Car Seat In Plane

Car Seats: Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Have you ever been on a plane and seen a parent holding an infant on their lap for the duration of the flight, and wondered about how safe the practice is?  When our teenagers were toddlers we couldn’t afford to fly anywhere, so this wasn’t even a consideration.  But things are different with Micah, and we know we’ll be planning a trip before he is two years old.

Flying? Bring the Car Seat

First, back to the initial safety question.  There’s enough data to be found, and reports to be read, of small children being killed or injured during moderate turbulence when their parent or caregiver wasn’t able to keep a solid grip on them.  That was enough to convince me that we’ll be buying a ticket for the car seat.   But what if that’s not in your budget?

Children under 2 do fly free, so you may get lucky and have an available seat on the flight.  So if you’re planning on buying a seat or not, bring the car seat along, just make sure that it’s one approved by the FFA.  If it is, there should be a sticker on the bottom of the seat.  If the flight is fully booked, and there are no available seats, you will have to hold on to your infant or toddler.  Car seats don’t count toward your carry on allotment, so you can take it on board with you, either way. You should also check with the airline when you are booking your flight.  Many do offer discounts on seats for infants, although that discount can range considerably, depending on national or international flights.

What Makes a Car Seat Safe to Use on a Plane?

If a car seat has passed FFA guidelines and is deemed as safe for air travel, it means it has passed an inversion test. The child will remain strapped in the seat even if hanging upside down.

Make Sure Your Car Seat Will Fit

Assuming everything is a go, and you’ve decided you’ll be dragging your toddler, car seat and everything else on the plane, you still need to check one more thing.  Make sure the car seat will fit.  Just like you made sure it had a proper fit in your car, you want to make sure it will properly buckle into the plane seat.  You can check this with your airline as well, or if you know what plane you’ll be traveling on, you should be able to find all the dimensions online somewhere.  Google is your friend.  Just remember, the dimension you need isn’t the total width of the seat.  You need to determine the narrowest width on the seat, which is likely the area between the armrests.

If you do a lot of flying with your child, you might want to consider a car seat that’s narrow and should fit on any airplane seat.  The one that’s recommended most is the Combi Coccoro car seat.  I won’t be reviewing it here, but I wanted to make you aware of it regardless.