“The bulkhead, which can have a bassinet attached, is an ideal place for parents with infants, allowing hands [to be] free for eating, and if you hit the sleep jackpot, then maybe even time to watch a movie,” says Carrie Bradley, a former flight attendant and editor of the blog Flying With a Baby. The perk is usually available on long-haul flights, but some airlines also offer the bassinets on short-haul routes, too.
There’s only a limited amount of bassinets available per flight, and bulkhead seats usually go quickly because they also offer extra legroom. So be sure to book early to secure your spot. “Some airlines will allow everyone on the same booking to select their seat for free immediately after booking the flight—if flying with an infant,” Bradley says.
If bulkhead seats aren’t available, there are other spots in the cabin to help flying with an infant go smoothly. “Parents can opt to purchase a seat for their infant and bring an airline-approved car seat,” Bradley says. “These normally need to be fitted next to a window.”
Window seats could also be a good idea if you decide to fly with a lap baby, according to Bradely. “Just being able to rest an elbow on the window seat armrest whilst feeding can make you feel more comfortable and avoid being bumped in the aisle,” she says.
Travelers needing sleep on long-haul or red-eye flights
On some popular long-haul planes, like the Airbus A330, there are rows of just two seats in the main cabin, which would feel a lot less cramped than the row of four seats across in the center of the cabin. Plus, these two-seaters tend to be next to the windows. “Window seats tend to be better for those wanting to sleep,” Bradley says.
Avoid the last row of economy seats on any flight you plan to sleep on. These spots usually don’t recline and are located right in front of the galley and lavatories, making them loud and uncomfortable.
“Other highly desired seats are extra legroom seats by the emergency exit,” Bradley says, noting that airlines usually charge more for these seats. You must also be sure you meet the safety requirements to assist in an emergency.
Fliers trying to make a super-tight connection
A seat near the front of the cabin would be best for dashing off the plane and getting to your next gate. If this isn’t possible, try for any aisle seat that would let you pop up as soon as the plane is parked and the seatbelt sign turns off.
Sometimes there are only window seats—or dreaded middle seats—available toward the plane’s rear. If that’s the case, flight attendants might be able to pull some strings for you.
“Always let the crew know on board if you have a tight connection,” Bradley says. “If there are not too many people in the same situation, the flight attendants may even bring you further forward to an alternative seat prior to landing.”
However, that’s not a guarantee. So no matter where your seat is, Bradley says to mention your tight connection to your seat neighbors, and be ready to go once the plane is done taxiing.