To further help you in your decision making of whether to get a bulkhead with bassinet or row seat for your under 2 toddler, here in Part 3 of this series we examine the pros, cons and considerations of bulkhead seating:
Pro: Bulkhead seating with bassinets can offer many advantages especially when on a long haul flight. Besides sleeping in it, our toddler actually enjoyed sitting in it for periods of time with her toys and allowed us to spoon feed her from it. The bassinet then became multifunctional as a playpen and high chair! It seemed she enjoyed facing the other passengers so that she had more to see and observe (instead of just seeing the back of heads in front of her). When she became bored with her toys, we engaged her visually using the entertainment monitor (since this swiveled and so could be angled for her to watch from the bassinet). Just remember to immediately pull up the video monitor from the middle bulkhead seat after the plane takes off, before the bassinet is set up. Otherwise you will have trouble getting the video monitor out once the bassinet is set up!
Unexpectedly, the bassinet also became incredibly useful for putting personal and miscellaneous items like purses, jackets, meal trays, pillows, toys and blankets. Another plus was having more leg room in front to stretch our legs, and our child could stand up and walk a little bit in front of our seats before and after takeoff. An air stewardess on one flight did approach us to say that the bassinet was meant more for sleeping and so hinted that we should not have the toddler sit in if she was awake, but in the end she let us keep the toddler in. (Why mess with a happy toddler?) Having a bassinet can also be advantageous if you have a young baby or toddler because it provides a place for the child to sit in if needed even if it is just a short while, and so helps to take a load off your legs.
Cons: One big disadvantage to using a bassinet is that often when there is turbulence, the flight stewardesses will ask you to take the baby out (i.e., wake the sleeping baby/toddler up and potentially make it more difficult for the child to fall back asleep) when the ‘fasten seat belt’ sign comes on. This can be very annoying for the toddler/baby trying to sleep, so make this decision of whether you really want bulkhead seats or not. Even though Eva airline’s bassinet comes with a safety seat belt and a zipper up cloth tummy strap, we were still advised by the stewardess that we needed to pick up the toddler in the event of turbulence. We were also told to zip up the zipper when the child was in the bassinet, but this proved difficult to do if the toddler chose to turn on the side to sleep. So we ended up just covering our toddler with a blanket without zipping up the tummy strap, since we reasoned we would need to pick up the baby during turbulence anyway. Thankfully during one of our long haul flights, no one asked us to take the toddler out even though the fasten seat belt sign had come on a few times. Another disadvantage is that the middle armrests of the bulkhead seats cannot be moved, which was an inconvenience when our toddler wanted to lie flat across our laps. Finally, since it is bulkhead seating, all items needed to be stowed up into the overhead cabins for takeoff and landing so you can’t keep the important diaper bag or other items within reach during these times.
Considerations: Each airline has its own regulations, so check to see if you need to call 1-2 weeks ahead of time to the airline to obtain a bassinet seat, or if you need to arrive at the airline counter earlier on the day of the flight to obtain a bassinet seat. Note as well that not all bassinets are created the same! When you request bulkhead seating, first check that airline’s weight/age bassinet requirements to ensure your toddler will be able to use it. Thankfully the Eva airline bassinets allowed a heavier/older child than the Delta airline bassinet regulations, so we were able to still use the Eva bassinets for our 20 month (11kg) toddler. The Eva airline bassinet was also larger and roomier than the Delta airline bassinet (quite narrow even for a 4 month old). It had enough space that our toddler could curl up in a fetal position on her side, even if she could not stretch her body out all the way.