Although we knew we had bassinets, it was difficult for us to find out beforehand how big the cots were and how exactly they worked. So, during our flights to and from Australia, I took a few photos which hopefully someone will find useful as research before they fly.
You can generally request a sky cot if your baby is under 10 months old or weighs under 10kg. If you are lucky enough to secure sky cots, you will automatically be placed in the bulk head seats. This means that you have a bit more leg room, but it also means that you will be in a row with other parents with small children.
Our baby wearing his seat belt
During take-off, landing and turbulence, your baby has to sit on your lap and wear a little seat belt that fastens to the adult belt. On the Etihad flights, they were very insistent that the baby must face forward but on our internal and international flights with Virgin, they were less concerned.
The sky cot is made from standard seat material so it is pretty scratchy. The stewards do put a blanket in there, but it is just an adult plane blanket folded up. So we put our own sheets in there so it would be more comfortable and would smell familiar.
Our son with the flap zipped up
Once the baby is in the sky cot, there is a little flap that has to be zipped up at all times. And, on all the Etihad flights, they were pretty insistent about you placing your baby with his face heading away from the aisle. They didn't seem concerned with this on the Virgin flight.
The sky cots on the Virgin and Etihad flights were pretty much the same size and shape. The only noticeable difference was that the one on the Virgin flight was hung quite a bit lower on the wall than the one on the Etihad flight. We much preferred this because on the Etihad flight, we had to stand up to check on our baby and also, it was so high that I struggled to put our baby comfortably in there (although I am 5ft 2!)
The bassinet on the Etihad flight.
Both were quite roomy for our 12 week old baby. But I think if you had a 9kg child, it would be a pretty tight fit.
Another difference was that nearly all the sky cots on the Etihad flights were directly below an information television screen which cast quite a lot of light onto the baby while they were in there. In fact, on all our flights, there was quite a lot of light shining into the bassinet which made it difficult for our baby to sleep. A friend had recommended we took a scarf or Muslin with us to drape over the top to give them a bit more shade. We did this and it definitely made a difference.
The sky cot on the Virgin flight,
If you know your seat numbers, it's worth taking a look on Seat Guru to see where on the plane your seats are. Quite a few of the bulk head seats are by the seat preparation areas which are naturally quite noisy. If you find your seats are there, I would recommend you ask to change if you can because otherwise you'll have the noise of the stewards preparing the food and chatting to each other as well as trolleys and people bashing past all night long.
All in all, our baby didn't really sleep that much in the bassinet. For the most part, it was just too noisy and there was too much going on. On the flight to Australia, we could only get him to settle for any long period in our arms. However, I'm really glad that we had one because it meant that we could at least put him down giving our arms a rest and it was also a useful place to store things when he wasn't in there!