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Airplane Archive

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

airplane‘Tis the season for holiday travel and for many families with small children, that includes flying somewhere. Since so many carseats are heavy and bulky, it makes sense in some cases to invest in a lightweight carseat just for traveling. Plus, this spares you the hassle of re-installing your main carseat when you get back to your own car, weary from traveling.

Ideally, a spare travel carseat should be lightweight (under 15 lbs), easy to install with the lap-only belt on an airplane seat and narrow enough to fit in a typical coach seat. With that criteria in mind, here are several options to consider.

 

Infant carseats – no need to buy anything new as long as your current infant seat can be installed without the base. I guess it’s possible to drag the base with you on the plane but that’s just making life harder than it needs to be. As long as your infant seat allows installation without the base (most do but there are some exceptions so make sure you know for sure), it’s easy to install the carrier rear-facing with the lap-only belt on the plane.

KF-airplane  Toddler on plane

 

If you’re leaving the base at home – make sure you practice baseless installation a few times so when you arrive at your destination you know how to install the carseat properly in the car, using a typical lap/shoulder belt.  Here is a video that demonstrates my technique for quick and easy installations of an infant carseat without the base.

 

Stay clear of products like THIS and THIS. These products are NOT acceptable alternatives to using an actual carseat on the plane to restrain your child.

 

Convertible seats - if you intend to install the convertible seat rear-facing on the plane then you’ll be best served by a seat that is fairly compact which will increase your chances of the seat actually fitting rear-facing in the space you have to work with.

 Cherry Pie

Combi Coccoro: Rear-facing 3-33 lbs, or up to 36″ tall. Forward-facing 20-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall

Cosco Scenera: Rear-facing 5-35 lbs, or up to 36″ tall. Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall

Evenflo Tribute: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs, or up to 37″ tall. Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall

r - stock

Safety 1st OnSide Air: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs, or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., or up to 43″ tall

Safety 1st Guide 65: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs, or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing 22-65 lbs, or up to 43″ tall

 

For forward-facing kids, you’ll be best served by a seat that’s lightweight, fairly narrow, with tall top harness slots and a weight limit of 50 lbs. or more. Keep in mind that combination seats (harness/booster) can only be used on the plane in harnessed mode. Booster seats (or combination seats used without the 5-pt harness in booster mode) are not FAA certified and cannot be used on an airplane because all booster seats require a lap/shoulder belt, which airplanes don’t have.

 Keller

Evenflo Maestro: Forward-facing only. With 5-point harness from 22-50 lbs., or up to 50″ tall

 300 Loy

Evenflo Secure Kid 300/LX: Forward-facing only. With 5-point harness from 22-65 lbs., or up to 50″ tall

Evenflo SureRide: Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing 22-65 lbs., or up to 54″ tall

CARES Harness*: Harness for kids over 1 year old who weigh between 22-44 lbs., and are under 40″ tall. *CARES harness is certified for use on the plane ONLY. It’s very useful for situations where you don’t need a carseat to use on the ground when you arrive at your destination. We have a review of the CARES Harness here.

 

If you want to travel with your usual carseat, or just want to make it easier to travel with any carseat in general  - there are many products that can help you transport it through the airport and onto the plane. Some are just generic luggage carts – other products like the Brica Roll ‘n Go Carseat Transporter, the Go-Go Travelmate products and the Traveling Toddler Strap are made specifically for a carseat.  There are also carseat travel bags with wheels but obviously you can’t put your kid inside it too. Britax, Peg Perego, Clek & Diono all make travel accessories specifically for their carseats too.

 

For more info on flying with kids and carseats – check out our related blogs on the subject:

Carseat on airplane

 

 

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

An Open Letter to the FAA

 

Britax Update – FAA Certification for Frontier 90, Pinnacle 90 & Pioneer 70 Harness-2-Booster Combination Seats

All current Britax Harness-2-Booster Combination Seats (Frontier 90, Pinnacle 90 & Pioneer 70) will be certified for aircraft use in early February. This change will be retroactive to all current models, and an FAQ and addendum will update this on the Britax website soon. An updated manual will follow in early February.

 Britax Frontier 80 FAA Certification Label

 

The updated instructions for airplane installation will instruct you to route the aircraft’s lap-only seatbelt in front of the ClickTight compartment. This installation method will ONLY be approved for installation on an airplane. Since the Pioneer 70 lacks the ClickTight feature, you will route the plane’s lap belt the same way you normally would on this particular seat.

More details to follow soon. We’ll share ‘em when we have ‘em!

 

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

The holiday travel season is upon us again, so we’ve decided to rerun this post about FAA regulations regarding car seats on a plane. (Incidentally, this was my very first post for CarseatBlog, so it will always hold a special place in my heart…and in my carry-on when I fly.)

When my son was 8 months old we flew from California to Chicago to visit relatives. Although I was not yet a Child Passenger Safety Technician, I understood the importance of using car seats, even on airplanes. So, as a diligent mother, I purchased him a ticket and installed his Britax Wizard rear-facing.

On three of our four flights, we had no problems. On the last one, though, the flight attendant insisted that I turn my son’s seat forward-facing because the passenger in front of him wouldn’t be able to recline. I knew the car seat should stay rear-facing, but with no proof and a plane full of anxious passengers, I acquiesced rather than put up a fight.

If only I had known about the Federal Aviation Administration’s Advisory Circular regarding Use of Child Restraint Systems on Aircraft, things might have been different.

The Advisory Circular, which was updated in late 2010, details the FAA’s policies regarding child restraints on planes, and anyone traveling by aircraft with a child in a car seat would be wise to print out a copy and take it onboard. (Please note that the FAA regulations apply to U.S.-based carriers operating inside or outside of the United States. If you’re flying a foreign airline these guidelines won’t necessarily apply.)

To make things easy for you, the traveling parent, I am going to tell you exactly where to find the pertinent information so you can print out the Circular (like above) and highlight what you might need.

Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

The issue of how to best handle flying with kids and their carseats is something that comes up repeatedly on the Car-Seat.org forum. Many safety-conscious parents will bring the carseat with them knowing that their child will need to use it once they reach their destination. I applaud all those parents for doing the right thing! However, for a variety of reasons, most parents don’t actually bring the carseat onto the plane and use it for their child during the flight. I suspect that many of those checked seats that I see on the baggage carousel belong to children who wound up as lap babies on the flight. For the record, here at CarseatBlog we always recommend that you buy a ticket for your child (regardless of their age), bring their carseat and use it on the plane.

Regardless of why parents chose to check their carseats, the fact remains that most travelers flying with CRs in tow do check them instead of lugging them through security and using them on the plane. And seats checked with regular luggage probably get tossed around and manhandled the same way luggage does. I somehow doubt that the baggage guys suddenly look at the carseat and decide to handle it with care so they don’t crack the EPS foam, know what I mean?

But what if you’ve already traveled with your carseat and checked it? Perhaps even multiple times? Is it still safe to use? That’s the controversy.

There are some child passenger safety advocates that will argue that a checked carseat could have sustained significant damage during the time it was out of your sight and should be replaced as a precaution. Some might actually go so far as to suggest that the checked carseat is now “as good as crashed”. I personally think that stance is a little over the top but I understand the logic behind those opinions. I’ve seen how beat-up my luggage is sometimes when I reach my destination. Plus, many frequent flyers have witnessed first-hand some of the abuse that luggage endures as it’s loaded and unloaded from the aircraft.

What we’ve lacked in the past is any type of official policy or statement from the CR Manufacturers regarding checked carseats.  The instruction manuals are full of do’s and don’ts and even show us how to install the [harnessed] carseat properly using the lap-only belt on the aircraft. But there has been absolutely no attention given to encouraging use of the CR on the plane, and subsequently no mention of what you should or shouldn’t do if you’re flying but not planning to bring the carseat on board.

Just recently, the Manufacturers Alliance for Child Passenger Safety issued a statement for CPS Technicians/Instructors on the subject:

Car Seats Gate-Checked or Checked as Luggage
Car seats are designed to withstand most motor vehicle crash forces. In general, the MACPS does not consider a gate-checked car seat or a car seat that is checked as luggage to be one that has experienced forces equivalent to a motor vehicle crash. Once the destination is reached, it is recommended to inspect the car seat to make sure no visual damage has occurred and all aspects of the car seat function properly.

(August 2012)

 

I think that’s certainly a reasonable policy but I would really like to see all CR Manufacturers take it a step further and include language in the instruction manuals that encourages the use of the CR on the plane and discourages checking it with regular luggage. Gate-checking the carseat should be encouraged if and when it isn’t possible to use it on board the aircraft for the child. If nothing else, a gate-checked seat is much less likely to be lost than a seat that was checked with luggage.

I appreciate that the MACPS has taken the time to address the issue. I trust that they looked at the issues seriously. I’m not a carseat engineer, nor do I play one on TV, so I’m going to defer to them on this issue and trust that they know what their products can withstand.

On this end of the table, we’re going to continue to advocate for securing children in aircraft with the same passion and dedication that we have for securing them in motor vehicles. With that in mind, let’s list the top DO’s and DON’Ts of flying with kids and carseats.

  • DO buy a plane ticket for your child, even if they are under age 2. Lap babies can be seriously injured during turbulence and in cases where emergency maneuvers are required (aborted take-offs, emergency landings, etc.)
  • DO use an FAA-approved child restraint with a 5-point harness for kids under 40 lbs.
  • DO bring your child’s carseat to the gate even if your child is under age 2 and you haven’t purchased a separate seat for them. Most flight attendants will make every effort to seat you next to an empty seat (if the flight isn’t full) in order to accommodate your properly restrained child.
  • DO gate-check the carseat if it’s not possible to bring it on board and use it for your child. Items that are gate-checked have less opportunity to be mishandled and are much less likely to be missing when you land.
  • DO know your rights! Well-intentioned but misinformed flight attendants can ruin even the best laid travel plans so be prepared!
  • DON’T check your carseat with your regular luggage if you can help it.
  • DON’T rely on car rental companies to provide an appropriate child restraint. There have been too many horror stories over the years regarding outdated, dirty or lack of available appropriate seats.
  • DO your homework and read our previous blogs on kids, carseats & airplanes:

 

Check out our related blog posts on flying with kids and carseats:

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2

An Open Letter to the FAA

 

Lap Babies on Airplane – A Warning All Parents Must See

Have you ever experienced severe turbulence during a flight? I’m talking way past little bumps and jolts? If you have, chances are you’ll never forget it. I can think of one particular flight out of JFK on a crazy windy Spring morning. My stomach does flips just thinking about it.

Now think about this – the plane can’t take off if my purse is on my lap, right? And there’s like 3 pages of regulations on how the coffee pot needs to be properly secured. But babies? Sure, they can ride totally unsecured because apparently babies are able to defy the laws of physics on an airplane!

Okay, so we know that’s not true. But have you considered what happens to lap babies when the plane suddenly, and without warning, drops several hundred feet in an instant?  This video from NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) really spells it out. Please take a few minutes to check it out and pass on the information to other parents.

 

 

The FAA’s continued allowance of lap babies is shameful and ludicrous. Unfortunately, many parents will continue to take advantage of this “freebie” because it saves them money. Of course, they’ll have to cough up the dough for the Little Prince/Princess to have his or her own seat on the plane once they pass their second birthday. So what’s the big deal with requiring it for all children regardless of age? Traveling is expensive. Heck, kids are expensive!  But please don’t be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to your most precious cargo.  Buy a ticket for your child regardless of their age, bring a 5-pt harness carseat on board and buckle your child in it just as you would in the car. Your children will not only be safe in case of turbulence or (Heaven forbid) in case you have to make a rough emergency landing but they’ll be happily contained in familiar surroundings. And if you’re really lucky they’ll just fall asleep so you can have a relaxing and, hopefully, uneventful flight.

 

Looking for more helpful information on flying the friendly skies with kids? Check out our related blogs on the subject:

Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 1

Airplanes, Carseats, and Kids—What You Need to Know Pt. 2