3 Important Things to Consider When Flying With a Car Seat
When traveling with kids there are a few things to consider such as the logistics of packing a car seat. Is it worth it?
One of my biggest headaches about traveling with kids is the car seat. We want our babies to be safe, but it’s not always easy or convenient. And sometimes things just don’t go to plan at all. I admit I’m not the most well traveled mama out there, but each time I’ve flown with my kids the car seat was an issue in one or another.
To bring or not to bring?
The first time I flew with my daughter she was about 18 months old. We knew she could be on my lap, which was cheaper. For that particular trip we went to New York City. I made the mistake of asking in a Facebook group if we needed a car seat. There were some very passionate people who responded without answering my question about legal requirements. It was all new territory to me and I found it confusing. Someone had told me a seat wasn’t required in New York taxis and I wanted information to make an informed choice-not be chastised for throwing car seat safety out the window.
In case you are wondering, New York City taxis are exempt from car seat laws. Cab drivers must allow you to install one if you have it. New York City and Las Vegas are the only cities I know of where taxis are exempt from car seat laws. That may change, so always double check.
Then when I prepared to fly with my son to Texas I asked around about their taxis. Would I need my seat? Did they offer seats? I was traveling alone and only riding in a car to and from the airport. After much discussion I brought my own and did so again for both children on our most recent trip.
The FAA recommends all children have their own seat and sit in a car seat approved for aircraft use. When is the last time you’ve seen a car seat installed on a plane though? I’ve even heard of some flights not allowing car seat use. It is the safest place for them; however, even if you fly with baby in your lap you need a car seat at your destination. I did find out some car services offer car seats but there is no guarantee they have the correct one for your child. Even if you order the seat ahead, it depends what they bring along. Our last trip? I was so glad we had our own seats because our driver (as wonderful as he was) only had a booster seat in his vehicle. Neither of my children could ride in that!
Taking it with you
So once you figure out you pretty much have to lug it along, you must decide where you’ll check it. (Unless, of course, baby will be sitting in it.) There are only two options: baggage check or gate check. I prefer to check my fragile baby gear at the gate, hoping it’s handled more carefully and won’t get lost. We have checked car seats along with our luggage to make it easier for us to get through security and around the airport. How it’s handled is a concern though. Does it get jostled around enough to cause damage similar to being in a car crash? What if the seat is lost or wrecked when we arrive? Some people suggest replacing them if they were checked.
Every step of the way those dang seats stress me out!
Getting it installed
Even though we brought our own seats along, there was still the issue of installing them. I’ve installed my son’s infant carrier with a seat belt before (leaving the base in the car) since his could be installed that way. It’s quick and easy to get him situated. But my daughter’s convertible seat was a different story. I love her seat and it installs nicely in our car. But the car service sent an SUV that didn’t have LATCH anchors! We couldn’t get it to install securely enough in the rear facing position so we had to flip it around. By law she can sit forward, but it still made me uncomfortable and I was greatly concerned her seat was too loose. Unfortunately we didn’t have any other options.
Really the only guarantee with car seats is to take a road trip in your own car it seems, but I’d rather fly for a couple hours instead of drive for days. It can be a real pain in the butt to bring with, but safety is important. I just wish it was easier to discuss and figure out.
What has been your experience flying with car seats?
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