So you’ve planned the big trip: the luggage is picked out, you know what outfits the kids will be wearing, you know what snacks everyone will be eating on the plane, but you don’t know what to do about carseats. Traveling with kids isn’t easy. So many things can go wrong. But with a little planning, your trip can be a breeze and when you settle into your seat on the plane, you’ll wonder why you spent so much time obsessing and worrying about the trip in the first place.
Last May, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a Safety Alert urging parents to buy separate airplane seats for all children and to use appropriate child safety restraints for those kids. Unfortunately, children under age 2 are permitted to ride as “lap babies” for free on planes. Everything else on the plane—tray tables, beverage carts, coffee pots—are required to be secured during takeoff and landing and whenever the pilot has the seatbelt sign on. However, these lap babies are only secured by their parents’ arms. In severe turbulence, which cannot be predicted (can you see an air pocket in the sky?), unbuckled passengers and flight attendants have been thrown against the ceiling and injured, sometimes severely. In survivable crashes or runway incidents, unbuckled children become projectiles, just like in your vehicle, but at much higher speeds. There is a device, the Baby B’Air, that tethers a lap baby to the parent’s seatbelt, but it is not approved for takeoff or landing. In an emergency, a parent using the Baby B’Air will be asked to put the child on the ground, wrapped in a blanket, so the parent can assume the brace position.