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The Best Plane Seat To Book If You’re Flying With A Baby

Choosing an airplane seat can already feel like a crapshoot. Add a baby to the mix, and the stakes are even higher.

“With a young baby, there’s no one perfect spot to sit, but some seats are better than others,” Summer Hull, director of content at The Points Guy, told HuffPost.

To help parents and caregivers make a more informed choice, HuffPost asked Hull and other travel experts with kids to share which seat they would opt for when flying with a baby. Keep scrolling for their best practices.

Should you book a separate seat for your baby?

“When traveling with a baby, you have to decide whether to book a separate seat for them in the first place,” said Jurga Rubinovaite, creator of the travel blog Full Suitcase.

Rubinovaite noted that most airlines allow infants aged 0-2 years to fly for free on domestic or short-haul flights. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) all strongly recommend purchasing an airplane seat for babies and toddlers and using a proper child restraint system to keep them safe from the dangers of turbulence and other in-flight risks.

There are also comfort and logistics-related reasons why parents opt to buy a separate seat for their baby.

“Unless you are flying with a very young baby ― 0-8 months ― and the flight is just a few hours, I highly recommend booking a separate seat for each child,” Rubinovaite said. “It’s more expensive, but don’t underestimate what it means to hold an active 18-month-old on your lap for hours.”

If you’re not buying an separate seat for your baby, she suggested booking a window seat for one parent and an aisle seat for the other one.

“With a bit of luck, the middle seat between you will be empty, and if not, you can still decide to change ― everyone will be happy to not have to sit in the middle,” Rubinovaite said.

Is the window or aisle better?

“The aisle seat has a big advantage in that you don’t have to disturb other passengers when you want to get up and walk around a bit or when you have to use the bathroom,” Rubinovaite said. “However, if you are breastfeeding or if your baby is sleeping, you may feel more comfortable in the window seat.”

The window seat can provide a little more privacy for nursing parents and might be a bit quieter as well.

“It feels like with the window seat, you have a little more room,” said Stephanie Claytor, founder of the travel blog Blacktrekking. “I typically nurse my daughter to sleep, so having a window seat gives me an extra surface to lean my back on for support. Plus, kids like to look out of the window. It’s a great distraction for them.”

Rubinovaite also noted that the window seat is the better choice for parents flying with a special seat for their baby.

“If you want to bring a child safety seat on board, book a window seat,” she said. “Child safety seats shouldn’t restrict other passengers in any way, so a window seat is the way to go.”

Many parents prefer the window when traveling with a baby, but there's a case to be made for the aisle as well.

Many parents prefer the window when traveling with a baby, but there’s a case to be made for the aisle as well. Aaron Black via Getty Images

Which rows are best?

“Some parents prefer the first or last rows in order to be closer to the galley to have room to stand up with the baby when necessary, while others stay away from the galley areas as it can be a bit louder or more likelihood of lights coming on and off on an overnight flight,” Hull said.

The optimal location on the plane for a baby might also come down to factors like cost or space.

“I find that booking seats toward the back of the plane, typically in a Boeing 737 aircraft, rows 24-28, is typically cheaper than the front of the plane, and I often end up having a seat or row to myself,” Claytor said.

What about airline bassinets? 

These days, many airlines offer special airplane bassinets to passengers traveling with babies.

“If you want to use the bassinet on plane types where it is available, then you’ll want to select those seats as early as you can, which you might be able to do online or it may require a phone call, depending on the airline,” Hull said. “They are typically in the bulkhead aisles and are more likely to be found on the larger, internationally configured aircraft.”

Rubinovaite suggested contacting the airline as soon as you book your flights to request a bassinet, as there’s usually a limited number of them.

“Front-row seats with bassinets are by far the best option for parents flying with little babies on long-haul flights,” she said.

Even if you aren’t able to book your first choice of seats, the main goal is to book seats together for your family.

“Just be sure you have selected seats together in advance if you want them,” Hull said. “There are some protections now to ensure airlines try and seat families together, but aircraft swaps and other issues happen, so ensure you not only select seats when you book if possible but also keep an eye on them in the days and weeks leading up to the flight.”

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