If you are a frequent flyer that often has to travel with kids the question of the best travel car seats for airplanes is one that you must have found yourself asking at one time or another. Flying with kids calls for a child car seat that is easy to carry through airport check ins, use safety in the plane and car and easy to install and uninstall. So which are the best car seats for flying with preschoolers, toddlers and infants?
I always advocate child car seat safety. Children need to only ride in correctly installed convertible car seats which should preferably be rear facing and the child buckled in by an adult. These measures are not only important when you are traveling with your kid in the car but also in the airplane. My children stayed in their child safety seat until age 5 which is when they graduated to safe use of lap belt according to the FFA guidelines. If you need to keep your child safe, you need to ensure that you understand and follow all the guidelines.
Which Are The Best Travel Car Seats?
All American carriers allow you to take your FAA approved car seat onto the airplane. Nonetheless you need to check beforehand to determine if the airline you will be travelling on has any special rules regarding child restraints. However, I have for the most part never had any issues traveling with my kids and their car seats on most American airlines. Most airline attendants will be helpful and cooperative as long as you know your rights and explain to them how you use the car seat for your kid.
Do I Need to have a Car Seat For Plane Travel?
You do not have to buy a child car seat if your child is younger than two years as you can just carry them on your lap. You should also remember to never check your car seat onto the plane as the seat can be damaged and may not be safe to use after such damage. If you feel that you absolutely need to check it in, then use the original box and extra padding for the seat. Nonetheless check the child car seat thoroughly before using it in the car.
If you are traveling with older children who are at the booster seat age, you need to know that booster seats are not FAA approved. This is because the booster seat has to be used with a shoulder belt. However, according to FAA recommendations any child under 40 pounds should be restrained by a CSS.
The FAA does not require your child to be restrained in a CSS when they are traveling in an airplane though it is recommended. Nonetheless some parents of children aged less than two years will decide to fly without the car seat and instead have the kid on their lap. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, your safest bet to keep your child safe while traveling in an airplane is to get them an airline and government approved child safety restraint system or device (CRS). However for many parents terms such as CRS or device may be something of a conundrum. So what exactly is a CRS?
The CARES safety harness is the best car seats for airplanes and the only CSS that will fit in most airplane seats. Not all of your car seats will be a good fit for airplanes depending on airline policy or the size of car seats that you have for everyday use.
It is very much possible that the CSS you are currently using is an airplane approved car seat, but you need to be certain that it is approved for use in both aircraft and motor vehicles. It is usually not that hard to tell of the car seat is up to standard since if it does it will have a sticker with the words “this restraint is certified for use in aircraft and motor vehicles. The only FAA approved child safety device is the CARES Child Safety Device CRS. The lightweight CRS is made for children between 22 and 44 pounds though with the proliferation of fakes you need to make sure that yours has the label written “approved for aircraft use only”
According to the chief technologist of the Good Housekeeping Institute Rachel Rothman, you not only need to ensure that the seat is an approved one. You will also need to check that it will fit the dimensions of the airplane car seat before you leave for the airport. Most airlines will publish the widest and narrowest seats in each class that they have so that you can be certain that your child safety seat fits. If your car seat is too big for the airplane’s seat or restrictions, you may find yourself in a situation where you are forced to check it as baggage, leaving your child to ride without a safety seat.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, any child who weighs in less than 40 pounds should be in a car seat. However lugging a heavy car seat across the airport floor or into a plane can be quite the hassle not to mention that you have to buy the FAA Approved car seat in the first place. Nonetheless if your kid is above these recommendations, they can travel without an FAA car seat as turbulence injury is not that common. In fact in the decade between 2006 and 2016 only about 300 passengers suffered any injury from turbulence.