PHOTO: AIR NEW ZEALAND
My first flight with my daughter involved weeks of planning, an extensive packing list and countless sleepless nights, consumed with agonizing over how exactly I was going survive the four hours and 15 minutes of flight time between Toronto and Cancun. It was beyond stressful, but also par for the course for parents travelling with young kids.
In 2011, Air New Zealand introduced the Economy Skycouch, a row of seats that can be turned into a couch after take-off. Originally marketed towards couples wanting to catch some z’s in-flight, the airline recently turned its focus to families, launching the Skycouch Cuddle Belt and infant pod earlier this month.
The Cuddle Belt is a harnessing system that allows for two children to lie down next to each other across the seat, where previously you could only have two adults or one child and one adult. If your kids don’t feel like sleeping, the Skycouch provides a nice, raised surface where your kids can quietly play, watch TV or gaze out the window at the passing clouds. Hello #travelgoals
At the same time, the airline plans to launch the infant pod, a secure vessel for babies who weigh under 18 kilograms and are under 110 centimetres in length, that can attach to the Skycouch so that you can lay down next to your baby and get some much-deserved shut eye of your own. An added bonus: infants can be placed in the pod for the entire duration of the flight so parents don’t need to worry about disrupting a sleeping baby for takeoff, landing or turbulence.
While the Skycouch is a nice option in theory, it is an upgrade and will require purchasing the entire row of seats. Also, many airlines don’t require kids under the age of two to purchase a seat so budget-conscious parents may not feel like either of these options are worth the extra dough. That said, it’s nice to know that airlines are finally paying attention to the struggles of parents flying with young kids because anyone who’s done it knows, the struggle is real.