Should I Bring My Child’s Carseat On An Airplane? | Pros & Cons 

Carseat On An Airplane Is It Allowed

Last Updated on Nov 22nd, 2023 by Renu Dahiya, Leave a Comment

Even if you’re a frequent traveler, taking a flight with a little one accompanying you can make you feel chaotic and stressful. Suddenly, a series of questions pop up, and the first one is: ‘Should you bring your child’s carseat on an airplane?’

Surprisingly, there’s no straightforward yes or no answer, although experts often recommend bringing it for added safety. But, it’s not that simple! Not all car seats are airplane-approved, and each airline may have its own rules. So, let’s know how to fly with a car seat in the airplane, pros & cons, tips & more. So, you can make the best decision for your family’s journey.

Can You Bring Car Seats On A Plane? 

Absolutely, bringing your child’s car seat in the airplane is not only possible; it’s highly recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) both advise using an FAA-approved car seat or airplane harness for babies and young children. These should be secured with the plane’s seatbelt, without the car seat base.

If you’re unsure about installing the seat without the base on the plane, go through the manufacturer’s instructions and practice at home in your car until you feel confident. Once onboard, you can also ask a flight attendant for assistance if needed.

Note – Using a car seat or harness offers the best protection for your little one during turbulence, according to the AAP and FAA.

Car Seat or Lap: Which Is Safer for Your Baby On A Flight?

Many airlines typically don’t require you to purchase a separate seat for children under 2. However, if your infant or young toddler doesn’t have her own seat (and car seat), she’ll have to sit on your lap during the flight. Holding a small child for the entire flight may not seem too challenging, especially considering the potential cost savings of not buying an extra seat. But, it can be tough in a long-haul flight (like the Atlanta to Delhi flight). So, using a car seat is a much safer choice.

There’s also the convenience aspect to think about. Even if you hold your baby part of the time or take her for short walks up and down the aisles, having the option to place her in a car seat can be a welcome break. (Though the airline might try to keep the seat next to you vacant if you inform them about your lap-held baby, it’s not always guaranteed.)

If you’re concerned that your baby might resist being confined, you’re not alone. Nearly every parent who’s flown with an infant has shared that worry. 

Suggested Read – Do kids need ID to fly? 

Key Factors To Consider When Traveling With A Car Seat On A Plane

If you’re unsure whether to bring a car seat for your child’s flight, here are some important aspects to ponder that can help you make an informed decision.

Height And Weight Of Your Child

If your child is under 2, you can choose to hold her on your lap during the flight. However, for children aged 2 and older, they must have their own seats. In such cases, both the FAA and AAP strongly recommend using a suitable car seat or approved harness (booster seats are not allowed).

Ensure the car seat or harness you choose matches your child’s weight and size. Here’s what to consider:

  • For babies and toddlers who haven’t reached the maximum height or weight limit for their seat, rear-facing (infant or convertible) is the best car seat for airplane.
  • Forward-facing car seats should be used for children who have outgrown the height or weight limit for the rear-facing position on their convertible car seat.
  • Airplane harness devices are suitable for toddlers and children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. 

Airline Policies

Airlines have varying rules for flying with children, so it’s a good idea to check their policies before booking your tickets. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Do children under 2 need their own seats? While the answer is typically no, it’s wise to double-check. For international flights, you may still need to pay a portion of the ticket price even if your baby sits on your lap.
  • The usual policy is one lap child per adult. So, if you’re traveling alone with two babies, one of them may need to be in a car seat.
  • Notify the airline about your lap child, even if you’re not purchasing a ticket for your baby. This step is often necessary.
  • Check if there are any restrictions on where car seats can be placed. Airlines often prefer window seats, but it’s not always mandatory. Window seats may be less convenient if you need to move around with your child, but they could be safer since there’s less risk of your child being bumped by the beverage cart or exposed to spills from it. However, aisle seats, emergency exit rows, and seats in first class may have restrictions. You can typically find information about an airline’s child passenger policies on their website but don’t hesitate to contact the airline for any queries you may face.

The Type of Car Seat

Not all car seats are suitable for airplane use. To confirm if yours meets the criteria, look for the label stating “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” or check the manufacturer’s website. Keep in mind that booster seats are not permitted on airplanes.

Ground Travel at Your Destination

If you plan to use a car for transportation at your destination, you’ll need a car seat anyway. In this scenario, bringing the car seat on the plane could be a sensible choice.

Check out the other best tips for traveling with your baby on a plane and make your journey super smooth. 

How To Install Car Seat On Plane? 

Remember the first time you struggled with assembling a car seat? The huffing, puffing, sweating, and maybe even a touch of frustration? Well, installing a car seat on a plane is nothing like that. It’s actually one of the easiest installations you’ll encounter. Here’s a quick rundown of the steps:

  • Check your car seat to find the appropriate belt path for either rear-facing or forward-facing use.
  • Adjust the adjustable side of the airplane seatbelt to create some slack.
  • Feed this loosened side of the seatbelt through the chosen belt path on your car seat.
  • Hope your hand is tiny enough to perform this task with ease.
  • Secure the seatbelt by fastening it.
  • Gently press down on the car seat (consider reclining the airplane seat if necessary) while pulling the seatbelt’s loose end to tighten it.

Tip – If your child is traveling alone, check out the United Airlines Minor Policy

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does a 2-year-old need a car seat on a plane? Do toddlers need car seats on airplanes?

A: If your 2-year-old has their own seat on a plane, they are typically required to use a car seat. However, children over 2 years old are not usually required to use a car seat in the airplane. However, it’s strongly recommended to use a car seat to protect your child during runway incidents or when the plane encounters severe turbulence.

Q: How to pack a car seat for checked baggage?

A: We’ve all seen how roughly checked luggage can be handled, so make sure your car seat is well-padded. It’s also a good idea to snap a photo of your car seat before your trip. This can serve as proof of its condition if it happens to arrive damaged. Another smart option is repacking the car seat in its original box with extra padding for protection. 

Q: Do you have to pay for car seat on plane?

A: No, checking a car seat on most of the U.S. airlines when you’re traveling with a child is typically free of charge. You can check your car seat at the airport baggage counter or wait and check it at your gate.

Q: Does a 4 year old need a car seat on plane?

A: For typically-sized 4-year-olds, they can often sit safely using the airplane seat belt, but this may not be the case for smaller children. Nevertheless, bringing a travel car seat on the plane helps avoid the risks associated with loss or damage when checking a car seat, offering an added layer of safety and comfort during the flight.

Now that you’re well-informed about the ins and outs of bringing carseat on an airplane, it’s time to go on exciting adventures with your little explorer. 

Suggested Read: American Airlines Minor policy in detail and plan accordingly. 

MyTicketsToIndia

As a leading travel agency in the USA, MyTicketsToIndia specializes in offering fantastic deals on USA to India flights and back, all at the most affordable prices. So, if you’re planning to book air tickets to India, don’t hesitate to reach out to our travel experts. We’re thrilled to help you make significant savings on your journey. 

About Renu Dahiya | View Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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