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How to Avoid Sitting Next to a Baby on a Flight [5+ Tips for 2020 Air Travel]

How to Avoid Sitting Next to a Baby on a Flight [5+ Tips for 2020 Air Travel]


Booked a long-haul flight and want to have the best chance at getting some shut-eye? Here’s how to avoid sitting next to a baby on your next flight.

Perhaps you have a red-eye flight with an important business meeting the next morning, and you need a peaceful rest.

Or, maybe you simply want to keep your vacation mood high en route to your beach destination.

Whatever the case may be, you want to avoid sitting next to a baby on your upcoming flight. But, how?

Don’t worry!

Here are 5+ expert tips on how to avoid sitting next to a baby on a flight:

1. Book the Exit Row

Emergency exit rows are awesome if you want some extra leg room, but it’s also a great way to avoid sitting next to a baby on a flight.


Well, for all US flights, a person in the emergency exit row has to be at least 15 years old, according to the FAA. It’s the same in Australia, and in China. In Europe, however, it’s a bit lower, with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) saying at least 12 years old.

But, in most places, no babies!

how to avoid sitting next to a baby on a flight
Taken by P. Hanaoka via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].

2. Avoid the Bulkheads

The bulkhead is that wall or partition that often separates different parts of a airplane cabin, usually between flight classes or when they need to put a restroom or galley in the middle.

However, the row directly behind a bulkhead wall is often made specifically to secure a child safety seat or infant bassinet, so steer clear of that area if you have a choice. This is particularly true of the middle set of seats on a 2-aisle, widebody plane.

3. Head for the Rear of Your Cabin

While this is not a stated rule, generally airplane cabins fill from front to back (aside from those seats chosen by passengers specifically).

And, a group of passengers, such as a family with children, are likelier to have booked earlier and likely will check in earlier for the flight (because planning and all). This means they have a greater chance at being seated in the front of your cabin class (whether economy, economy plus, etc.). Booking a seat in the very rear may help you avoid them.

4. Check the Plane’s Seat Map

Airlines are starting to notice after years of passenger complaints about sitting next to screaming babies. One such company is Japan Airlines, who now have integrated a new child icon on their plane seating maps to identify where children between the ages of 8 days and 2 years old are likely to be seated. However, children over 2 years old can still make just as much noise!

Some international airlines, though none yet in the US, have “kid-free zones” and child-free seating, an area in the cabin reserved for those over a certain age threshold. Among these companies are Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia, Scoot, and IndiGo.

5. Ask to Be Moved

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

If you find yourself butt-in-seat after everyone’s boarded and the baby in the seat next to you is already crying, you could get the flight attendant’s attention and request to be moved.

However, just remember that if the flight attendant can’t move you, you’ll be stuck in your original seat next to a crying baby and their guardian, and you’ll now have added an awkward element to your ordeal.

6. Bribe Someone

If asking to be moved somewhere else doesn’t work, such as when the plane is booked full, bring an extra $20 or $30 in cash. Then, shop around after everyone’s boarded and see if you’ll find a traveler willing to accept that cash in exchange for taking your seat.

7. Go First Class or Business Class

For parents flying with kids, it is often too expensive to pay for a first class or business class experience, meaning that if you do, you have a greater chance of avoiding children.

8. Book a Red-Eye Flight

Red-eye flights, those overnight journeys, usually coincide with most people’s normal sleep schedules, and that includes babies!

So, you might have great luck avoiding a torturous toddler temper tantrum (say that three times fast!) on a flight, if not the baby themselves.

9. Sit In Front of a Bulkhead Seat

I know, I know, earlier I told you to avoid a bulkhead seat.

A bulkhead seat is the seat behind that partition wall. However, on the other side, you may find some extra peace and quiet. First of all, a bulkhead behind you may mean there’s a kitchen or bathroom at 6 o’clock, minimizing the chances of a child near you simply by minimizing the number of seats directly around you (though these could be noisy themselves).

Furthermore, no annoying kicking! You know how toddlers or young children sometimes get that restless leg syndrome and kick, kick, kick? With a bulkhead behind you, that’s a problem for someone else.

10. Wait it Out

Here’s the thing—

Babies can’t cry the entire flight, unless it’s just a quick hop (and if it’s a quick hop, you wouldn’t be missing out on much sleep).

Usually, if you can just wait it out for half an hour, one hour tops, that baby will be fast asleep before you know it, and you can get on with your flight!

11. Bring Earplugs & Hope for the Best

What if none of those above tips work out for you?

First, always carry a pair of earplugs, even if you don’t sit next to an infant, toddler, or other child. On a plane, the ear-splitting cry of a child will reach you even from a dozen rows away or more. If you can afford it, upgrade to a pair of noise-cancelling headphones (but still carry those earplugs).

If all else fails, you could try to pray to one of the ancient travel deities to grant you peaceful passage! 😉

Well, that’s our post on how to avoid sitting next to a baby on a flight, and we hope you found it helpful! Got any questions, comments, or other flight tips for avoiding seats next to children on a plane? Let us know below in the comments, and thanks for reading!

Christian Eilers
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Christian Eilers
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