How to Use a Car Seat on an Airplane

One of the traditional advantages of flying with children under 2 years of age is the savings in the cost of an extra ticket when the child is held in their lap. (Of course, those of us who have ever traveled this way might argue that it didn’t exactly feel like cocky at the time, but it makes travel more accessible for families.)

However, for safety reasons, more and more parents choose to buy tickets for their little ones. And this is really the safer option . Attaching them to a secure car seat not only provides additional protection in the event of an accident, but also ensures safety during unexpected turbulence.

But before lugging this place to the airport, there are a few things to keep in mind.

The car seat must be FAA approved. Look for a sticker on your seat that reads “This restraint is certified for use in cars and aircraft.” Without it, you may be denied the use of a seat on the plane.

A window seat is your best bet . Otherwise, the seat will not allow passengers to leave the row in an emergency. Car seats are not permitted in aisle or exit seats. The seat should be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

It’s important to measure . To fit in a regular coach seat, the car seat must be no more than 16 inches wide. However, if an FAA approved car seat does not fit in your child’s designated space, it is the airline’s responsibility to relocate it whenever possible.

Booster seats and vests are limited . They are banned by the FAA during ground movement, takeoff and landing, and their use is discouraged – although not prohibited by law – in the air. However, airlines may have different rules for using them in the air, so check them before arriving at the airport.

Alternative: CARES belts . It is the only FAA approved seat belt attachment for children between 22 and 44 pounds.

If in doubt, always check with your airline for the specific rules for traveling with children. Some airlines offer discounts on travel for infants if you plan to use a car seat and the rules for car seats, carry-on luggage and checked items may differ.


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