This article about the Fly Tot Inflatable Airplane Bed for Toddlers was written by toddler travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
Let’s be honest – flying with a toddler is one of the most challenging times to fly with your children. It can be especially challenging to fly with a toddler on a long haul flight, when they have to sit still for hours on end. Getting your toddler to sleep on a long haul flight is key to surviving the flight as well as having a happy well rested toddler when you arrive at your destination.
In our experience flying with toddlers, the Original Fly Tot inflatable airplane bed is essential toddler travel gear. We own two Fly Tots and have used them for 50+ hours of flying with our toddlers. We have an exceptionally good success rate getting our kids to sleep comfortably on the plane while using the Fly Tot cushion. In this Original Fly Tot review, we share our real-life experiences along with the pros and cons of this inflatable airplane cushion.
What You’ll Find in This Fly Tot Review:
Oops, were you looking for a post about toddler travel beds instead of toddler airplane beds? Read our post on the best toddler travel beds here!
Panic! Why We Got Our First Fly Tot Airplane Travel Bed
Here’s the story of how we were introduced to our first toddler airplane travel bed and how it fundamentally changed the way we’ve traveled with toddlers.
When we booked our 10 hour red eye flight from Calgary, Canada to Tokyo, we decided to fly with our 14 month old son as a lap toddler. At this stage, we’d flown enough with our kids that we thought could handle flying with a toddler on our lap on a long flight.
But as our family trip to Tokyo got closer, we both started to get nervous about having our busy toddler on our laps for such a long flight. He did not like to be held and just wanted to move all the time. We could tell that this was going to be a problem.
My husband made a concerted effort to hold him on his lap leading up to our flight, 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. This is when we started researching the best ways to get a toddler to sleep comfortably on a plane. That’s when we discovered the Original Fly Tot inflatable airplane cushion.
Curious about other options? We list all the best airplane travel beds here.
Enter the Fly Tot Airplane Travel Bed for Toddlers – A Game Changer!
The Fly Tot is an inflatable flight cushion for toddlers that fits in the leg room area between their seat and the seat in front of them. The idea is that the Fly Tot cushion will allow your little one room to lay down flat on a regular, economy seat, turning the seat into a travel bed for toddlers on airplanes.
I had read about some parents having really positive experiences with the Fly Tot airplane cushion in a few Facebook groups that I was a part of. We thought that if we could use one to get at least one of our two kids sleeping on the plane, that would be a huge win.
Our First Flight with the Original Fly Tot
So how did our flight go? It went much better than expected, despite a rough start. Because we only had three seats for four people, we initially set up our 3 year old daughter with the Fly Tot and an iPad. She loved this toddler airplane bed and was perfectly content to sit there and watch her movie.
Our toddler 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 international flight with him in the area near the toilets or at the back of the plane. We tried to get him to sleep by walking with him in our baby carrier but it just wasn’t happening – he wanted to play.
Finally, my husband suggested we put our toddler on the seat with the Fly Tot and put our daughter between us. It worked perfectly. With a Fly Tot in front of him, he now 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 eventually had a sleep on the Fly Tot inflatable airplane travel bed, and although we would have preferred a much longer sleep, we were very happy with what we got. As a bonus, our daughter also had a sleep on this miraculous inflatable toddler bed for planes.
Our flight home was even better. We were lucky to have a relatively empty flight, so I was able to grab two empty 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 our very busy toddler 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!!
Fly Tot Pros and Cons
We initially got the Fly Tot inflatable airplane bed for our 10h+ long haul flights between Canada and Japan. We now own two Fly Tots and have used them extensively on our family travels. As you can see from this Fly Tot review, it really has fundamentally changed the nature of long flights with our young kids.
So, with well over 50 hours of in-flight experience using this inflatable travel bed for kids on airplanes, we can confidently share our views of the pros and cons of getting an Original Fly Tot inflatable airplane pillow:
Fly Tot – Cons
Although we love using the Fly Tot for flying with a toddler, not every product is perfect. Based on our experience with the Fly Tot, here are some cons to be aware of.
- 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 young kids to sleep on flights, he doesn’t mind carrying it.
- If you only plan on using the Fly Tot for a single flight with a toddler, the cost may be a bit more than you want to spend. However, if you plan to use it frequently, then it’s well worth the price. For example, we have used it on 10 international flights so far and we have gotten 10 sleeps out of it – that’s only $8 per sleep!
Given the benefit of having a well-rested toddler upon arrival at your destination, this is a small price to pay for well rested kids! Or, to look at it another way, imagine spending the first day of your family holiday with a toddler who hasn’t slept. How much would you pay to avoid that reality?
If you like the idea of an airplane travel bed, but don’t like the price of the Original Fly Tot, perhaps look at one of these budget inflatable travel cushions for airplanes.
- Some airlines do not allow inflatable airplane seat extenders. As of this update, Fly Tot reports that 50 airlines have accepted it for use.
See the Resources section at the bottom of the post for the complete list of airlines which have approved the Fly Tot.
Fly Tot – Pros
- More sleep for everyone. Isn’t that what every parent wants on a long flight?
- Extra room for everyone. Both of our kids have enjoyed the extra room the Original Fly Tot airplane travel bed for toddlers provides for sleeping. But there’s more to it than that… when the kids aren’t sleeping the inflatable leg rest gives the kids a flat space and 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 our Fly Tots 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.
Video: How to Inflate a Fly Tot Airplane Cushion
Acceptable Seats for a Fly Tot Inflatable Cushion for Airplane
To help visualize how an inflatable travel cushion can be used as a travel bed for toddlers on airplanes, here is a useful infographic from Singapore Airlines.
If you’ll notice, the acceptable seat placements for an inflatable airplane bed are ones which will not block a passenger’s access to the aisle. Which makes perfect sense. The window seat and the center seat(s) of the middle section are acceptable seat locations for a Fly Tot cushion.
List of Airlines Which Have Approved the Fly Tot:
As of April 2023, here are are the airlines which have approved the Fly Tot cushion for use:
ANA, Air Japan, AirAsia Japan, Aegean Airlines, Air Asia, 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 Air, FlyBe, Garuda Indonesia, Iceland Air, Japan Airlines, Jet2, JetBlue, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, 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 and WestJet.
Who Should Purchase a Fly Tot Travel Bed for Kids?
Should You Buy an Inflatable Travel Bed for Kids?
So would I recommend the Fly Tot toddler airplane travel bed? Yes, without hesitation. Just look at the pictures in this post to see why… it works. Since getting our Original Fly Tot travel toddler bed for airplanes, we have used it to get our kids to sleep comfortably on every single international flight we have taken. We couldn’t ask for more than that…
You can only use an inflatable travel pillow if your child will be occupying their own seat. If you have purchased a seat for a toddler under 2 years old, make sure you know the rules of your airline and if a child restraint is mandatory.
You can also expect to have your toddler on your lap for takeoff, landing and in the event of any turbulence.
Tips To Successfully use a Fly Tot Airplane Bed for Toddler
- If you’ve called your airline and they told you inflatable cushions for planes are not allowed, that may not be the case. The customer service desk may not know what you are talking about. A lot of times it is up to the discretion of the flight crew.
Your biggest risk is that you end up carrying the toddler travel bed for the airplane and not using it.
- You cannot use a travel bed for toddlers on the plane during takeoff or landing. Don’t try. In fact, I usually wait until the meal has been cleared and everyone is settling in.
- What if you do get told that it is not allowed on the flight? Apologize and put it away. Be polite. Getting angry and creating a fuss will not make anything better.
In fact, we recommend going out of your way to treat the flight attendants well as they can be so helpful to parents of small children on a flight!
- Don’t give the flight a crew a reason to ask you to put it away. Only use your airplane seat bed for toddlers in seats that won’t block anyone. The window seat is best.
Inflate it quietly without bothering other passengers and we recommend doing it within the confines of your seat rather than in the aisle. You’ll want it in place as you inflate the travel cushion anyways.
- Always put the seat belt on your child. If there is turbulence, you’ll have to wake your child to put on their seat belt so it’s best to do it before.
What about Fly Tot Alternatives ?
It’s true there are several alternatives to the Fly Tot inflatable airplane cushion. While the Fly Tot cushion is the original airplane bed for toddlers (and we still consider it to be one of the best toddler travel beds for planes), there are two others that are nearly identical and others that are similar:
Flyaway Kids Bed
One new alternative that we own is the Flyaway Kids Bed. It’s also an inflatable cushion but it has some improvements that we really liked. Read our full Flyaway Kids Bed review here, which includes some comparisons to the Fly Tot.
Plane Pal vs. Fly Tot
While I have not personally used a Plane Pal airplane travel bed for toddlers, I can see from the images that they are nearly identical though the Fly Tot cushion is slightly smaller. They both come with a pump and the Plane Pal comes with a carrying bag. The pumps are slightly different. The Fly Tot model can be collapsed and secured shut to take up less space.
The Kooshy Kid Kooshion is most similar to the Plane Pal.
What About Cheaper Alternatives to the Fly Tot?
While we think the Fly Tot is one of the best toddler travel beds for airplanes, it might not be the right choice for you.
If the cost of a Fly Tot is too much for your budget, then you can consider other cheaper alternatives.
These are typically a cube shape which is different than the Fly Tot cushion, but the reviews for ones like the 1st Class Kid Pillow are good considering the much lower price. Just keep in mind that these will not come with a foot pump for inflating.
Our Fly Tot Hall of Fame
As mentioned above, we have traveled extensively with our Original Fly Tots for our young kids. As you can see from the photos of the Fly Tot in action, we have had tremendous success in getting our kids to sleep comfortably on our long haul flights.
Fly Tot Flight #1: Canada to Japan
Flight #2: Canada to Italy
Flight #3 with a Fly Tot: Canada to Norway
See also: Norway with kids.
Flight #4: Canada to London (and beyond)
Flight #5 with Fly Tots: Canada to Thailand
Want More Information about the Fly Tot?
We hope that you’ve learned a lot about the Fly Tot from our extensive use of it on our family travels. If you’d like more information about the Fly Tot, or would like to buy one, please visit the Fly Tot website.
We are grateful to Fly Tot for providing us with the toddler airplane travel bed we used for this review.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site TravelBanffCanada.com.