Does taking a car seat on an airplane seem like a bad idea? I proposed this question to my followers on Instagram and to my surprise the overwhelming majority responded, yes it is a bad idea. Despite the results my poll I decided to continue with my experiment. It is another item to carry around the airport but if you can overcome this slight physical hurdle, you will alleviate so much stress and child flight anxiety.
When flying before a child is two the parent can choose to have the child sit on their lap or purchase a seat for the child. Once they turn two it is not longer the parents choice. A seat must be purchased for the child and the child has to be in that seat during take off and landing.
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Traveling After They Turn Two
My first experience flying without a lap child was a couple weeks after Baby T turned two. The trip was really difficult. We had four flights all together and she barely slept the entire time. We live in Alaska, so traveling anywhere takes quite a bit of time. Flying that long with an exhausted toddler is not fun.
While planning for our trip to Sweden, I started to research the best ways to travel with a two-year-old. Our flight to Sweden was going to be the longest flight we had ever been on. I came across an article talking about bringing a car seat on an airplane. My first thought was NO WAY! But the more I thought about it the more it made sense.
We needed to bring her car seat to Sweden anyways. If we traveled with it on the plane there was no chance of it getting stolen or damage with the baggage. Plus having her strapped into a four-point harness would make me feel more comfortable because she is safer.
Searching for Advice
I hopped on Instagram to get some advice from other moms. I placed a poll on my IG story and every single mom said definitely no. Only two women said it was a good idea. Neither of them were mothers, but they had both traveled as a nanny with families and said the car seats on planes were life savers.
That same day I saw a post from a mama traveling internationally with a car seat. At the gate, the airline told her she could not bring a car seat on the airplane. She put up a huge fight and finally found their rules online. She said that the next time she planned on flying she would make sure to print out the rules for each airline just in case. So I did just that!
My husband and I discussed it some more and came to the conclusion of “why not”. It couldn’t harm us in anyway, so why not give it a try! I printed off the rules for both airlines we were flying on, Alaska Air and Icelandair. The one rule both airlines had was that the car seat had to be strapped into a window seat.
Our Adventure Begins
As we unloaded everything from the car I began to doubt our decision. I thought we were crazy and that this was definitely going to backfire. We completed the security process without the staff taking a second glance at our car seat. When it was time to board, I was able to go on early to get our car seat situated. Our first flight was extremely short, only 45 minutes. This was our test because the next flight would be 5 hours long. Baby T got into her chair without a fuss at all. It was familiar to her, success! One flight down two more to go. The second flight, our longest one, she slept! She actually slept for a couple hours!
I felt very comfortable taking her in and out of the car seat to use the restroom or to just sit on my lap. We discussed that when the fasten seat belt light was on she needed to remain in her chair. She rarely put up a fight through all of our flights.
I was blown away and extremely thankful that I hadn’t backed out of bringing the car seat. The staff, on all of our flights, were amazing. No one ever questioned us bringing the car seat on the plane. They did double check to make sure it was buckled in.
Tips for Taking a Car Seat on an Airplane
I do not plan on ever flying without it! I am traveling with her alone this Christmas, so I will let you guys know how it goes carrying a car seat around the airport alone.
– Read the rules for each airline you are flying on ahead of time. Each airline has their own set of rules, but from my knowledge all airlines allow car seats on board.
– Print the rules for each airline. This is just a precaution in case the airline staff have a problem with you bringing the car seat on board.
– Bring a stroller in the airport. This makes carrying everything 100 times easier. Either your child can sit in the stroller or walk while your carry on and car seat ride in the stroller.
– Choose a lightweight car seat. This will make all the difference when carrying it around the airport or when boarding and unboarding the airplane. This is the one we brought.
Taking a car seat on the airplane was the perfect choice for us. Our daughter had her best flights and even slept! I would definitely recommend this to everyone.
6 comments / Add your comment below
This is a great post. I travel blog myself and never thought about car seats in a plane. Thanks for the tips!
Wow! This is such a great idea for traveling with young kids (especially toddlers) who want to be so active!! You’re right, the familiar is so helpful to kids in new situations and since they already know the car seat means travel, it can make flying more routine and easier for parents! Totally sharing this with my parent friends.
Great tips, and specially the one about printing out the airline rules for car seats. Honestly, I’ve never been on a plane where a parent has used a car seat… But now reading your article and thinking about it, it does seem like common sense. Particularly for long flights.
I never even thought about this. When we took our son on a plane when he was 1.5, he didn’t sit in his car seat on the plane.
The car seat looks like it worked out perfectly. I can see why. Kids are used to riding…and sleeping…in their seats and it’s familiar in an unfamiliar situation.
Taking a car seat on a plane can be a lifesaver! And it is great if you’re renting a car at your destination. It can be a bit bulky at the airport, but we always travel with a car seat.