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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.