Carseat for 3-Year-old on Flight?

Updated on October 24, 2009
L.A. asks from Hoffman Estates, IL
7 answers

We're traveling overseas for the holidays, and I was wondering if we need a carseat for our 3-year-old son on the plane? He will have his own seat. If so, would the carseat be considered a carry-on?

Thanks for any help/advise you can give!

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answers from Chicago on

When I took my three year old on a 6 hour flight, we didn't use a carseat, and she didn't need one. We just made sure she had plenty to do, and she had the window seat, so she did a lot of looking out of it. We brought the laptop so she could watch movies, some coloring things (Crayola Color Wonder are amazing for trips!) and books. She never even asked to get up!

And just in case you do want to use a carseat, it is NOT considered a carry-on. At least United Airlines doesn't consider it one!

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answers from Atlanta on

Car seats, strollers, AND baby diaper bags are not considered carry ons. Hopefully you will not try to carry all three. But technically you could, not to mention your own carry on luggage and purse... that would make for a lot. All of the above would be checked at the gate. I would check with the airline on the carseat, some require it over the age of two... and it has to be FAA approved. If you do need to use a carseat you also have to buy another seat. Be mindful of what you carry to gate check, you have to go through security and they make you unpack, stroller, carseat, diaper bag, ect and it all has to go through the metal detectors. Kind of a pain when you are holding a baby in one arm and trying to take your shoes off with the other. We are traveling during the holidays as well, with our 15 month old. Luckily, we are going home and all the necessary will be waiting for us there to use. We go to the airport with as little as possible. If I were you I would consider borrowing or sending one ahead of time, if you can. I also send a box ahead of us with diapers, wipes and anything else I can throw in.



answers from Orlando on

Carseats are not considered carryons. Check with your airline to find out what is ok. I am a flight attendant & I always recommend bringing carseats because it is more safe than not having one. I like the idea of the "cares" because it is safer than just being in a regular seat. Also children are used to being in a car seat in the car & they are not used to the single strap on an airplane. This is why you see so many kids taking them off during the flight because they aren't used to it. If you do take your car seat, remember you have to strap it in the airplane seat just like you do in your car. You would be shocked at how many times parents just set it in the seat & don't strap it in.

God Bless & Safe & Happy Travels!



answers from Chicago on

We flew SouthWest in April, and the flight attendant would NOT let our 2 year old son use his carseat on the plane. He made us put the seat in an overhead compartment, and our son just sat in the seat like us with the seatbelt on. You should probably just call the airline to find out their policy. Have a great trip!


answers from Chicago on


Ex British Airways cabin crew here! BA require the carseat to be of British safety standard and can refuse the use of one not conforming, not sure if AA UA etc require specific safety standards as well, their websites may tell you. You can buy a harness type thing called a "cares" system that straps to the seat and is supposed to be better than a lap belt in event of an accident but I have never seen anyone use one. Lots of people use car seats mainly to strap them in and keep them in ,they do work out how to get out quite quickly with the aircraft belts.The only thing I would advise is bringing a disposable change mat, my three old is toilet trained in the day but not always when she sleeps so if they nap on the plane and have an accident you can just throw it away and change their clothes, or use a night training nappy!Pre order a children's meal if its a long flight they tend to have more nibbly bits to keep them occupied whilst you eat your food!




answers from Chicago on

I would vote for no carseat for the 3 year old. If he wants to get out of his carseat he wont have anywhere else to sit.



answers from San Francisco on

I used the CARES harness with my almost 3 year old on a recent flight and it was GREAT. He loved it because it didn't seem like a baby seat. He didn't use it the whole time, but when he did need to use it he was okay with it, and even napped in it. I would highly recommend the product. It's available on amazon, and through retailers.

RE: carseat, we gate-checked it like we would a stroller (take it to the gate and ask for a tag to gate check--it doesn't go in the hold with the rest of the baggage).

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