If you’re a frequent long-haul flyer, you’ll certainly be aware of just how costly those trips can be. But should you be looking to save a bit of cash, a blogger named Adele Barbaro might have a solution. In fact, after sharing her discovery on social media in August 2019, the hack quickly went viral.
While it might not be everyone’s favorite form of travel, airplanes are invaluable if we want to see different parts of the world. Unsurprisingly, that can put a strain on our collective wallets, especially when it comes to the longer journeys. To give you a better idea of the costs, here’s an example.
For instance, if you were traveling from Los Angeles, California, to Sydney, Australia, the round-trip ticket could be pretty expensive. Indeed, with American Airlines in March 2020, a premium economy seat would cost you over $2,600. And as for a spot in business class, that’s priced at more than $6,300.
Of course, the prices do vary from airline to airline, but it can still leave a dent in your finances. However, as we mentioned earlier, Barbaro shared a tip that might save you a significant amount of money. According to the blogger, families could be the big benefactors of this particular hack.
Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Barbaro and her husband Paul are the proud parents of two young children named Chloe and Harvey. Barbaro went on to create her blog a few months after the latter was born, calling it “The Real Mumma.” Prior to starting her family, though, the mother had been a keen traveler.
So with that in mind, travel formed the basis of the blog, as Barbaro shared her experiences of flying with the family. Alongside that, she’d also write about toys and cooking on her webpage. But the real emphasis was on plane journeys, and how fellow parents could make the trips a lot easier for themselves.
In fact, Barbaro wrote a lengthy post for other moms and dads out there that revealed some clever travel hacks. She covered a number of different points in that particular blog entry, including stuff about restaurants and hotels. However, the majority of the piece was focused on the journey itself.
Before diving into the tips, though, Barbaro shared some more information about herself. The Australian mom wrote, “I have done my fair share of traveling. I’m the person that chose to travel over [having a] career, and got it out of my system in my 20s.” At that point, she touched upon the jobs that she took on during her time abroad.
Barbaro continued, “I’ve been a tour guide in Europe, worked in hotels, a travel agent in both business and leisure and helped people grow their travel franchises. Now that we have the kids, the way we travel has completely changed. It can be difficult if you are not organized and there is a lot to consider!”
From there, Barbaro started to reel off her list of helpful tips. Her first point covered passports: she advised parents to keep their eyes on the expiration dates. In addition to that, the blogger reminded everyone that young babies were required to have their own travel documents as well.
After that, Barbaro made an interesting suggestion that moms and dads might want to take on board going forward. Given how stressful air travel can be for young children, she hinted that a later flight could be a better option. That way, they were more likely to fall asleep during the journey.
Barbaro’s advice didn’t end there either, as we’re about to discover. The mother wrote, “Flying direct is great to get it over and done with. But for long-haul flights, have a look into different [layover] options with different airlines. A stop in Singapore, Dubai or Auckland can be fun for a night or two for example!”
Meanwhile, Barbaro then shifted her focus to parents who planned to take their babies on a plane. She continued, “If you have a newborn or baby, a stretchy wrap or carrier can be handy for navigating the airport and on the flight. You can have them sleep in it and still use your hands and sleep too.”
But if the children are slightly older than that, Barbaro proposed a hack that could keep them occupied throughout the journey. Indeed, she claimed that a homemade “bag of fun” containing snacks and games might do the job. The mom-of-two also hinted that a tablet computer full of downloaded content could be just as helpful.
As for the seating situation, Barbaro wanted to make something quite clear. According to her, you should probably avoid a certain area of the plane when traveling as a family. She advised, “If you don’t want a bassinet, stay away from the bulkhead seats (front-row seats) if [your children] are older than one year old.”
“You can’t raise the armrests,” Barbaro explained, “Which means you can’t allow your toddler to lay their head on your lap, stretch out legs and go to sleep. Plus, this is where they put most of the babies on long-haul flights too, and you don’t want babies keeping toddlers awake.”
Furthermore, Barbaro raised another important point that parents should consider ahead of long-haul trips. During a flight, our ears can be subjected to some uncomfortable conditions due to the cabin pressure. Yet there are ways to lessen the impact on younger children, with the blogger sharing a few examples.
Barbaro revealed, “Feed [your babies] on the way up and on the way down, to help their ears adjust [to the cabin pressure]. With toddlers, make sure they are eating and drinking so they are swallowing and chewing. Do this until they turn off the seatbelt sign. You want to reach altitude. It’s not just the takeoff.”
Alongside all of those tips, Barbaro touched upon some other bits of advice too, including information about snacks and staying active on the plane. But to round everything off, she had two final hints for traveling parents. In her mind, these measures were non-negotiable musts in the interests of ensuring a smooth journey.
Barbaro added, “Before you get off [the airplane], make sure every nappy is changed and every adult has been to the toilet. Trust me. [And] most of all, try to keep calm. If I get anxious, the kids then get all revved up, so I try and be really chilled and make light of it with the passengers around me.”
While those suggestions might make a world of difference for stressed-out moms and dads, the booking process can be just as challenging. Like we highlighted earlier, airplane tickets can be very costly, especially if you’re catching a long-haul flight. Pleasingly, though, Barbaro had a potential solution for that as well.
As it turns out, if you book a flight with an airliner such as Air New Zealand, you’ll have the opportunity to make a surprising upgrade. Dubbed the “Skycouch,” this option comes into play when you’ve bought one or two seats in a single row. For a reduced cost, you can purchase the remaining space or spaces.
Once you’ve done that, the three seats can be transformed into a makeshift sofa, adding some extra comfort to the journey. If you’re wondering how that actually works, it’s pretty simple. The chairs are fitted with footrests, which you can raise up to the desired level. Fully extended, they form the appearance of a couch.
In terms of the cost, Skycouch could save you quite a bit of money when booking the seats. For you see, in some cases, the comfy option will only set you back by an additional $200. Barbaro got to experience this during another trip with her family in August 2019, when they packed their bags for California.
Barbaro then shared a few details about their flight on social media. Specifically, the made a post on The Real Mumma’s Facebook page, which boasts a sizeable number of fans. Indeed, it has garnered more than 178,000 followers and in excess of 172,000 likes since its launch in February 2016.
Going back to the post itself, Barbaro didn’t waste any time in mentioning the upgrade. She wrote, “We have arrived in Hollywood safe and sound! We got to experience the Air New Zealand Skycouch on our way here, and for those that don’t know what it is, it is a unique economy option where your entire row becomes a bed.”
From there, Barbaro confirmed what we already knew about the Skycouch. She continued, “So, if there are two of you traveling, you can purchase a third seat at half price and you will get the entire row to yourself. The leg rests all rise to meet the chair in front and create a completely flat, large play or sleep area.”
Following that description, Barbaro revealed that the Skycouch was incredibly beneficial for her family. Normally, a flight from Australia to California lasts for over 16 hours, so that can be quite testing for younger passengers. But thanks to the Air New Zealand service, the blogger’s clan could enjoy the journey in relative comfort.
Barbaro wrote, “Paul and Harvey had a bed, and so did Chloe and I. It’s the next best thing to business (but way cheaper) and perfect for long-haul flights with young families. And we all slept. We are a little thrown by the time difference, but it’s nice to arrive and start our holiday without being sleep-deprived!”
At that stage, Barbaro concluded her Facebook post by recommending Air New Zealand to any other travelers, summing up the Skycouch rather succinctly. The parent simply added, “It was so comfy!” And in addition to her words, she also included some photos of her family on the plane’s makeshift sofa too.
Before long Barbaro’s post went viral, after newspapers such as The Sun, Metro and the Daily Mail all covered it on their respective websites. Meanwhile, her message was a big hit on Facebook, earning over 37,000 likes and in excess of 4,500 shares. It went on to generate more than 37,000 comments as well.
In those messages, social media users shared their reaction to the Skycouch, with some wishing that they could experience it firsthand. One individual wrote, “[This] sounds amazing! I’ve never heard of this before EVER. We’ve just flown to Bali, nine hours direct. I wish we’d known this was available so at least our baby could have slept better.”
Those words were somewhat echoed by another Facebook user, who made an interesting point. They said, “I wish every airline would allow this, as it would be very handy when traveling to Ireland, which is two flights [for me]. The first one is 14 hours and the second one is eight hours, but unfortunately they won’t let us use them.”
Elsewhere, a couple of different users shared their own stories about the Skycouch in the Facebook comments section. The first person mirrored Barbaro’s overall feelings on the clever upgrade, hailing its use for long-haul flights. However, they also highlighted a potentially negative aspect that you might want to consider.
The social media user recalled, “We booked this from Los Angeles to Auckland. It cost an additional $600 after paying for two adults. It was a great experience. However, when the row in front reclined their seats it dramatically decreased our area (even with our seats reclined), making it difficult to sleep lying flat.”
“It would be good with young kids,” the user added. “[But it’s] not as ideal for two adults as some photos on the Air New Zealand website lead you to believe. All in all, it’s a good product for parents and kids!” As for the other person, they shared a similar opinion when talking about their time with the Skycouch.
Unlike the previous user, this individual was traveling from New Zealand to California, but the same issue came to light. They explained, “One Skycouch for two full-sized adults did not work. We were with our adult children who had one small child each, [so it] was perfect [for them]. I probably wouldn’t do it again, but definitely fly with Air New Zealand.”
Some social media users with young children backed up those claims, revealing that the space was ideal for them. On that note, one individual looked back on a journey they took alongside their family. According to them, the Skycouch accommodated their needs over the course of their long-haul flight.
The Facebook user wrote, “Oh we’ve had this before and we LOVED it. It was just us and one baby – a MUCH better option than the bassinet seats, as I could lie down and feed [my baby]. Both me and the baby could sleep [on the Skycouch], while his dad binge-watched movies!”
Keeping all that information in mind, you might be wondering if any other airline offers a similar service. In the past, China Airlines planes were equipped with something called the “Family Couch,” mirroring the Skycouch. Air Astana was much the same with the “Economy Sleeper,” so the idea has certainly spread and given more passengers a chance to enjoy some comfort.