Car Seat Vs. Booster for Flight

Updated on March 07, 2008
R.O. asks from Catonsville, MD
4 answers

I have flown many times with my daughter and though she isn't quite two and technically could sit on my lap again, I had such a hard time with that at Christmas we bought a ticket for her own seat. I have a Britax Roundabout car seat which installs fairly easily but have been considering buying a booster (Cosco Gotham high back booster) partly because we will eventually need one any way and partly because it's lighter and therefor seems easier to carry through the airport and install on the plane. I also thought it would be easier to keep her occupied on the flight if she could sit more upright and even with the snack tray on the plane so she can color or play there. Does anyone have advice on this? Any experience with either one or the other, if not both? Thanks!

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answers from Washington DC on

I was just looking in One Step Ahead and saw a contraption that allowed you to snap your Roundabout into a thing that has wheels and you pull behind you. You can strap the child right in there and pull them through the airport! Someone in my mom's group took one across the country with her Britax and loved it! It fold up very compactly too.



answers from Norfolk on

My family all lives more than one plane ride away so I've done my share of traveling. I agree that a carseat is easier if they'll sleep. One idea for a two-year-old is how long are her legs. A couple times we took my daughter and her legs were not long enough to bend at the knee over the edge but were long enough to just keep kicking the seat in front of her. It drove us mad to try and keep her from disturbing the person in front of her. The only other problem we noticed is that you have to attach the carseat via seatbelt on an airplane, and on our seat the buckle was tightened and sat squarely in the middle of the seat, which bothered our daughter's back (it was square in the middle of her back). That didn't bother her until closer to three though (I think) so at 3.5 yrs we started going without anything. Wouldn't do it at two, though. I always liked the safety of "She's all strapped in and won't jump away if I fall asleep" or "She's old enough to listen and obey (or be disciplined) and might fall asleep if she could just put up the arm rest and set her head on my lap." Anyway, think through your trip, if you have help or it's just you (I've done across the country with just me, the 3.5 year-old and the nursing 7 month-old... yeah, I'm crazy), and what do you need for the car at your destination. If you are already taking a stroller then you don't need an attachment to roll or carry a seat of some kind, but we also have a separate seat that attaches to a carry-on-sized rolling luggage. It was designed by a mother and flight attendant, and there is head rest that also pulls up and flips over to become a tray. With just one kiddo (or just one who needs to be "carted") it was pretty great. Plus our daughter thought it was the coolest thing ever. It's upstairs tucked away but if you want more info just message me and go look up the name and website. The cool thing about it is that it folds up on top of the luggage but still fits in the overhead compartment. Brilliant. If you are going to check her car seat (and have the booster just for the plane, for example) I would invest in a carseat cover bag. I knnw the Britax's are large, so make sure you read some online reviews before you get one. The best part about a carseat bag is that it has to be big enough for the seat, but there's no kid in it. This means that for us, bulky jackets we want to have upon arrival but don't want in the airport go in, or extra diapers, or whatever needs to be easily found but checked (or just overflow). Okay, this is turning out to be less about the carseat/booster question, but all these ideas have helped to think through the options for travel for our family, at least. I think looking at your flight times, assessing your daughter's schedule and likely behavior, then looking at your needs and priorities (checked bag numbers needed - like do you need her ticket to have a pack-n-play and her clothes bag and you need both your bags) are all factors for each trip. If you are going to have a stroller for the airport, consider one with an under basket that could maybe hold your booster seat (hard to imagine that carseat would fit). I've found the larger stroller, since I gatecheck it anyway, let's me take more off the back but only fits certain items certain ways. It's still usually a plus over an umbrella stroller, however. When I went with both girls and just me, I actually packed up and tested bags for angles and ease of grabbing for the double stroller basket size and shape. Let me know if you want any more info!



answers from Norfolk on

we just took both of our kids to california and we were using a car seat for one and a booster for the other. so if you think she will play more than the booster is better. if you hope that she will fall a sleep than the car seat is better. our daughter was sleeping as soon as we were up in the air and our son tried to sleep but his head kept falling so he was in a grumpy mood. i know they sell tray attachments for carseats. maybe if you google it you can find them. that might solve that problem if she wants to play. my husband had to carry both of the car seats so he would probably tell you to take the booster :)

i hope that helps. good luck with your flight.




answers from Norfolk on

When I traveled over the summer, alone, pregnant and with a then 2.5 year old, I opted to check the car seat and get a specially designed harness for planes. I got it from I believe. Held my very active child down and I didn't have to lug around a huge car seat. I found the cost worth it, but I had no help and layovers.

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