Buying a Skycouch would usually be the last thing on my mind when booking four pricey seats on any flight, except for recently when we booked on Air New Zealand for our Australia trip and we couldn’t guarantee that the four of us could sit together on an overnight flight from Auckland to San Francisco. Yes, we had managed to get ourselves in a two and two configuration as aisles and middles in different parts of the plane which might have been okay, but an incident in our travels through Australia cemented my need to find a better solution.
We have been pretty fortunate for the amount of flights we’ve flown-we’ve only had a few really dicey ones like a flight into Vegas where the pilot had to redo our landing or another flight where the hubby had to help with a medical emergency. (Knock on wood a zillion times now!) But on a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Auckland, something truly strange happened. A lady two rows up arrived at her seat long after her surrounding passengers had arrived and she started causing a fuss.
Why is there stuff in my bin?!! She exclaimed. Whose stuff is this? And she started emptying the overhead bin beside her seat. She started returning everyone their things and in the process threw a bag at the person behind me and whacked me in the head.
The crazy thing is that despite her horrific behavior, none of us wanted to confront her and no one wanted the flight to be delayed so we let her do her thing. The people in the seats in front of me kept telling her to go talk to the flight attendants but they were no where to be found during this ordeal.
Eventually when no one engaged with this ridiculous behavior it stopped and the lady tucked into her window seat.
It was then that I realized that the kids, the hubby and I would have no idea who was in the window seat next to us on our long 12 hour flight home from New Zealand to the USA and with our current configuration we had double the chance of dealing with an unknown third party that might not be very sensitive to sitting beside children traveling on an overnight flight.
Frantically we called the airline trying to convince them that a family should be able to sit all together for this kind of flight-especially with kids in tow but the only way we could sit all together was to upgrade to premium seats or buy a skycouch. And what is a Skycouch? It’s pretty much a system that lets you put your footrests up and make it into more of a bed. It comes with pillows and blankets and a special seatbelt that can buckle you up when you are lying down.
For us, the best thing about the Skycouch is that because we already had four seats the Skycouch would most likely allow us to sit in a row of three plus one and we didn’t have to buy any additional seats. We would have the added benefit of potentially creating a better sleeping environment for the kids. And because they could sleep better, we would have a potentially more relaxing trip because even though my guys are not babies anymore, it is still not very comfortable flying with overtired 8-year-old energetic boys. We ended up buying the Skycouch because I didn’t want the stress of worrying about a potentially uncomfortable situation on a flight and I felt a zillion times better once I knew we would be able to sit together.
So on our flight I sat next to my guys and my husband sat across the aisle. Our seats looked like regular seats but there was an added seatbelt hitch in front of us for when we turned our seats into a Skycouch. After we ate our meal and had played enough games and stayed up long enough to be tired on an airplane, the kids unfolded the skycouch and made their bed. It would be a little tight for the three of us to lie across so we just put up their legrests and left mine down.
The guys were really proud of their sleeping arrangement and ended up sleeping really well and I had a peaceful ride across the Pacific. I even watched a few movies which is something I always dreamed about doing on an airplane when we travelled when the kids were younger. And after 6 weeks in Australia and New Zealand, the first things the guys told their grandparents upon arriving home was about the amazing skycouch bed they had on their flight and a special Pokémon they found in Australia called a Kangaskhan.
So ultimately, because it relieved stress and created more comfort and was a fun experience, it felt like our Skycouch purchase was money well spent even though it wasn’t money we were originally counting on spending. I’m not sure we would actually need a Skycouch if we had seats together-we flew to New Zealand from North America in a row of four and it worked out quite well. The cost of the Skycouch could pay for a hotel for a night, a fancy meal, a couple tickets to a play or maybe a toy that the kids might want and when you’re paying full price for seats for kids who barely weigh a third of most grownups it feels a little ridiculous to have to pay any more to be on a flight. So now that we’ve done it once, I don’t think it’s something we’ll make a habit of but now it’s something I’ll be aware of as one more cost we might have to pay for our family to travel together in the future.
In the same situation would you have splurged for the upgrade or would you have hoped maybe somebody would trade seats? Have you had an uncomfortable flying experience and what did you do-has it changed how you travel now? I’d love to hear!
(PS. The kids’ meals on Air New Zealand were really lovely. If you call a few days before your flight you can usually request a kids’ meal on flights with meals. I’m really thankful for airlines that try to make kids’ flights special)