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Pregnancy & Parenting

Un-friendly Skies: Where Are the Changing Tables?

By Gwynn Cassidy

Created: 03/12/2009
Last Updated: 04/14/2014

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Gideon and I recently flew to Orlando for my sister-in-law's 30th birthday. We went to all four Disney parks and Universal Studios, Gideon experienced his first swimming pool (which he loved!), and generally had a great time.

Unfortunately however, on our way to the Happiest Place on Earth, I discovered that our flight, brimming with Disney-bound children, did not have a changing table.

Earlyish in the flight, I wanted to change Gideon's diaper. As my regular readers know, my son (who, at 9 months, has racked up more frequent flier miles than most adults I know) is a really easy-going, happy traveler but he's never made it through a flight without the need of a diaper change.

When I discovered the lack of changing tables in the rear restrooms, I approached the nearest flight attendant and asked if the front restrooms had changing tables. They did not. I then learned that there was only one place I was permitted to change my son's diaper: on top of the toilet seat.

What was changing a diaper like on a narrow public toilet seat while on (bumpy) flight? It was uncomfortable and dangerous for both baby and Mom. Here are 6 things I learned:

1. A baby does not fit on a toilet seat
2. A baby can easily trap their head between the toilet seat and the wall
3. Extra hands are needed to support a baby's dangling head
4. Extra hands are needed to support a baby's dangling feet
5. No matter how much you need them, there isn't enough room for an extra set of hands
6. I'll never fly another flight without first confirming that the plane has a changing table

The airline on which this particular flight occurred claims, "You'll love the way we fly" -- I guess they mean it as long as your child doesn't need a diaper changed.


I actually have changed DD on a Delta flight on the toilet seat. It's a tough squeeze to stand there but you have to seat her on the (open) toilet seat instead. I untape her diaper and let it fall into the toilet. A couple baby wipes can help any "cling-ons" fall in too. I stand her on the closed toilet to finish wiping. The airplane toilet is more like a powerful vacuum cleaner and doesn't turn the diaper into a swollen mess because it has almost no water, so it can flush the diaper down. More like inhale it into the tiny hole.

It just irks me that airplanes are still not child friendly. I am planning to fly internationally with my 7 month old daughter for the first time in the near future and I'm terrified of what I will encounter. Not really sure how to handle the in flight diaper changes and I know there will be some (or several) on an 11 hour flight.

Just awful!

Thank you for sharing this! I would have been too chicken to defend myself too (and write this) but it is so important that you did. I'm due in 2 weeks and I've seen flight attendants, store employees, waiters, etc. mistreat Moms and it's always upsetting. Usually the Mom just sinks into her chair, too intimidated or embarrassed to defend her absolute right to breastfeed, change her child's diaper, etc. As women and, more importantly as Moms, we must stand up for ourselves and each other.

You've given me the courage and pre-thought so that I know I will stand up for myself and other Moms from now on! Thank you!

Sorry to hear about your bad experience! I would've spoken to her supervisor (if there is such a person on the flight) AND I would've made sure everyone around me knew not only did I have to change my baby ON THE FLOOR but that the flight attendant left me no choice!

I really think it was you! Had I known for sure I would have said hi :)

Hi Paula!

Really? I hope it WAS the same flight and this didn't happen to another unsuspecting mom :) We flew about 2 weeks ago. Did the mom you saw look like me (some of my posts have photos of me and/or you can see one at the top right hand side of the blog in the "Email Gwynn" graphic)?

Either way, thank you for writing.

O.M.G. I think I was on that flight. The stewardess was quite rude and totally not willing to help. I was and am shocked that Delta has flights to the most kid friendly place in the world and no changing tables. This needs to be brought to the attention of the Delta executives.
PS the baby is so cute!

I had a similar experience with other passengers' looks while I breast fed...?????

What is wrong with people!!!

They are lucky you didn't report this incident to the television stations....

I had a similar experience with US Air.

Shame on you Delta!!!

Isn't is the law for them to have a changing table? What a GROSS oversite esp for a plane that is always full with children!

as a new mom what can I say? i am so shocked and outraged.

Yep. They lost me too. How awful. My kids have never flown but I've seen people react so badly to children on flights.

They just lost another customer..


I was on a delta flight and, while breastfeeding, the stewardess kept giving me nasty looks. Once i was done and my daughter was asleep she was strangely absent the rest of the flight. I never understood what the heck that was about.

Just found this - just got back from a 9 hour transatlantic flight with Delta and NO changing table - I don't get it and I won't be flying with them again.


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