Airplane Archive

WAYB Pico Review: Just What Your Vacation Needs

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WAYB Pico Folding Travel Carseat Review

Anyone who has ever flown with kids knows the struggle. You have to carry your suitcases, the kids’ carry ons, car seats, whatever random snacks you acquired while trying to keep the kids from ruining everyone’s airport experience, and then you somehow have to get your kids onto the plane, without any free hands to physically wrangle them. Then the car seat needs a seatbelt extender or the buckle is right in the small of the kid’s back and the end result is just that everyone is miserable.

Or you don’t bring a seat and you rent one at your destination and it’s a) not the right seat, b) it’s disgusting, c) you don’t know its history or whether it’s safe, but mostly likely d) all of these horror-scapes above.

Or maybe you’re traveling in a different city and you need to take an Uber or Lyft or a cab with kids. You can pay extra in some cities for a ride share with seats installed, but it’s more expensive and harder to come by and you weren’t the one installing those seats, so it’s still a risk. You can legally choose not to use a carseat in some places but then you have to restrain your kids in a moving car and unfortunately all the crash probabilities and risks don’t go away on vacation. In short, traveling with kids is a mess.

Have I convinced you never to travel? Just hold on for a moment, because the solution to this stress may have just landed on the car seat market.

Several months ago, a new company made waves when they announced a travel car seat. WAYB (pronounced way-bee) claimed to have the solution with a new seat, the WAYB Pico. I was one of many parents and CPS technicians who was very intrigued and as time as passed, I’ve kept my eyes and ears open for more news. A few months ago, I finally got to see it live and in person. My first impression was how small it was, because it is really, seriously small. And yet somehow, abundant enough to live up to its limits. Before I spoil the whole review, let’s dive into the details.

Pico Highlights
  • Forward facing only
  • For children 1 and older (WAYB recommends you wait until age 2), 22-50 pounds, 30-45 inches, and shoulders below the top of the seat back
  • Whole seat weighs 8 (!) pounds and folds very compactly
  • One shoulder harness position, one crotch buckle position
  • Body is made of aerospace-grade aluminum
  • Seat is made with ASTROKNIT™ mesh, which takes the place of foams
  • Pico is eco-friendly, with the majority of the seat being recyclable
  • 4 fashion options
  • MSRP $320, with a fabulous travel bag for $50
Specifications
  • Width of seat: 14.75 inches at the widest point (middle of the torso)
  • Height of seat with headrest in lowest position: 22.75 inches
  • Height of seat headrest fully extended: 27.75 inches
  • Depth of seat: 15.25 inches
  • Harness (torso) height: 16.5 inches
  • Weight of seat: 8 pound
Official Website:  WAYB.com
Fit to Child

The first time I saw the Pico, I was skeptical. It is SO small. I worried that it wouldn’t fit longer torsoed kids or would be outgrown too quickly, especially with a 45” height limit. And part of that was just seeing it in a room without a kid to compare it to, but rest easy, my eyes deceived me.

I put all 3 of my kids, ages 7, 4 and 1 into this seat and somehow they all fit. It might be magic because it’s seriously the smallest seat I’ve ever seen.

I’m going to start with the littlest, who is 22 months, 25 pounds and 33 inches. I was easily able to adjust the seat to hold him totally securely, despite being on the smaller end of the limits of the seat. Now, the tricky part is that he can’t legally ride in this seat in California, despite being within the stated limits of the seat, because he’s not yet 2 years old. If you choose to use this seat for travel, you’ll need to research the rear facing laws at your destination, because you may not be able to use this seat for your younger toddlers everywhere.

My middle kid is 4.5 years old, 41.5 inches and 32 pounds. He also has the longest torso of any child I have ever met. And even with that, he still has a solid 2-3 inches of torso growth left in the Pico. I was absolutely shocked. He fit well and said the seat was so comfortable that he wanted to keep it in the car. That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

My oldest kid is 7 years old, 47.5 inches and 49 pounds. He has outgrown this seat per the stated limits and I would not use it for him and am not recommending you do so either, just to be clear. I just put him in it because I wanted to get a sense of whether the harness would truly accommodate a 45” inch child and I feel pretty confident in saying that it really will. The shape of the seat definitely gives more room than the written measurements would suggest. My oldest had outgrown it by a sneeze, even though he was almost 3 inches taller than the limit.

The adjustment process is a little tricky at first because the harness adjusters aren’t what you’re used to. There’s one on each hip strap and they resemble a lower anchor adjustment mechanism. You have to tighten each side independent of the other, which is a little tricky at first, but it gets easier with practice and it’s not hard to do. There’s no moving the shoulder straps or the crotch buckle because there’s only one slot, which is kind of great, actually. I do think that chest clip is oddly hard to place on some kids because the straps go so high that your perspective is skewed. So if you decide to get the Pico, stand back and look at the child, not the seat as a whole, to make sure things are in the right spot.

Fit to Vehicle

Myth Busting: We’re All Going to Die in an Airplane Crash Anyway, So Why Use a Carseat?

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It’s not uncommon to see children under age 2 riding on aircraft without child restraints. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t require airlines to mandate their use, so parents feel there is little risk sitting with their kids on their laps held only by their arms—a federal decision we can equate with state child passenger safety laws that we know meet minimum safety practice, not best safety practice. We know that planes are the safer way to travel; therefore, many parents feel comfortable with their decision to hold their children and may have a fatalist “we’re all going to die anyway if the plane goes down” mentality anyway. Let’s examine the argument that we’re all going to die in a plane incident and determine if it’s a solid one or not.

Myth: We’re all going to die in an airplane crash anyway, so why pay for an airline ticket to use a carseat to restrain a child under age 2?

Actually, it’s highly unlikely you’ll die in a commercial airplane crash, with statistics through 2018 showing us that there’s 1 fatal accident for every 3 million flights. The last U.S.-owned commercial plane crash in the states was in 2009 and that was a commuter crash in Buffalo, NY, where all 49 people on board the plane died and 1 person on the ground was killed. Before that crash, we have to go back to another commuter crash in 2006 to find passenger fatalities. Certainly when jetliners crash, it’s scary and the story dominates the news for days. Fortunately, deadly crashes are rare, and catastrophic crashes like the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes are even more rare and carseats would be useless in those instances. What is more common, however, are runway incidents and turbulence and from those, there are examples of preventable injuries.

Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers and flight attendants, injuring an average of 58 people every year. It can’t be seen, heard, or smelled. It can sometimes be predicted with weather forecasts, but clear air turbulence (CAT) sneaks up on even the most experienced pilots. This is turbulence found at higher altitudes commonly during winter and is associated with wind shear coming from jet streams, terrain changes, and thunderstorms. The weather may be beautiful, but the plane suddenly drops from CAT.

For example, on February 14, 2019, Delta flight 5763, operated by Compass Airlines from Southern California to Seattle encountered severe turbulence that made it seem more like a roller coaster ride. Five injuries were reported as a beverage cart was tossed to the ceiling in the aisle more than once and a flight attendant was also slammed to the ceiling of the plane. The plane made an emergency landing in Reno to treat those injured.

Here’s video showing the aftermath from passenger Joe Justice, Scrum Inc.:

https://twitter.com/JoeJustice0/status/1095792526609371136. This turbulence was completely unexpected by the passengers.

Just be glad you weren’t on this flight that where the turbulence was so bad, Air New Zealand refunded the ticket price to everyone who took the flight. At least no one was injured.

Photo by Pete NicksWhat about runway incidents? We hear about them on the news when there’s inclement weather and planes have just as much trouble maneuvering on runways as vehicles do on highways. This Southwest flight landed in Burbank, CA, on December 6, 2018, in heavy rain. The rain made the runway slippery causing the jet to slide off the end onto an area of crushable material designed to keep airplanes from crashing onto a nearby street. Did you know about the existence of crushable material to stop planes, called engineered materials arrestor system? Neither did I and that’s another aviation rabbit hole to fall down. Fortunately there were no injuries.

Can you hold your child in unexpected turbulence? Most people overestimate their strength and think they can hold their child in any circumstance, but what about when you’re not expecting to have your seat drop out from under you? If we could hold our children, there would never be any injuries from turbulence.

You may remember this shocking story. In 2014, a flight from Denver, CO, to Billings, MT, encountered severe turbulence and several passengers and a crew member were injured. Among those injured was a 5 month old baby who was ripped from his mother’s arms and flew onto a neighboring adult. One person hit the ceiling so hard it cracked.

Two survivable crashes from which we take away that child restraints on aircraft would have saved lives are the USAir flight 1016 crash in Charlotte, NC, on July 2, 1994, and arguably the most famous crash, United Airlines flight 232 in Sioux City, IA, on July 19, 1989. A former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who worked the USAir crash saw the worst: a dead child being removed from the crash site because her mother couldn’t hold her in her arms during the crash. The NTSB team investigating that crash determined that had the 9 month old been in a child restraint, she most likely would have survived and referenced lessons learned from the United Airlines flight 232 crash.

Following the DC-10 accident in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 19. 1989, the Safety Board issued Safety Recommendation k-90-78 to the FAA to revise 14 CFR Parts 9 I, I2 1, and 135 to require that all occupants be restrained during takeoff, landing, and turbulent conditions and that all infants and small children below the weight of 40 pounds and under the height of 40 inches be restrained in an approved child restraint system appropriate to their height and weight.

The Safety Board believes that if the child had been properly restrained in a child restraint system, she probably would not have sustained fatal injuries.

Jan Lohr Brown, the flight attendant who became an outspoken proponent of child seats on airplanes after surviving the United Airlines flight 252 crash, lives with the guilt of advising Evan Tsao’s mother to place her 22 month old on the floor. As child passenger safety technicians, we give parents an equation that helps them understand how much force is required to restrain their children in a crash. Force=weight x speed. If a child weighs 20 lbs. and you’re going 30 mph, it takes 600 lbs. of force to restrain the child. In a plane, speed is much higher and Jan Brown knew that instinctively but airline policy didn’t leave her any other options.

Evan Tsao’s father, Jeffrey Tsao, reflects:

Perhaps the greatest irony of our tragedy is that in nearly every other aspect of Evan’s life, we were so careful. Sylvia and I were zealously safety-conscious and watched over him like hawks. Somehow, though, it never occurred to us that Sylvia should bring an infant-safety carrier on board.

Like most, we didn’t expect our plane to crash; nor did we even realize that plane crashes are often survivable. To us it was just another trip, Sylvia and Evan were on their way to visit her parents in New Jersey while I attended a conference in Michigan. Indeed one part of me desperately wants to blame the airlines for not recommending the use of child-safety seats more widely. If they had, we would certainly have brought a seat on board, and Evan would not have become a loose projectile in the plane. Another part of me suffers, though, knowing that we share in the blame. Evan was always in a child-safety carrier while in our car; how could we have thought he would be safe without one on the plane?

Perhaps the most graphic example of a carseat saving a child’s life on an aircraft was during an aborted takeoff in Florida in 1996. Delta flight 1288 was rolling down the runway when the left engine blew up, sending pieces flying into the cabin. Two adults were killed, but a child was saved from the shrapnel by the high sides of her restraint.

Amazingly burns from hot drinks cause 39% of injuries to children on planes. It’s shocking! And it’s something you don’t think about unless it’s happened to your child. Unrestrained children can bump flight attendants in the course of their duties, causing hot drink spills; and bump laptops and other heavy items making them drop, which cause injuries.

Children under age 2 are the only things on airplanes that aren’t required to be secured during takeoff, landing, and turbulence. You wouldn’t dream of driving with a kid under age 2 unrestrained in a vehicle yet when it comes to cramming 150+ passengers into a thin aluminum tube going over 500 mph, a parent’s arms as a restraint seem just fine? What happens at age 2 that suddenly makes this child worthy of being a paid ticket? Is that the magic age at which parents become attached to their children according to the FAA?

I kept the examples listed above to US carriers (well, except the Air New Zealand flight because—gag—that was awful). There have been many, many more examples of lap children being injured internationally in the past few years, some quite seriously. These are not hard to find.

CONFIRMED, PLAUSIBLE, OR BUSTED?

This myth is busted since you will most likely NOT die in an airplane crash. There are many more events that can happen on an aircraft that can cause injury and you can keep your child (and yourself) safe by using FAA-approved child restraints.

The problem is that flying is expensive; you’re paying for the privilege of not having to drive hours upon hours to get to your destination. If you’re flying overseas, you don’t have the option of driving. Tickets can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars and it’s tempting to just hold your child since the airlines allow it. Flying is the safest way to travel, yes, but it still has risks and you can mitigate those risks by using restraints both for yourself and for your child. If you don’t want to drag your carseat on board because it’s bulky and heavy, some more inexpensive carseats are actually lighter and easier to take through an airport.

All the major aviation and child safety organizations urge parents to use child restraints on aircraft:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

Did you know that the safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system (CRS) or device, not on your lap? Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.

NTSB

If you’re flying with children, use an FAA-approved child car seat or safety restraint system. All children, including those under age 2, should be properly restrained in their own seat. Holding an infant in a lap during flight is not a sufficient safety measure.

AAP

Although the FAA allows children under age 2 to be held on an adult’s lap, the AAP recommends that families explore options to ensure that each child has her own seat. If it is not feasible to purchase a ticket for a small child, try to select a flight that is likely to have empty seats where your child could ride buckled in her car safety seat.

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association

Why should you care for your child less when you fly?

Association of Flight Attendants-CWA

The safest way to secure an infant or child on board an aircraft is in an FAA approved child restraint system (CRS), in a dedicated seat, appropriate for that infant or child. The FAA should make this mandatory and airlines have it within their power to implement this policy today.

International Civil Aviation Organization (a specialized UN agency)

It is not possible for a parent to physically restrain an infant or child, especially during a sudden acceleration or deceleration, unanticipated or severe turbulence, or impact. The use of CRS provides an equivalent level of safety to infants and children as that afforded to adult passengers wearing seat belts.

National Safety Council

The physics of a crash do not allow adults to safely hold children during a crash or severe turbulence, and the FAA even states, “Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.”xv

It is clear that people, no matter what the age, are safest in aviation travel when they occupy their own seat and seat belt, restrained by a mechanism that best fits their size and weight. For children, including those younger than 2 years old, this means an FAA-approved CRD to safely secure the child during turbulence or in case of a crash landing.

There was even a study done on the safety of lap babies. They conducted tests using a 9 mo and an 18 mo ATD while unrestrained (handheld) and while being restrained with a supplementary loop belt (belly belt) attached to the adult ATD’s seat belt. What researchers found is that unrestrained infants may fly through the airplane cabin at speeds of approximately 3-5 m/s or receive skull fractures and life-threatening brain injury if crushed between the adult and seat in front. Infants attached to a seat belt with a supplementary loop belt are at risk of bowel lacerations as well as internal bleeding.

A study was also conducted in Australia of Australian restraints on aircraft which also covered soft front carriers. As you would expect, all of the carriers failed sending the infant dummies flying. Some of the infant dummies were shown to have adult head contact on their lower backs. The study was conducted in 2006 so either these carriers have undergone updates or are gone from the market, but the basic concept applies today: fabric with unreinforced plastic buckles will not hold in crash situations. Here’s a screen shot of FAA testing of a fabric baby carrier:

The biggest question is: knowing that you are a careful parent who would never drive in a vehicle without buckling your young child in their carseat, why would you travel in an airplane without using their carseat? Pilots and flight attendants want you to use a restraint for your child, the NTSB wants you to use a restraint, the FAA suggests you use a restraint, and the AAP does as well. All aviation experts and those concerned with the safety and well-being of children recommend using carseats on aircraft. Child safety seats improve the outcome for those kids harnessed in them in turbulence and other emergencies, then you have a comfortable seat for your child to use and one with which you are familiar installing at your destination and that’s a great way to start off a trip.

  

 

 

 

Is It Safe to Check Your Carseat When You Fly?

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The issue of how to best handle flying with kids and their carseats is something that comes up often. 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 under the age of 2, who wound up as lap babies on the flight. For the record, here at CarseatBlog, we have always recommended that you buy a ticket for your child (regardless of their age), bring their carseat and use it on the plane.

Newborn on airplane – safe and comfortable!

Regardless of why parents chose to check their carseats, the fact remains that most travelers flying with carseats 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? There are some CPS 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 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.

2019 Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

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It’s the travel season 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 those 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. We have a VIDEO HERE that demonstrates my technique for quick and easy installations of an infant carseat without the base.

Stay clear of unsafe gimmicky products like the ones pictured below. These products are NOT acceptable alternatives to using an actual carseat on the plane to restrain your child. Along the same lines – using a sling or infant carrier also isn’t a safe alternative for your baby or toddler because you aren’t allowed to wear your child during take-offs or landings when the risks are highest. There is a good reason for this but the details are ugly so I’m not going to go into it right now. If you would like more info on why slings and infant carriers are not a safe alternative to using a carseat on a plane, please see the NTSB website.

Baby B'Air vest - NO  Airplane hammock

UPDATED JUNE 2019

If you plan 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.

 

Cosco Scenera Next - stockCosco Scenera NEXT:

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing 22-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall

 

 

Evenflo Tribute - MaxwellEvenflo Tribute:

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

 

 

Graco Contender - Glacier

Graco Contender:

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs. (won’t be outgrown by height in the RF position before child hits 40 lbs.). Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., or up to 49″ tall.

 

 

Safety 1st Guide 65 - seaport fashionSafety 1st Guide 65:

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs, or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing 22-65 lbs, or up to 43″ tall

 

 

No matter which seat you decide to take on the plane for your child – you will want to know where the FAA approval language is stated in case one of the flight attendants asks to see proof that your carseat is certified for use in an aircraft. Look for RED lettering on one of the sticker labels on the carseat. The FAA language is required to be written in red. The language can vary slightly but in general, this is what you’re looking for:

Pria 85 - FAA certification  Evenflo Symphony FAA certification - cropped Britax B-Safe 35 Elite - FAA certification 

 

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 (aka 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.

 

Maestro Sport:

Forward-facing only for kids at least 2 years old. With 5-point harness from 22-50 lbs., up to 50″ tall

 

 

Evenflo Sonus

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing for children at least 2 years old, 22-50 lbs., up to 50″ tall

 

 

Evenflo SureRide:

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing for children at least 2 years old, 22-65 lbs., or up to 54″ tall

 

Graco ContenderGraco Contender:

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., Forward-facing for children at least 1-year-old, 22-65 lbs., or up to 49″ tall. *Forward-facing beltpath is behind the back of the shell. This unique design means your FF child won’t have the metal latchplate of the airplane seatbelt in their back during the flight.

 

Safety 1st Guide 65 Safety 1st Guide 65:

Rear-facing 5-40 lbs., or up to 40″ tall. Forward-facing for children at least 1-year-old, 22-65 lbs., up to 43″ tall

 

 

CARES Harness*:

A unique product for kids over 1-year-old who weigh between 22-44 lbs., and are under 40″ tall. *CARES harness is certified for use ONLY on the plane. It cannot be used in motor vehicles. 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.

go-go babyz used go-go babyz travel strap used

Britax, Peg Perego, Clek & Diono all make travel accessories specifically for their carseats too.

  

Remember, only carseats with an internal harness can be used on a plane. You cannot use a booster seat on an airplane because booster seats require a lap/shoulder belt and airplanes only have lap belts. If your child rides in a booster seat and you are bringing it with you, you can gate check it or bring it on the plane and put it in the overhead bin (if it fits).

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

Myth Busting: We’re All Going to Die in an Airplane Crash Anyway, So Why Use a Carseat?

Flying with a Car Seat? Know Your Rights!

Flying with Kids & Carseats – the checked carseat controversy

Travel Carseats: The Ultimate Guide to What You Want to Take on A Plane

An Open Letter to the FAA