Flying with a Car Seat – Essential Advice for Parents
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Flying With a Car Seat
When you have to travel by plane, it can be stressful enough to get all the stuff you need together and remember to bring it with you to the airport. Your luggage, including your carry-on and checked bags, plus your family and everything they need can leave you feeling stressed and over-packed.
However, when you have kids, especially a young baby, there are even more problems to worry about. One particular problem revolves around if you should bring their car seat when you are flying on an airplane.
Things to Consider
If you are concerned about your child riding in a plane without their car seat, there are a few things to keep in mind. There are pros and cons revolving around whether or not to take one, so weigh up your options before making a decision.
- Taking your seat on a plane can ensure that your child is as safe on an airplane as they would be in your car. After all, it is still a moving vehicle.
- If you take your car seat, you don’t have to worry about not having it on the trip to and from the airport. For example, if you’re on vacation and have to rent a car, you won’t have to borrow a seat from someone, or rent one from the rental car agency. This is especially beneficial because you and your child are already familiar with the seat you have, and you spent your hard earned money on it.
- There are Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved seats of all types, so you can take one, no matter which type of car seat it is. This includes rear and front facing models.
- The best reason to take your car seat with you is so your baby can sit right next to you and be as safe as possible. You don’t have to be concerned at all, and your child will have a nice place to sit while you are waiting at the ticket counter, baggage claim, and anywhere else.
- It isn’t hard to use a car seat in an airplane. It basically works the same way as your car, so it won’t be confusing to install.
- You’ll probably have to purchase a ticket for your infant or baby. An airline won’t allow you to put your car seat in a seat if you have not paid for that airline seat.
- Your car seat may not be FAA approved. Only seats that have a FAA approved stamp can be taken on an airplane. You can find this notation on the seat itself, and it will also tell you in the manual that comes with it.
- Even if your seat is approved, that doesn’t mean it will fit. You still have to check out the seat sizes for the airline you are travelling with, and see if your car seat will fit comfortably in the seat. Make sure you know the measurements of your car seat beforehand, to keep yourself covered.
- You need to make sure that your seat is as safe as can be before you travel. Check the expiration date and inspect it, to ensure that there are no jagged or broken off pieces that may cause safety problems.
Of course, you are the one that’ll have final say on if you want to be flying with a car seat. There are many upsides and downsides, but at the end of the day, it’s all about the safety of your child. When a child is travelling in a car, and is under a certain size, they definitely need a car seat, so if you already have one you love, it may be worth travelling with one.
If you know that you have one where you are going or can just borrow or rent one from someone trustworthy, you may want to travel without it, so it can stay tucked away safely in your car at home. There are many things to consider, so it’s best to decide as a family.
In addition to that, you may need some help finding a car seat that is FAA approved. Not all of them are, so yours might not even be able to travel on an airplane. To find one that will, there are many websites that will give you a list of approved seats, including Kid Sitting Safe. Our article on FAA Approved Car Seats looks at some of the best options to consider across all age groups.
Obviously there if you are travelling with kids there is a whole lot more to consider than whether to take your car seat with you! For more tips, check out our recent article, Travelling with Kids - Practical Tips for Parents.
Installing a Car Seat on a Airplane
The FAA instructional video below shows how to install a typical forward facing child car seat on an airplane. Key steps in the installation process are:
- Raise the arm rest
- Place the child restraint into the seat
- Thread the seat belt through the belt path
- Fasten the buckle
- Press down and back on the child restraint as you tighten the seat belt
- Check that the child restraint is secure
- Lower the arm rest
Many people don’t know that you can take a car seat on a plane. There are a few stipulations, such as the fact that they have to be FAA approved and have to be able to fit in the seat. However, airlines don’t count a seat against you, as you will still be able to take a carry-on. This allows you to keep your baby close to you and to keep them safe, as well as not have to worry about where they are going to sit. We all know those airline seats are not all that large or comfortable in most cases, so it will be more relaxing if your child can have their own seat.
If you still aren’t sure, there are articles to read about the entire process, and you can solicit advice from others on the internet or people you know. Check out sites like http://kidsittingsafe.com/ for advice on seats that are approved to go on a plane, or advice on car seats in general. You need to be using a car seat each time a child is in a car, so it is important to know everything you can about the seats themselves, as well as the rules and laws revolving around them, even on different modes of travel like airplanes. After you are informed, you can make a better decision that will allow you to feel better about your child’s welfare.