Traveling with a Toddler on Japan Airlines

While looking for plane tickets for our move from Massachusetts to Vietnam, I really wanted to find an airline that would make traveling with a 17-month old a bit easier. Thankfully our employer booked us tickets with Japan Airlines, which has a lot of amenities for traveling with babies and young children. We flew on the 787 Dreamliner from Boston to Tokyo (13.5 hours) and then on a slightly smaller plane from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh City (6.5 hours).

JAL Baby Seat

The 787 Dreamliner had windows you could tint to block out light. Each seat had an individual screen.

Child Seat

One of the reasons we were excited about traveling on JAL is that they provide a carseat for toddlers with booked seats. Babies without seats can still have bassinets, but the bassinets aren’t big enough for toddlers. The carseat provided was a Britax one and was pretty comfortable.

You need to request the seat at least three days before your flight, and when you call you need to tell JAL the child’s weight, height, and height from waist to shoulder so the seat can be pre-adjusted for you. JAL will then call you back to let you know if the request has gone through. You can also bring your own carseat if you wish.

JAL Baby Meal

Baby meal for 9 months and up

Food

For children with a booked seat JAL offers three different types of meals, a baby meal for infants up to 8 months, a baby meal for infants 9 months and older, or a child meal. The baby meal’s we got were perfect for him. They included sticky rice, vegetables, a banana, yogurt, a brownie and a muffin. Once he got a child meal instead of a baby meal, and that one included pasta and chicken as the main dish. Gabriel wasn’t so crazy about that one, but he did eat some of it.

Japan Airlines with toddler 1

Duarte sat across the aisle and would take Gabriel for drawing, doing puzzles and playing with stickers

Pre-Boarding

JAL pre-boards families with young children. In Boston, a stewardess actually came to find us about 30 minutes before regular boarding. Gabriel had had an “I need a nap” meltdown going through security, so he conked out right afterward and we let him sleep there as opposed to walking all the way to the gate. JAL staff were concerned about us, so they came looking for us, helped us get the stroller gate-checked, and made sure the carseat was ready so Gabriel could stay asleep while we boarded. Amazing.

Nursing and changing stations

Nursing and changing stations at Tokyo Narita

Nursery at Tokyo Airport

During our 2.5 hour layover in Tokyo, we found a nursery room that was perfect for breastfeeding, preparing bottles and diaper changing. There were four separate stations for nursing moms that could be closed off with curtains. Everything was really clean, and the nursing chairs were comfortable.

Other Amenities for Babies and Toddlers

Before traveling, we called JAL to request a diaper pack. For each flight, they gave us two Genki diapers size Large and two plastic bags for disposal. This was great because it was four less diapers we had to pack in our carry ons. All JAL planes have changing tables in the bathroom.

They also gave Gabriel a choice of toy for each flight. He got a small JAL plastic airplane and a set of stickers. Model planes were also available, but he wasn’t old enough for that toy.

You can see photos of baby meals and read about JAL services for babies and toddlers here:

http://www.jal.co.jp/en/baby/

I’d highly recommend JAL for travel with babies and kids! We will definitely be using JAL again, as they offer the most direct flight from Saigon to Boston. Every other airline does the route in three flights, while JAL does it in two.

11 Comments on “Traveling with a Toddler on Japan Airlines

  1. Such a good article on traveling by Japan Air Lines plane is appreciable as informative and reliable article for the foreigners, who want to travel safely and comfortably, along with toddlers.Thank for the author.

  2. Hey Mrs Carriero! great article. I’ve been travelling a lot lately, in fact its become a passion and something that I love to do, so some good info on here.
    have a great time in Vietnam!

    • Hi Gohar!

      Sorry for the late reply. We had some undersea cable problem and the internet was so slow here during most of August that I could barely check my blog.

      Glad to hear you’ve been traveling. Anywhere in particular? I can’t wait for some school vacations so I can travel a bit in Vietnam.

  3. You’re moving to Vietnam? Whoa, I’ve been way out of the loop for too long! Can’t wait to go read all of the details. Congrats! :-)

  4. I think all airlines should be providing these same services. I liked that the airport has nursing stations. Thanks for sharing!

    • I agree. It’s sad that most US domestic airlines don’t offer any services for families with children anymore.

  5. Wow, you are so lucky to travel to NRT on JAL from BOS, 787..

    Back in 2010, I was traveling for work, from BOS to NRT, and I foolishly booked the early morning flight from BOS > ORD (CO/UAL) > NRT (ANA)… goodness I didnt sleep around 28 hours flat.. (I almost never sleep during flight).

    With family, however I will always prefer a Middle Eastern or Far Eastern (Cathy Pacific/ Singapore Airlines, I am not impressed with ANA) over any other airlines..

    • We’ve had good experiences on Middle Eastern airlines as well. Thanks for sharing your advice and experiences for other readers! I can never sleep during air travel either. I’m lucky if I can get a few dozes over 10 minutes!

  6. Great blog and great advices ! Thank you for the advice on flying JAL as I have two toddlers myself.

  7. Pingback: Tips for Flying with a Toddler

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