** We are continuously updating this post to reflect reports of airlines that are not allowing these devices** Updated: August 28, 2018**
The most popular topic on the Bébé Voyage boards is about getting kids to sleep comfortably on an airplane. A variety of products exist now to make the most of the limited space airplanes offer.
Everyone wants to know if the travel beds work. We turned to our nearly 4,000 members to find out.
There are several options that all basically do the same thing. These “beds” take advantage of the space between your seat and the seat in front of you in order to make a bed.
1st Class Travel Pillow
The most popular product recommended by Bébé Voyage members is the 1st Class Kids Travel Pillow. The lower price point makes it a winner. This travel pillow inflates to fill the gap between two economy seats. Some users have found that it does not fit snuggly in all situations. Members say it folds small enough to not be a huge burden to add to your carry-on luggage.
As one of the first inflatable beds on the market, the FlyTot ($69 USD) seems to be the most well-known flying bed and is very popular within our community. The FlyTot’s design allows for a better fit on both economy and business seats because it has an angled design that would fit both classes of service. Although the FlyTot is quite large when deflated and cumbersome to carry for some, it can be inflated in under 3 minutes with a foot pump, making it very quick to set-up. FlyTot is actively working with airlines to prevent problems with use on the flight. As of May 2017, FlyTot became one of only two approved fly beds on Sigapore Airlines. (The FlyTot is back in stock on their webpage . Shipping is available to most parts of the world.)
The Plane Pal (59.99 GBP) is another option and has the same shape as the FlyTot. Our Bébé Voyage member Karen, from Travel Mad Mum, is a huge advocate of the Plane Pal. She loves it so much she has started selling them. She said, “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. That is why I thought I would sell it myself to make it accessible for more families who enjoy traveling with their kids. The bed box is so much more expensive and doesn’t fit in hand luggage. That is why I prefer Plane Pal.” Karen is also extending a discount code to our readers. (Use the code “VOYAGE” for 10% off until 10/05/2017 on Travel Mad Mum (EU& UK) or Plane Pall AU (Australia) orders only.)
JetKids Bed Box
The JetKids BedBox ($200 on Amazon; $169 on JetKids) takes a different approach. This ride-on suitcase has a lid that flips over and extends to bridge the gap between the seats. A small mattress then sits on top of it. It is the most expensive option, but it allows older kids to pull it through the airport. A few additional items can fit into the suitcase along with the mattress. I personally use the JetKids BedBox and love that it doubles as a toy for the kids to use in the airport.
According to our members, these travel pillows still allow the seat in front to recline. You are also able to use the seat-belt while the beds are in place. Finally, all of them allow the tray table to still be used.
Most kids won’t be able to lay all the way flat on the pillow, so be prepared. If your child is longer than the distance between the back of their seat and the seat in front of you, you’re going to have to angle your child in order for them to lie flat. Note that most short-haul flights boast a seat pitch near 30 inches so older toddlers will have trouble lying flat.
My kids like to sleep a little bit laying down and a little bit sitting up. A fetal position also seems to work.
There are a few things you should know about using one of these flying bed options.
First, you must have a seat purchased for your child if you plan to use one of these devices.
Second, none of these devices are certified by the FAA or 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 and you will certainly have to stow your bed during the critical phases of flight (taxi, takeoff and landing).
While stories of crews denying use is the exception, not the rule, it does happen. You should be aware that you might lug your bed onto the plane, just 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. It is best to check with your airline before your flight.
[Update July 2017] Quants and Jetstar have announced that use of any fly bed, including products like fly legs up are prohibited. You can read their policy here.
Third, always plan to inflate your device in a window or middle seat so it does not block other passengers.
Our members have traveled a lot of miles and along the way have come up with some other great ways to get kids to sleep on an airplane.
If you have an infant, make sure you request the bassinet from your airline when you book your tickets. This is the best way to get a bed for the baby without having to haul the gear yourself. Bassinets have weight/length limits, so most children over the age of 12 months will not be allowed in a bassinet.
Fly Legs Up is a hammock for your feet. The kids version comes with several pillows to raise the leg level to a comfortable height. They are sold from Australia, but can be shipped worldwide. 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 ($165) and Sleepyhead (€160) are popular options for this. If you are already using one of these this is an ideal sleeping solution for the airplane. As with all the other sleeping solutions mentioned in this article use is subject to the crew. Some airlines will not allow you to place a child on the floor during flight.
The Skybaby is a little mattress that cocoons your infant in arms. We tried it out on a few flights and found that it really did help baby sleep and make it more comfortable for mom. You can read the full review here.
The Trade Off
Everything has a trade off. Bébé Voyage members note that the problem with these airplane beds are limited use. Are you willing to haul something just to use it on the airplane? That question is something only you can answer. It likely depends on how long your flight is, what else you are carrying and what you have planned on the other end.
Airlines We Have Heard Are Not Allowing Fly Beds
This is a constant topic in Club Bebe Voyage so we are attempting to keep an updated list of airlines that members have reported DO NOT allow these fly beds on board. When applicable we’ve linked to the policy or relevant artcile.
As always its best to verity with your airline before you fly.