My husband and I have flown with our twin sons since they were infants. I’ve breastfed them next to a couple of middle-aged men on their way to a golf vacation. They’ve slept cradled in our arms, across our laps and against our chests, La-Z-Boy style, as we’ve crisscrossed the country. Whatever the position, I’m not sure any of us were ever really comfortable. Especially those two golfers.
For our most recent trip, however — a flight from our home in Denver to D.C. for my cousin’s wedding — we tested the JetKids by Stokke’s BedBox, a kid-sized rideable carry-on that converts an economy-class seat into a makeshift bed. Even though my boys — now 3-and-a-half — were too long to lay down comfortably to sleep in their extended seat, when one felt sleepy, the extension gave him extra room for his legs while he laid his head in my lap. There was an unexpected bonus, too: With their “beds,” our kids were less likely to lose their toys in the black abyss of the airplane carpet and, more importantly, less likely to play on that same germy ground. On our return flight, I couldn’t set the beds up fast enough for the boys after we took off. I also realized that, had we splurged for economy plus, the increased pitch would have given the boys the little extra room they’d need to curl up on their own. Even though they sat up most of the way home, they didn’t want me to put the BedBox away. They were too happy for the extra play space.
I just wish we would have had these when the boys were younger, because I imagine any kid under 2 would fall asleep immediately on one. Online reviews have said as much, and the Stokke website has collected plenty of real-world pictures of cute kids, big and small, either stretched out or curled up, asleep or comfortably relaxing in their own personal lounge chair. But what most people seem to love about the BedBox, is how much fun their kids have riding it.
That was definitely the case for our twins. They tend to whine when we walk anywhere that doesn’t lead to a playground, but after straddling their bags in the parking lot at the airport, the only sounds they made were cries of delight as my husband and I each grabbed a pull strap and led them on what turned out to be a half-mile walk to our terminal. We got endless smiles from strangers and brand name requests from parents and flight attendants. And we got contented silence from the boys, even as we stood to check in, or in bagel lines, or along moving sidewalks. The wheels are fast and smooth (and have their own suspension!), which made pulling easy. The only real issue is the lack of brakes. The BedBoxes tend to speed down ramps at a pace the boys loved a lot more than their parents did.
My only complaint is durability. To turn the suitcase into a bed, you remove the top, flip it, and put it back on the suitcase with the open end up. It looks like a cute little bulldozer with its scooped blade held high. The top has two sliding plastic panels — one to extend the seat and hold the mattress, the other to cover a small storage area for toys and snacks. But the first time I tried to set them up — trial runs at our home before heading to the airport — whenever I would flip over the top, one of the plastic panels clattered to the floor. When I tried to replace it, I broke the ends of the tiny, flimsy rails meant to keep them in place. The bed still worked, but picking up those panels was an extra step I would have been happy to avoid.