At ParentingNerd, we strive to help you make parenting decisions with confidence. To do this, some of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are always our own.

Car Seat on Airplane: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Car seat on airplane

While air travel is always a prolific experience for many, others might find it challenging, and by “others” we mean parents. If you are a parent, you must be aware of the hustle behind not traveling with car seats.

Holding your kid in your lap throughout a 20-hour long flight might not be the most pleasant or thrilling experience; however, it is better than spending on an extra ticket. To combat this pertaining problem and to give some relief to half-asleep and tired parents, aviation authorities allowed the use of these restraints for the safety of kids and the comfort of parents.

Initially, a traveling car seat – as the name suggests – was invented to give toddlers below the age of two, a view through a motor vehicle. Later on, their importance as a baby’s safety-ensuring equipment came into the surface. As of now, the American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommends that kids between 22 and 44 pounds use child restraints during air travel.

Toddler safety seats that are allowed in planes by the aviation authorities have specific features that ensure a child’s safety while flying, which will be discussed ahead. They come in all sizes and modes.

Do kids need to be in car seats on a plane?

Generally, a kid is not required to be in a car seat on a plane, but it is highly recommended that a toddler above the age of two flies in one as kids above two cannot sit be a lap baby.

This does two things: a) ensures a kid’s safety during travel and b) is comfortable for both parents and the kid in long-haul flights with layovers. Furthermore, if you are bringing a child-restraint to an airline, make sure it is approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

Can I bring my car seat to the airplane?

There are no strict rules or restrictions, and you are allowed to bring one to the aircraft. But according to the FAA, if your car seat meets the standard requirements of an airline, only then can you bring it. Usually, the features are written at the back of it.

Most companies explicitly guide you about the technical things to remember, such as the direction of a car seat during a flight, how much weight it can bear, etc. Moreover, it is recommended to go through an airline’s child-restraint policy beforehand.

Will my car seat fit in the aircraft seats?

Ideally, it should fit in an airplane’s seat, but not all of them fit. An FAA-approved seat will have “certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” written either at the back of it or in the manual that came with it.

Most of the time, an airplane car seat does fit in an airplane seat. In case your FAA-approved child-restraint seat doesn’t fit. According to the FAA rule-book, it is the airline’s responsibility to make changes in sitting arrangements and ensure that the passenger or traveler is facilitated.

Can I use my car seat in business or first class?

Usually, most of the airlines allow children to travel in first-class except for some. The use of a car seat in business or first class completely depends on the airline that you are traveling through. In many business class and first-class airlines, CARES harness is deemed to be better, but this may not always be the case. While flying in business class, most people prefer bulk-head bassinet.

Because business class or first class has extra space, you can easily have a lap child and put the kid to sleep in the bassinet. The problem with the bassinets, however, is that many children outgrow them, which is why a lot of parents prefer on-board seats while flying business or first class. Nevertheless, the safest option is to thoroughly contact the airline, choose your seats wisely, and then fly.

Do car seats need to be installed differently on planes?

Every car seat needs to be installed as per the manufacturer’s instructions. If the manufacturer’s guide says that it needs to be front-facing in an aircraft, then it has to be front-facing.

However, it is essential to notice the direction that your aircraft will be flying in because it is recommended that a car seat be installed according to the plane’s direction to give the kid a better experience and for the sake of safety as well. Moreover, it is also recommended that extra tools install the device be taken.

Are there seats on the plane in which car seats are not allowed?

If you are a frequent traveler, you will know that almost every airline out there prohibits children below the age of 18 (below the age of 15 in some airlines) from occupying exit rows’ seats. This ultimately means that car seats are not allowed on these on-board seats in particular. Some airlines do not allow them to be installed at the rows where they are likely to block other passengers’ way out.

Can I use my car seat rear-facing?

You can use it rear-facing depending on your toddler’s age, height, weight, and the child restraint’s features. It is recommended that kids weighing 40 lbs or less should be flying rear-facing.

As per the FAA-rule book, a car seat is to be installed in front-facing aircraft seats, because usually front-facing plane seats are in the direction of the aircraft and again as per the FAA-rule book, this device should be installed in a plane’s direction.

Can I use a booster seat on the plane?

A booster seat is a bit different than usual. It is mostly used for a grown-up kid weighing about 80 lbs. It is a seat where a toddler sits, and it does not have a strap or belt, and the toddler mostly uses the motor vehicle’s seat belt. It is mainly used to elevate a toddler in motor vehicles. On the other hand, a car seat includes a 5-point harness as a restraint, which is why it is also called a child restraint seat.

The FAA does not allow the use of booster seats or harness vests at the time of taking off, landing, and moving ground due to several safety risks. It is recommended that booster seats are not used unless there are no options.

Which are the best car seats?

If you google the most used car seats, you should be able to decide which one to get. Amazon, for that matter, has some of the best and affordable collections. The ones that Amazon recommends are as follows:

Graco Extend2Fit Convertible

This car seat can be used as both rear-facing and forward-facing. If rear-faced, this convertible device can bear a weight of 50 lbs, and if forward-faced, it can hold an infant weighing about 65 pounds. In both cases, Graco Extended2Fit ensures your child’s safety through its durable steel frame, which prohibits it from crashing and damaging.

Safety 1st Grow and Go 3-in-1

This one is specifically designed, keeping in mind the three stages of your toddler’s growth. Its rear-facing mode works as an infant car seat. It is for kids who weigh from 5 lbs. to 40 lbs. The forward-facing way is for kids weighing between 22 lbs. to 65 lbs. The booster mode is for kids between 40 lbs. to 100 lbs. Your children’s partner – Safety 1st Grow grows with them.

Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible

This product’s impact-absorbing base, steel frame, and flexible seat belt make sure that your kid stays safe from any collisions or impacts. Like the above two, this car seat also offers a rear-facing mode for toddlers.

Cosco Scenera Next Car Seat Otto

Cosco Scenera Next is an affordable and durable device. It is rear-facing, has five harnesses and three buckle locations for a good grip of a growing kid. This child restraint is certified to use on aircraft.

Features to look for in an infant seat

Fit – According to the top-rated car seats’ manufacturers on Amazon, lower back-seats often require narrower bases, so it is essential to measure the back and the base before purchasing.

Convertibility – While buying an infant seat, make sure you get your hands on a convertible car seat because that has several benefits. Most of these are of no use when a kid outgrows them. A 3-in-1 allows you to change the modes as the kid grows.

Safety Features – There are a few safety features that ought to be checked, such as the 5-point harness when the kid reaches the forward-facing stage and if it has extra pads, etc.

Car seat rules for the major US airlines

The links below will help you know better:

Summary: Car Seats on Planes

Car seats are essential items. Traveling with kids is not a cup of tea unless your kid is an 18-year old grown-up college-going student.

Car seats are not only designed for parents’ comfort; it is almost always extremely exhausting for the kids during long-haul flights, and the on-board seats do not ensure a kid’s safety and are not always cozy. Flying with car seats gives your children a good experience.

A frequently asked question is usually regarding travel car seat damage. The quality ones are tried and tested, and they are barely affected by crashes.

However, it is essential to bring a bag and put the device inside while checking to protect it from dirt, grime, or scratches. Usually, car seat bags can be found at the airport or while checking, but it is better if you take your bag with you.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on email

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. ParentingNerd may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write ParentingNerd content.