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Bassinet Questions

FlyMeAwayUSA

Newbie
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
2
First time VA flyer, first time parent. Flying is second nature (1M+ BIS miles); parenting is not.

My wife and I might be insane, but we're taking our then-to-be 8 1/2 month old to Melbourne for Christmas, flying VA LAX-MEL in Premium Economy. It's a 777. We have confirmed bulkhead seats, and the call center said we had a bassinet but there's no indication of any kind in our booking (other than the bulkhead). We're connecting from Seattle on DL (VA codeshare).

I know every airline handles these things differently. Part of the reason we're flying VA is that they seem to be among the best for infants.

Here's my questions:
  • With bulkhead seats and an infant, are we basically guaranteed a bassinet? Or are there a limited number of bassinets and the flight crew allocates them? Should there be any indication in our booking, or is it just bulkhead + infant ticket = bassinet allocation?
  • The "official" maximum height for VA bassinets is 27.5 inches. That's very short for an 8 1/2 month old; if he keeps tracking he will be around 28" by the time we fly. How strict are they about enforcing the height limit?
Any tips and tricks specifically for VA with kidds? There is not a lot on the Internet, other than that they're great for children. I'm a long-time FTer and cross-posting here at the suggestion of someone on FlyerTalk; my post there didn't get much in the way of responses.

Thanks!
 

clipped_wings

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Feb 7, 2016
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Hello and welcome to the AFF forum!

We are parents of 4 and have flown with them since they were 6 months old, (youngest is now 16) so we know a bit about travelling overseas with infants.

Firstly, the Premium seat allocation on a Virgin B777 identifies bassinets at Row 16A/C and 15DEFG and 15H/K - so if your seat assignment has this you are pretty safe thus far. If you can't find your seat assignment - ring them up and ask. Check in as early as possible to ensure you confirm - hopefully you have one of the 2 pairs either side so you have your own private "area".

I wouldn't worry too much about the height thing, unless your bub undergoes some sort of Hulk-like metamorphosis in the interim. He should be ok - it's generally just for sleeping.

I don't know that VA are any better with kids - many FA's engage wonderfully with infants and toddlers. I've seen passengers offer help these days, including me - but it's really up to Mum & Dad to decide if they want a total stranger holding their baby while one sleeps and the other uses the toilet. I personally recommend it.

I usually pack a small bag with enough distractions and treats to last the trip. For an infant - that means sensory or tactile toys (no electric sounds!), teething rusks, pre-expressed liquids or formula if your wife isn't breastfeeding. If still on the boob - this is a marvellous and soothing way to keep him calm and it saves having to heat the bottles. An ipad with some pre-loaded toddler-suitable content (I found they all loved Thomas the Tank Engine, ABC kids etc) is a great way to pass the time, but it requires you to hold it and your bulkhead seats come with recessed screens in the armrests, so it may be a bit crowded. Their favourite blanket or woollie and a preferred bed buddy is all they should need for sleep. Take turns eating and resting. And if help is offered for a screaming child - always say YES. There's no certificate or award at the end of the flight to say you did it yourself......

Lastly - Take-off and landing is especially hard on babies - the pressure in their ears is huge - so this is my best trick: Carry a fresh Chupa Chup candy pop for the landings. Strawberry seems to be the winner. It is a life saver. It may not be the healthiest choice, but I guarantee you - it will distract them long enough and the sucking motion helps to stabilise the pressure in their ears. They will still scream - but it will be brief.

Have a fabulous trip. And welcome to Australia :)
 

clipped_wings

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Should have added - NEVER let them hold the Chupa Chup themselves. You have to control it. Remove and discard it immediately the plane lands.
 

FlyMeAwayUSA

Newbie
Joined
Nov 5, 2019
Messages
2
Thanks for the replies! We do have the bulkhead seats reserved. I just wanted to know if there was something we needed to do re:bassinets in addition to that. On some airlines we've looked at (e.g., Air Canada) they've made it clear that just having the bassinet seat doesn't guarantee a bassinet, and that actual bassinets aren't given out until boarding and it's possible the aircraft won't have any loaded. On others (British Airways) they actually guarantee you a bassinet at booking and put it in the reservation. Trying to figure out how it should work on VA! A little nervous.

Many thanks for the friendly welcome. We are very excited to be spending the holidays in Australia. I lived and worked for almost a year in Melbourne in my bachelor days, and am excited to be headed back with the family -- my wife is an experienced global traveler but hasn't been to Australia, and this will be our first time using our little one's passport!
 

MattA

Junior Member
Joined
May 14, 2012
Messages
30
Flew VA MEL-LAX back in June. Our youngest was 10 months at the time and would have been around the stated height limit for the bassinet but fitted in fine (snugly). They don't enforce the height limits -- the crew aren't wandering around with a tape measure checking your kids or anything -- it would only be an issue if your baby physically didn't fit in the bassinet. But even then I'm pretty sure they'll still give you the bassinet -- it's up to you to do your best to accommodate your child in there.

Regarding your first question I'm sure they carry enough bassinets for all the bassinet spots but you're in premium economy so even if they didn't you'd get preference. We travelled in the bassinet/bulkhead row right down the back in economy (40 D/F/G) and bassinet availability wasn't an issue.

In terms of general tips I'd second the advice above -- take plenty of (quiet!) toys/distractions plus lots of snacks.
 

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