Types of Car Seats Allowed on Planes???

Updated on March 31, 2010
T. asks from Tucson, AZ
9 answers

We will be flying in July with my baby who will be 21 months old and we are not buying her a seat, because we can not afford it. I was hoping to get an empty seat on plane. But then when i though about it, her car seat has to be put in using a sholder seatbelt. She doesn't fit in a carrier anymore so what do people who buy seats for their babies put their kids in?

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answers from Oklahoma City on


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answers from Phoenix on

When we flew when our kids when they were younger, we didn't buy a seat on the plane either hoping that there would be and extra available. About 60% of time we were lucky enough. Ask at the ticket counter if there is room as soon as you arrive at the gate.

Check the side of your carseat. It should have a label stating its FAA approved. If its not there or missing the airline will not allow you to use it on the plane. Trust me, the flight attendants will check if you bring it on. If you can use it, great, you should just be able to buckle it in just like you would using your car seatbelt, even though its just a lap belt.

If there is an extra seat available, but can't use your carseat, you will be required to hold her during takeoff and landing, but you can have her seat in the seat during the duration of the flight.

I recommend bringing the carseat with you to the gate, whether or not you will be able to use. If you cannot use it, it can be gate checked and you can pick it up as soon as you depart the plane Plus, it's available as soon as you reach you destination. I checked mine once and they airline almost lost it, so I almost didn't have a carseat to leave the airport in.

On a side note, make sure you bring your daughters birth certificate so you can prove that she's not 2 yet. Otherwise if they question you, you may be required to by another seat.



answers from Austin on

I have never brought mine on board. I check them at the gate. You can do a search here on the mamapedia. There have been several people asking the same question lately.


answers from Detroit on

Hello tiphanie ~ We've used our britax marathon on the plan w/the lap belt & it installs just fine.



answers from Phoenix on

We have a Sit 'n Stroll, which is designed for these things, so I can't answer your seat question, but I will chime in that I don't think it's all that uncommon to get a seat for your lap child - you just have to ask. We've gotten one probably over half the time we've flown with our toddler (over 50 flights) - including Sunday nights, to and from Hawaii, etc. Bring your seat to the gate and gate-check it if it doesn't work, it's gentler on it than checking it with the rest of the luggage.



answers from Mobile on

I just flew with my almost 2 year old. We decided to buy him a seat because I also have a 6month old, and it would be too much. (Besides, I can't imagine holding a squirming toddler for a couple of hours. We'd both be nuts.) We use his regular car seat, a Britax Marathon (FAA approved). Recheck the installation instructions on your carseat - the lap belt works fine for ours to install. I don't think they usually need the shoulder part (but may use that for the picture of installation, since it's usually a side seat). Check the side of the carseat to see if it's FAA approved. We used the gogobaby travelmate through the airport (he just sat in his carseat & was comfortable as we rolled him through). If we didn't buy his own seat, I'd check the carseat at the gate, so that we could easily use it at our destination. Rental car seats are HORRIBLE.



answers from Rockford on

Are you saying that her seat doesn't have a harness for strapping her in? Or are you just talking about installation. The only kinds of seats that I know of that have to be used with a shoulder belt are belt positioning boosters as the vehicle's belts are the only thing holding the child in. If she is using one of these seats without a harness, you should seriously look into getting her a seat that has one as boosters are really designed for older children. If you are a looking for a light weight travel seat, check out the Cosco Scenera or Safety First Avenue. I have gotten a lot of great car seat info and recs from this group. You can check out their FAQ or just post your question without joining the group. http://community.babycenter.com/groups/a7645/car_seat_que...

Happy travels! I hope you are able to get that spare seat for the plane. We traveled and couldn't buy our son a seat when he was a toddler. We got to use his seat on one leg of the trip but not another and it really helped to have it.

ETA - If you think there will be an extra seat on the plane and you won't need the carseat at the destination, this is a neat option. And while I wouldn't buy a carseat off craigslist, I would be comfortable with buying one of these there. http://www.kidsflysafe.com/



answers from Albuquerque on

Most modern carseats are FAA approved. One consideration we didn't realize when we first started traveling with our baby is that most airlines require you to put the carseat in the window seat, so you don't block the rest of the aisle. We had hoped to put our son inbetween us! Also, I noticed many people said they have gotten a "free" seat, and if you had asked even 6 months ago, I would have agreed... but the last 6 flights I've taken (we fly every 6-8 weeks) the flight has been seriously overbooked!

Bring lots of snacks, books and toys to keep your child occupied whether she sits in her own seat or not. My 21 month old has become very active and it was a challenge to keep him entertained on just a 2 hour flight without bothering the traveler's seat in front of us! By the way, even when they are smaller and can fit in a Bjorn type carrier, you still have to hold them without the carrier during take-off and landing, unless they are in a carseat. I definitely agree with the moms who say to gate check your carseat... it is the best way to guarantee it won't get lost during the flight!

I know you said you couldn't afford the extra plane ticket, but I would also recommend investing in (or borrowing) a gogo babyz travelmate. It attaches to any carseat and allows you to "roll" it through the airport. It makes it so much easier to keep children contained while walking through the airport. We bought ours at Babies R Us and used a 20% off coupon, which made it more affordable. http://www.toysrus.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2658824

Good luck and I hope you have a good flight!


answers from Minneapolis on

She should not be using a booster seat with the adult belt only! She's not even 2yrs old! the only seats that require the shoulder belt is a dedicated booster seat, which should never be used for children under age 4 and 40lbs. And these are not airline approved anyway. Please if she is using a booster with the adult belt only, reconsider, because using a booster with the adult belt only at her age is deadly.

If you are talking about a 5pt harness car seat, they all can be installed with a lap belt only, the shoulder belt is not required for a 5pt harness car seat to be installed. Please read the manual for your car seat, it will give pretty specific directions for installing with lap/shoulder belt, and lap belt only.

Chances are, you will not find an empty seat on the airplane. That leaves you with checking your car seat, which is not a good idea either. If you DO find an empty seat and they allow you to use it (again its pretty slim that will happen), you use the lap belt through the belt path just like you do in the car, hook it and pull it tight.

Please read the manual for your car seat. It will explain how to install the seat, and if you didn't know that you can use hte lap belt to install a 5pt harness car seat, you might be installing it and using it wrong alltogether, so please read the manual.

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