Test driving the Plane Pal

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Plane Pal Tested: Etihad 15-hour flight Sydney – Frankfurt

Whoever invented this (actually Sam, a mother-of-three) is a genius, hands down. With wriggly toddlers, or babes who have busted out of the bassinet, the question is how to keep them in an economy seat or, even better, sleeping in a seat. Welcome to the hero of the skies, the Plane Pal, which inflates to fill the foot well in an economy seat, in effect creating one flat area for playing, or sleeping.

Plane Pal Lotte and LeniTaking a night flight (solo) with a 15-month old and 2.5-year old, I quickly realised I’d made a big error. Huge. Despite being assigned a bassinet, the younger would no longer fit, and being a lap-infant ticket, it meant she would need to sit on my lap, for 15 long, DVT-inducing hours. So the Plane Pal literally saved my sanity (and legs).

It was easy and relatively noiseless to pump up, (15 furtive foot pumps to be fully inflated, three seconds to deflate) and the entire pack took up around a quarter of a carry-on suitcase, substantially smaller than other brands I’ve tried.

The Etihad hostesses were a little perplexed (it has been approved by 30 airlines), not having seen one before – but approved it as: a) it was against a window and not impeding passengers and b) it sports a large top, but a wedge-shaped bottom, meaning it isn’t as much of a hazard as it would be inhabiting an entire foot space. So we could escape if the plane was going down.

Plane Pal Leni asleepComparing the risk of being trapped in a plummeting plane, or the madness of long haul toddler flying, it’s no question I would have been prepared to block up the entire row with Plane Pals.

After a rough start to the flight, when looking down at my two asleep on the Plane Pals, I asked myself, “Is this the definition of absolute happiness?” and in the situation at the time, it was. How long did they sleep for? Eight hours. EIGHT HOURS, people (on and off), you can’t buy that kind of mother contentment!

Although intended for children aged two to eight years, I also loved using it to put my feet up (sorry, move over baby!). And while it was designed for a seat row, it easily fit a bulkhead by touring it lengthways.

Plane Pal? Two thumbs up.

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Flip Byrnes
Flip Byrnes
‘The Adventure Mamma’ is just that – a travel journalist who happens to be the first Australian woman to climb and snowboard descend Mt Elbrus (Europe’s highest), kite skied 500km across Greenland, walked across Spain and climbed Kilimanjaro. But now she’s on the biggest adventure of all, motherhood. Join her and her mountain munchkins as they make daily life an adventure, big and small. @theadventuremamma