Car Seat on Plane??

Updated on May 07, 2008
S.B. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
10 answers

Hi, I am taking a trip this coming Saturday to Texas with my 2yr old son. I have a question about the car seat. I have to bring one no matter what because he needs one once we get there but should I put it under the plane? Or should I take it on with us for him to sit on in the plane? Do you know what is more comfortable for the child and if it's just a big pain? Not really worried about safety because well...if we are going down I don't think a carseat will do much. Anyone with some experience in this area?

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all who responded! It was my first time posting a question and was delighted that you all took the time to "educate" me. :) Well it was a tough decision because responses were about half and half on what to do so I decided to not take the chair, main reason is because I just couldn't imagine carrying everything myself. There were good points to both sides and in the future I might want to try and take one because he couldn't see out the window which was a big deal. Well, you live and learn! Thanks again!

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answers from Colorado Springs on

I used to travel with my three daughters when they were young (by myself when my husband was away on business). There's a little more than 2 years between them. I recommend using the car seat on the plane. You can keep him contained and comfortable (he's used to it), he can sleep in it, and he can see. Also, if you need to use the restroom or mess with food, etc., you don't need to worry about him. Rather than lug the thing all over the place, I used a bungee cord to attach it to a cheap luggage carrier ... instant stroller!


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answers from Colorado Springs on

I have flown with my daughter at that age before. I had to bring the car seat. Plane rules. Not sure if that is still a rule. But it was the law. I didn't buy her a seat on the plane I did the lap thing. But I brought my car seat just in case no one sat by me. And at one time a gentalman ask the flight atten. if he can change seats so I can have my child sit. They help you with the car seat on the plane too.I would bring it in that case. Also depending on how long the flight is you may want him buckled in his seat. And if he has not flown before. It may be good for him so he has something familure.. I know its a pain to carry around with you. It was for me. Especailly when you have to take your shoes off and you feel rushed. UGH! But It was worth it for the flight.. Good Luck..:)



answers from Colorado Springs on

I would absolutely take the car seat on the plane. We have traveled a great deal with our two children and it may be a bit of a hassle to haul in through security but it is all worth it on the plane. It contains them and my daughter sleeps like a dream on the plane in her carseat. I hope it helps.



answers from Tucson on

Since your child is over age 2 he has to be in his own seat. At 2 it's much more comfortable for him to sit in his own car seat. Depending on the model, you can make it easier to carry the car seat (and the kid) using an attachment device that will turn the seat into a piece of rolling luggage

We use the original GoGo Kidz for our son's Britax and it's great! No need to carry that heavy thing or walk around with strapped on looking like a turtle!

There is also a chair that attaches to your rollaboard

The newly FAA-approved straps are okay for a 2 year old but best for older kids who can see out the window.

*NOTE* ANY child in a car seat MUST be seated at the window!! FAA rules. The only time that this wouldn't be enforced is in the case of a widebody aircraft (two aisles) where mom/dad and the child take up the entire center section of the row (ie mom, kid in car seat, older sister).

The car seat is for the child's comfort and safety just like in a car. Yes, during a catastrophic event, the seat will provide no more protection from severe or fatal injuries like the regular airplane seat for the adults. However, the child seat WILL provide better restraint for the child during turbulance, wind shear and minor mishaps. This is why it's always best that an infant (child under 2 in airline terms) who could travel for free if held in mom or dad's lap instead be placed in his/her car seat. Yeah, that means paying for the seat (maybe a 50% discount on some airlines) but in the event of wind shear, the aircraft would drop some 3,000 feet just like that and while everyone is being jostled about in their seats, the babe in arms now becomes a projectile flying across the cabin at do the math.

One last note....when flying with a car seat, FAA rules REQUIRE all *US-owned* airlines to allow the use of FAA (or similar international agency) approved child restraints on the aircraft...even if flying internationally. These rules DO NOT always apply to non-US airlines. Aer Lingus (the Irish airline) in fact FORBIDS the use of car seats! Other airlines are somewhere in between--allowed in coach but not in business class because the have the "pod" seats that fold into beds. But, when flying on a US airline, so long as your seat has the FAA sticker (be sure to locate it in case you're asked) then you're good to go.

Blue skies!

PS If you want a low cost, light weight alternative, consider the Cosco Scenera car seat from Wal-Mart. Other places carry it but the Wal-Mart units are packaged in a clear plastic carrying case. It costs under $45, rear or forward facing, goes up to 40 lbs and has a 5-point internal harness. Many frequent fliers use it as their "airplane" or traveling car seat rather than having to take out the one in their own car. Plus, it's a better, safer alternative to relying on the rental car comapny's rented seat which may have been subjected to less than ideal use...



answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi S.,
I traveled to England w/ my toddler and I found that putting the car seat under the plane worked out best for us. I found that carring the carseat w/ me thru the parking lot, and check in was far enough to carry it. Security, the rest of the airport, a lay over and then carring it thru the entire destination airport is A LOT of carring this heavy, bulky, burdonsome item. Plus think about the rest of the things you will be bringing w/ you. Your purse, your carry on, a diaper bag filled to the brim w/ snacks, toys, books, portable dvd... I put everything I don't need in my suitcase and let the airport do all the "carry-ing" So much so that I put my wallet in the diaperbag and stick my purse in the suitcase. Good luck and have a great time.




answers from Colorado Springs on

Having traveled a lot with my kids, I have to say that the car seat does have some advantages, especially if you are the only adult. But it can be a hassel to get on and off the plane. The biggest problem I had with car seats is that some are FAA approved and some are not, which means that they cant be used on a plane even if you want to. Somewhere on the underside of the car seat it will say if it is FAA approved. If it is, I would take it, it will give you somewhere to park your kid that you can control.
have a nice trip!



answers from Colorado Springs on

We always take the car seat on the plane because our daughter is up higher and can see around her more (especially out the window). When sitting in the seat without it, she is too low and gets frustrated when she attempts to sit on her knees when the seatbelt sign is on and we tell her she can't. We have a back pack made to carry car seats which keeps your hands free in the airport. We ordered it on line.



answers from Tucson on

Our son has been flying since he was 7 weeks old and our daughter took her first flight when she was just 7 days old. My best advise is to take it on with you! The only thing is... You have to make sure the car seat meets the FAA standards, there should be a sticker on the seat itself that lets you know. Attendants are checking these more and more we have found! We tried to let my son sit on the seat when he was two and he hated it.. We had bought him a new belt system to allow him to sit there and be safe. He was to low to see out the window and since you have to buy the 2 year old a seat why not let him get a good view. As for safety, it isnt for "if the plane goes down" its more the every day occurance of turbulance that takes an adult out of their seat let alone a small kid! If you don't take it on the plane with you I would suggest gate checking it to ensure that it doesnt get lost which the often do, even on non stops!



answers from Colorado Springs on

If you have a window seat, then take it and let him look out the window. That is what kept my daughter intertained when we flew to Austin a couple weeks ago. There was not a lot of turbulance on our flight, but it changes with every flight. If you do not have a window seat, then I would gate check it. He will be more on your lap then. Window would be best. She loved looking out the window and fell asleep both ways within 1/2 hour of the flight. I hope I helped a little. If you need any other ideas send a message and I will help as much as possible! Good Luck!



answers from San Francisco on

the problem with a carseat on a plane is that there feet will have nowhere to go except to push and kick the chair in front of them. For kids under 6 months i think it's ok, but there just isn't enough leg room.

I have never been instructed by an airline that i HAVE to use a carseat, and i've flown with my daughter (4) 9 times in the last 3 years. If the plane crashes, a carseat will not save them.

i really do find that kids are more comfortable NOT in a carseat on a plane. THey have more wiggle room. As a side note, don't underestimate the entertainment value of the music in the armrest. Should be good for at least half an hour.

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