37 answers

Front-facing Car Seat That Is FAA Approved for Planes

hi Moms,

In her first year my daughter has already ridden on several plane trips, but never in her own seat. she has just been in my lap each time. She's getting bigger and more squirmy now, and I think its time for her to have her own seat on the plane (for her safety as well as my sanity!). Its also time for her to switch from the rear-facing infant seat to a front-facing toddler one.

So I am wondering, because this info seems surprisingly allusive on the web: does anyone know how i can find out which toddler car seats are approved for airplane use. And more importantly, do any of you have a great recommendation for one?

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When you are looking at the seats in the store, the tag/label with the specs (5 point seat belt system etc) will say it is rated for air travel.

Yes! Britax is the one.

Get the Sit'N'Stroll. It is a carseat/airplane seat (FAA approved) that converts to a stroller. We've travelled all over the world with it. It is great.

Most car seats are also approved for airplanes but not all. It will say in the car seat manual or many times, directly on the car seat whether they are approved for airlines. I've never seen a seat for airlines only.

More Answers

HI! I also spend alot of time traveling with my babies. (my family is on the east coast) I called Jetblue when it was time to start bringing a seat. The airline sometimes have that information. I ended up using my Britax (which I LOVE). Most carseats, etc. have a label right on them that tells you whether or not they are approved for airplane use.

Safe travels!

We have two Britax Marathon Convertible Seats. They are one of the safest ones out there. I have also heard good things about the Radian and I believe the Triumph is made by Britax but marketed under a different name.

I bought the Britax specifically because of it's safety ratings and because it is FAA approved. I believe there is a sticker on the backside of carseat stating it's FAA approved.

I would go to a place like USA Baby (the store in San Diego has a TON of carseats from all the popular brands). You can check them all out before buying.

I have used both a Britax and a recaro on a plane. I love the britax, and all of their seats (not boosters) are approved. There should be a seal or a statement on the box or paperwork that the seat comes with stating that it meets FAA standards. They are pricey, but last tru a few kids and are well worth the money.
When traveling they are a bit cumbersome, but my daughter was always happier in her own seat...it was easier for her to fall asleep :)
Good luck on your search.

C.,
My husband and I researched this topic prior to the birth of our son as we knew we would be flying often. Most airlines provide a car seat. You will need to check with them about whether they will allow you to use your own. Some don't allow that, but you can always have it checked. We decided to purchase a Britax car seat. We got one that will carry a newborn through childhood. (Decathalon) We like it very much. Good luck and Happy traveling.
T.

I think any car seats that you purchase now or within the last couple of years will be FAA approved. THere should be a sticker on the side that states that.

I found that when I bought my daughter a seat, she NEVER sat in it!! I just traveled with my 2 year old as a lap child and she did great. I know she wouldn't have sat by herself. I honestly don't think her toddler front facing car seat would have fit??

When you are looking at the seats in the store, the tag/label with the specs (5 point seat belt system etc) will say it is rated for air travel.

Yes! Britax is the one.

i don't know that there are FAA approved child seats. if people decide to use one, they just use the one they have for their car. you must have one purchased already?

i found that it was a good idea to have her in her own seat and in her car seat. the car seat was comfortable for her to sleep in. imagine having to support your daughter if she fell asleep. you'd be stuck in that position. it was also a familiar traveling place for her so she it seemed like she knew she was expected to sit in there. without the car seat, she would crawl around between me and my husband or want to get out of our row.

to help you carry your toddler and her belongings, don't forget to bring a stroller and gate check it. i also found that direct flights were worth the extra dollars. but sounds like you've traveled enough in the 1st year and know what your family needs. :) happy traveling

Get the Sit'N'Stroll. It is a carseat/airplane seat (FAA approved) that converts to a stroller. We've travelled all over the world with it. It is great.

http://www.car-safety.org/rearface.html
www.car-seat.org is an amazing resource. It's a discussion board run by parent car safety technicians and they live to answer any and all car seat safety related (there are plane threads too) questions.

If you do a thread search for "airplanes" a lot will come up, especially best car-seats for planes.

(In my experience, I've taken the Britax Roundabout and Sunshine Kids Radian 80, both approved. The BR takes up the whole seat, but sure is comfy for the child. The Sunshine Radian is not as wide or plush (it FOLDS!!!!) and it great too. Just depends on what you like.)

First, know that many parents are leaving their babies, toddlers and young children in rear-facing as long as possible because it's so safe. The "1 yr in weight AND 20lbs in weight" is just a MINIMUM.
Look at that webpage and read the info. You should see the comparison of a crash test rear facing (baby barely moves in seat) to forward facing (baby/toddler moves forward violently and rapidly. You can see the video here.
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/StayRearFacing.aspx

Re car-seats on airplanes, I used to feel like Sandy B. I too am a frequent flyer and have flown a lot with my children. Lugging a car seat on a plane was just a headache (especially for my DH). I didn't understand WHY some people (especially car safety types) were so adamant that car seats on planes were safer... until someone broke it down for me online...

basically it has to do with physics (and let's see if I get this right)
momentum = mass x velocity
if your baby weighs 20 lbs x plane flies 530 miles per hour = 10,600 lbs of pressure? on baby. An adult seat belt is really not the best restraint for a young child in case the worse happens (bad, sudden turburlence).

Most airlines supply these for passengers, just check with your airline. Then you don't have to waste time trying to buy a special one. Just check your carseat at the gate and enjoy your trip.

Hi C.,
I bought something called a Sit-and-Stroll that I really love. My daughter is 2 years old now. This travel stroller can be used in an airplane (meets regulations) and used in a car (or taxi...) it is an awesome invention especially at the airport. I put my daughter in it to get through airport security and lines and then, when she was smaller, I put it in the airplane seat that I purchased for her. Now that she is a bit longer, I just let her sit in the seat without the carseat. But, I still use my S and S because I roll her all the way to the gate and then they check it under the plane at the gate for me and I have it right when I get off the plane. It is so helpful to already have a trusted carseat when renting a car (all carseats I've seen at rental places are wayyyy outdated) or just traveling in a friend's. No worries about carseats. The only drawback is that it is a little ackward to steer when pushing it but not unmanageable, and I would practice the opening and shutting of the wheel carriage. It took me a few times to do this consistently and quickly. You'll be glad you did when you're in the security line. Anyway, check out the website. I felt pretty strongly that my daughter stay in the carseat on the plane as long as I could keep her there. She's just too long now and her legs don't have room when the carseat is involved. But, good luck, hope that helped some..
kj

Hi C... You may want to look at the side pannel of your current carseat and read what it has to say. As long as it says on the side that it is approved for Aircraft/ airplane use..your golden. I searched for weeks trying to find and FAA approved carseat and I found 2 and they were both over $200...I almost bought it until I decided to call my airlines for advice. The Agent told me to just see if any of the warning labels on the side said approved. She said many people make the mistake of buyijng a whole new seat when it's not necessary. We have the Alpha Omega from cosco and no one even asked a single question about our car seat. WE went through the terminals, security, onto 3 different airports nad 2 different airlines nad NO ONE asked once to see if the seat was FAA approved. So go ahead nad look into it because many are actually approved, and if not call your airline.

Hi C.,
I used the CARES system http://www.kidsflysafe.com/ with my 2yr old when we flew to Mexico. I loved it and got a lot of compliments from parents with bulky carseats. I'm not sure it would work on your little one if she doesn't quite sit up in a seat on her own, though. Loved it and felt it was VERY safe. Maybe something to consider when she gets a little older, especially if you travel quite a bit

C.~

http://www.ToxicFreeFamily.net
http://www.HelpUStayHome.com

C.-

All you have to do to tell if it is FAA approved is look on the underside of the car seat on the stick and it will say something about an airplane. I freeted about this when we took a trip with our two year old and foundout that about 90% of all car seats are approved for plane trips. The other thing you might be interested in if you travel a lot is there is a product called CARES (kidflysafe.com) that is FAA approved and specifically for planes. It is not bulky like a car seat and will fit in your carry on bag when not in use so you have another free hand. As for needing a car seat when you get there, if you rent a car most places offer car seat rental and more and more larger cities have companies that you can call and they will meet you at the airport with a car seat.

Nothing is better than a Britax. I have seen several postings on this site in the past where tons of other mom's agree.
Oops I never look at these before I respond and now I see you have tons of responses. I saw one mentioning a bag with wheels. My friends and I wouldn't travel with out the wheels that attach to the seats, you can carry the child in it, so you have two things you no longer have to carry.
http://www.gogobabyz.com/products/gogo_kids.html
It is worth every penny. Even if we don't take the seat on the plane, we get the big airlines plastic bags at the front, wheel the kid to the gate and put the bag on and check it plane side.

We travelled with our Graco infant seat and then our Britax until our daughter was 2. We now use the CARES seatbelt or just the plane's belt. Britax are FAA approved. There is a sticker on the seat. I also called our airline and asked. They were very helpful.

The worst thing about front facing car seats on airplanes is how easy it is for your child to kick the seat in front of them. ;-)

Good luck.
K.

Hi Corrine,
From what I've read many newer car seats are FAA approved. My son has traveled since he was 6-mo old and we have always purchased his own seat and we've used his infant carrier seat and now his car seat. The instruction manual should confirm the FAA approval. If you no longer have the manual you should be able to find it on-line. FYI - I had to take my child's shoes off so he'd have more leg room! Happy Travels!

C.,

I LOVED the SIT-N-STROLL for traveling!!!! Once I drove to airport and it was a carseat, my daughter fell asleep on the way there so when we got out into the airport we converted it into a stroller and she stayed asleep while we checked in the baggage, when she woke up we went to get something to eat and it became a booster seat and then we made it into a stroller again and wheeled it to the boarding area, we got on the plane and made it into a flight seat. My daughter only got out for diaper change and to play before we boarded and she got back in her Sit-n-Stroll and we strolled right onto the plane, and then she sat on the plane comfortably and was able to play and eat and see out the window and sleep all the way to our destination. Then I converted it back to a stroller until we got to the car rental place when it became a car seat again. No extra shlepping of a carseat and a stroller while traveling and really convenient. I used to travel with it and people-watch and see moms and dads struggling and want to go over and say this is how to make your life a bit saner, and I always had people stop me and ask about it. I do agree that practice changing from stroller to car seat helps, I used to balance it on my hip when she was asleep in it, and then a swift hard push and the wheels were down (my husband used to call the wheels her landing gear because it seemed they would appear out of nowhere). We did discover that with an invention called THE MIGHTY TIGHT that we got at either Babies R Us or Burlington Coat Factory we could easily ratchet the seatbelt strap significantly tighter than by our hands alone and though it is a bit heavy for such a small piece of metal we felt much more secure knowing there was no wiggle room when she was strapped in the cars.

There were times when I knew I'd be having a day that was full of getting in and out of my car and even when I wasn't traveling I'd use this product, especially when when went through her falling asleep in the car and waking up when I tried to move her into her own bed phase. I used to go from the car into a stroller and wheel her through the house into her room and keep her asleep for her full nap. I used it for years and was really sad when she outgrew it. It can be used as a rear facing seat as well. If I had extra time in my life I would be a Rep for Sit-n-Stroll, this product really is that good.

Check it out http://www.strollerdepot.com/moreinfo.php?SKU=0012&lo...

Have a safe and easy trip and good luck. P.S. My favorite travel tip is a wrapped new flight gift for every half hour of travel. If it's a present it must be fun to open and new keeps attention longer than old. I always got small things, finger puppets, special markers that only write on special paper, small dolls, sticker books, etc. A happy toddler makes for an easy flight and an unhappy toddler can make everyone on the airplane cranky.

Britax. Plus, you'll need the carseat when you get to where ever you are going.

We've traveled across the globe twice with our 22-month old daughter and have used the Radian Sunshine 65. It's very convenient b/c it folds up when not in use and has it's own backpack carrier. It's lightweight and fits easily into the narrow seats in economy class.

I've always thought that traveling with a carseat was so cumbersome, I try to personally avoid it. But last week when we were flying home from vacation, I saw this really cool device in the Sky Mall magazine. It was a simple 5 point harness system that attaches to both the airplane seat and the seat belt itself. It looked really safe to me and it folds up into this tiny little pouch. I know you can view sky mall magazine online. Maybe you should take a look at it.

Good luck.

here is a great website that another mom referred me to. http://www.aap.org/family/carseatguide.htm

We have the Britax Decathlon for our daughter. She loves it and it is FAA approved. it says so right on the carseat sticker (which I think most will.)

We have taken it on both short airplane flights as well as a recent trip to Hawaii (5 1/2 hours). It is a little big to get down the aisle and on to the plane but once in it fits fine except that the tray table won't come down since it sits a little high.

If you have time to get to Babies R Us and look at several of the models you should be able to get that info right away or go to their website and search for forward facing or convertible carseats and it should say if it is FAA approved in the description of the carseat.

Hope this helps.

As a mother of two who has travelled extensively with both of them and on my own for most trips I have never used a car seat and have never seen the value of using one. Granted my oldest child is the super flier who keeps himself amused in his own seat without a second thought. The second not so much but then he insists on walking the aisles so a car seat was pointless for him too as it would have caused more fuss than it was worth - learnt this when he was still young enough to qualify for a bassinet. If you feel a car seat is useful for you then by all means use your Britax but the extra carry on (especially if traveling alone) is not worth it.
Happy Travels
S.

Corrine,

I don't know if it is FAA approved but the car seat I have for my boys is wonderful. The have the Evenflo Triumph. It isn't bulky and is can transfer from car to car very easily. It is front face and rear facing. I think it is FAA approved and you can check on the bottom of the seat and it will tell you. It would be an easy seat to take on and off the plane. I got the seat at Babies R Us. The version I got was $60.00 plus tax of course. There haven't been any recalls on the seat either. I hope this was helpful!!

S.

Britax and Radian are the two the CHP told me about. RAdian sunshine is great b/c it is light weight, smaller and folds up with a nifty handle/strap for carrying it thru an airport. We have one of each---Britax in my car and Radian Sunshine 65 in my husband's car.

C., check out the FAA approved CARES seat restraint for kids at www.kidsflysafe.com/. It might seem expensive for what it is, but if you fly often, it will be worth the investment. Also, this isn't the only website that sells them so maybe you can price shop to get the best price.
Happy flying.
M.

We always used a Britax. I know that is acceptable. I'm pretty sure any 5 point harness carseat is ok. Once she turned 2 they told us we didn't need a carseat on the plane at all. She's always been big for her ago so it worked fine. A call to the airline you're flying should answer your questions. have a good trip! H.

We have the Britax Marathon and have used it frequently for air travel. We also purchased a set of wheels for it (leaps and bounds?) which makes the schlep through the airport MUCH easier.

You have already heard that Britax has great seats. I totally recommend them. I also recommend a car seat cover with wheels. I bought one at babies'r'us for about $30.00. It also has backpack straps so that you can either pull it with other luggage or lug it on your back. I have made it through the airport with two children under 4 and all my luggage by myself and survived.

Very important to those who don't know: you can buy tickets for children under 2 at half price on many airlines. I never see this on the airline websites, but call the 800 number and ask about paying for an infant ticket. When my girls were small, I usually ended up buying my ticket online to get a great price for me, then immediately calling the airline to buy the infant ticket and having it added to my reservation. It is a bit of legwork, but worth it for me since I didn't want to hold the baby all the time. If you buy a ticket for the baby, get a frequent flyer number. They accumulate the same miles you do, and you will all get free tickets that much sooner.

Great that you are traveling with your baby. She will love seeing new places as she gets older and will be a travel pro in no time. Happy travels!

I think most car seats are approved for planes but I am not certain. One I am almost certain is approved is the Sit-and-Stroll car seat. It is a car seat and stroller in one which is super helpful for travel. It does not have a built in shade, but you can purchase an attachment for it to provide shade. It's worth looking into.

HI Corrine -

I just read through some of the responses and have to disagree with the sit and stroll advise. We used that product on a flight adn ended up returning it to the store. you will have to take your child out of it and fold it back into a seat to get it through security then open it again to get to the boarding gate. Once it's time to boared you will have to fold it again to get it down the isle as it's too wide to stroll down the isle. it is also a little wider then the airline seat itself which means that you are cramed up against it for the flight. I just found this product way more hassle then it's worth and terribly heavy.

I would suggest that you purchase a light weight car seat to use for traveling. My kids have all enjoyed the novelty of a new car seat for traveling, we keep it with our luggage. This also makes life easy when we are parking the car, we don't have to waste any time with uninstalling and installing the regular car seat, we just have the extra seat in a travel bag ready to go. I think that nearly all seats are FAA approved, besides we have never been asked to prove this.

One last thought; my kids are 6,5 & 3 and we constantly have a friend in the car with us. if this becomes true for you then you will already have a light weight car seat readily available for the friend. I just feel like this makes the expense last longer.

Enjoy the trip!

There will be something on the car seat or box that says whether a car seat is FAA-approved or not. My son's toddler seat said it on the tag. I forget the brand, but it was one of the usual ones (Fisher Price or Cosco?). It worked fine for us. When we were questioned about it when we brought it on planes, we could show the tag to the flight attendants. The last time we used it on a plane was when my son was 4. He is a very thin child and the seat belts were way too loose until he was a little older. Luckily he has always been a good traveller and stayed nicely in the car seat. I would bring my own seat and not trust that the airlines would provide one. The way that airlines are cutting back on things, it's best to bring your own. BTW, I think you mean "elusive" and not "allusive."

I found the Sunshine Kids Radian appealing since it's the only folding convertible car seat on the market and is approved for aircraft use:

http://sunshinekidsbaby.com/proddetail.asp?prod=BY3204

The Britax Roundabout.

Most car seats are also approved for airplanes but not all. It will say in the car seat manual or many times, directly on the car seat whether they are approved for airlines. I've never seen a seat for airlines only.

I would contact the airline and ask whichever one you most frequently use. I just traveled with my three year old in May, and the flight attendant told me that my son could not sit in his booster seat on the plane. I don't know if it is because of the type that is was or if this is an all around rule now. Things are changing so frequently for flying. I also flew in June and was allowed to check one back but when I put my mother on a plane yesterday, she had to pay to check just one bag. I think I am going to look into trains :).

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