One of the reasons I started this blog was to answer questions that I’d had in the past, and had not been able to find answers to. One of those burning questions, was how bassinet seats work on international plane travel. At this stage of my childs existence, I can only comment on two experiences, both on Jetstar. Coincidentally, both experiences were on the exact same aircraft (A330, VH-EBE), and indeed the same seats (23A & B in Economy).
The voodoo of booking a bassinet seat on Jetstar
We booked this holiday to Hawaii a month or so before Clarrie was born. At the time, we couldn’t add an infant to the booking as we had no required information, such as name, gender, date of birth, let alone passport number. A few weeks after he was born, I called Jetstar and added him to the booking (for a fee of $40 each way). I also requested a bassinet seat. Now, here is the voodoo, and I have no idea how the allocation of said seats works, and probably never will – when I asked for the bassinet seat, I was told that it had been marked as requested, but would not be confirmed until day of travel. This was a concern, and only on the sense that I wanted to mentally prepare for whether I’d be covered in vomit at the end of the flight, or if an unsuspecting bassinet would. The holiday we were going on was with a large group of friends, all with kids. Some of these friends were on the same flight, and were going through the same experience as us – “you’ve been marked as wanting the seats, but we’re not going to tell you if you can have them until two hours before take-off”.
Over the next few months, we (and our friends) called Jetstar a few times to double-check the booking, and to see if there was any further indication of acceptance into the glorious world of international bassinet flying.
We were told a number of different things, none of which, it turns out, are true:
- First in best dressed in the booking – if this had been the case, then surely we could be told now whether we had snared the coveted seats?
- Bassinet seats are allocated to the youngest children on the plane, and then move up by age – ok- this could make some sense as to why we’d be in the dark until check-in. It didn’t give our travelling companions much hope, as our son is 11 days younger than theirs, making it infinitely more likely that Clarrie would get a seat over Francis. This theory was debunked once we boarded. Yes, we did get a bassinet seat, as did our travelling compadres. We were on one side of the plane, and they on the other. In the middle section, there was an 18 month old, while scattered through the rest of the aircraft were tiny humans ranging in age from what looked like a few weeks, and up. Maybe none of these people had the foresight to try and book a bassinet? I don’t know. I can’t imagine that those of us who got these seats were the only three sets of parents out of at least 10 other kids to think to ask.
- First in best dressed to the airport – seriously? Now we have to get to the airport 4 days early just to get a bassinet seat? As it turned out, my lovely wife called Jetstar a couple of days before departure, and was assured, that yes, we did have a bassinet allocated to us. Conversely, our travelling partners did the same and were told that they definitely did not have a bassinet allocated to them. When they turned up to the airport, they asked for one and received, so basically, no-one really knows how it all works.
How the bassinet seats work
This was a mystery to us. I’d always noticed those weird bulges at the front of each section of the plane, and never given them much thought. Turns out, they’re your lifesaver as a parent.
The take-off and landing experience is the same as on any Australian airline that we’ve experienced – a small lap sash that loops through your seatbelt to form one for your child.
There’s no playing with the bassinet at this stage obviously, but once that seatbelt light goes off, you can almost imagine what it’s like to travel without a child. Almost.
Ah the bliss and freedom of it.
The main advantage of having a bassinet seat isn’t the bassinet itself, but the gargantuan amount of leg room you get. The bassinet is a nice bonus though. On the flight over to Honolulu, we had Clarrie in there for some sleep, but it was pretty short lived. We worked out pretty quickly that he was happy to be in there, regardless of sleeping. So in he went, with his favourite toys. We could eat, chat and be relatively human for much of the flight.
One thing to note, on this flight anyway, is that the bassinet seats don’t actually have a window next to them, just slightly behind your headrest. A little weird, but I really didn’t care. There’s not a lot to see between Melbourne and Honolulu so I was perfectly happy to occasionally crane my neck behind me to check that yes, the Pacific Ocean was still there.
The only downside was that it was impossible to open a laptop with the bassinet open in front of you. A small price to pay I reckon.
Given the choice, I would definitely choose to fly with a bassinet seat when travelling internationally. Not only did Clarrie get his own space for much of the flight, but so did we. The additional legroom was fantastic as well.