Do I Have to Bring a Car Seat on a Plane?

Updated on May 18, 2009
R.G. asks from Atkinson, NH
11 answers

I am taking my 8 year old & 2 year old to Paris for a weekend. I am not renting a car, mostly walking and some metro. Do I still need to bring a car seat on the plane for the 2 year old? I will be using a taxi from the airport to hotel, but I hate to have to lug around a huge seat just for that. Does anybody have experience with this?

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answers from Boston on

We use the 5-point harnesses from They are FAA-approved, easy to use, and easy to carry. They are, however, a little on the pricey side. If you plan to fly a lot, tho, they are totally worth the investment.

[Edited to say that these are the CARES harnesses that Joanna mentions below.]

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answers from Boston on

I agree with the other post.....I watched a special on some nightime news program years ago about what would happen if a child were unrestrained in a plane accident and it convinced me to always bring one.

Plus, unless you want your child crawling all over the seats and the plane you are much more likely to have your child sit still during the plane ride if he/she is in a car seat. We are always glad to have brought one.

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answers from Boston on

Safety concerns aside, it is a long flight. Your DS is used to staying in his carseat in the car, so it can only help keep him comfortable on the plane. We took a flight recently and the flight attendant commented to me several times that I traveled the "right way" with DD in her carseat. It is also great for sleeping on the flight. He will be comfortable and used to doing so.

I also would not be comfortable in the back seat of a cab with DD unrestrained.

It's a bit of a pain, but if you get a backpack carrier for your seat or one of those wheely things, it would be worth it, I think, to transport it to and from the airport on each end.



answers from Portland on

I have no practical experience with your situation but I bet you could Google an answer.
You do not know if car seats are a legal requirement in Europe. You could probably Google an answer to that too.
Wether they are legally required or not I would feel much safer and more comfortable having a two year old belted in.
That being said, perhaps car seats are available for rental in you could Google that too....LOL
Sounds like a wonderful grand adventure.
Hope you have an awesomely wonderful time !!! ( I am a bit envious for sure ..have always wanted to visit Europe)
Best wishes and God bless
Grandmother Lowell



answers from Springfield on

Hi R.. I'm a Child Passenger Safety Technician and there are a couple of solutions to your dilemma.

First to answer the question, no, you are not required by law to carry a child restraint onto a plane.

Now to address other dynamics. Children under 4 years and 40 pounds are recommended to be in an airline approved child restraint per the FAA, because the airline seatbelt does a very poor job of protecting them in an accident. The lap belt can rise up and injure their little tummies, or they can even get ejected, in severe turbulence.

To correct a common misperception, this is not an issue of "if the airplane crashes, we're all dead anyway so why does a car seat matter?"

The facts: MOST airline crashes are survivable! Most occur at take off and landing and for the most part, properly restrained passengers survive them. Also, in turbulence, proper restraint makes a HUGE difference.

Because you will be taking a taxi, I strongly advise you to have a child restraint for your 2 year old and a backless booster for your 8 year old. You don't need anything big or bulky. You can purchase the Cosco High-Back harnessed booster at Target for 40 dollars. It's a pretty bare bones seat, BUT it's also quite light and easy to port around. You can strap it to your luggage.

You will find that a properly restrained child on an airplane is more likely to be quiet and well behaved and less likely to try to run around or kick other passengers' seats. If nothing else, the person sitting in front of you will thank you for bringing a child seat!

Now, if in the end you decide NOT to take a taxi at your desitination, the CARES harness will suit you nicely on the plane. It's a four point harness that attaches to the lapbelt and keeps the child safely restrained.



answers from Boston on

I would not bring the car seat. It depends on your willingness to take risks, but I know that you don't need a car seat in taxis here (I never have my daughter in one when we go to NYC). You do not need it on the plane (although most airlines do not charge for it like a piece of luggage). Have a great trip!!



answers from Boston on

You don't need a carseat on the plane (only ones that fit according to FAA are allowed for use anyway), and they are not required in taxis (at your own risk).



answers from New York on

For a two year old they will probably store the car seat (but you should check the airline). We brought one for a trip to Disney and they stored it on the plane and then it wasn't necessary on the Disney buses...what a pain to bring it along!!



answers from Boston on

I would bring one, just to have it on the plane & taxi. It doesn't have to leave your hotel room while you're there. But it will make your flight much easier if the kids stay in their seats, and your taxi ride much safer!

I took a flight when my oldest was one and a half, and I didn't bring a carseat since we were renting a car at the destination that would come with one.... let me tell you, that flight would've been MUCH easier (for me!) if she wasn't constantly squirming in & out of her seat, sitting on the floor, crying when the seatbelt light came on & she HAD to be restrained... etc. Also, we took a taxi from Logan back to our house, and after checking about 15 different taxis, finally accepted that we had to come home without a carseat. It was AWFUL. She was sliding around on the seat, playing with the window.... I finally tried to hold her firmly on my lap, where her diaper promptly leaked. We've never traveled without a carseat since!



answers from Providence on

honestly? I wouldn't.



answers from Portland on

Personally, I think having a seat on the plane could be helpful, but is certainly the safest way for your child to travel. Once my daughter's car seat wouldn't work with the seat belt on a plane and she did really well having all the extra space, but I was terrified at take off and landing. Also, I had a friend who experienced such bad turbulence once that luggage fell out of the over heads and peoples stuff flew all over the place and the oxygen masks fell down. Can you imagine what would happen to a little person who didn't have a well fitted seat belt on?
On the other end. You could probably call ahead and have a taxi or car service that supplied a carseat. It would be worth an extra expense (if there is one). And I know car rental agencies rent carseats, so that could be an option for that drive to and from the airport.

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