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Special Seats, Part I: Bulkhead Seats

There are two special kinds of seats to know about. They can go by different names but may be the answer to some of your travel travails.

The first are the bulkhead seats (we'll talk about the exit row later), that row of seats where your legs extend into the divider wall, the row where you don't have any seats directly in front of you. If you have an infant and request an on-board airline provided bassinet, you will be assigned to the bulkhead seats because that is where the wall brackets that hold the bassinette are located.

This can be good and this can be bad.


You sometimes have less legroom in the bulkhead seats. Depending on the plane, you might just have open space in front of you (good) or a wall divider (not as good). You also can't always see the movie. More and more airlines have individual screens in the bulkhead, but not always. Your tray tables will pop up out of the arm rests instead of folding down from the seat in front of you. These tables can act like a mean scissors and hurt your child's fingers if she gets her hand in the wrong place. The biggest downside is that you're not allowed to put anything in front of you (there's no seat to safely stash things under). This means everything will have to go into the overhead bins which can frequently be full. It also requires some planning on your part. Since you can't get up during take-off, you'll need to get down everything you might need (pacifiers, Cheerios, a stiff drink—for you, of course, not the kids).


If you need the bassinette you have to take these seats. Since there is no row in front of you, your child's continuous kicking of the seatback annoys only you (sorry). The tired businessperson in the row ahead of you cannot recline his seat suddenly and dump a Happy Meal all over your child.