Baby Bassinet is Nothing but a Bag

January 11, 2013

in Baby & Kid Stories

Flight from Washington DC to Kuwait City = 12 hours.

Although there were several issues leading up to this, I feel that this is the WORST part of the story so I decided to just cut to the chase…

After arriving at my gate and waiting to board, I informed a female flight attendant that I will need a bassinet. She says that it has to be given after take-off. Once we were in the air the flight attendants started to serve food. At this point my son is fast asleep in my arms. I inform one of the male flight attendants that I need a bassinet. He stops and goes to get one and brings back what looks like a duffel bag and puts it on the floor in front of me and asks if that is where I want it. I was SHOCKED when I saw the “bassinet.”

The flight attendant was not interested in helping me whatsoever. In fact he was a little rude. He told me that I had to move my carry-on since there is no room for the duffel bag and my carry-on and told me it had to go in overhead. I am only 5 foot tall and even with a baby not in my arms I cannot reach the overhead compartment. He put my bag in overhead and continued to serve food. He asked if I wanted something to eat, but clearly I could not eat because I had a 6 month old in my arms and I could not just lay him in a bag. So I just sat there as I knew that this was the beginning of a long and very uncomfortable flight.

After about an hour of sitting in my chair with my baby asleep I pressed the button to call for an attendant. A different male attendant came and I asked him to help me with the duffel bag as I do not understand what it is. He apologizes and says that’s all they have. I told him that in the last flight I flew overseas the bassinet came on a wall, not a bag on the floor! I asked him to help me adjust the bag so it can open. He told me that there is not any sort of cushion on the bottom, so he left to try to “make it work” and comes back with a pillow and blanket from first class as if it’s supposed to make me feel better because it’s from first class. He puts the pillow in the bag and tells me to put my son in the bag. The pillow was too small for the bag and my son’s head was falling into the gap. I took him back out of the bag and the attendant went to grab another blanket and pillow. He puts the other pillow in the bag and a folded blanket on top. I then laid my son on the bag and that’s how we left it. He offered to get me some food since we were about 1.5-2 hours into the flight. He brought me a lot to eat in which I was appreciative. This attendant tried to help me and make my flight more comfortable.

The entire flight was horrible. I would not take my eyes off of my son because if he moved at all he would fall off this makeshift bed. I could not watch TV, I had to rush to eat, I had to be slouched over at all times with both eyes on him because he was clearly not safe. Several times during the flight there was turbulence and I did not feel comfortable leaving him. Throughout the flight as the carts came through the aisle my son’s fingers and head were barely touching the carts. It was a dangerous spot for him to be in. If he was in a normal bassinet, we would not have the problem of potentially smashed fingers and bruised heads. I would like to know how on earth could anyone expect to have them put their baby in a duffel bag???? This is inhumane, unsafe and just plain ridiculous.

United is an airline which I would normally be proud to refer but never again will I fly or recommend them again. I am disgusted that they would bring a Mother a bag and just lay it on the ground and say “Here..” and walk away. Their employees have got to be ashamed of themselves.

– Ashley

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

flossiesdoll January 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

But you didn't move to the aisle seat and put him in the middle seat?

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Ashley January 13, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Hello Flossiesdoll,

I was already in a aisle bulkhead seat. I didn't pay for an entire seat, I paid for a lap baby. I have flown overseas before with a baby and last time I flew I was given a bassinet that attached to the wall. This one was clearly not even remotely close to the bassinet I had used prior.

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flossiesdoll January 14, 2013 at 12:58 am

then I don't understand how the carts could have come close to his fingers and head

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Jodi January 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

Ashley – Next time it might be worth it to invest in a baby sling so that you can at least put him in that where he won't be in danger from a cart hitting him. 🙁

Flossie…. /facepalm

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FirstClass January 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Sorry, but your kids comfort and safety is your responsibility. Try opening up your wallet and buying a seat for the kid.

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Heather January 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

I flew to Morocco when my daughter was a baby… and was given the type of bassinet that Ashley describes… a bassinet that hooks onto the wall in front. This worked wonderfully. It was on Iberia whose staff are usually quite brusque… but they had this. There is no need to "open up your wallet" when this service is routinely offered for infants under 2. Ashley should not have been expected to "store" her baby in a duffel bag.

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FirstClass January 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

OK. Maybe it would have been prudent to confirm ahead of time that a proper bassinet would be available.I can't imagine getting on a flight with a baby and
just hoping they have a proper bassinet.??? Maybe that's just me.

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Gabriela March 26, 2013 at 2:37 am

First Class – a regular seat would have been too big for the infant who would just roll off and on the floor. A child car seat cannot be taken on board, has to be checked curbside. She paid for a lap child, which is basically a rental fee for a bassinet. When you purchase a lap child ticket, they are supposed to have a proper bassinet. Sounds like United's fault, not Ashley's.

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Guest April 10, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Actually a child car seat can be taken on an airplane. When my daughter was 18 months we were flying to Orlando from Philly (don't remember which airline) and it was mandatory we have the car seat with us or they wouldn't let us board. Worked out great. She was used to that seat and slept….well like a baby for the entire trip.

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nyrB January 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm

I guess I don't get it. If you "paid for a lap baby" are you not paying for a seat for yourself with the intention of keeping a small baby on your lap (hence the term "lap baby")? Why would you expect the airline to provide some mechanism so you *don't* have to have the baby on your lap? I agree with FirstClass – if you don't want a baby on your lap for 12 hours, how about don't pay for a lap baby??

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mrsjamiecbaker January 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

This sounds awful. I've never traveled with a child of any age and plan to put it off for as long as possible 🙂 I have been on flights with cranky children and struggling parents though, so I definitely understand the frustration.

Pardon my ignorance, but is requesting and receiving this bassinet that attached to the wall something that is standard or could it have been something the FAs were unfamiliar with. I'm by no means a flying expert, but I've never heard of or seen these. I guess in the future for yourself and anyone traveling with these needs, calling ahead and ensuring the availability is a must.

That being said (and forgive me if I sound rude, as it is not my intention), shouldn't you have paid for a seat for your child if you were expecting to be able to put your child somewhere other than your lap for the flight? Paying for a "lap baby" means your child rides on your lap unless you get lucky and are next to a vacant seat. I know tickets are more than pricey, but it seems like it would make more sense to pay the extra and have your child in your own carrier, secured to the seat with the belt, and comfortable in something that s/he and you are both familiar with. For a flight that is that long, it makes sense to pay more and get an additional seat.

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lily January 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm

ha. it was a long-haul united flight we were on – last ever – when the female head of the cabin crew walked over my toddler in the aisle, knocking her down, and kept going. everyone saw it. wish i sued.

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Robyn January 23, 2013 at 5:58 pm

why on earth was your child in the middle of the aisle and not in his/her seat like they're suppose to be?

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Csd February 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

When I get to read this kind of comments I just feel like getting the mother and the FA’s to court. You say you flew before, so it’s not your first time on an aircraft, did you ever here that it is recommended to keep your seatbelt fastened during the flight. It is highly recommended because of getting into clear air turbulences, believe me, if this had happened your baby would have been flying up to the ceiling and within seconds down to the floor again. Why I would sue the FA? He is supposed to explain to you, that in case of turbulence you have to have your kid with you. I am a FA for 10 years now and I have never heard of bassinets on the floor, I guess they didn’t know how to put them on the wall. I would never let any parent have their baby on the floor, in an aircraft. Safetywise that’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. In case of an decompression, your kid is down there, you put your mask on first, ok, and if it’s a rapid decompression? Your kid is gone! Out of the aircraft! Sorry for painting things like this, they usually don’t happen, but if they happen you have to be prepared. You are not on a bus, it’s an aircraft, keep safety in mind at all times. You should have been briefed. The baby’s head always points away from the aisle. I hate it when we are seen as just a waitress or waiter, but some FA’s don’t deserve more! And you as a mother should take better care of your kid! This doesn’t go only for FA’s, you can not expect that there are bassinets on board, or food, etc…

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Katie March 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

You had me laughing so hard! Loved the way you described everything! Good writing. Situation sucks though!

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SooperMom March 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I've flown numerous times, both domestic and international, and I've never seen a bassinet as you describe. I've never heard of an airline offering bassinets to passengers with infants. You didn't want to pay for an additional seat for your baby, and now you're upset that you didn't have a comfortable flight. I don't see that you have a legitimate gripe. The airline did nothing wrong.

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BayGuy March 25, 2013 at 7:43 pm

I've flown over 1,000,000 miles. Any decent airline carries the kind of wall-hanging bassinet she described – at no extra charge. But this was United, so poor service is expected, sadly.

They bought the PanAm overseas route, but it was no improvement. Pan Am was horrible, too.

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paper editor January 13, 2014 at 3:28 am

I wanted something to eat, but clearly I could not eat because I had a 6 month old in my arms and I could not just lay him in a bag. So I just sat there as I knew that this was the beginning of a long and very uncomfortable flight.

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@RhovanionGirl February 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm

I'm sorry this happened, but that's probably something you should have confirmed with the airline prior to booking!

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Lucy March 14, 2014 at 4:52 pm

I understand you had to put him down while you ate, but why did you have to sit hunched over the whole flight to stare at him? Wouldn't it have been easier to hold him in your lap??
Sorry you missed out on watching movies, but you chose to bring a baby on a flight, whether or not there was a bassinet you should've been watching the kid the whole time anyway.

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Robert June 29, 2015 at 8:17 am

Those of you that are blaming the mother for being an inexperienced flyer obviously haven't read United's policy on bassinets. They do have them and they allow you to request them.

The functionality of the bassinet is a design from the aircraft manufacturer. They ALL are designed to hang on a bulkhead. It's not an airline-by-airline set-up. But, the airline needs to have the proper bassinet frame, andthe FA needs to know how to install it. Just because all of you 1K flyers haven't seen them, it doesn't mean that they don't exist. You just aren't paying attention.

I have learned from experience to NOT expect a confirmed bulkhead seat when I book my child as a lap child, but, if I do get the bulkhead seat, I expect the proper bassinet (which does include a safety strap). I can only assume that this mother had the same reasonable expectation.

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@Sanjeev_Varma June 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm

US carriers suck the big one,it's like flying budget regardless of the price. Fly non-us carrier and you shouldn't have a problem

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Kayla Walker July 12, 2016 at 6:50 am

It is very sad to hear that about your bad experience. This is the reason i try to avoid travelling far with my baby. I am also a mother of one baby girl and had similar kind of experience. From that day i never travelled with my princess whatever work i have to do. I just avoid it.

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Weyoun July 12, 2016 at 11:02 pm

They expected you to put your child in a bag ON THE FLOOR? what is it, a yappy dog? Isn't putting babies on the floor some kind of illegal? A proper bassinet, at least 1, should be present at all times, especially since you requested one prior to boarding. If they can't provide for PEOPLE of all ages, then they're a shitty airline. The comfort of all passengers matters. I remember there being an Air Crash Investigations episode where they told parents to put their babies on the floor and they all perished in the crash….Fuck that noise.

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