are working with airlines to make sure their products can be used. Still, check with your airline before your flight.
- Always book a seating arrangement that doesn’t block other passengers in once the device is inflated.
Our members travel many miles! Along the way, some have come up with other ways to help kids sleep on planes.
If you have an infant, make sure you request the bassinet from your airline when you book your tickets. Then you guarantee a bed for the baby without having to haul the gear yourself. Bassinets have weight/length limits; most children over the age of 12 months will not be allowed in them.
Fly Legs Up creates a hammock for your feet. The kids version comes with several pillows to raise the legs to a comfortable height. Our members loved using these for themselves, but felt that younger kids had a harder time getting comfortable.
Other members simply use the floor of the aircraft or several seats combined with a travel bassinet or sleeping system. The Doc-A-Tot and Sleepyhead permit this kind of configuration. As with all of the other sleeping solutions mentioned in this article, the crew may refuse the use of these devices. In addition, some airlines will not allow you to place a child on the floor during flight.
The Trade Off
Everything has a trade off. These products can make flying more comfortable for families, but otherwise have a limited use. Are you willing to haul something that you will only use on an airplane? The answer likely depends on the length of your flight, how frequently you travel, and what else you carry. Most of our members find that fly beds are essential for longer flights that coincide with their children’s naps or bedtimes.