Travel

Flying long-haul with toddler on lap

  • Last Updated:
  • Mar 12th, 2018 4:44 pm
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[OP]
Member
Feb 11, 2013
483 posts
22 upvotes
BC

Flying long-haul with toddler on lap

Hey RFDers

Wondering how many of you are experienced with flying with toddlers between 18-22 months on long haul flight (on your lap!) Terrible idea? Savings can be tremendous for sure but wanted to hear what helped you y'all and what didn't. At what point does a flight become too long, 12 + hours? Any products out there that you recommend getting for the little one?
28 replies
Deal Expert
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Feb 9, 2003
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Langley
Pursuit2013 wrote:
Mar 7th, 2018 5:24 pm
Hey RFDers

Wondering how many of you are experienced with flying with toddlers between 18-22 months on long haul flight (on your lap!) Terrible idea? Savings can be tremendous for sure but wanted to hear what helped you y'all and what didn't. At what point does a flight become too long, 12 + hours? Any products out there that you recommend getting for the little one?
I've done it to Hawaii, but I booked a bulkhead in business class. The little critter got bounced back and forth between my wife and I. I also picked a night flight, so he slept through most of it.
Sr. Member
Nov 8, 2017
588 posts
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I think you'd have to be a masochist. I don't even like it when a toddler is within 10 feet of me when flying long haull
Sr. Member
Mar 24, 2015
769 posts
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Ottawa, ON
We did a 14hrs direct flight Toronto to HK when our son was 19 months and we swore we would NEVER do that again and if we really had to, we would book a seat. You will have to take turn to eat and I would advise that one of you take the toddler for a walk. Our son wanted to touch everything on my husband's tray. Diaper changing will be a challenge too as the changing table in the washroom is small. I did not sleep at all and when I needed to pee, I had to move a sleeping toddler who would then wake up and throw a fit because his sleep was disrupted. I was literally hiding with him in the washroom so that his crying would not disturb other people.
If you decide to do it, try to get an empty seat. On our flight from HK to Singapore, there were plenty of empty seats and it was so easy and stress free I wished we had booked him a seat on the Toronto-HK flight. Or break the long haul into two shorter flights so that you can rest during transit. We did that when our first was 3yrs old. Instead of going straight to Seoul from Toronto, we stopped in Vancouver for a day to have a good night sleep at a hotel.
With our second son, we travelled when he was 7 months and not until he was 3.5yrs old. Anything in-between is really difficult and challenging on long haul in my opinion, and even more if the toddler is on your lap.
Last edited by ckay1980 on Mar 7th, 2018 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
[OP]
Member
Feb 11, 2013
483 posts
22 upvotes
BC
Thank you, we will book another seat separately
Deal Fanatic
May 29, 2006
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well we booked seats for our 20 month old kids, and they just ended up wanting to sit on our laps the whole flight anyway. kids are pretty clingy at that age.
Deal Addict
Oct 18, 2014
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Tokyo
OP, are you traveling in First, Business or Economy?

If First/Business, a separate seat isn't as important vs economy. I found that Business/First is empty most of the time, so the baby ends up getting their own pod.
Banned
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Jun 8, 2008
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Toronto
That's a really tough time to travel and I think you made the right decision for a long haul flight :)
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Mar 24, 2015
769 posts
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Ottawa, ON
Pursuit2013 wrote:
Mar 8th, 2018 11:12 am
Thank you, we will book another seat separately
Don't get the bulkhead seat in economy as the armrest doesn't go up.
Do you know if the flight is usually full? When our sons were 7 months, the airport staff were always happy to move us so that we get an empty seat next to us or the whole row.
[OP]
Member
Feb 11, 2013
483 posts
22 upvotes
BC
ckay1980 wrote:
Mar 8th, 2018 1:51 pm
Don't get the bulkhead seat in economy as the armrest doesn't go up.
Do you know if the flight is usually full? When our sons were 7 months, the airport staff were always happy to move us so that we get an empty seat next to us or the whole row.
Any way to find out if the flight is full? I didn't know there was a way. We will be using our MR points to book the reward flights. First time redeeming so no clue if they sell almost booked flights.
Sr. Member
Mar 24, 2015
769 posts
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Ottawa, ON
Pursuit2013 wrote:
Mar 8th, 2018 3:50 pm
Any way to find out if the flight is full? I didn't know there was a way. We will be using our MR points to book the reward flights. First time redeeming so no clue if they sell almost booked flights.
I would usually log in and check the seats to see how many are taken/left a few weeks before the flight. I think for long haul flights, people tend to buy their seats well in advance. When I did the long haul with my 7 months old, and the seats remained unchanged for at least 1 month before departure. Of course having an empty seat next to us was a bonus, but we would have been ok if we didn't get one. Babies are easier than toddlers.
You are also using points so I don't know how that works. I think they have limited seats when it comes to points.

There's also seat blocking. The person doing your booking can block the seat next to you, but if the plane is full then of course they will have to give it to someone. Cathay Pacific did that for us but that was 7 years ago not sure if they still do it.

It's really up to you. I think it's a gamble. But if you can afford a seat for the toddler, I'd say go for it (based on my personal trauma ahah)
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Oct 23, 2008
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I've done a 5.5hr YYZ-SFO with a 10mth old and again with a 1yr old (YYZ-CUN) but can't imagine doing that with a child older than that and for 12+ hrs.

If you're lucky then maybe there will be empty seats on board and whomever is supposed to be seated next to you will be happy to change seats and you'll have the extra seat for the kid without paying. That happened to me.

It is much much much easier to have them have their own seat! And since you're talking 12+ hrs I'd definitely consider paying the extra cash. If not willing, then pray the plane ain't full.
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Jan 24, 2011
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I have done 30+ hrs (with lay over) trip with 10 months old .. i have to take min 3 flights to visit native place from here ... in the first flight he was crying bit ... no issues after that ....
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Oct 18, 2014
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ckay1980 wrote:
Mar 8th, 2018 4:54 pm
I would usually log in and check the seats to see how many are taken/left a few weeks before the flight.
Seat maps are rarely accurate (e.g. Air Canada) since many passengers are too cheap for advanced seat selection, so they get assigned during check-in.

The "best" way is to use a paid tool such as ExpertFlyer which will indicate how many seats are left per fare classes. If they are a bunch of low fares for sale, then chances are it is empty.

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