17 answers

Infant Carriers on Airplanes

We are traveling to Florida via plane with a 2.5 yr old and a 6 month old. I was planning on taking the infant carrier but not the toddlers car seat (we will have one when we get down there). Do we need to take the infant carrier base with us? how do this work?

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I don't have any advice, but please let us know how everything goes. I'll be flying with my daughter at the end of March (she'll be about 6 months then) and am a little nervous about the whole thing. :)

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It's been a while, but I remember we did fly when my son was 5 months old and I did not bring the base. We did not buy him a ticket, but we brought the carseat/carrier on the plane with us. We also had the stroller that went with the carseat and we were able to check that at the gate (or the actual door to the airplane). They will give you a little ticket and have it ready for you when you deplane (they do the same for wheelchairs). The carseat will fit in the overhead compartments, but if the flight is not full they will let you use a seat so your baby can ride in the carseat. They all know that babies may go to sleep better in their car seats! The lap-style belts are easy to use to secure the carseat. You could always pack the base and check it with your bags if you think you may want to use it at your destination.

No! You totally don't have to take the base with you. I just flew last month with my 3 month old and you just put the seat backwards on the plane the same way you do in the car. Also - I didn't buy my infant a ticket so on the return flight I actually just had to hold him and couldn't use my infant carrier at all, in which case they just gate checked it.

I also didn't know this before (and he's my third so I'm not sure why I never came across this) BUT, you don't even technically need the base in your car either. I didn't believe it myself (my sister had told me that who also has 3 kids) but then right there on the car seat itself it shows directions how to secure the carrier in the car withOUT the base. You basically strap the lapbelt part through two hooks (never noticed before either) on either side of the carrier and it stays in place. It's not as safe, but its adequate and legal. Happy flying!!!

We took our car seat and paid for an extra seat for our daughter, we had to sit on the run way for about 45 minutes. We were not allowed to take our 2 yr old out of her car seat even though she was screaming at the top of her lungs. I asked the flight attendant and she would not allow me to take her out. I tried explaining that if I could take her out she would calm down. I tried to remove the car seat and let her just sit in the seat and got in trouble for that too.
Make sure you ask about the rules in case you get stuck on the runway with a screaming child.
We made everyone miserable and my mother was with us and she started yelling at the flight attendant, it became very stressful.

Hi A.,
Not only do you not have to take the base with you, you don't even have to use it in your car. The bases were created for convenience and because 70% of people out there do not know how to secure a car seat all the way. The two main mistakes most people miss are using the shoulder strap and not locking the seat belt.
When you put the seat in facing backwards, put the lap belt through the slots over the lap of your child. Do Not put the shoulder belt through those slots. It can easily slip out creating slack in the seatbelt. Go ahead and buckle the seat belt. Then pull the shoulder part of the seat belt out until you can't pull it out any further. This locks the seat belt. After that, pull on the shoulder belt in the other direction to tighten the seat belt around the car seat. That's all there is to it but if you miss either one of those steps, the seat can move around in an accident putting your child in danger.
Hope that helps.

No you wont need the base. Are you planning on having the baby sit on your lap during the flight, or will he be in his carseat during the flight? I recently traveled with my 3 yr old dd and almost 6 month old dd. I just held my youngest in my lap because she flew for free then. If you are planning on having him on your lap you can check his carseat at the gate before you board the plane and it will be waiting for you when you get off the plane. HTH!!

Hi I traveled with my daughter when she was the same age and got lots of advice from social workers I know/families I have worked for (nanny). The most interesting thing I found out was that it is safer to sit with your infant on your lap in an airplane since they do not have locking seat belts which are required for car restraints to be used properly. Whether you need the base or not depends on the type of carrier it is. If you can secure it using a seat belt or LATCH system with out the base it is fine to leave it at home. (Check the instruction manual or call the manufacturer.) One of the car seats I used when I live-in nannied could be used in a car with out the base; the mom and I felt better using it, but the dad did not mind not having it, so it could be a matter of personal choice. Either way they will check the carrier at the gate and you can pick it up when you get off since there is NOT room to have it on the plane unless you have purchased an extra seat. Sorry this was so long and I hope this helps!

So long as you can use the infant seat without the base, you don't need to take it with you. I never took mine when my son was an infant...it was just one more thing to carry.

I'm sure others have mentioned this, but please be sure to take along quiet things to occupy your children on the flight. Make sure that both your children have something to suck on during takeoff and landing. I usually give my son gummies to eat during takeoff which he thinks is cool, and it helps equalize the pressure in his ears. Also, I make sure to fill up a water bottle or two once we get past security, so he'll have plenty to drink.

Just a note: changing diapers on the plane is a bit of a pain, but I found that it did help to have the infant seat, because then I could at least have some place to lay the baby.

Good luck!

I would assume you belt the base in with the seat belt but I would call the airline for sure. They may even have a seat for you to use.

I don't have any advice, but please let us know how everything goes. I'll be flying with my daughter at the end of March (she'll be about 6 months then) and am a little nervous about the whole thing. :)

I see you got lots of advice, but thought I'd add in my two cents. We just traveled by plane over the holidays with our 6.5 month old. We kept him in our laps during the flight and I was so surprised that he was actually very good. He slept most of the time and if he fussed (this was more in the airport) I gave him some of those Gerber Graduates Puffs. We did not bring his car seat base, but were very careful about how we installed it into the rental car. Make sure the seat is as upright as when it is locked into the base. It is easy to have it laying down rather than upright. We used the car seat and stroller in the airport and gate checked it, this was a great help!
One word of advice, be prepared to change a diaper on the plane. We had to three out of the four times! Larger planes have a drop down changing table in the bathroom. On the smaller plane I was forced to change him on the floor! The flight attendant may allow you to do it in the galley. Be prepared with some of those paper liners.
This wasn't part of your question, but you are allowed to bring bottles and sippy cups with liquid through security. They test the liquid with little strips. Make sure you are aware of your airlines baggage police. Extra baggage cost us $205 on the way out and we ended up shipping a bag home to save a little money on the way back.
Most of all, relax and have fun! It will not be as bad as you are expecting!

We have traveled a lot with our little ones who are now 1.5 and 3.5....since they were both 3 months old. I assume you have purchased seats for each of them, good idea. We always had the child's carrier or seat with us. Kids understand that they have to sit in these seats rather than crawling around every where. We would leave the base at home. You can strap the baby carrier to the seat with the lap belt across the top of it. This is the same you would do in the rental car. Or check the base and most rental cars will have that latch system and attach it that way. We also always brought the stroller to put the baby carrier into while we were in the airports. TRUST ME...this makes it easier to transport, go to the bathroom, eat, etc. I know that makes security more difficult but in the end it really helps a lot. You can hold the 2.5 yo hand and push the baby in the stroller. The stroller can be gate checked. If you haven't flown with kids yet, then just take a deep breath, and allow plenty of time to get from A to B. And only take 1 carry on per adult, less is more, except for diapers. Good luck and happy flying!

Hello A.. We've flown with baby before and found that you don't need the base on the plane. The seat belt/lap belt can go through the carrier itself. There are open "holes" on the back sides of your carrier near the base of it the belt will slip through. Attach the carrier first so you can put your knee in it while you tighten the belt, then put baby in. Are you checking the base or will you have one when you arrive? It isn't as safe in the car to do this as having a base, but you can do it in a car if you are without a base. Best wishes for a safe and fun trip. C.

Most infant carriers don't need a base to be secured in a car, but I always felt safer with mine. If you want to bring yours- snap it to the bottom of the carseat and put it under the plane- check it with your other luggage. It's not considered a piece of luggage since it's a necessity to have with an infant..same thing as a stroller (which I normally check at the gate. Hope this helps. With this response- I assume you're not buying a seat on the plane for a 6 month old....

Check with your airline's customer service. You seat must be FAA approved in order to seat a child in a carrier in a seat on an airplane. Just check to see if your seat is approved. You will probably have to give a model number to find out.
Good luck traveling with 2 small children!! Take plenty of activities/snacks for the 2.5 yr old.

Depends on the type of carrier. Check your manual first, there should be a section on air travel. Look online for the manual if you don't have it anymore. My Graco works with or without the base. The base is just so that it is always at the right level and you don't have to check the level each time, buckle and unbuckle the seatbelt each time, lock the seatbelt in place (you do this by pulling it all the way out then letting it back in. now it won't move anymore.) It just takes a little more time to buckle it in without the base, and you have to pay attention to be sure you are doing it right.

Yes A., you have to take exactly what you use in your car onboard an aircraft for your children to sit in their passenger seats. There will be special boarding proceedures, and even gate check your stroller, and again your stroller will be brought up when you reach your destination to the jetway for easier access. You will preboard and will be assisted by either crew members or ramp personal for easier entrance onboard. Just ask when you check in. Safety is the reason for your 2 year old to use her car seat during the flight. The car seat will have a stamp for FAA approval somewhere underneath it. Good luck and enjoy your flight.

Hi A., my 3.5 yo is a seasoned traveler having taken his first flight at 4 months. I have a couple of suggestions. We always check our carseats (there should be no charge for this) becaue it is a real hassle to carry them thru the airports, especially security. Until he turned 2, my son always sat in our laps. We felt this was better after traveling with our niece and nephew because if you are stuck on the runway for a long period of time with a screaming child who wants out of the carseat. If there are empty seats on the plane, you can always request to be moved to a row with an empty seat so you will have more room for the kids to move around. Once our son turned 2, we bought a CARES harness from www.kidsflysafe.com for him. It provides the 5-point harness protection when used with the airplane seatbelt and weighs only 1 lb. so it fit easily in my purse or carry-on. My son also carries his own lightweight backpack now filled with things to keep him busy, i.e. books, crayons and paper, small toys, etc. We also carry a personal media player or DVD player to keep him entertained in one of our backpacks (the best carry-ons in my opinion), a few snacks and a small blanket because sometimes the planes are cold to a child. A stroller is a must for getting thru the airport, just check it at the gate. Most planes do have a changing table in the bathroom, but if it is just a wet diaper, I tend to change it on my lap. We try to pick seats where there is no one else sitting directly beside me other than my husband and he certainly doesn't mind.

One other note about sippy cups... on one of our last trips, security made me empty my son's sippy cup because they deemed him old enough not to need a "special" beverage. We were told we could refill it after we got thru the gate. He was 2. The bad part was, milk wasn't one of the options on the drink cart on the plane, so now we know that if we want milk on an early morning flight, we need to buy it in the airport before we board. However, if you are using formula, the flight attendants are happy to bring you bottled water to make bottles, so you don't need to buy extra water before you board for that. When I was traveling alone with my son, the flight attendant even took the formula from me and mixed his bottle for me in the galley.

Good luck on your trip!

Good luck on your trip.

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