I’ve been asked by quite a few people to write a round up post about the best kids’ travel pillow for long haul flights – you know, the inflatable pillow/inflatable foot rests or convertible suitcases that become airplane toddler beds allowing your little one to stretch out and get a good night’s sleep on the plane.
Up until now, I’ve avoided recommending a flight pillow for kids because I’ve never actually used a plane pillow for my kids and felt it would be difficult to offer a real review of the options of inflatable travel pillows for kids without having tried one out. Also, I wasn’t sure which airlines allow inflatable footrests as I keep reading they are banned with certain airlines so I (incorrectly) made an assumption that most airlines don’t allow kids’ inflatable travel pillows.
After a bit of research though, I realised it would make a useful post as many airlines do allow people to travel with a kids’ inflatable travel pillow, flight foot rests or foot hammocks. To make the post as fair as possible, I decided to ask my friends in the travel blogging community for their thoughts on the best foot hammock or best toddler travel bed for airplane travel out of the wide range of kids’ travel pillows on the market. After all, travel bloggers spend a lot of time in the air, so who better to road test the options for us!
Can I use kids’ travel pillows and inflatable foot rests on all flights?
Before I jump into the reviews of the flight pillows for kids from this awesome bunch of travel bloggers, I just need to say there has been a lot of talk about the safety of using a plane sleeping pillow for your kids on planes. As the travel sleep pillows go in the space between the seats, it blocks off the access to the lifejacket and could cause issues if you needed to make a quick exit.
Some airlines have banned some of the inflatable kids’ plane cushions. However, many of these kids’ flight pillows can still be used on selected airlines. You will need to double-check the most up to date information with your airline before you invest in a bed in a box or inflatable travel pillow for your next long haul flight to ensure you buy a brand that is accepted on the airlines you want to travel on. Where available, I will list of airlines that accept the product on the kids’ flight pillow from the information on the product’s own website – this should hold the most up to date information about which airlines allow inflatable foot rests and kids’ flight hammocks. While the information within this post about inflatable kids’ flight pillows is accurate at the time of publication, things change so it’s always important to double-check with your airline for yourself.
Can I use kids’ travel pillows and inflatable foot rests on my next flight? The simple answer is: Potentially, yes. But they aren’t all allowed with every airline so you need to do your research!
Basic safety guidelines for using kids’ travel pillows as toddler beds
There are some basica safety rules when it comes to using inflatable travel pillows for toddlers and kids…
You cannot inflate or set up your kids’ travel pillows until the seatbelt sign has gone off and you’re at cruising altitude. During takeoff and landing, the item must be stowed away under the seat or in the overhead locker, depending on its size (this applies whether it is a footrest for long haul flights, an inflatable foot rest or a solid bedbox).
For this reason, the items below are best used for long haul travel like flights to Australia – for short flights it’s often not worth the hassle. However, for long haul flights, I’m told they are worth their weight in gold for the extra rest they give you! I do wish I’d bought them for our youngest when we did our 24-hour journey to Australia!
Now on to the reviews of the blow-up travel pillows…
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1st Class Kid Pillow
The First Class Kid Pillow is an inflatable foot rest that you blow up and place between the seats. It can be used by kids to lay and sleep on, or it can be used as a blow-up footrest for any age to make you more comfortable stretching out on the flight.
Made from durable PVC and flocking (felt-style) material, the 1st class kids travel pillow packs down quite small making it easy to transport.
You will need to inflate the first class kids travel pillow manually (check out this link on the 1st Class Kid pillow website for instructions) when you are at cruising altitude. It is recommended that you partially inflate and then finish the inflation when it is in situ so it sits snugly. Ideally, this works best in a window seat, although you can use it in any seat (you’d just need to move the sleeping child if someone in the window seat wanted to exit if you used it in the centre/aisle seats.)
Please note, according to the 1st Class Kid website, it is presently NOT recommended for use on the following airlines: Emirates, Qantas, Air Canada, Air France, United and Air New Zealand flights. Please always check this information before you travel in case anything changes.
1st Class Kids Pillow review
The review of 1st Class Kid travel pillow comes from Marianne from Mum on the Move.
‘The 1stClass Kids Pillow is an inflatable leg rest pillow that fills the legroom gap on the airplane. I have two of these pillows and have used them many times on long haul flights with my two kids.
The 1st Class Kid pillow is inflated by blowing into it using a mouthpiece. It does take a bit of puff, but I have managed to do both by myself, although you do get a little lightheaded! Once it is inflated it jams into the footwell and doesn’t move around. To achieve this you need to partially inflate it first, then do the final inflation once it is in position.
To deflate it you unscrew the valve and it deflates in seconds. Being inflatable means that it folds down very small and can easily fit into my kid’s hand luggage along with all their other things.
I have used these pillows on a variety of long haul airlines and never had an issue with being allowed to use it. I have never checked ahead and usually inflate them once the flight is well underway and without drawing attention to it! My kids have used them from ages 2 up to 6. My 7 year old still wants to use hers but is really too big for it now, although I have to confess to having snuck my feet onto it on occasion!’
For tips on the best travel accessories for kids, visit Marianne’s blog, Mum on the Move
Katy from Untold Morsels is another fan of the 1st Class Kid travel pillow
‘As an expat family we travelled at least once a year between Australian and the UK with our twins from baby to preschool years. Over 24 hours of travel time each way meant we were always on the lookout for products that helped our kids sleep. And therefore made our trips less stressful.
We discovered the 1st Class Kid travel pillows online and ordered them immediately. Promising a way to help our children lie flat on the plane, these gadgets seemed like a simple solution to an awkward problem. As this was three years ago, and the early days of products of this nature, it was difficult to find alternatives and do further research. The inflatable device seemed straightforward to use and came with a quick deflation valve that I thought was important for safety.
The product met our expectations. It is light, easy to inflate manually and made our children much more comfortable on our long haul flights than they would have been sitting upright. We used the pillows constantly from the ages of 2 until 4 when airline rules changed and they were no longer allowed on the long haul flights we took with Qantas. This coincided with a growth spurt and I think we would have had to abandon them anyway when the kids grew over 1 metre tall. At that stage their legs were too long to spread out while laying down.
Overall, we loved our flight pillows and they made a huge difference to the amount of sleep we could expect from our children. I recommend them wholeheartedly if you are flying on an airline that allows them.’
Read more about Katy’s travel experiences on her blog, Untold Morsels
Buy the 1st Class Kid travel pillow
>> Buy the 1st Class Kid Inflatable travel pillow from Amazon US
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Jet Kids Bed Box by Stokke
The JetKids BedBox by Stokke promotes that it offers ‘first class travel for kids’. Unlike the kids’ inflatable travel pillow options, this comes in a hard case with wheels. There is the Jet Kids Bed Box and also a Jet Kids Ride Box. The Stokke bed box cases are on wheels, allowing you to pull them around the airport and the ride on ones act like a Trunki where your kids can ride on them.
The bed box Jetkids product comes with a washable mattress and it fits most economy seats. The Jet Kids Bed Box is recommended up to the age of around 6-7 years. The idea is that your bedbox travel bed doubles up as your child’s hand luggage. The bed box case lid easily converts into a comfortable leg rest which is height and length adjustable. It is recommended that bedboxes be used on window seats to create plane beds for your kids to stretch out on. Alternately, you can also use this children’s flight bed in the centre of a centre row (i.e. where there is a row of three seats in the centre of the plane and you are in the middle of them).
Stokke Jetkids airlines: Check out this site for the list of approved airlines for Jet Kids Bed Box
Jet Kids Bed Box Review
Keri from Our Globetrotters tells us what she thinks of the Jet Kids Bed Box…
‘The Jet Kids Bed Box is the first of it’s kind to come in a hard plastic casing, made to actually attach to the chair and create a firm bed in an economy class seat. The Bed Box is multi-purpose, in that it can be used as a roll on suitcase for kids, as well as a sleep device.
We got to road test one not long after they were released with my then seven-year-old and five-year-old taking turns. While it was good – it undoubtedly helped them to get more comfortable to sleep without playing plane Jenga – it hasn’t been an item we have continued to use.
My main reason is that the box is quite bulky. While useful for the flight, and great fun for the kids zooming around the airport, we then tend to struggle for what to do with it while travelling beyond the flight. It’s not practical to use day to day travelling, so the kids still end up needing a small backpack as well. Being hard plastic, we then found it difficult to store in the car while road tripping to our next destination – along with strollers, car seats and every other bit of paraphernalia travelling parents need!
As it is a hard case that’s made into a bed, there are mattress pieces stowed in the box for comfort. Whilst light, this does take up a fair bit of space inside the box so don’t expect much toy storage. You have to keep the box stowed in the overhead locker until seat belt signs are off so you need storage space too. On a coupled of flights we were not allowed to use the bed box so had to stow it as hand luggage. The next flight we just gave up and put it in the hold.
It takes a small amount of practice to learn how to flip the lid over to make the bed surface, and I struggled to get the box to stay still as it is on wheels. A few times during the flight it started to roll away, it needed tying tighter to the chair underneath, which to me does raise a safety issue. Correctly installed by the window seat (as we now know!) it shouldn’t be a problem, but would definitely impede access to your life jacket underneath.
It’s one of those items I’d suggest if you were only flying from A to B only makes perfect sense; but is not very useful for onward travel making it a big draw back for the travelling family, especially as we have three children to consider. And like any of these products, it relies on you getting the right seat on the plane, with the right airline. All up, worth the investment? Not in my opinion.’
Check out Keri’s full review of the Jet Kids Bed Box on Our Globetrotters.
Buy a Jet Kids Bed Box
Flypal inflatable travel pillow for kids
>> Buy Flypal from Amazon
The inflatable Flypal is two inflatable travel cushions stacked on top of one another that creates a flexible foot rest or toddler bed for planes. You can turn it into three different heights as an inflatable foot rest, a leg rest, or inflatable travel toddler bed. It is lightweight and easy to pack. The total item weight is less than 0.8kg and it packs easily into your hand luggage rucksack. It is versatile – the smaller cushion is a great little footrest which elevates legs and improves circulation which is important on flights.
The larger cushion lets you elevate your legs and feet, and when you combine the two flight cushions a child under three feet tall can lay down.
I couldn’t find a comprehensive list of airlines that allow this product online so it would be worth calling your carrier to check before travelling.
Flypal inflatable travel pillow review
Jolene from Mum Knows Best shares her thoughts on the Flypal…
‘We all know that flying with kids is much easier when your child is comfortable. And with the right foot pillow, travel on the plane with a baby or toddler can be more of a breeze.
As frequent travellers, we have managed to test out a range of these foot pillows and finally settled one the inflatable one simply due to the fact that they are much easier to port around (in comparison to those that you have to wheel behind you through the airport).
The FlyPal pillows are essentially a travel foot pillow that is made up out of two inflatable pillows. When stacked up, those two pillows create a perfect flat surface extending the airplane seat, thus creating a very comfy bed for your little one. I really love the pillow for myself because I can inflate only the smaller of the pillows and use it for a foot rest.
You have to inflate the pillows by blowing into the large opening with your mouth. The process is quick and easy though – although you might get some curious stares from the passengers around you. Fortunately the pillows are just as easy to collapse as they are to inflate. Within 30 seconds, your FlyPal pillows are folded and stored away back in your backpack. Yes, the pillows do take a bit of space, but they are worth the hassle.
So far – touch wood – we have been allowed to use the pillows on all flight carriers that we have been on. I never ask permission prior and I must admit that I typically wait till the lights are out and food services have ended – so that it isn’t as visible.
As a safety measure it is important to only use the pillow on seats next to the window or on exit row seats. That way you won’t be blocking anyone way if an emergency comes around. We also prefer popping our daughter’s head on the seat, with her feet on the pillow because I feel that as soon as the seat in front of the pillow reclines that it might squash her head. Our pillow fits in super snug into the foot space so we have never had issues with it moving around whilst she was sleeping.
We started using foot pillows from around 8 months of age – mainly because our daughter was too big for the bassinet at that stage, and we still use it on every flight (Avalee is 2.5 years old now). We honestly find that our flights are so much more peaceful with the pillow. Our daughter isn’t used to sleeping in our arms, so she just settles so much easier on her own space and in her own ‘bed’.
And we all want a peaceful flight whenever we can get one.’
Read more from Jolene over at Mum Knows Best
Buy a Flypal travel pillow
Fly Legs Up flight hammock for kids and adults
Fly Legs Up is a flexible travel companion for all ages (they do an adult inflatable foot rest version and a kids’ travel hammock version). It allows the user to lift their legs into many different positions, and it fits into a compact travel bag.
The Fly LegsUp has been comprehensively tested by a CASA authorised Aviation Engineer and they class it as a “carry on comfort aid” just like a neck pillow. It also complies with FAA/GCAA/EASA/CASA safety regulations. The hammock attaches to the tray table when you reach cruising altitude or you can attach it before take off and stow it in the magazine rack until you are ready to inflate it as it is easier to attach before the person in front reclines their seat. It is recommended that kids over nine years of age use an adult version. The kids’ version comes with an additional pillow that creates a flat travel bed making it easy for them to spread out and sleep. The Fly Legs Up is a really popular product online with a number of Fly Legs Up alternatives on the market trying to capitalise on the popularity of the item.
Fly Legs Up travel hammock review
Clare from Epic Road Rides tells us about her experience with the Fly Legs Up travel hammock…
‘I bought a Fly Legs Up footrest for a long haul flight to California with my then 2-year-old
I went for this over a Jet Kids Bed Box on the basis of price, size and availability. One of the great things about the Fly Legs Up is that it comes in a small, lightweight bag that weighs less than 500g and which you can easily slip into your hand luggage (without it being your hand luggage).
The child version includes three inflatable cushions that you blow up and pop into the hammock that fits over the tray table. I found it quite easy to blow up the cushions, though you should be aware that this attracts attention… I did get some strange looks! However it doesn’t take long to blow up the cushions. Fitting the hammock is a bit fiddly the first time you do it, but once you’ve done it once you’ll be pretty quick at it the next time.
You pop the cushions into the hammock and they then effectively fill in the footwell space and create a flat surface for your kids to sleep or play on. One of the features I like is that you can add more air to the cushions or release some to create the right height. The cushions can also be used as footrests for adults when the kids aren’t using them.
It’s worth knowing that some airlines do not allow these to be used on safety grounds. However we didn’t have a problem with British Airways. I found getting the air out of the cushions quite simple and quick to do, but I guess it has to be said that in an emergency, it might not be as easy. Also, since the cushions block the footwell, if you have someone you don’t know sitting by the window, they’re unlikely to be too pleased. I haven’t encountered this myself since we’re always sitting as a family and taking up the full two/three seats.
I was impressed by Fly Legs Up and would recommend it to friends.’
Pop over to Epic Road Rides to learn more about Clare’s passion for planning amazing bike rides around the world
Buy the Fly Legs Up hammock
HOMCA travel footrest plane pillow for kids
The HOMCA travel footrest is an inflatable travel pillow that can be used as a travel bed for kids, or for adults to put their feet up in transit. It is made from PVC and washable flocking. It is easy to inflate and deflate and is portable and lightweight (less than 400g). It also comes in a handy carry bag. HOMCA make a range of travel gadgets to help you rest easier on planes. I was unable to find a definitive list of airlines which this pillow can be used on.
HOMCA travel footrest review
LeAnna from Well Traveled Nebraskan tells us about her experience the HOMCA travel footrest
‘As a family that does a lot of international travel, when our little one outgrew the airplane’s bassinet, we knew we needed a toddler bed to use on flights. We decided that the easiest and most affordable option was a foot pillow.
Typically, I’m an amazon review junky, but I found that a lot of the inflatable foot pillows all had similar features and price points, so I just went with the most average reviewed and priced one at the time, which happened to be one called “Homca.”
Because it was cheaper than a lot of the other ones, I was worried about it holding up or that it would get a hole easily, but a dozen flights later and it’s still hanging on strong!
I love that it comes in an easy to pack bag and compresses really small, making it super easy to put into our diaper backpack that we use for a carry on.
I honestly didn’t know that many airlines do not allow for foot pillows until well after I bought mine. I have yet to have anyone comment on it though (knock on wood!) and since we always place our toddler in the middle, nobody should have to climb over it since they would be able to use the side aisle seats to exit.
While yes, it is one more “thing” to carry and pack, I’ve always been glad to have it on our long haul flights with our toddler. It is WAY better than having him try to sleep on us!’
Visit LeAnna’s blog, Well Traveled Nebraskan
Buy a HOMCA travel pillow
Want more tips for travelling with kids? Read my guide to surviving long haul travel with kids.
Fly Tot kids’ travel pillow
The Fly Tot is an inflatable aeroplane cushion. It promises a form and stable structure – unlike other inflatable travel pillows for kids, this one doesn’t blow up on all sides like a balloon. Made from a non-fuzzy PVC, the surface wipes clean and is durable. It comes complete with a foot pump and carrying strap. It’s a good height to create an even bed surface for your little one.
Fly Tot review
Our Fly Tot review comes from Celine of Baby Can Travel…
‘We have been using the Fly Tot since 2016 as it was one of the first options available. We like the Fly Tot because we can carry it in our carry on and not have an extra piece of luggage. It comes with a foot pump so it does take up more space in our carry on luggage than we would like, but we can improve this by taking the time to roll it up properly.
For our first flight with the Fly Tot, we had a 3-year-old and a 14-month-old (who was flying as a lap infant), so we used it for both kids, switching on and off. Since that time, we have used it several times for our 2-year-old. We now have one for each of our children who are 5 and 3 years old. We have had great success in getting our kids sleeping for several hours on the flight with the Fly Tot, though getting them to go to sleep can still be an issue. The biggest struggle is getting them to lie down, so we often talk to them about how many movies they will get before they have to try to sleep. I also find that setting up the iPad so that their best viewing position is lying down helps tremendously, especially with our youngest. One thing we know for sure, we are far more successful in getting them to sleep in their own seat with the Fly Tot than across our laps!
We have never had any concerns about the safety aspect of our Fly Tot, since we know how quickly it can be deflated. We have also never had any issues with our carrier allowing them, however, we don’t check in advance and usually only put it in place once the meal has been cleared. In fact, we haven’t even received a comment from the flight attendants about it (good or bad). It seems they don’t even notice we have it set up, though we are certain they do.’
For some top tips about flying with little ones visit Celine’s blog, Baby Can Travel
Buy the Fly Tot
Should I buy a children’s travel pillow to use as a toddler bed for airplane travel?
If my kids were still tiny and we were planning on going on at least one long haul flight, I would invest in a couple of inflatable kids’ travel pillows. I think they are still a useful kids’ travel gadget to own and I think we’d get some use out of them despite the fact they aren’t allowed on every airline. My kids are now 7, 10 and 10 and the majority of the kids’ inflatable travel pillow options aren’t suitable for them now, unfortunately. However, writing and researching this post has shown me that there are still options of foot hammocks to use as footrests for long haul flights that could make our flights a bit easier. There are airplane footrests out there to suit all ages – you can get a plane cushion for toddlers or a foot hammock which is a more grown up option.
I hope this post about inflatable travel pillows for kids helps you choose the best travel pillow for toddlers to use or the best travel pillow for long haul flights for all the family. Australia is such a long way from the UK – I wish we’d invested in these before we made the move to the other side of the world a few years ago!
Remember: If you are looking for the best travel pillow for long haul flights, make sure you check if the brand you like can be used on your usual airlines. Even if you use it a few times and then sell it on Gumtree or eBay, getting some sleep on a 24-hour flight is almost priceless!