Should I take a car seat on the plane?

I personally don’t believe that it is a simple black and white answer. There are pro’s a con’s to taking your car seat on the plane. That being said, please keep in mind, the “FAA strongly urges parents and guardians to secure children in an appropriate restraint based on weight and size. Keeping a child in a CRS or device during the flight is the smart and right thing to do.”

In order to help determine your needs as a parent for traveling with your little one and how to keep it simple, I have listed a few quick questions to ask yourself prior to making the decision to take the car seat on the plane.

Remember, even if you do not take your car seat for the plane, you will most likely need your car seat at your destination. See bottom notes for traveling tips with your car seat.

Reasons to take your car seat on the plane: If you answer yes to the following questions, you most likely will find bringing your car seat onto the plane will be a good decision for you and your family.

1. Have I bought an adjoining seat on the plane for my child?
2. Is my car seat FAA approved? (You will have a sticker on the car seat that states “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”)
3. My car seat is not wider than 16” and will fit in the airplane seat.
4. Is my child 3 years old or younger?
5. Does my child weigh less than 40 pounds?
6. Does my child like and feel comfortable in their car seat?
7. Does my child tend to fall asleep often when in their car seat?

Reasons not to take a car seat on the plane.

1. Is my child older than 3? (The car seat takes up a lot of room on the plane, including leg room and the extra space between the seat they are sitting in and the seat in front of you. During your flight you might find that space to be useful as your child can stand and stretch their legs)
2. Does my child weigh 40 pounds or more? (The FAA recommends children 40 pounds or more use the airplane seat belt.)
3. Does my child prefer to be held or nursed in order to fall asleep?

ADDITIONAL NOTE FROM FAA: While booster seats and harness vests enhance safety in vehicles, FAA prohibits passengers from bringing these types of restraints on airplanes for use during taxi, take-off and landing. These restraints should be checked as baggage. Also, supplemental lap restraints or “belly belts” are not approved for use in both airplanes and vehicles in the United States.

TRAVEL TIPS for bringing your car seat with you; regardless of whether you are bringing the car seat on the plane or not:

Bring your car seat! You will need it at your destination, even if you are not renting a car. You will need your car seat in a taxi!

Make your life simpler: use the gogo Kidz Travelmate or Infant Cruizer. If you choose not to bring your car seat on to the plane, simply use either of these to convert your car seat into an airport stroller and gate check them with your car seat. This allows you and your child to get through the airport with one hand free. It is also a life saver for connecting flights and trying to get your family from one gate to another in a speedy fashion. When you gate check your car seat, it comes straight off the plane and is brought to the plane door so you can have it immediately after you depart from your flight.

If you choose to check your car seat in as baggage it is worth the money to purchase a car seat protector bag. Your expensive car seat and car seat cover will get very dirty and knocked around with the baggage.