Best carseat for airplane?
We are going to be travelling by plane over the Thanksgiving holiday and want to know what are the best carseats to use. We have bought a ticket for our child who will be approx. 9 months when we fly. By that time she will also need a new carseat because she will have outgrown her infant seat (she is already 15 lbs). Any suggestions for carseats that fit? Thanks!
RE: Best carseat for airplane?
You will definitely want to take your convertible seat with you and use it.
Air travel is very safe, much safer than car travel, but it still has risks. Those risks are much reduced when you bring your carseat along. First, you will be sure to have it on both ends of your journey, which will probably be in a car. Second, your child can use it on the plane, which is way safer than holding her in arms.
Airlines usually allow a child under 2 to travel free with a parent's ticket. This is a great benefit, but it makes life somewhat more uncertain. You want your child to travel in her carseat in her own airline seat. Remember that on a plane, every last coffee pot must be tied down securly for takeoff and landing. I'm sure you want at least that much protection for your daughter.
Airlines WILL try to find an empty seat for your daughter. Keep your carseat with you until the last possible moment, holding out for an extra seat. I've been told that a flight was full and checked my seat, only to have one in the end that I couldn't use since I didn't have my carseat.
For my own peace of mind, I started buying a seat for my son when he turned 1 (and I started doing reasearch on this!). It just wasn't worth the worry that we wouldn't get a seat. And it got harder to have him on my lap as he got bigger. So you might want to consider this.
OK, now you know that you need to use a convertible, and bring it on the plane. What to get?
I own a whole variety of convertibles, and I've tried many on planes. My favorite for travel is the Cosco Touriva. It is one of the lightest seats, and it is very narrow (helpful on vacation with lots of folks in the car). It is cheap, so I'm not risking my expensive seats to the rigors of travel. On vacation I'm always there to do the installation, which takes more time and attention than some of my more expensive seats. At home, I'm often at work (so it isn't a trained tech installing my seats and my son) and I'm often in a hurry. So my needs for travel and home are different.
I like to have a nice seat at home in our primary car, and then have a cheap, light seat like the Cosco Touriva or Century Accel, in our other car for occasional use and travel.
But some families like to take the seat they like best and know how to use best.
There is no way to know for certain which seat will fit best. The seats inside the aircraft are changed every few years and I haven't found any standardization to interior seating. Narrower seats do tend to fit better. Rear facing seats tend to fit better. At 9 months, your child will clearly be rear facing, and that is on your side. It is definitely safer in the aircraft environment too.
Some flight attendants get confused about an old FAA recommendation about forward facing children at 20 pounds. If they ask you to switch your seat, show them the sticker on the side of the seat that shows that your seat goes rear facing to 30 or more pounds. I've seen the crash tests, rear facing is safer. The airline policies refer to manufacturer instructions too, so there shouldn't be any question that rear facing is best.
Have a great trip!
Toby, CPS tech
I see that you already bought your daughter a ticket! Very good decision. Sorry to try to try to convince you when you're already convinced! Clearly you've already done some research on this.
RE: Best carseat for airplane?
For the last two times my husband and I tried to fly with my son (who is 2 months old now) the flight attendants forced us to check the infant seat, although it was our carry on. (We didnt buy him his own seat on the plane.) The first flight was indeed sold out, but the return flight had an empty seat between us. Of course we could not get the seat back from below at that point. Do we have any rights to keep his carseat with us, if it is our carry-on item? I have gotten into arguments with the flight attendants about this. They have physically taken the seat away from us on the plane- despite our protests that we are entitled to our carry-on luggage. (We were the first ones on the plane!) Plus, we were sitting in the last row of the plane, where it is rarely sold out. Does anyone know the rules about car seats on board?