The UK Rules
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Family Seating

Airline Seats for Families

A simple review of the benefits and disadvantages of typical seating arrangements provided for families with children by airlines.

AIRPLANE SEATING AREAS: Even though this is a common question asked by most parents flying with small children or babies, naming the best airline seats for families cannot be answered as simply as we would like.

This is partly because everyone has their own flight preferences and budget airlines typically provide families with divergent seating arrangements.

However all is not lost because you can decide what is best for your family by weighing up the pros and cons of the seating area guidelines explained in this section.

Bulkhead Seats

Best Airline Seats for FamiliesAirplane bulkhead seats directly face the partitions which divide the different sections of the aircraft. That means they have no seating facilities in front of them so there is often more leg room.

Bulkhead seating areas are usually found towards the front end on smaller aeroplanes and at several other locations on larger aircrafts.

Another advantage for families choosing bulkhead seating is that the spot typically provides extra oxygen bags for babies and toddlers.

This could be particularly handy if your baby is sitting on your lap.

Also, in-flight carrycots can usually be snapped on and attached to the bulkhead in front of you.

Some airlines allow you to reserve a carrycot but you may need to phone ahead of time to make sure. Rental carrycots are usually a first-come, first-served basis and designed for babies weighing less than 12.5kg as a rule.

Disadvantages of choosing seating opposite a bulkhead, including some aisle seats, could be that the chair armrests rarely go up so you may struggle to stretch out.

Some aircraft are fitted with big television screens (not seatback) so you may be disappointed to find a large screen or monitor directly above your head.

Another drawback is a distinct lack of space for family hand luggage underneath bulkhead seating areas. Some airlines allow hand luggage stowage by your feet in front of you, whereas other carriers may insist that your baggage is placed in the overhead locker during the flight.

As a parent, you may find this a tiresome inconvenience when you are traveling with several children who are asking for a replenishment of toys and snacks on a regular basis.

Sitting at the Rear

If you choose to sit towards the rear of the airplane you should consider that back row seats do not recline fully, as a rule. Seating at the back of planes is usually noisy because of the engine location.

Nonetheless, this may be blessing in disguise if your baby is also being louder than you would like.

Front Row Seating

Choosing one of the front row seats means you may get a speedier getaway after landing. Alternatively, sitting behind the wing usually provides a flight less bumpy if you have nervous children.

If you decide not to reserve a flight seat for your baby they are usually allowed to sit on your lap instead. The airline should provide you with a special safety strap. You are advised to let the airline know in advance if you are flying with a baby because a rule there is a charge.

Seats at Emergency Exits

Families flying with small children, toddlers, or a baby will not normally be offered the spacious seats near to emergency exits. The vast majority of airlines do not allow the occupation of emergency exit seats by young or tiny travellers for safety reasons.

Child Car Seats and Buggies

Tip: Check with airline policies but often they will allow you to take a baby car seat into the cabin.

You will need to have booked and paid for a separate seat in most cases if you take a car seat onboard. Nevertheless as a general rule, your baby will be required to still sit on your lap for take off, landing. This ruling also includes any time the 'fasten seatbelt light' is activated (e.g. during turbulence).

This regulation changes when your child reaches two years old. All children must then have their own seat and cannot be secured on your lap during 'fasten seatbelt' times. It is also worth noting that many airlines have security restrictions on baby food allowances and boarding procedures with milk for babies in your carry on luggage.

Advice on Airline Car Seat and Buggy Policies

Airline Seats for Families; UK Rules Updated 2017