19 answers

Flying with a 3 Year Old

Hi mamas,

I'm going to be flying from California to Oregon with my 3 year old in a week and I'm curious what your thoughts are on taking a car seat. At this time we have a Britax Marathon that we are using in the vacation car but it seems horrible to have to lug that along with my 3 year old and our luggage throughout the airport. I will be just the 2 of us and I'm starting to get nervous about what to do. Any experiences or advise you could share about what to do? Have any of you allowed your child to sit in the airline seat? The $70 CARES harness is out of the question - too expensive right now.

Thank you in advance!!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well we opted for no carseat and it 'luckily' worked quite well. He stayed seated and was well engaged with flying in an airplane. Thank you for the tips...I've come to realize this is a rather personal decision but it was nice to hear I wouldn't be a "horrible" mom if I went without the carseat. Next year - booster - OH YA!

More Answers

We just traveled with our 2 year old and had her have her own seat. It was tough enough traveling with her. I think that installing a car seat on the plane would have made it almost impossible - especially if it is just the two of you. Then we rented a car seat with our rental car. When he was smaller did you have him as a lap child? If you are comfortable with that then i think you'd be comfortable traveling without the car seat on the plane.

2 moms found this helpful

We have that car seat, and we use it on the plane every time. Our boy is also three and we fly frequently. My husband is in automotive research and development, and he says this: Safety first. The most likely time for a problem on a plane is while they are on the ground. So, a five point harness versus a lap belt is not a question for us.

Do you have an umbrella stroller? The Marathon squeezes into an umbrella stroller, making it easy to get it through the airport. You have to sort of "pop" it into place, but that's how I've been doing it for two years now. We fly about six times per year. Yes, it is a bit of a pain, but worth the peace of mind.

One last thing... you probably do not want to check the car seat because if it is damaged in baggage handling you're in a tough spot upon arrival in Oregon.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful

We used our car seat last time, an will check it when we fly to Europe next month. It was great while my daughter was tired/asleep, but when she was awake, she did not want to sit in it and NOT having the car seat really gives you A LOT more room to move.
Another issue is that the car seat moves their feet a lot closer to the seat in front of them and she kept kicking it involuntarily every time she moved her legs (even in her sleep). It made for a very unhappy co-passenger. We also could not use the table...
The forces in an airplane during turbulence are very different from a car crash. My DD will also be three soon and while a car seat would surely protect a child fine, I feel comfortable just securing her with the regular belt.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

We don't take the car seats, too much hassle like you mentioned especially since you are flying alone with your 3 y/o. Mine always do great in just the airplane seat. My kids always seem to want to sleep when flying. You can just raise the arm rest in between the two of you and he/she can lean over onto your lap or just against you. Or just raise it and it gives you and them more room. Works great!

1 mom found this helpful

I would bring it if you can! You can check it (to at least eliminate some of the shlepping), although I would bring it on the plan for him to sit in. We fly a lot, my 4.5 year old still sits in his marathon. I have seen people attach their seats to a folding luggage dolly (rolling cart) - that might help you!

first it all don't worry everything is going t to be ok
I been flying with my kids to Mexico twice a year since my first one was 3 months old and now he is 3 ( and also has autism)and my second 11 months that by the way next week is going to be his second time flying..
anyways flying into California is easy , you just have to bring the snacks that he love the most , books , and some candy just in case , dvd player , never without!! wherever he like it....
i always bring my car seat,stroller,carry on, diaper bug...and not charge for that , plus 4 extra luggage under the plane ... they give the stuff when you arrived ..I never live them walk or anything in LA always in the stroller , they have to tougher out for awhile, better that running away.....when you arrive just walk and get your kid in the stroller and walk to get the rest of your luggage,, and even when you check in at the airport you can ask for help with your luggage , but they just do it to the door , better that nothing....is not easy but you can do it and he'll be ok believe me
good luck and nice trip

We took our nearly 3 year old to Hawaii in April and did take her carseat on the airplane. I wore it on my back in the airport like a backpack. It wasn't super comfortable but since it's a 5 hour flight, I knew she had someplace that she could and would sleep. Totally worth the slight discomfort of wearing a carseat.

To wear it, just extend the straps and then slip them on. Some can be worn with the flat part of the back of the seat against your back.

I've done both, flying with the car seat and without and flying without it is infinitely easier. Especially if you're going to be flying with your little one alone. You didn't mention if you have the option of using a carseat once you get to your destination, but if you can get one to use there, I highly recommend it. We took a vacation last month and it cost us $50 to rent a carseat to go in our rental car. We have an Alpha Omega Elite and on a previous trip I fitted it with a Go Go Kids carseat carrier. It's like a luggage rack that screws on the back of the seat. Unfortunately, it's a big pain to assemble and disassemble and since it doesn't fit through the x ray scanner at the airport, it had to be taken apart to go through, then put back together to use it. It also doesn't fit into the airline seat, so you have to take it off again once you get the seat on the plane. Giant waste of money!! Let me save you from that right now! : ) I moved to Oregon from California, so I've flown with my daughter between the two destinations a lot. Depending on where you're going and the size of the plane you'll be on, the flight crew might have you gate check the carseat anyway and have your child sit in the regular airline seat anyway. I've personally never had a problem with my daughter sitting in the seat on her own once she was over 2 years old and I was required to buy her her own seat. I hope you have a great trip and that this helps you!

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