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2017 Recommended Carseats for Airplane Travel

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airplaneIt’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 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. 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 allow 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 2017

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.

 

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.

 Keller

Evenflo Maestro:

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

 

 

 300 Loy

Evenflo Secure Kid LX:

Forward-facing only for kids at least 2 years old. With 5-point harness from 22-65 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*:

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

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

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

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

 

June & July 2017 Carseat Deals, Stroller Sales & Coupon Codes

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Deals Tracker: We find the lowest prices on carseats, strollers and other baby gear in June, July and Amazon Prime Day 2017. Bookmark us and check back frequently for the latest bargains and promo code offers!

We’re the deal experts so we know where the really good deals are on the stuff consumers actually want to buy.

This list will be updated anytime we see a great deal or promotion code below recent average prices, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of normally priced models to find the bargains. You can help us (and your fellow shoppers) by leaving us a comment if you find a deal on a carseat, booster or popular stroller that isn’t posted yet. We recommend that you bookmark this post, as we will update it regularly throughout the holiday season! If we see a bargain price on a popular model from our Recommended Carseats List, like the Britax Frontier, Britax Boulevard ClickTight, Chicco NextFit, Graco 4Ever, Diono Radian, Maxi-Cosi Pria, Clek Foonf or Clek Fllo, we’ll update as soon as possible!

What you need to know about Amazon pricing: it’s FICKLE. When a product’s price is reduced we rarely know how long it will remain at that price. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s a few hours. The best advice we can offer you is to ACT QUICKLY if you see a great deal on something you really need or just seriously want. Just adding something to your cart does not guarantee you that item at that price – you must complete the checkout process to seal the deal. Most items on our list offer FREE SHIPPING & FREE RETURNS to Prime members but always double check this before you put the item in your cart and checkout. Not a Prime member? There’s a 30-day FREE trial. It’s a no-brainer! Try it out and score some great deals. You can always cancel before the 30 days is up if you’re not sold on the many benefits of an Amazon Prime membership.

Looking for more info on a certain carseat or booster? Check out out REVIEWS page. We have in-depth reviews of over 100 carseats and boosters.

Prefer to shop at other stores?  If you received great advice from us or discovered a good deal here and share it with friends, please mention us and also share* our links to AmazonAlbee Baby, Diapers.comTarget.com, Walmart.com, Kohl’s, BuyBuyBaby and BabiesRUs.

Select Editors’ Picks:

These carseats may not be on sale right now, but are among our Editor’s Picks and are reader favorites, too. For current deals, please scroll to the next section.

Chicco KeyFit30   Graco SnugRide 40 - Fern

Infant Carseat (Rear-Facing Only) Deals:

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat 

Britax B-Safe 35 in all fashions for $168.00  OUT OF STOCK

Cosco Light N Comfy DX in “Rainbow Dots” for $55.99 (31% Off) LOW STOCK

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 in “Chili Red” for $125.99 (22% Off) LOW STOCK

Graco SnugRide SnugLock Base for $38.99 (36% Off) SOLD OUT

Graco SnugRide SnugLock DLX Base for $71.99 (20% Off) SOLD OUT

Graco SnugRide 35 Click Connect in “Chili Red” for $105.99 

Graco SnugRide 30 LX Click Connect in “Play” for $67.25 LOW STOCK

Safety 1st Onboard 35 AIR in “Estate” for $112.99  LOW STOCK

Britax Boulevard CT - splash Graco 4Ever -azalea

Convertible & All-in-One Deals:

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat

Britax Roundabout G4.1 in Dash for $143.99 (20% Off)

Britax Marathon G4.1 in “Domino” for $219.99 (25% Off) LOW STOCK

Britax Advocate ClickTight in all fashions for $352 (20% Off)

Britax Boulevard ClickTight in Circa for $255.00 DEAL ENDED 

Britax ClickTight Anti-Rebound Bar Accessory for $32.00 (20% Off)

Clek Fllo or Foonf Clearance in Capri 15% OFF 

Cosco Apt 50 in “Vibrant Blue” for $40.35 PRIME ONLY, LOW STOCK

Cosco Scenera NEXT from $38.00 

Diono Radian RXT in Black Mist for $229.69 DEAL ENDED

Diono Radian R100 in Black Mist for $178.64 DEAL ENDED

Evenflo Sonus in “Charcoal” for $37.11 SOLD OUT

Evenflo SureRide in “Nicole” from $63.89  DEAL ENDED

Evenflo Symphony DLX in “Modesto” for $167.17  

Graco Size4Me 65 in “Matrix” for $114.27 ☆ 

Graco 4Ever All-in-One from $221.00 

Graco 4Ever Extend2Fit from $227.99 ☆ 

Graco Extend2Fit in “Spire” or “Kenzie” for $159.99  

Graco Milestone All-in-One in “Gotham” for $195.49 

Graco SlimFit All-In-One in “Annabelle” for $124.66 DEAL ENDED

Maxi-Cosi Pria 85 Special Edition in select colors for $199.99  LOW STOCK

Nuna Rava for $449.95 ☆ (Free Shipping and returns)

Safety 1st Continuum in “Hollyhock” for $89.99 PRIME

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1 in “Vitamint” from $135.99 

Safety 1st Guide 65 in “Chambers” from $72.86 

Britax Frontier CT - kaleidoscope Evenflo Maestro - Keller

Combination Seat Deals:

(forward-facing with harness + booster) 

Indicates a CarseatBlog Recommended Carseat

Evenflo Maestro for $63.99  (25% Off) 

Evenflo SecureKid LX in “Kohl” $99.99  SOLD OUT

Graco Atlas in “Glacier” for $98.89 (24% Off) 

Graco Nautilus 65 in “Sully” for $117.99 (20% Off) PRIME ONLY

Harmony Defender in “Moonrise” for $84.73 SOLD OUT

Graco Affix Evenflo Amp - blue flames

Booster Deals:

The Safest All-in-One Carseats? New 2017 Crash Protection Ratings & Methods from Consumer Reports

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Graco Milestone, Graco 4Ever & Evenflo Symphony with SureLATCH top the All-in-One ratings from Consumer Reports

3 years ago Consumer Reports implemented a new, more rigorous crash test for carseats and started releasing the results of their ratings to subscribers. CR’s goal in creating the new test wasn’t to recreate the wheel. We know every carseat on the market here in the U.S. must be able to pass a basic frontal crash test (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213), therefore we consider all carseats on the market to be “safe” because they can all pass this baseline test. However, we also know that all carseats are NOT created equal and it would be naive to assume that they all provide exactly the same levels of protection.

Consumer Reports set out to find which seats provide additional margins of safety, above and beyond FMVSS 213, and so they developed their new crash test to be more rigorous than the federal standards. Their crash test ratings scale will indicate a “BASIC,” “BETTER,” or “BEST” rating to indicate how well the child restraint performed as compared with the rest of the seats in that “peer group” category. One main focus of this new crash test is head protection, since head injuries are very common in crashes, even among properly restrained children.

This crash test was designed by an automotive safety engineer and peer-reviewed by an independent crash testing expert with 40 years of experience in the field. Testing is performed at an independent, outside testing facility. This test utilizes an actual contemporary vehicle seat (a 2010 Ford Flex 2nd row seat) with a floor below it, unlike the government test which has a 70’s era back seat bench with no floor. There’s a “blocker plate” (pictured above) installed in front of the test seat to simulate the front seat in a vehicle. The blocker plate is intended to recreate the interaction that happens in real life crashes when the child or the carseat interacts with the back of the front seat. In addition, the speed of this test is set at 35 mph (instead of 30 mph which is standard in FMVSS testing). Those who follow vehicle ratings will recognize the 35 mph speed as the same speed used to crash vehicles in the NCAP program. CR’s new test applies 36% more energy to carseats than their old test protocol and a more severe test results in a greater distinction among carseat performance.

Consumer Reports crash tested 14 All-in-One models in up to 7 configurations, both forward-facing and rear-facing, with various dummy sizes, using LATCH or a 3-point seatbelt.  Several models that received a “BEST” rating for crash protection are also on our Recommended Carseats List. We recommend the Graco Milestone, Graco 4Ever and Evenflo Symphony DLX/Elite with SureLATCH because of their ease of use and fit-to-child in all 3 modes (rear-facing, forward-facing & booster).

  

In addition to the Crash Protection Rating, Consumer Reports still gives each model an overall numeric “Score.”  This is based in part on the Crash Protection Rating and also other more subjective factors, such as ease-of-use and fit-to-vehicle in various modes.

Top Performers in the All-in-One Category

Britax G4.1 Convertibles vs. Britax ClickTight Convertibles: A Basic Comparison

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Britax has had two lines of convertibles—the G4.1s and the ClickTights— for 3 years now and there are still many questions about the similarities and differences between the two. Let’s compare them and see what makes each convertible line its own and which one may be best for you and your child.

  

Similarities Between G4.1 Convertibles and ClickTight Convertibles
Both G4.1 and ClickTight convertible lines are outgrown rear-facing when the child’s head reaches 1” from the red adjuster handle on the headrest when it’s fully extended.
Both G4.1 and ClickTight convertible lines have the rubber HUGS on the harness (exception is the Roundabout)
 
Both convertible lines have RF weight limits of 5-40 lbs.
Both convertible lines have FF weight and height limits* of 20-65 lbs. and 49” or less (*exception is the Roundabout G4.1 which has a FF weight limit of 20-55 lbs. and height limit of 46” or less)
Both sets of convertibles have built-in lockoffs: the G4.1s have color-coded clip-style lockoffs, while the ClickTight panel serves as a lockoff
Both convertible lines have smooth bases with grippy rubber edges
 Both convertible lines are steel-reinforced. The bars are more visible on the G4.1 line.
© www.CarseatBlog.com

 

Differences Between G4.1 Convertibles and ClickTight Convertibles
The G4.1 line has a black shell and visible steel bars on the sides The ClickTight line has a white shell with the ClickTight panel that opens to reveal the belt paths
Britax Boulevard with ARB  
LATCH installation with the G4.1s is super easy for 2 reasons: 1. G4.1 has deluxe push-on LATCH connectors, and 2. Each LATCH strap is connected separately to the steel bars on the side, so pulling the straps tight is very easy. ClickTights are designed to be installed with the seat belt and the lower LATCH connectors are the hook-on style and hidden in a compartment on the back of the base to discourage owners from using LATCH
G4.1 top harness slots are about 1.5” lower than the ClickTight seats and overall seat height is about 1.5” shorter while seats are about 1” wider
G4.1 convertibles have 1 recline for rear-facing, but the recline can be tweaked per the manual ClickTight convertibles have a greater recline range for both rear-facing and forward-facing
G4.1s CAN be installed with Ford Motor Company inflatable seat belts after lower LATCH connector weight limit is reached ClickTights CANNOT be installed with Ford Motor Company inflatable seat belts after lower LATCH connector weight limit is reached
G4.1: the date of manufacture (DOM) and model information sticker is on the plastic shell by the child’s left shoulder ClickTight: the date of manufacture (DOM) and model information sticker is under the child’s left knee on the ClickTight panel, under the cover
© www.CarseatBlog.com

We also have more information about how the G4.1 and ClickTight models fit in your vehicle rear-facing in our Ultimate Rear-Facing Convertible Carseat Space Comparison article. You can also compare individual seats against each other by using our comparison tool.