Like all of you, I’m vigilant when it comes to car seat safety. And as a mom of two, I thought I knew everything I needed to know to keep my kids safe. But, an upcoming family vacation brought up a new question, do I need a car seat to fly?
“Yes,” says the Federal Aviation Administration. A child restraint system—not your lap—is the safest place for your little one during turbulence or in an emergency, the federal agency states.
“Turbulence,” the FAA says, “can happen with little or no warning. And when it does, the safest place for your child is in a child restraint system, not in your lap. Your arms just aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially when turbulence is unexpected.”
However, there is no legislation requiring the use of these restraints, and most airlines allow a child to lap sit until the age of 2, so the choice is ultimately yours as a parent.:
If you do decide to fly with your car seat, we like this practical advice, again from the FAA:
- Make sure your car seat is government approved and has “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” printed on it. Otherwise, you may be asked to check it as baggage.
- Measure the width of your car seat. It should fit in most airplane seats if it is no wider than 16 inches.
- Ask your airline for a discounted fare. Many airlines now offer discounts of up to 50 percent for children less than two years of age. Purchasing a ticket for your child is the only way to guarantee that you will be able to use a car seat.
- Reserve adjoining seats. A car seat must be placed in a window seat so it will not block the escape path in an emergency. A car seat may not be placed in an exit row.
- If you do not purchase a ticket for your child, ask if your airline will allow you to use an empty seat.
- Ask your airline if they can provide a car seat for your child. If so, you may not be permitted to bring your own car seat on board and may need to check it as baggage.
- And, of course, always use a car seat in your vehicle when driving to and from the airport—or anywhere!
For even more about the FAA’s policies regarding child restraints on planes, check out this post from the Car Seat Blog.
Need a car seat approved for aircraft use? Both our Primo Viaggio SIP 30-30 infant car seat and Primo Viaggio SIP 5-70 Convertible are FAA-certified for aircraft use. As for me, I’ve committed to playing it safe. We’ll be taking our Primo Viaggio SIP 5-70 Convertible along on our upcoming flight. Check back. I’ll definitely do a post to let you know how it goes!
For now, if you have flown with your little one before, please comment below. We’d love to hear about your experiences and what advice you have for first-time flyers.