Carseat for Toddler on Plane?

Updated on June 03, 2011
S.M. asks from Eden Prairie, MN
22 answers

I'm flying alone with my 2.5 yr old. Our flight is only going to be about an hour and a half and I really think she'd do just fine without her carseat. Our family members will have one ready to go when they pick us up from the airport as well. I just really don't wanna have to carry her huge carseat through the airport along with everything else the two of us will have, along with trying to get it through security too. Does anyone have any tips or know if the airlines help to get the carseat to the gate at all? It really doesn't seem like it'd be THAT much safer on a plane than not having one--thoughts?

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answers from Philadelphia on

I'd skip the carseat. I've never used one with my 2 year old on a plane. You could get a backpack bag or roller bag for it, and pull it if you wanted, though. Google "childress" - it's a brand of car seat bag.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I'm on the side of all the other moms who say skip the car seat on the plane. My 3 kids have flown many times in their lives already, and we never take car seats on the plane. Too much hassle. She'll be fine!

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answers from Chicago on

Nope! You've got to send it through security just like everything else! And there's no assistance with getting it on board. Hopefully you'll be able to pre-board.

I would skip the seat at this point. My 3yr does not use his when we fly. A regular seat and best is just fine and much easier. Just make sure you buy a seat for him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Janesville-Beloit on

I recently made my husband carry our carseat through the Chicago airport for my 2 year old son to sit on in the plane. On the way back home, my husband refused to carry it again. I was sure it wasn't going to work with him just in the seat. I was proven wrong :) He did better on the way home without the car seat then on the way there. If I were you I would leave it home!



answers from Fargo on

Your carseat would have to be approved for would have a certain certification. Personally, our first trip with our 3 children, we brought their carseats, but had to just gate check them because they weren't approved for air travel. It turned out for the best because even on our short flights, my son (who was just over 2yrs) fell asleep laying across his seat with his head on my lap.
On our return flights, we just checked them with our other bags (carseats are checked for least a couple years ago) so we didn't have to hassle with them in the airport. Made for a much more enjoyable time in the airport (if that's possible). :)



answers from Seattle on

I have done both, with carseat and without and for us it's a toss up. It's nice for a long flight if you have a sleepy kid, it's terrible on a long flight if you have an active kid and not enough space to move about. For an hour long flight I would probably pass on the seat - I really don't think it makes them any safer in a plane. Keep the lap belt on your little one in case of turbulence and that's that.
Oh yeah, and the airlines don't help with the seat at all and may even decline to take the seat on board and require you to gate check it... been there done that...



answers from Minneapolis on

I have traveled with my daughter when she was 18 months and once again around 3. We did not use a car seat. We used a double stroller for both girls and you can check this at the gate. Travel with as little as possible, especially since you will be alone. You can bring snacks and toys, but get drinks once you go through security.



answers from Madison on

Since it is a short flight and you will have one waiting for you when you get there I wouldn't bother bringing your own. The airline staff will not help you with it at all. Since you are flying alone you will have to manage carrying it onto the plane (very awkward) and installing it yourself all while keeping track of your 2.5 year old. Leave it at home.



answers from Seattle on

Don't take the carseat. It's not worth the hassle for such a short flight.

If you're very worried about safety, you could get the CARES harness for the plane (FAA approved). We used this with my toddler a few times. I'm not sure it was really necessary, though.



answers from Minneapolis on

Depends on your kid. We found the carseat helpful purely for the sanity factor. My son knows that when he's in his carseat, he can't get out until the car stops. It helped him to have a familiar and comfortable place to sit - he ate his lunch, took a nap, and woke up as we were landing. (We always tried to schedule flights around nap time.) If your daughter is pretty chill, and you think she'll be happy to sit on her butt with her seatbelt buckled and do quiet things the whole time, then you can skip the carseat. If you think she's going to be curious and active, wanting to look around and stand on the seat and bounce and hop and walk and kick and all the glorious things that preschoolers love to do - then I'd recommend the car seat.

As for getting through the airport with it:

[We have this, but it doesn't appear to be available any more - you might be able to call around though and find one in a store.]


answers from Minneapolis on

If you have one on the other end, the no I would not bring a cars eat on the plane for a 2.5yr old. I never recommend checking a car seat (never gate check either, its teh same thing as checking, goes to the same place), because it will cause damage to the seat you cannot see.

Since you have one on hte other end, then buckle her in with the lap belt on the plane seat and enjoy the flight.



answers from Minneapolis on

Well I travelled with my infant with his car seat. No you don't get any help with carseats. You need to take it through security. Also the carseat had to go through the security machine.. not all are big enough for car seat to go through , so they take it and check it on the bigger one available in the terminal. Convertible seats are bigger than carseats so not sure if they do the same for convertible seats as well.We had taken our travel system , we would check in the stroller at the gate. I did see a couple who had their infant in a carseat but checked in the carseat at the gate.. My guess was they hadn't bought a seperate ticket for the baby , hence had to check in their car seat. Having own seat for baby is very convinient. But I wouldn't bother if it's such a short flight. Also if you request for the bulk head seats (these are first come first serve only), the corner seat has armrests which cannot be lifted up(they are fixed and completely covered as in there is no gap between armrest and the seat). So if you get the corner seat you can have your son sit in there safely (of course buckle him up and you be around him) for sometime. My son enjoyed sitting there and playing with his toys.If you still decide to take your convertible seat, I know you can buy those carseat carriers (with wheels) that you can attach your carseat.I think your baby can sit in the carseat while attached to the carrier. This way you can easily use it like a stroller inside the airport.



answers from San Francisco on

You dont need to have a carseat on the plane. I'm sure you must have a separate ticket (hence, seat) for her. If you need the carseat once you get to your destination, you can check-in your carseat. The car seat can be checked in for free and picked up from baggage claim later. Just so you know, sometimes, the car seat will be checked in as an oversized luggage (no fees or charges). So, you will need to pick up where the oversized luggage is picked up. Hope this helps.



answers from Milwaukee on

I always rented a CARES harness off ebay rather than lugging the car seat through the airport. I did however bring an umbrella stroller.



answers from Minneapolis on

If you do decide to bring it we have the Go Go Baby wheels that go on the bottom that is an amazing product. The wheels hook on the bottom of the carseat and you can push her through the airport. It slips off easily at the gate and then you just strap the carseat in the seat with a seat belt extender. Very slick!



answers from Washington DC on

It's tough, especially for such a short flight. But you wouldn't put your child in a car without the right safety seat. Why would you put her on an aircraft without one? Turbulence can throw an adult around -- think about what it would do to a small child. Aircraft lap belts are not designed to hold down small children and will not fit across her lap in the right place. We fly a lot, and never let our daughter go with just the lap belt until she was also big enough to be out of a carseat in a car. Is her car seat truly huge, or can you maybe get her a "booster with back" for this trip?

If you are really determined not to use the carseat, I believe there are some specialized products that are belts you attach to the airline seat's belt. But I think these are aimed more at helping a parent hold a small infant as a "lap child." Check for things like that and maybe they have something appropriate for a 2.5 year old.



answers from Washington DC on

I am considering calling Virgin Atlantic and asking for one of their seats since they won't let us use ours on the flight (whatever) even though we bought her a seat. We are traveling by car later on our trip and I want MY seat vs a string of rentals. I personally want DD in a car seat of some sort on the flight b/c I think she'll sit better and it's what she's used to. She might even sleep. I plan to put DD on a rolling cart with a bungee cord and use her seat as a stroller through the airport. Since it's a short flight and your family has a seat for you at the other end, you might want to ask the airline what they have or recommend.



answers from Minneapolis on

We've flown a few times with my 3 year old and never takena car seat because we had one waiting for us as well. When he was younger he just sat in our lap and slept in our arms. When he got older he just got his own seat. Just bring stuff like a blanket and maybe a neck pillow (they have cute kids ones now) for if she gets sleepy and some books, etc. For me I wasn't about to lug the thing through the airport. We even flew somewhere where we had to rent a car and rented a car seat with the car. It was easier.



answers from Rochester on

We have never taken our car seats on the plane. Be aware that if your child is over two, she cannot sit on your lap during landing or take off. I would call the airline and ask if your carseat will even fit in the seat of the plane. We have flown on a few flights where there was no way our carseats would have fit in the seats. I know it has been recommended that kids fly in carseats, but the airlines don't seem to be very accommodating.



answers from Pittsburgh on

The reason to take the car seat on the plane would be 1. safety and 2. to contain her in her seat. I think the car seat would be safer than the lap belt, and it would provide familiarity for her to create comfort on the flight and possibly sleep!

However, as you're anticipating, it will be harder to travel if it's just the 2 of you. I think you'll be fine without -- my hubby flew with my DD when she was 2.5 and she did fine in the regular airplane seat (though I think the takeoff and landing "tickled" her tummy and made her feel sort of "sick").

IF you did take your seat, then yes, it could get "declined" by the flight attendants and not allow you to bring it on-board. I've flown with my Britax Marathon, which is pretty big. To think about, you'd need to strap it into the seat yourself which can be tough, and where'd your DD be during this time?

I ALWAYS gate check my car seat (if not using on the plane), as I don't trust baggage checking it, as what if I get to my destination but my car seat/baggage does not? So, when going through the airport we use a J.Childress (sp?) car seat carrier (it's a backpack). I bought it at Wal-Mart...I think $35 or so.

Yes, the car seat has to go through security, and no, no one will be helping you with that. Oh, and isn't the Minn/STP airport pretty big, which will also make your trip a bit harder?

Best of luck! Take lots of snacks, and maybe a movie to entertain her, esp. if you get stuck in a delay on the tarmac! Oh, and try to get her drinking during take-off to pop her ears.



answers from New York on

There is a harness you can get just for use on an airplane. I believe I saw it on Amazon for about $65. I have dragged a seat through the airport several times and it is a pain. If you check it at the curb it is easier.



answers from Lincoln on

One thing to keep in mind is whether your carseat is airline approved. Many are not, and should not be used on the plane. There will be a special sticker on it with a check mark and FAA approved. Airlines will check the carseat for free, as it is a safety item for a child. Just be sure to have them place it in a bag, or you can buy one online for future trips. If you have a family member that has one waiting, my suggestion is to leave yours at home and not worry about it.

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