First Class Flight for Kids
- What: JetKids BedBox
- When: Birth to 7 years
- Why: Create more horizontal space on board airplanes
- Where: Amazon or JetKids
I recently read about the JetKids BedBox and I couldn’t resist.
In the last eight months, I’ve taken my three kids on six airplane trips, and I needed to know how this bed in a box worked.
If you have ever hauled tired kids through an airport, you may have seen the hard-sided rolling suitcases for kids. I know I have. I’ve never deviated from my kid backpack approach, but even I’ve noticed the occasional kid rolling themselves under their own power.
The JetKids BedBox uses the same idea. But instead of only being useful to get to and from your plane(s), it goes one step further. It creates a small bed, roughly the size of a small bassinet or Moses basket, on board the airplane to make flying more comfortable for your child. The fact that you can use it to get around the airport before you take off and after you land is simply smart design. Since we’d been on the fence about rolling ride-on suitcases, I decided to give this BedBox a try.
Touted as a first class experience for the price of coach, it extends the seating area to make a platform for the included mattress. The mattress rolls up and fits inside the suitcase when not in use. Once it arrived, I was skeptical that it would fit underneath the seat onboard. I don’t like getting out of my seat and accessing the overhead bins in flight, because I usually have at least one kid or stranger sitting in the aisle between me and the overhead bins.
But to my surprise, it did fit underneath the seat sideways. You wouldn’t be able to fit anything else into that space save a magazine on top, but that didn’t bother me. None of my kids use the underseat storage for anything, so the box actually ended up making better use of that space than their backpacks, which are the usual inhabitants.
You can’t use the bed portion during takeoff or landing. But once you reach cruising altitude, it’s easy to set up. You connect the base of the suitcase to the seat with the clip on strap (that doubles as the handle and pulling strap when on wheels) and flip the lid over. You adjust the height of the lid to match the airplane seat, and pull the sliding tray towards you until to rests on the seat. I had to push the suitcase itself back into the seat in front of us to get more room, but it definitely worked. Then you place the mattress on top, and you’re all set.
You can’t easily access things inside the suitcase once you set it up, though it’s possible in a pinch depending on which portion of your child’s anatomy rests on the suitcase. For my kids’ feet, I could move them to one side and raise the lid, but I didn’t remove it and my hand didn’t slide in to access the contents. The BedBox also blocks the underseat storage completely. Depending on the partitions between seats, it may even block part of the next seat as well. That didn’t pose a problem for me either, but it’s good to know before you buy. Since I rarely travel with fewer than two kids, we have lots of underseat storage options. With one kid, it might be more of an issue.
I had no trouble keeping my 2.5 year old buckled into the seat belt even when lying down. On one flight, he complained about the buckle itself being in the way, but I fixed that by having him roll to his other side. I tightened the seat belt enough that I felt comfortable and safe, though you could let it out and give them more freedom of movement.
Moving through the airport, all three of my kids loved it. They couldn’t get enough of riding on it or pulling each other around. I took a stroller as well as the BedBox, but probably could’ve skipped it at this point. I used the stroller mostly to lug other things like food and their rolling backpacks while they played with the BedBox and wore themselves out.
I haven’t tried other ride on suitcases, but I’ve read that the front wheels don’t swivel. They stay fixed in position. That was not the case for the BedBox. It turned beautifully. It worked great even in the parking lot, though I was reluctant to use it on rougher surfaces. All three of my kids, ranging in age from 2.5 to almost 7, had no trouble riding it, steering it, and braking when needed. The only thing we ran into was running over the longer strap, which can easily be removed if needed. My kids pulled each other, and the one riding went faster than the one pulling, and ran over the strap a couple of times.
My kids also loved to use it as a seat. Both my older kids pulled it up to their preferred seating spot while waiting at the gate and made good use of it there as well, which I had not predicted.
As a person who cringes at current airfares, I can’t imagine using the BedBox with an infant because I never purchased an extra ticket for a lap child under two years of age. Once they reach two, it has less utility. But my tall six year old happily used it as a footrest on one of our flights, and my tall 2.5 year old curled up on it in flight with zero complaints.
It comes with two sides that attach with Velcro to the main mattress. Those don’t roll up or compact in any way for storing inside the suitcase, so I ditched them. I didn’t care if my kids’ feet hung off the sides, and I wanted more interior space inside the suitcase for storage and transportation.
The strap can hook on to make a regular style shoulder strap, though I never got a chance to try carrying it that way. My kids had zero interest in relinquishing it.
You could also buy an inflatable footrest for less, but the height doesn’t adjust and I’m afraid my kids would pop it. The JetKids BedBox costs more than a regular ride on suitcase, but if you take a long haul flight, I’d definitely consider investing. We rarely fly less than five hours per flight, so being able to switch positions helps tremendously even when my child doesn’t actually sleep in the bed.