Bringing a Britax Frontier or a Graco Nautilus on Jetblue Airplane

Updated on January 23, 2012
J.S. asks from Quincy, MA
17 answers

Dear moms,

I know this question comes up in different formulations with some regularity but I can't find it with my specific circumstances so need to ask my own.

We are flying to orlando Saturday with my 4 year old - her first flight. We will be renting a car once we get there. I am very much leaning towards taking my own carseat and even bringing it on the plane for her to sit in. I am quite paranoid about in flight safety and unexpected turbulence and myself sit clenched in my seat with the belt bucked at all times- if I have to go to the bathroom I make a run for it paranoid the whole time we will hit turbulence. SO you can get an idea of my mindset.

I have several questions that hopefully someone has experience with.

1) Has anyone flown with either the Graco Nautilus or the Britax Frontier? We have both so could bring either. We are on Jetblue.
2) If the carseat doesn't fit for some reason will they gate check it for us? Do I need to get a cover for it or can they check it as is?
3) If we decide not to use the carseat, is a 4.5 year old able to see out the window? I can imagine her being VERY upset if she can't see out
4) lastly, if you've used either of those car seats, can they still use the tray on the seat in front of you?

THank you in advance for any advice/


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So What Happened?

thank you all! I weighed the responses and the data available and decided to bring the Frontier; I had this strap thing that you attach it to a small wheelie suitcase (carry on size) so I could wheel it through the airport, and we needed it for the car ride to the airport as well. But in discussing with my daughter,she was firm in her conviction that she wanted to sit int he regular seat, not her car seat, on the plane. so we ended up checking it in with our luggage and stroller! She was unbelievably good on the plane even though we were delayed over 2 hrs by the storm yesterday. It worked out perfectly. Thanks all! We are in FL now and the weather is fabulous.

Featured Answers



answers from Tampa on

You don't need a carseat, unless she is below her height and weight. I fly with my kids few times a year, a carseat will be extra anxiety you don't need.

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answers from Kansas City on

Gate check! We fly with my son a lot, starting when he was a year old - everything from 1 hour to 11 hour flights (all the way to italy!) - and have always loved the convenience of the gate check. There is no need to have the car seat on the plane and you will find it a huge pain in the butt if you lug it on.

My son, now 4, sits very well in the airplane seat, can see out the window and knows that he always has to have his buckle on, especially when he sees the lighted sign from the captain.

I've never used a car seat cover and haven't had any issues with damage to the seat. However, the one travel accessory I can't live without is our GoGo Babyz Travelmate. It's essentially a little board with wheels that the seat straps onto in a snap and turns it into a stroller. Even if you don't use it as a stroller (we rarely have), you can throw your bags in it and if you leave it empty, the best part of all is that you don't have to carry the seat! Those things are heavy and bulky! We get a lot of envious looks from parents as we carefreely wheel around the terminal. You have to unhook it for security to go through the machine, but it is easy to do and we don't unhook it for the gate check. It's easy to store and cart in the car when you are done, too.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

I fly all the time with my four year old twins. My advice is this: DO NOT BRING YOUR CARSEAT ON THE PLANE!!! Truly, it is an enormous pain in the rear end. And, studies of turbulence show that the safest way for a child to fly is with a CARES harness, not a car seat. Car seats don't protect a child any more than a harness, and barely more than a regular airplane seatbelt. I hate turbulence as well, but please keep in mind that there have been NO commercial plane crashes due to turbulence in the US in the last 30 years. And there has also never been a fatality due to turbulence. I know you'll still be stressed, but hopefully that puts it in perspective a bit.

You will probably not be able to bring a Nautilus on a Jetblue plane - they're really wide seats. And a Frontier is even bigger. If you get a smaller car seat, you could bring it on (but again, I don't advise it) To answer your questions... yes, they will gate check the car seat if it doesn't fit. The other passangers will sigh and so will the crew too, because you will be holding up the plane, though. (I've seen it happen) If you can get the car seat to fit in the window seat (the only place they're allowed), you can probably still bring the tray down.

And yes, a 4.5 year old will be able to see out the window without a car seat. My girls draw straws for the window seat. Check into the CARES harness. You can google them to buy, or you can rent on eBay.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Don't bring a car seat on the plane, if you need it at your destination than check it. They are a pain in the butt to get into the seats, and the kids are not any safer in the case of a crash. She should be able to see out the window fine. I have been flying yearly with my boys since they were born (we were stationed in the UK at the time) and they one time I brought a car seat on I regretted it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

The airlines will only let you use air travel approved car seats, I have only seen infant carriers that are approved no others. You can gate check your car seat and the stroller free of charge. I would highly recommend a gate check bag to put them in. I had a very large gate check bag that fit my BOB revolution with no problem, I got it at Wal-Mart for about $20. The rental car companies charge a minimum of 9.99 a day for car seat rental and they are not good seats. At some point during the flight you will probably be able to take off the seat belt so your child can look out the window. They do recommend that everyone stay in the seatbelts in case of turbulence.



answers from Boston on

I've flown numerous times down to Florida with my 3 year old and I've only brought a car seat once, when he was 5 months old. I also have a Britax Frontier and it's enormous and doubt it would fit in their narrow, but generous by airlines standards, seat. If it doesn't fit, I imagine they'd give you a gatecheck slip for it and they'd put it with the other strollers, etc. I don't think you need a bag for it unless it's a light color because it may get a bit dingy and thrown around a bit. My 3 year old is 40 inches and can see out the window without any problems. I always try to fly Jetblue because they have the inflight TVs and are very generous with their snacks, especially for young kids. It's only a three hour flight so I imagine your daughter will do just fine with the inflight entertainment and variety of snacks. A book or two and a leapster or handheld game wouldn't hurt, just in case.



answers from Los Angeles on

I really, really don't recommend bringing those seats on board for a 4 year old child. My son hasn't used a car seat on the plane since he was about 2 years old. He can see at the window and loves to look out it. He is so much more comfortable without his car seat because he can move around more freely and he can lie down to sleep. I highly doubt you can use the tray table because it's so close to your lap without the added height of a car seat (and I own both seats you're considering).
Buy a nice bag and check the seat. You'll even be able to fit extra stuff in there and save some room in a regular suitcase (saves $$ in baggage fees).


answers from Los Angeles on

We have a Frontier and I can't imagine lugging that monster onboard plus carry-ons and your child. When we flew to Costa Rica with our then 2 yo, we purchased the Cares Child Aviation Seatbelt System because we were looking at 4 major flights and four hopper flights while in country. We were very, very happy w/ the seatbelt system. It's a little pricey at $64; however, you can rent them (just google it) or you can purchase one on Ebay. In fact, we sold ours on Ebay after we used it and I believe we recouped $48. So it was a win-win for us. The seatbelt is light and compact and very easy to install on the airline seats.



answers from Boston on

I would call ahead to the airline and ask them if they permit carseats on their planes. I have been on some airlines that have allowed it when my kids were 2 and under, and others don't. If she is 4, I would guess the answer is going to be no. You can check it at the regular check-in counter-most airlines have special bags for them so be sure to ask- and it should be at no extra charge, since it is required for car travel once you reach your destination. You CAN gate check it, but then you have to haul it all the way through the airport, and I have done that-and it's a huge are going to have enough to busy yourself with! Have fun on your trip!



answers from Pittsburgh on

Both of those seats weight 20 lbs. We flew with a car seat with my son (probably 4-6 times a year) until he outgrew his original seats and we bought two Graco Nautilus seats. We bought a booster for travel because there was no way we were lugging that seat through airports. And yes, we have the GoBaby. If you don't want to rent at the other end, I would gate check. If you scope out the tallest screening machines (most airports have at least one and if you are flying Logan to Orlando you are flying fair sized airports) you probably will not need to remove the GoBaby from the seat. Have fun - if you try to relax, your kids will enjoy flying - my son LOVES to fly - from the drive to the airport, to the whole security thing, lining up to get on to the flight itself.



answers from Springfield on

I have to agree with the others - car seats on planes are so painful that we stopped using them once the kids turned three. Booster seats on planes aren't allowed, fyi. Buckling and unbuckling those car seats is hellish on planes, and your daughter will feel cramped and (trust me) accidentally or on purpose kick the seat in front of her. This will make everyone unhappy, especially the stranger in front of her who just wants to read his newspaper. Airplane travel is far safe than auto travel - so bring her carseat and check it (for free) when you arrive at the airport and get your boarding passes. Don't gate check it - not only is that a hassle if it's not a direct flight, but there's a greater chance it will get left behind at the gate (that's happened to us more than once).



answers from Chicago on

We took a Britax carseat on the plane for our 2-year-old daughter at the time. It was heavy, and a PAIN! But she was able to look out the window, although she didn't care about that. On our last trip, we used the CARES, and it worked very well.



answers from Boston on

We flew with our Frontier several times. We weren't on Jet Blue but we did take a couple small airplanes and it was fine. The tray table has never been an option with the carseat on any size plane but it really wasn't an issue. I brought a clip board so she had a surface to draw on. I think she will be able to see out the window either way.

I've never had a flight attendant question us. They have been so happy to have us bring a car seat (even well beyond age 2) because it keeps the kids comfy and way less annoying to others. We used it when she was 4 as well. Now that my daughter is 5 we still bring the seat and gate check it so that it isn't thrown around excessively or lost on the flight.

Yes, it is cumbersome to carry it around the airport, we had a car seat bag. If I were traveling alone, it wouldn't have worked with the other carry-ons but with DH and I it was fine. They also have these rolling caddy things that look great. Now we travel with a carseat that folds up (much easier). But even with the big one it was worth the peace of mind to me to know it was going to be there on the other end no matter how cumbersome it was. And where you have a lot of anxiety generally it may be worthwhile to bring it. It is definitely safer in the unlikely event of severe turbulance.



answers from Seattle on

A car seat on the plane is more trouble than it's worth. And no, she won't be able to drop her tray table flat if she's in it. Check the back of the seat to see if it has a sticker saying it's approved for air travel if you're determined to take it with you - if the flight attendant on your place doesn't immediately recognise the seat, s/he will ask to see that sticker before you take it down the aisle.

I took my son's Evenflo Triumph on the plane once, and it counted as twice: First and Last. I gate-checked it flying back at no extra charge. I didn't have a cover but they had a big plastic bag to wrap around it. However, if it that's not available to you, it won't get too dirty (luggage comes back fairly clean, after all) I did use the GoGoBaby to trot it through the airport (instead of a stroller) and that was very handy.



answers from Atlanta on

I always did car seats when my were younger. I'm flying next month and don't plan to anymore. The kids are 8 and almost 5. I feel comfortable that they are big enough for the lap belt to hold them in the seat in case of turbulence. I think they (and yours) will be fine and able to see out the window.
I love my frontier. I'm looking at getting a bag for it so we can check it at the ticket counter. (or maybe a big duffel bag and I'll stuff clothes around it.) I'm not going to gate check. It's to big to lug through the airport.
When I flew with car seats, it was with the Marathon. And the tray could not be used. The frontier does sit lower, but I don't think you'd be able to fit it on the seat, it's wider.
Check out this kind of seatbelt if you want more than the lapbelt:



answers from Hartford on

Jet blue would not let us bring the Nautilus on the plane saying it was a booster seat. My son was four at the time, and on the small side, and he was just fine. Jet BLue is great, they have Nickalodean (something he can't usually watch, so he was thrilled by that alone!) the car seat was fine without the cover and they were very helpful indirecting us to its location after the flight. I would not want to drag a frontier all over the airport either, those things are huge! We did get my daughters Britax BLVD on and it got stuck! Jet BLue staff were very kind and did not seem at all annoyed that they had to have a technician come and dismantle the seat. Flying with kids on Jet Blue is a breeze- I wrote the company a letter and everything because I was so blown away by their courteous service!



answers from Washington DC on

Confirm that you CAN use it. I was told on Virgin that we could not and we checked it (in a bag, well worth buying. Ours is padded without wheels b/c I heard they fall off. We used the free airport carts and it wasn't a problem. Our seat is a Marathon). On Aer Lingus I was told that we could, but they took it from me at the door. On Virgin, it was put in a special bin to be put on the plane last with other "fragile" items. We only gate checked our stroller.

I would personally plan on not using it on the flight and dealing with your child in her own seat with a lap belt. On the Virgin flights they had airline carseats, but there were far fewer per plane than customer service told us there would be. Most of us just did what we could without them and DD was alright. We flew from the US to the UK and back and also between Ireland and Scotland.

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