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We are grateful to Fly Tot for providing us with the inflatable cushion we used for this review. We wrote our initial review based on our experiences on our 10h+ flights from Canada to Japan. We have updated this post as we have used it multiple times since Japan and as you can see, it really has fundamentally changed the nature of long flights with our children.
When we booked our 10 hour flight from Calgary, Canada to Tokyo, we decided to take our 14 month old son as a lap infant. At this stage, we’d flown enough with our kids that we thought could handle it. But as the trip got closer, we both started to get nervous about having him on our laps for such a long flight as he did not like to be held and just wanted to move all the time. My husband made a concerted effort to hold him on his lap leading up to our trip, but he just wouldn’t sit still. We were really worried, but there was no turning back at this point, so we had to make this work.
Enter the Fly-Tot!
The Fly-Tot is an inflatable cushion that fits in the leg room area between your seat and the seat in front of you. The idea is that it will allow your little one room to lay down flat on a regular, economy seat, turning it into a little bed. I had read about some really positive experiences with the Fly-Tot in a few Facebook groups that I was a part of. If we could get at least one of our kids sleeping on the plane, that would be a huge win.
So how did our flight go?
Much better than expected, despite a rough start. We initially set up our 3 year old daughter with the Fly-Tot and an iPad. She loved it and was perfectly content to sit there and watch her movie.
Our son was a different story… As expected, he did not want to be held and was just getting increasingly overtired and vocal. We spent most of the early part of the flight with him in the area near the toilets or at the back of the plane. We tried to get him to sleep in the Ergo baby carrier but it just wasn’t happening – he wanted to play.
Finally, my husband suggested we put him on the area with the Fly-Tot and put our daughter between us. It worked perfectly. He had his own area to stand, sit and play. We were able to relax and not struggle to keep him in our arms. Our daughter was still happy as long as her movie was on (Frozen – it's always Frozen). He even had a sleep on the Fly-Tot, and although we would have preferred longer we were happy with what we could get. As a bonus, our daughter also had a sleep on it a little later.
Our flight home was even better. We were lucky to have a relatively empty flight, so I was able to grab two seats next to a window with our little guy. My husband stayed in the three middle seats with our daughter. I made use of the Fly-Tot again to give him an area to play and he even slept for 4 hours straight!
I said to my husband after: “Is that what it feels like to have kids sleep on the flight?” For the first time in our 3 years since having kids, my husband watched a movie and I read a book. Amazing!!
We originally got the Fly-Tot for our 10 hour flights to and from Japan, but we’ve since used them on trans-Atlantic flights to Italy and Norway as well. So, with over 30 hours of in-flight experience using the Fly-Tot with our kids, we can confidently share our views of the pros and cons:
- It's a little big to carry. I can’t complain because I didn’t carry it, but it did take up the bottom 1/3 of my husband’s carry-on bag. Given the huge benefit of getting our kids to sleep on flights, he doesn’t mind carrying it.
- The cost may be a bit more than you want to spend for use on a single trip. However, if you plan to use it frequently, then it’s well worth the price. For example, we have used it on 8 international flights so far and we have gotten 8 sleeps out of it - that's only $10 per sleep - a small price to pay for well rested kids. If you like the idea of an airplane travel bed, but don't like the price of the Fly Tot, perhaps look at one of these highly rated beds for less than $50.
- According to some of the negative reviews, some airlines do not allow them. As of this update (June 2018), Fly-Tot reports that 48 airlines have accepted it for use. See the Resources section at the bottom of the post for the complete list. (Note, despite some negative reviews, there are currently 5x as many 5 star reviews as there are 1 star reviews)
- More sleep for everyone. Isn’t that what every parent wants on a flight?
- Extra room for everyone. Both of our kids have enjoyed the extra room the Fly-Tot provides for sleeping. But there’s more to it than that… when the kids aren’t sleeping it gives the kids extra real estate to play, without having to worry about them falling on the floor.
More freedom. No more worrying about needing to go pee after your baby falls asleep on you…
- It's is super easy to inflate and it literally takes seconds to deflate. Nobody on the plane has ever noticed when I was inflating it. Deflating was as simple as opening the valves and pushing the air out. See our YouTube video of the inflation process in the Resources section below...
- It's durable and high quality. We've hauled the Fly-Tot with us on four major trips totaling over 120 days on the road. It still works as good as the first time we used it.
- It even flips over to fit in super economy seats!
So would I recommend the Fly-Tot? Yes, without hesitation. Just look at the pictures below to see why… it works. Since getting our Fly-Tot, we have used it to get our kids to sleep on every single international flight we have taken. We couldn’t ask for more than that…
The FLY-Tot in Action
(Whoooo's the cute little owl? He's Ollie the Owl, a combination white noise machine and Bluetooth wireless speaker)
See how easy the Fly-Tot is to inflate.
To help visualize how the Fly-Tot can be used given your seating arrangements, here is a useful infographic from Singapore Airlines.
List of approved airlines (as of Sept ’18): ANA, Air Japan, AirAsia Japan, Aegean Airlines, Air Asia, Air France, Air India, Air Vanuatu, Alaska Airlines, Alliance Airlines, American Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Cathay Dragon, Cathay Pacific, Cebu Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Easy Jet, Etihad Airways, Eva Airlines, FlyBe, Garuda Indonesia, Hong Kong Airlines, Iceland Air, Japan Airlines, Jet2, JetBlue, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Norwegian Air, Oman Air, Peach Aviation, Philippine Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines, Scoot, Silk Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, Thompson Air, Vanilla Air, Vietnam Airlines, Virgin (America), Virgin Australia, WestJet.
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