39 answers

Flying with 15 Month old....carseat?

In a few weeks my husband and I are going to brave a plane ride to Florida with our 15 month old. We bought three tickets so we'd have plenty of room. I have read that the FAA reccommends using a car seat on the plane, but for the life of me, I can't ever remember seeing a carseat on a plane! Do we check the carseat and hold her during takeoff? Do we actually bring the seat on the plane and attach it to the seat? Any advice, tips, ideas would be great!

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When my son was young (probably 15-18 months) I did use a car seat in the airplane. I think it was helpful having him strapped in rather than relying on the little seat belt the airplane has.

When we traveled with the boys we bought a Sit N Stroll. It is awesome!! It is a car seat (both forward and backward facing), booster seat, a certified airline safety seat and stroller all in one. It holds a child up to 40 lbs. It saves having to tote so many different items with you while traveling. They cost about between $200 & $250 for a new one. You may be able to find a used one as well on Craigslist or EBay. If you are in Phoenix, I am ready to sell mine. I highly recommend it. Whenever we traveled everyone with kids would stop and ask us about it.

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yes, bring it with you...it's much easier. If there isn't room or the car seat isn't FAA approved, they can gate check it. And it will be waiting there when you get off. You can do that with your stroller too, it's great! No chance of either getting lost.

When my son was 3 I took him back east, he had a ticket of course and yes I brought the car seat. I put it in his seat and attached it with the planes seatbelt then set him in it and harnessd him. that was the only time. the first plane ride he took he was barely one and we lapped him.

Hi J.,

I have flown with my son twice and the first time when he was just over a year old and a car seat wasn't required and I just held him on my lap, but the second time that I flew with him he was a little over 2 and a car seat was required. I would just check with the airline that you're flying with to make sure. When I flew with my son each time, I had his pacifer with me for take off and landing. This really helped him out! My son was very good on the plane each time and the stewards will help you if you request it. I hope that this helps!

Thanks,

I.

P.S. There will be people who complain because you have your child with you, just ignore them because more than likely your little one will be just fine. Have a fun & safe trip!!

Hi J., When we traveled with our little one, we took the seat on the plane until he was 18 months old. After that, we checked it with our luggage, so we had it at our destination. I personally felt better having it on the place for his safety at that age. T.

Hi, J. -
I flew with a 4 month old, and we did actually use the carseat on the plane. It worked out great because she had her familiar spot to sleep in and did well on the plane. A couple of things to know, though - the carseat is not allowed to be in the center seat between you and your hubby because it blocks the exit of whomever is in the window seat. The carseat will be required to be at the window seat. That was kind of a hassle. The other thing to know is that airplane seats are only about 15 inches wide and some carseats are wider than that. If you drag your carseat on board and then it won't fit you've gained nothing. At 15 months, I think I would hold her during takeoff, then put her in her own seat with a seatbelt for the duration of the flight. Might I also recommend snacks, snacks, snacks, and a portable DVD player. Have a great trip!

Hi J.,

Up until this year my girls always sat in their own car seat on a plane. It was the best way to go (for us anyway) when the kids were littler. I have a six year old, two five year olds and a three year old. For my girls, they know their careseats and it was a comfort for them. Plus, the five point harness is much better then the plane seatbelt. It keeps them in their seat! You should have an opportunity to board before most of the plane because you are traveling with a toddler so you will have plenty of time to walk on the plane and get your carseat buckled in. Relax, have a great trip and no worries! Don't forget to take lots of snacks and I always go to the store and get new different toys that my kids have never played with and that buys a lot of time on the plane. Nothing expensive just something simple.

I have 2 sons ages 3 and 6 and we put them in their carseats on planes until they were about 2 1/2. They squirm less being strapped in and act like they do in the car. If he is not in his carseat, he will be in constant motion the whole plane ride. The carseat has to go on the window seat. It is hard to carry it through the airport, so we usually put the carseat on top of the stroller to get to the gate, then check the stroller at the gate, and carry the carseat on the plane. Your stroller will be waiting for you (or will be there soon) as you step out of the plane before you walk up the tunnel.

Yes, take your carseat on and seatbelt it in just like you would in a car. It will definitely make your flight more enjoyabl,as your baby will be comfortble and will probably sleep for about half the flight. A 15 month old is too small to be seatbelted in safely on a plane and too big to hold the whole way. I have 4 children and have traveled extensively with them an figured this out the hard way. Also, if you travel frequently, you may want toinvest in a sit-n-stroll, as it is a stroller that converts easily to a carseat. It save you fom haviing to take bothe the stroller and carseat. Good luck!

We just flew with our 6 month old and although we didn't buy a seat for him, we were lucky enough to have space on the plane to bring his carseat. I was much more comfortable during takeoff and landing knowing that he was buckled in. Also, he was able to fall asleep and napped for almost an hour twice during our 5 hour flight. It was incredible. In addition, this is our first big travel trip, sleeping in the seat on the plane prepped him, in my opinion, for sleeping during long car rides. He's taken four naps in the car while traveling between PA and NY. I would highly recommend taking the carseat on the plane with you. Check the airline's info regarding dimensions that will fit on the plane. One of our two carseats was too big and had I not measured and checked their limits, we wouldn't have been able to take it on with us. Happy traveling! :)
Sarah

That is the ONLY way we ever flew with our children. You will belt it in as you would in the middle back of the car (you two may lose your armrests, if the car seat is wide.) Your child will BE so much more comfortable since that is what she is used to riding in ALL the time. I would not recommend taking her out AT ALL unless she is screaming. You will enjoy the flight so much more if she is NOT in your lap. You can take her favorite blanket, stuffed animal, and lots of snacks and toys to keep her busy. PLUS, don't forget the tsp of Benadryl 1/2 hour before take off. It will help her be sleepy, but can't hurt her. It will also keep her eustacian tubes clear, so her ears won't hurt. Try to get her to drink during take-off and landing.

Best of luck. You will be SO...thankful you took her carseat!

P.S. Getting the car seat to the gate is a REAL challenge, with her backpack or diaper bag, so I suggest taking the stroller to the gate, just for the carseat. Let your daughter walk and run off some of her energy before entering the plane, and your arms will thank you for not having to carry that HUGE car seat for ever and ever.

Yes, you take the carseat with you and strap it in the window seat. Some kids do better in their carseat, where mine liked to be able to roam and then I would put them in their seats for naps, movie time or snacks. Explain it is like going for a long car ride and you always have to be strapped in your seat in the car, so you have to be strapped in on the plane too. I would highly recommend taking tons of little baggies of all kinds of snacks from the colorful goldfish or fruitloops to pretzels, fruit, granola bars and lollipops. You can play the color game,count and do all sorts of things with various foods. Also, if you have a laptop, bring it so your child can watch their favorite show and it may help calm them on the plane. We always bought our kids a NEW small toy and showed them it for the first time on the plane, books and crayons are good and quiet too. Good luck and try not to be too nervous, your child will feed off of it.

You can take the carseat on the plane. If you do you can attach it to the seat.Just check with the airline to make sure. You can also choose to check it in. Attaching the carseat to the seat is a good safe option if you have a child who will sit, play or sleep there for most of the time. Otherwise it will take up space and just be another thing you need to carry. You can also carry a lightweight umbrella stroller with you right to the gate and most airlines will let you stow it away in the luggage rack. If not they will check it in for you at the gate. Hope you have a safe and happy journey!

I have seen a carseat on a plane before. I know that your seat has to be approved for air travel. There should be a label on it that states that. We are traveling to PA in two months. My daughter will be ALMOST 2. We bought her her own ticket becase she doesn't mind her carseat. I am hoping it goes well. I decided that people would have to get over it if they don't like us bringing that bulky thing on the plane. THey would like it a lot less if she was crying because she can't walk around and climb everywhere (my sweetie pie does not like to sit still and is not a big cuddler, so me holding her will not work).

I also just read that a lollipop helps with the pressure changes in kids ears during takeoff and landing. Not a fan of candy in my little one, but I will have to try that too. Good luck on your trip.

We put our car seat on the plane, but most people just hold their kid because it is cheaper. We bought a strap that attaches the car seat to a 22 inch (large carry on size) roller. It it was about $15 with shipping. You can find it by googling "car seat strap to carry on". I am going to be traveling alone in a few weeks and we decided to make the investment to buy the gogo kidz wheels for the car seat. We saw 3 of them in the PHX airport the last time we traveled. As I have not used it yet, I don't know if I would recommend, but if you want me to I will let you know (I will be flying May 20th). Good luck with your travels.

I just returned from flying with my 4 children, take lots of snacks! as for the car seat, I have never used one on a plane, this time my 14 month old was on my lap and my 2 1/2 year old was in the seat beside us. I took along my travel booster to put the 2 1/2 year old, it just kept her a little more restrained and seemed to work well. Check your airlines rules about car seats, they have restrictions about size. We've flown lots with the kids and really don't think it would be very easy to take the seat aboard. Best of luck to you.

Hi, J. -- I too am a first time mom and part-time teacher. My son is now almost 3 1/2, but my advice is to BRING THE CARSEAT. My extended family lives on the east coast and we have brought my son on many airplane trips, and it wasn't until several exausting trips without the carseat that I decided to bring ours. It's a hassle to lug through the airport, but the actual flights were so much more relaxing. Yes, you buckle the seat with the child in it right to the airplane seat. Because my son was already extremely used to his carseat, the whole flight was easier, and he didn't squirm or try to get out...he played, snacked, and slept. I went to the dollar store beforehand and bought lots of cheap, new gadgets and toys for him that I pulled out of my bag everytime he got fidgety. I also suggest investing in a portable dvd player. Good luck and bon voyage!

I had to laugh at this! You likely don't remember seeing car seats on the plane because children travel MUCH better in them and most airlines allow people to board first with kids and then they deboard last! Its the kids being held or in the big seat without protection that are the "wild" ones usually!
Please!!!! Please take the seat onboard!! Trust me when I say everyone is happier! We fly and take two one for the baby and one for our almost 4 year old! the only rules are they the seat must be FAA approved and there should be a sticker on the carseat! Boosters are NOT approved! And your little one MUST sit at a window as a matter of FAA regs but it also means they have something to look at! Now when I say must that is if somehow you and your huband do not get to sit together... It is for the safety of other passangers... But if you have three seats together then the seat can go where ever you wish since it is your family sitting in that row.. Make sure as soon as you board the plane you ask for a seat belt extender.. Depending on what type of seat you have you might need it to get the lap belt through. You pretty much install the seat as you would in a car.
We take a DVD player for long trips, plenty of Juice and water.. Remember you as a mom with a baby do not follow the 4 oz rule and are allowed to bring liquids through TSA... www.tsa.gov will let you know the do's and don'ts.... As for the ear popping it is ususally the older children who experience this the worst. We have out toddler chew on a piece of gum. He has done this since he was about 2. I trained him to chew the gum once we are wheels up and to chew fast and once the plane "dings" we both spit it into a napkin! Its a big game for him and then once we are on a faster desent we do it all over again. He knows that he can not keep it the whole flight. As for the baby I would not do a lollipop simply as more of a risk then putting sugar into her. Try a sippy cup and a chewy granola bar. but again remember to give it to them after you are up in the air incase you have an unexpected delay. We also use a pacifier which has always worked well for us! Belive it or not you will likely have a sleeping little one on the desent and if that is the case DO not wake them! Their ears will likely be ok... and if all else fails one old trick is to hold them put your mouth around their mouth and nose and blow once quickly... I have seen it work wonders on a little one but I have never had to use it!
Also remember that the more stressed you are the more stressed your little one will be! So try and relax and enjoy your flight!

I've flown several times with my now two and three year old children and have ALWAYS taken their carseats on the plane. MOST carseats are FAA approved (it should say so on the sticker on the side of the seat) but I've never had anyone check mine so I wouldn't worry about that one bit. Flying or driving, a carseat with a five point harness is THE safest way for your child to travel. If you've purchased a seat for your child, simply carry the carseat with you as you board the plane and hook it into the seat like you would in a car. I promise, no one will even bat an eye at you as it's a very normal thing to do. You will need to put your child in the window seat per airline regulations, though. Also, you will be allowed to pre-board since you have a young child so don't feel like you'll be rushed or stressing out at all.

The bonus is that if your child is in something as familiar as their carseat, they will be much more likely to relax or even sleep on the flight. If you'd like to bring your stroller right up to the gate, you can as well. Just drive it right down the ramp, then fold it up and leave it in that area right before you actually step onto the plane. Bringing the stroller would certainly make it easier to cart around the carseat. Somebody else mentioned bringing an umbrella stroller but I wanted you to know that you can bring a stroller of any size. I recently checked my full-sized DOUBLE stoller at the gate with no problems. When you check your baggage, you can even ask for one of those oversized plastic bags and then slip it over the stroller just before you board the plane. This will keep it from getting scuffed up or dirty in the cargo hold.

Anyhow, for reasons too numerous to name, I highly recommend bringing the seat along. Have a good flight.

My husband and I flew from Arizona to Washington, D.C. when our son was 1 year old. We bought a ticket as you did and used our car seat for our son. It was much more comfortable for us and for our son to have his own seat. The only advice I would give is that if you have any connections that you need to make- get a car seat carrier. They make carriers that allow you to carry the car seat like a backpack, they even make ones with wheels. If you have to haul baby, baby, stuff, your stuff, and a car seat across the airport it can be a struggle.
Hope that helps :)

You have to do what is most comfortable for you. I have traveled with both my boys since they were 10 days old. I have never taken a car seat on the plane. I have held the boys in my lap and have never had a problem. I also wouldn't trust the seat belts on the plan to keep a car seat stable.

Again you must trust your mommy gut and do what feels right for you!!!

I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old and I have been traveling with my oldest child since he was 11 weeks old and always brought the carseat it was wonderful. He has been on 10 round trip flights and going on the 11th next month - I stopped using the carseat around 2-years-old with him. I just made it as if he was in the car and he couldn't get up and it made it a lot more stress-free (especially since I always travel alone to visit family - husband has to work, he has only been on one flight one way). So, keeping the kids in control is my main objective and I feel the stress is under control when I take the carseat. However, on the other hand. My 1-year-old I nursed up until recently - especially during take-off and landing (which is another issue). Make sure you have something for your child to suck on (pacifier, nursing, bottle, lollipop, sippy cup, etc.) so, the pressure in their ears doesn't become to great. Happened on my oldest son's first flight and it was horrible. He was fine on the plane and fine on the the ride to our destination - then, started screaming and vomitting. So, have something to suck on. Back to I nursed him and as long as he is sitting on my lap he is happy - I never brought a carseat with him. However, this age - yours 15 months is a difficult age to keep them in their sits because they have just become really mobile - so, I would bring it. If it doesn't work out - you can always take your child out and pass her back and forth amongst you and your husband.

Hi J.,

My husband and I traveled with our son when he was 6 months old. You actualy take the car seat on the plane and attach it like you would in a car. Make sure you have a bottle and or passi for take off and landing so he/she can suck on it. My Doctor told me this would help to pop their ears so they would be more comfortable and not fuss.

Wishing you safe travels.

When we traveled with the boys we bought a Sit N Stroll. It is awesome!! It is a car seat (both forward and backward facing), booster seat, a certified airline safety seat and stroller all in one. It holds a child up to 40 lbs. It saves having to tote so many different items with you while traveling. They cost about between $200 & $250 for a new one. You may be able to find a used one as well on Craigslist or EBay. If you are in Phoenix, I am ready to sell mine. I highly recommend it. Whenever we traveled everyone with kids would stop and ask us about it.

I just flew with my 20 month old daughter a few weeks ago and was told that a child under the age of 2 needs to be in their own carseat if they are sitting in their own seat. Otherwise they need to be held during takeoff and landing. To be honest it's the best way to travel with little ones. I didn't buy a seat for her but was lucky enough to have the seat next to me vacant for 3 of the 4 legs of the trip. The one part of the trip I had to hold her, was not a fun experience. She wanted to squirm and scream and get down the entire time. Luckily it was only an hour and a half flight.

Double check to make sure that your carseat is FAA approved. The flight attendents will make sure before boarding or you will not be able to use it. The sticker on the side of your seat will tell you if it is approved or not.

Your lucky that your husband will be with you so he can help you board with the carseat and your child. I wasn't so lucky. In fact I went out and bought a device that attaches to the carseat that turns it into a stroller. It's called Gogo Kidz Travelmate Car Seat Wheeler. That was the best investment I ever bought. I was able to push her through the airport with out having to lug a heavy carseat too. I bought mine at Babies R Us on sale for $60. Here's the link if you are interested:
http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2658824

I also recommend going out and buying some new toys that she has never seen before and giving them to her on the plane to play with. I bought a small pack of foam puzzle letters at Walmart for a $1. That way if they were lost, I wasn't that concerned about it, since the were inexpensive.

Good luck on your trip.

If you bought the ticket for your 15 month old, BRING the carseat on the plane! Children are used to it and often sleep in their seats. Just buckle the seat to the airplane seat, as you would in a car....easy as that! Even when I did not buy our son's tickets due to their age, we would still bring it, in case the plane was not full....if not, they just tag it at the door and put it down below. Have a blast!!! Bring lot's of snacks!

Hi J.:

We traveled with my little one to Europe (thru ORD) when he was about the same age. We carried his car seat (along with his blankie and pillow) and he rode/flew in his car seat in the plane --the safest way for your little one to travel. The toughest part is carrying the heavy seat --especially when the baby falls asleep in it. I recommend it and I also suggest you check the airline's website for their rules on travelling with a baby.

Have fun and allow plenty of time at the airport :). I also recommend a product called 'calme forte' for children (to encourage sleep at appropriate times) and that you have a bottle for your child to suck on as the plane ascends and descends --to save the child from ear pain.

Hi J.! I have traveled quite a bit with my two little boys and found it very helpful to bring the car seat with on the plane. I recommend getting a car seat bag to carry the car seat in around the airport and then buckling it in on the airplane seat. You can bring your stoller through the airport as well and then it gets checked at the gate and they will bring it back to your plane when you land so you can have your daughter in the stroller throughtout the airport. I also like to bring lots of snacks and pick out toys that they hasn't seen in a long time because I hide them or go get a couple new ones to keep them entertained on the plane. Good Luck to you. Remember to go through your diaper bag before going through checkpoint... I have forgotten about hand sanitizers before and they will get tossed if they are too big more than 3oz. :)

Sure! Bring it and attach it!

I wouldnt use the carseat. I traveled with my daughter when she was about the same age and brought the carseat with me. When we went to board they told us the car seat could only be installed in the window seat, so she couldnt be between us; also, since she was in the seat its self she had more room to wiggle and play and stand to look around (with us holding her of course) and it seemed to go very smoothly.

Bring the seat on the plane and strap the kid in just like you do in a car. The reason you don't see this too often is because most parents don't spend the money on a seat if the child is under 2 (it's not required) so they must hold the child. I usually wore the baby, put the car seat on the stroller (so i wouldn't have to carry it) and checked the stroller in at the plane (so it would be in the front of the plane as soon as i deplaned (the stewardess usually had it opened for me before i even got to it).

When my son was young (probably 15-18 months) I did use a car seat in the airplane. I think it was helpful having him strapped in rather than relying on the little seat belt the airplane has.

I agree with many of the posts here. My almost 11 month old has been flying since he was 6 weeks old, just about every month. We don't normally buy him a ticket, but many airlines will allow you to bring your carseat on the plane if it is not oversold. A couple things I try to do that help make the travel easier:

Plan your travel around your child's nap time

Offer bottle or milk during take off (I don't normally put my son down for a nap right after eating, but it helps him sleep on the plane)

Bring his/her favorite toys and snacks and have them readily available.

I also like to sit in the very back of the plane (we travel southwest most of the time). Usually you cannot stand up in the front of the plane, but there is a small galley area near the rear bathroom so you can get up and stand with your child if needed. It's also behind the engines and the noise not only helps cover any fussing they may do, but it helps soothe the child.

I normally travel by myself so I agree with the mom who recommended bringing the stroller all the way to the gate. It does make it more of a hassle to get through security, but then you have something to help carry all your stuff, and you know your stroller will be there right when you get off the plane.

We see many people check their carseats, but I have lost my luggage enough times that I've decided, even if I'm not going to use the carseat on the plane, I will ALWAYS check it at the gate because it's sure to get off the plane first!

Lastly, there will be people who are upset if they have to sit next to a child, but I've found that my son is quieter than most adults on the plane, so don't worry about it! Good luck and happy travels!!!

You already have a lot of responses, and honestly, I didn't read all of them. Sorry if this is redundant!

We have traveled with our now 22 month old to Costa Rica (10 months), Vancouver (9 months) and Germany (18 mos). We took the carseat (big ol' Britax marathon) on the Vancouver and Costa Rica trips, but it was a huge pain. Plus, the seat is big enough that not only is it a huge pain to get on the plane and install safely, his feet were able to reach the seat back in front of him. This was really stressful for me to keep him from kicking the seat the whole time. I was glad to have the carseat with us though in CR because we were renting a car and I didn't trust the car rental place's car seats. On the return flight, DS did not have his own seat (long story, not worth telling) and we checked the carseat and held him on our laps. It worked out fine, but we didn't encounter any turbulence.

On the Germany trip, we were visiting DH's parents, so they borrowed a quality car seat for us to use while there. We ended up buying this harness thing called "kids fly safe" (http://kidsflysafe.com/?subid=29514&source=pjn). It is FAA approved and much easier to deal with than a car seat. However, using it for a 15 month old might not be a great idea as she may be a little small for it to fit her correctly. Anyway, we like this contraption, particularly now that our boy is getting bigger.

So, my advice is to think about how big your car seat is relative to the class of service your flight is. Also, if you have to change planes, that is another consideration. The ultimate decision factor is whether you feel comfortable having your daughter essentially unrestrained on the flight. If you want to play it safe, take the car seat on this trip, then buy the harness thing when she gets a little bigger.

Good luck!

Bring the car seat. There is a gadget called GoGoKidz or GoGoBaby. It attaches to the back of the car seat and has wheels and a long handle. You can wheel your child in the car seat through the airport. Even down the plane aisle if the aisle is wide enough. It only takes a few moments to attach and detach. Once you're at your seat you can detach it, the handle will telescope down, and it can be stowed under the seat ahead of you. We have found it to be invaluable.

Yes you should put your child in a carseat on the airplane. The carseat is required to go in the window seat. They have seatbelt extenders if the seat belt does not fit around your carseat. Perhaps bring the stroller and gate check that, as a way to help with the schlepping. It all needs to get x-rayed at security. btw they will let you bring milk and snacks for one that little.
We have the sit and stroll as well. We have used it on many plane trips and it is very handy. The wheels pop out of the bottom. The handle telescopes up and it's a stroller. It does not fit down the aisle of the airplane so it needs to be lifted. It also works great as a carseat when you get to your destination. Where do you live? Mine is available for rent. let me know.

I am not a frequent flyer or anything, but I have purchased a CARES Airline restraint belt. It is a 5 point harness that weighs less than one pound and can be used for kids 22-44 lbs. Their website is kidsflysafe.com. If you purchase a seat for your child then they have to sit in it on takeoff and landing. They do not want you holding them. It is safer for them to be in their own seat. I like the CARES because it is not heavy, its very small, and it gives the child the 5 point harness like their car seat so they know to stay put and not try to get out of the seat. And of course, the safety is key. We have been VERY happy with the CARES!

You bring the car seat and attach it to the seat in the airplane. My first son was 6 months old when he went on his first airplane and it works out well. Anyhow, as for keeping her occupied, I would keep a few toys in the diaper bag as well as some coloring books and crayons. I hope your trip goes well.

D. P.

We have always used a car seat with our two boys. It is a little bit of a hassle, but we thought the safety aspect was worth it. Now that our oldest is almost 4 and in a booster seat (he is tall for his age), we only have to take one seat for our 2 year old. Car seat has to go by the window, and we always left our boys in the seat unless they needed diaper change or were crying big time. Honestly, unless your child is very petite, a car seat only works until about 3 on a plane. Otherwise, there is no space for their legs between the narrow seats. Hope that helps!

You can take the carseat on the plane and strap the seatbelt through it to secure it to the seat. Your child should be in the carseat during take-off and landing and anytime the fasten seatbelt sign is on. Good luck with your travels!

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