2018 Best Travel Car Seats for Airplanes – A Guide to Car Seats on Planes

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Best FAA Approved Car Seats

Airplane Travel Car Seat Guide 2018

Are you looking for an airplane car seat for travel with an infant or toddler? Are you trying to decide if you should even use a car seat on the plane with your baby? I know that this is a confusing and sometimes overwhelming topic. Take a deep breath. Help has arrived.

Important Disclaimer: I intend for the information on this website to serve as a general overview on matters of interest derived from my experience traveling with my own children. I am not an expert on the subject and safety of car seats on airplanes. I attempt to ensure that the content is current and accurate but I do not guarantee its currency and accuracy.

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To make it easier to navigate this post, please click on the topic that interests you, or just keep reading.

  1. Does My Child Need a Car Seat on an Airplane?
  2. Car Seat Regulation and Recommendations for Planes
  3. Best Airplane Car Seats (Infant and Toddler)
  4. Car Seat Frames and Transporters for Airports
  5. Car Seat Bags and Protective Covers for Travel
  6. How to Install a Car Seat on an Airplane

 

 

Does My Child Need a Car Seat on an Airplane?

 

While a CRS (child restraining system = car seat) is not required for air travel in the U.S. (or Canada), the FAA – Federal Aviation Administration recommends securing a baby / toddler on a plane. This option, however, is only guaranteed to be available to you if you purchase a separate airplane seat for your child *. Since parents are not required to purchase a seat for a child under 2 years of age in the U.S., many people choose to have their baby on their lap because it is free (or very discounted).

*If you have not purchased an extra seat in which to secure your baby / toddler and a flight is not full, an extra seat may be offered to you free of charge. For your best chance of this, arrive early to check-in at the airport. You will likely need to check in at the airport anyway (rather than online) as that is the typical protocol when traveling with an infant. The reason for this is that the airline needs to verify the age of the child from their birth certificate – stopping the odd person from trying to claim that their 5 year old is actually 23 months old.

According to a flight attendant friend of mine (with whom I often consult on flight related matters), she rarely sees a newborn in a car seat on her short haul flights, but sees them more frequently on long hauls. While the baby would most certainly be safer in a purchased airplane seat, secured in a car seat (even on a short flight), people clearly choose the lap baby option to save money (I know we did.)  An infant or small baby is also quite easy to hold and generally quite content in their parent’s lap.

Toddlers on airplanes are another story entirely. According again to my flight attendant friend, she sees more toddlers (under 2) in their own airplane seats than infants – many secured in a toddler car seat or a toddler travel harness. While this is, once again, the safest way for them to fly, there are some other practical considerations. Having traveled on some long flights with an 18 month old in my lap (because we were trying to save money), I will share with you that these were not some of the best hours of my life. A toddler is active and a toddler doesn’t necessarily want to be held in your lap even with all those little surprise toys you have brought along. My daughter could have easily played peek-a-boo with fellow passengers for 2 hours straight (even if they tired of the game after 2 minutes). Toddlers do, however, understand car seats since most have been riding in them since birth. If you can afford it, buck up and buy that separate seat, and know that your toddler is safe, secure, and comfortably restrained in a car seat or toddler flight vest. The added bonus is that you will also have your hands free to enjoy a fine airplane meal and perhaps a movie (no you won’t – but you will have your hands free).

Disclaimer: I am not here to judge you in any way. As noted above we did not purchase a seat for our children under 2. We would always bring our car seat (or flight harness) to the plane in the event that the flight wasn’t full and there was an extra seat available (this happened about 50% of the time). Purchasing an extra seat (and later 2) seemed like such a huge expense at the time, but now that we are used to it, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. In retrospect, I wish we had always purchased a seat for our kids, even as infants, because it would have taken some of the stress and guess work out of our travels. Once again….I’m not judging, I just want to share my perspective from my post-toddler world.

An aside: This topic makes me think of the flight I took from LAX to Mexico City where a toddler was still wandering the aisle as the plane began its taxi towards the runway. The parents seemed either unwilling or unable to secure the child and the flight attendants were entirely unaware as they were buckled in at the back and front of the plane. Eventually the parents were reprimanded by fellow passengers and they collected their child (who, caught by surprise, began her hour long tantrum kicking the back of my seat). I will take this moment to say that I am a big fan of preparing children for airplane flights by reading books to them about “My First Flight” etc. For more pre-flight suggestions, please see my tips section in the menu above.

 

FAA Baby and Toddler Car Seat Regulations for Airplanes

 

While the FAA makes a number of recommendations regarding car seats on planes, they absolutely require that you have an FAA approved car seat if you would like to use it on a plane. You will know if your car seat is FAA approved if it has a sticker on it that says:This Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft. Flight attendants are trained to look for these stickers when someone is boarding the plane with a infant or toddler car seat. The car seat manual for an FAA approved car seat may also have a section in it on how to properly install the car seat on an airplane.

Note: To be FAA approved, along with other criteria, a car seat must be used with a 5-point harness and meet FAA inversion requirements for airplane use.

From the FAA website (Feb. 2017), here are the recommendations for car seats on planes

  • Make sure your car seat (CRS) or device is approved for use on airplanes.
  • Measure the width of your car seat (CRS). It should fit in most airplane seats if it is no wider than 16 inches.
  • Ask your airline for a discounted fare. Buying a ticket for your child is the only way to guarantee that you will be able to use a car seat (CRS).
  • Reserve adjoining seats. A car seat (CRS) should be placed in a window seat so it will not block the escape path in an emergency. Do not place a car seat (CRS) in an exit row.
  • If you do not buy a ticket for your child, ask if your airline will allow you to use an empty seat. If your airline’s policy allows this, avoid the busiest days and times to increase the likelihood of finding an empty seat next to you.
  • Arrange for your airline to help you if you need help making a connecting flight. Carrying a car seat (CRS), a child, and luggage through a busy airport can be challenging
  • A CRS must be installed in a forward-facing aircraft seat, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. This includes placing the CRS in the appropriate forward or aft-facing (rear-facing) direction as indicated on the label for the size of the child.*

I have a lot to say about point #2 (car seat no wider than 16″), since very few that are available in the U.S. and are FAA approved are less than 16″ wide — but I will get to that later. Do not panic as there is some flexibility to this point. It makes me wonder, however…..has anyone responsible for these rules at the FAA actually flown with a baby? Just curious…..

*Despite some confusing information out there, you ARE allowed to have your infant’s FAA approved car seat in the rear facing position on an airplane if that is what is recommended for the age/height/weight of your baby (as long as the airplane seat itself is in a forward facing position). If you are considering a seat for your baby in business class or first class, check with the airline to see if the seat will work with a car seat or flight harness (not all do).

 

In a nutshell, here is how the FAA recommends that you secure your child on an airplane (as of Feb. 2017).

  • For a child less than 40lbs : Secure your child in an FAA approved CRS (car seat) for the duration of the flight in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
  • For a child 22lbs – 44lbs – For babies and toddlers in this weight range you alternatively have the option to secure them in the airplane seat in a CARES Child Safety Device. The Cares restraint is the only FAA approved child airplane harness system that is allowed to be used throughout a whole flight (including takeoff and landing). Please note, this restraint is only to be used on aircraft (not approved for vehicles).

 

Booster Seats on Airplanes: You are not permitted to use a booster seat on an airplane with a child, as a booster seat requires both a lap and shoulder belt.

 

The Cares Harness Airplane Child Restraint System: From $79.99

Cares Air Safety HarnessClaim to fame: The only child safety harness that can be used during the whole flight.

Features:

  • Designed specifically for air travel.
  • Compact – fits into 6 inches stuff sack.
  • Weighs just 1 pound.
  • Easy to install –  takes less than 1 minute.
  • Adjusts to fit almost every size airplane seat*.
  • Designed for children 1 year and older weighing 22 to 44 pounds and up to 40 inch tall.
  • Reviews and more details about the Cares Airplane Safety Harness here.

* It should fit all “economy” seats but if you are traveling in business class or first class you should check with the airline to ensure that the seat circumference does not exceed 62 inches.

Buy the Cares Airplane Restraint Harness now from $79.99:

 

 

Note: If you would like to know more about your car seat (CRS) rights and requirements on an airplane, please see this section from the  FAA website.  You may want to print and keep a copy with you while traveling. The website outlines important information including how a seat should be positioned on the plane ( Example: a car seat cannot block a passenger from an exit.)

As far as your rights go, probably one of the most important things to know (once again, from the FAA website) is the following:

If an approved CRS, for which a ticket has been purchased, does not fit in a particular seat on the aircraft, the airline is responsible for accommodating the CRS in another seat in the same class of service.

However, a CRS may not fit in some oblique seats in certain premium class cabins. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best FAA Approved Car Seats for Airplanes

While the FAA recommends that a car seat be 16″ wide or less for use on airplanes, there are very few car seats available for purchase in the U.S. that actually are of that size. Do not panic. As long as your car seat has the sticker on it that says that This Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft, then you are allowed to use it. Obviously, there are advantages to having a lightweight and narrow car seat with you in that it is easier to carry through the airport and probably easier to install on the plane. If you have a car seat that you would like to travel with, but it measures 20″ wide, I would not go out and buy a new one. If you have a huge heavy and wide car seat, however, I would consider some of the following car seats options for the flight.

Note: You can check the seat width offered on the plane you are flying on through the website seatguru.com. When I did this, I found that many economy seats are less than 16″ wide in the U.S. In chatting to my flight attendant friend about this confusing situation, she said that her airline is not sticky about the 16″ car seat recommendation, because if the car seat overlaps slightly onto the parent’s seat, it is not a big deal. She also said, on the issue of the armrests being in the down position, that on her airline, only the armrests on the aisle must be down for takeoff and landing (lest some unbelted passenger roll into the aisle). As a baby is almost always put in a window seat, she was not concerned about the seat fitting with the arm rest down. The one thing she said they were particular about was that the car seat has the sticker on it stating that it is certified for use on an aircraft.

 

5 Infant Airplane Car Seats (Rear Facing – 5 to 35lbs)

 

1. Combi Shuttle FAA Approved Infant Car Seat – From $99

Combi Shuttle Car SeatFeatures:

  • Suitable from birth – 35 lbs (up to 33″ in height).
  • Dimensions – 25″ H x 16.5″ W x 27″ D.
  • Weight – 10 lbs without base.
  • Certified for use on aircraft (FAA approved).
  • Fits 3 in-a-row in most vehicles.
  • Stroller-compatible designs coordinate with Combi Cosmo, Cabria, Catalyst and Twin Cosmo strollers.
  • Can also be purchased as part of the complete Combi Shuttle Travel System (car seat + stroller).
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Combi Shuttle here.

Buy the Combi Shuttle Car Seat from $99:

 

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2. Graco Snugride 30 LX Click Connect Car Seat – From $129

Features:

  • Suitable from 4 – 30lbs lbs (up to 30″ in height)
  • Dimensions – 14″ H x 17.5″ W x 26.75″ D.
  • Weight 7 lbs without base (11 lbs with).
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews from purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Certified for use on aircraft (FAA approved).
  • Compatible with all Graco Click Connect strollers including the lightweight Breaze stroller.
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Graco Snugride 30 LX here.

Buy the Graco Snugride 30 LX Airplane Car Seat from $129:

 

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3.  Safety 1st OnBoard Air 35 Infant Car Seat – From $159

 

Features:

  • Suitable from 4 – 35 lbs (up to 32″ in height).
  • Dimensions – 24.5″ H x 17.” W x 28″ D.
  • Weight – 9 lbs without base.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews from purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Certified for use on aircraft (FAA approved).
  • Fits 3 in-a-row in most cars.
  • Stroller compatible as part of the Safety 1st Amber Luxe or Step n Go Travel System.
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Safety 1st Onboard Air here.

Buy the OnBoard 35 Air Airplane Car Seat from $159:

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4. Uppababy Mesa FAA Approved Infant Car Seat  – From $299Mesa Uppababy FAA Car Seat

 

Features:

  • Suitable for infants 4-35 lbs and up to 32” in height (infant insert recommended from 4-8 lbs)
  • Dimensions – 23″ H x 17″ W x 25.75″ D.
  • Weight – 11.1 lbs without base.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews from purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Certified for use on aircraft (FAA approved).
  • Fits 3 in-a-row in most cars.
  • Stroller-compatible designs coordinate with Vista or Cruz stroller.
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Uppababy Mesa Travel Car Seat here.

 

Buy the Uppababy Mesa FAA Approved Car Seat from $299:

 

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5. Chicco Keyfit 30 FAA Certified Infant Car Seat – From $199Chicco Keyfit FAA Approved Car Seat

 

Features:

  • Suitable for infants (rear-facing) from 4-30 lbs and up to 32” in height.
  • Dimensions – 22″ H x 17″ W x 24″ D.
  • Weight – 9 lbs without base.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews from purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Certified for use on aircraft (FAA approved).
  • Fits 3 in-a-row in most cars.
  • Compatible with most Chicco strollers including the travel friendly Liteway Plus and the Chicco stroller frame.
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Keyfit 30 car seat here.

Buy the Chicco Keyfit 30 FAA Approved Car Seat from $199:

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat, Orion
List Price: $199.99
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5 Convertible Airplane Car Seats (Infant to Toddler)

 

 

1. Combi Coccoro Convertible FAA Approved Infant Car Seat – From $239

Combi Coccoro FAA Car Seat
Features:

  • Suitable from 3-33lbs (to 36″) rear-facing and 20-40lbs (to 43″) forward-facing.
  • Dimensions –  23″ H x 15.5″ W x 22″ D.
  • Weight – 14.3 lbs.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews from purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Certified for use on aircraft (FAA approved).
  • Fits 3 in-a-row in most cars.
  • Compatible with the Go-Go Baby Travelmate Deluxe car seat transporter.
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Combi Coccoro FAA car seat here.

Buy the Combi Coccoro FAA Approved Car Seat from $239:

 

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2. Cosco Scenera Next FAA Approved Convertible Car – From $49

Cosco Scenara Next Car Seat

Features:

  • Suitable from 5-40 lbs rear facing and 22-40 lbs forward facing.
  • Dimensions – 23″ H x 19″ W x 22″ D. (23″ wide with cup holder)
  • Weight 7.1 lbs.
  • 4 / 5 star reviews by purchasers on Walmart.com.
  • Fits 3 across in the back seat of most vehicles.
  • Compatible with the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe car seat transporter.
  • Read reviews and learn more about the Cosco Scenera here.

Buy the Cosco Scenera Car Seat from $49:

Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat
List Price: $47.68
Price: $47.67
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3. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat – From $99

Safety 1st Guide 65 FAA Car Seat
Features:

  • Suitable from 5-40 lbs (19-40″) rear facing and 22-65 lbs (34- 49″) forward-facing.
  • Dimensions – 23.5″ H x 17.5″ W x 23.5″ D.
  • Weight 14 lbs.
  • 4 / 5 star reviews by purchasers on Walmart.com
  • Fits 3 across in the back seat of most vehicles.
  • Compatible with the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe car stroller frame.

 

Where to Buy the Safety 1st Guide 65 FAA Certified Car Seat :

Buy on Amazon.com from $99

Buy on Walmart.com from $73

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat, Seaport
List Price: $99.99
Price: $75.00
You Save: $24.99
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4. Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat by Diono – From $359

Diono Radian RXT FAA Car Seat
Features:

  • Suitable from 5-44 lbs rear facing and 20-80 lbs forward facing.
  • Can be used as a booster seat from 50lbs-120lbs in car only (not on airplanes).
  • Dimensions: 28.5″ H x 17.” W x 16″ D.
  • Weight – 26lbs – but foldable so it can be transported on your back.
  • 4 / 5 stars by reviewers on Amazon.com.
  • Fits 3 across in the back seat of most vehicles.
  • Compatible with the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe car stroller frame.

 

Note: All four Radian car seats could be suitable for plane travel, but the models increase in features and price from the R100, R120, the RXT and the GTX

 

Where to Buy the Diono Radian RXT Convertible Car Seat :

 

 

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5. Clek Filo Convertible Car Seat – From $379

Clek Filo 3 in a Row FAA Car Seat Features:

  • Suitable from 14-44 lbs (25-43″) rear facing and 22-65 lbs (30-49″) forward facing.
  • Can also be use for an infant with insert (sold separately).
  • Dimensions: 32.5″ H x 17″ W x 12.5″ D.
  • Weight 25lbs.
  • 4.5 / 5 stars by reviewers on Amazon.com.
  • Fits 3 across in the back seat of most vehicles.
  • Compatible with the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe car seat transporter.

 

Where to Buy the Clek 3-in-a Row Convertible Airplane Car Seat :

Buy on Amazon.com from $379

 

 

 

 

 

 

Car Seat Carriers for Airports

So you’ve decided to use the car seat on the airplane, but now you need to think about how you are going to get it to the gate. If your car seat simply clicks into a lightweight stroller base, then you are in luck. Otherwise, here are some other options for getting your car seat through the airport.

 

Snap and Go EX Car Seat Transporter1. Baby Trend Snap N Go EX Universal Infant Airport Car Seat Carrier

  • Stroller frame accepts infant car seats to form a complete travel system.
  • Compatible with the following infant car seat brands:
    • Baby Trend
    • Britax
    • Chicco
    • Combi
    • Cosco
    • Evenflo
    • Graco
    • Maxi-Cosi
    • Mia Moda
    • Peg Perego
    • Safety 1st
  • 2-cup holder parent tray w/covered storage compartment.
  • Convenient one hand fold.
  • Large storage basket and rear wheels with brakes.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews from purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Also comes in a double / twin car seat carrier version.

 

Where to buy the Baby Trend Snap N Go EX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier / Stroller:

Baby Trend Snap N Go EX Universal Infant Car Seat Carrier
List Price: $49.99
Price: $47.51
You Save: $2.48
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Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe2. Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe Airport Car Seat Carrier (Infant and Toddler Car Seats)

 

  • Fits most infant or toddler car seats on the market ( car seat compatibility list ).
  • 6″ rear razor wheels allow for a smooth ride through the airport.
  • One hand to carry – one hand to unfold – one hand to push.
  • Swivel wheels in the front.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews by purchasers on Amazon.com.
  • Can also be purchased as a double / twin car seat transporter.

 

Where to buy the Go-Go Babyz Travelmate Deluxe Carrier / Stroller:

 

 

 

 

Car Seat Bags for Airplanes

 

Padded Car Seat Bag - Backpack StyleZOHZO Padded Car Seat Airplane Bag

 

Features:

  • Backpack allows you to take the seat everywhere.
  • Fits most car seats manufactured by major brands.
  • Heavy-duty, water-resistant fabric and a lockable double zipper opening.
  • Can be carried by use of the built-in handle, or by the shoulder and waist straps for hands-free comfort.
  • Keep your hands free to play with children and hand over your tickets.
  • 5 / 5 stars reviews by purchasers on Amazon.com

 

Where to buy the ZOHZO Car Seat Carrier Bag:

Buy on Amazon.com from $39.99

 

 

Car Seat Bag for AirplaneUltra-Durable Car Seat Airplane Bag

Features:

  • Made of thick, strong nylon.
  • Completely encloses car seat.
  • 2 Padded straps for easy carrying.
  • Waterproof material.
  • 2 Secure drawstrings closure.
  • Large removable information card.
  • 4.5 / 5 star reviews by purchasers on Amazon.com.

 

Where to buy the Durable Car Seat Carrier Bag for Airports:

Buy on Amazon.com from $29

 

 

How to Install a Car Seat on an Airplane

1. Installing a Rear Facing Baby Car Seat on an Airplane

First of all, yes you can install an infant car seat in the rear facing position on a plane if that is what the car seat manufacturer recommends for the age/size of your child (provided the actual airplane seat faces forward, not backwards). Make sure your baby is not blocking anyone from exiting to the aisle (generally meaning that your baby should either be next to the window, or in a center section of the plane). If it is recommended that you use a seat belt extended to install your car seat on an aircraft, just ask the flight attendant for one when boarding.

 

2 . Installing a Forward Facing Car Seat on an Airplane

Follow the instructions provided to you in your car seat manual for installation on aircraft.  To make installation easier, you may want to recline the seat so that you can more easily feed the seat belt through (returning to an upright position to tighten the belt). If you are having a hard time feeding the seatbelt buckle through the back of your car seat, you could ask for a seat belt extender from the flight attendant.

Here is a video from the FAA on how to install a forward facing car seat on an aircraft. Now, let me tell you, it is a heck of a lot easier when you have the bulkhead seat (as shown in this video), but still, it is useful video to watch.

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite car seat for travel on airplanes?  Please share in the comment section below!

 

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48 Responses

  1. Kirsten
    | Reply

    Hi Tara – this is a great article. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been doing a lot of research in regard to a convertible car seat for traveling, and was wondering if you happen to have any thoughts on the Evenflo Tribute? This car seat has come up in a number of articles and was wondering if you had experience with it.

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Kirsten,
      Thank you for reaching out. Although I haven’t reviewed this car seat, I should, because lots of people do seem to buy this one for travel. If I were you, I would look it up on Amazon, click on “reviews” and then do a word search for “plane”, “airplane”, “travel” etc. This will bring up reviews specific to travel. Having just looked myself, it seems like a good bet. A couple of people mention the thin padding and the plane seatbelt buckle issue. A few days ago, a traveler commented on this post with a great suggestion. She recommended asking for a seatbelt extender from the flight crew so that the buckle won’t sit directly behind the middle of the car seat. Let me know how you make out. Happy travels. 🙂

  2. Jesus
    | Reply

    Hi. I was wondering what you think of the doon. It is a stroller and car seat in one.

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hello there. I have not used the Doona, but I think it looks like a reasonable solution. It is certified for use on airplanes which is great. The only thing I want to mention is that every time you combine something (a stroller and a car seat, for example), you start to lose some features. For example, there is no storage pouch on the Doona (but they do sell an additional bag). It is also a 1 year solution, or less depending on how quickly your child passes the 35lb or 32″ mark. I think it looks really great, but as it is pricey I would add up everything else you may need to buy (sun shade – because you cannot move the existing one etc.) and see if it makes sense for your first year with the baby. I also want to say that although they say that you can roll it right to your seat, I am skeptical about this claim. I use a carry-on bag that is 14″ wide and I am often bashing into chairs with it in the economy section and I end up rolling it sideways down the aisle (it is 9″ deep). Being that the Doona is 17″ wide, I think that it is more likely you would end up lifting it down the aisle just above the seats. Not a big deal, but just something to keep in mind. I hope this helps. If you do buy it, please let me know how you like it. 🙂

  3. Richelle
    | Reply

    I love the light weight of the Cosco seat, but the forward-facing belt path is directly behind the child’s back, with only the thin cloth cover over it. Thus, when installed forward-facing on airplanes the buckle of the lap belt is a hard object the child has to lean her back on. This is uncomfortable and I have to place a blanket or small pillow behind my child to lessen the discomfort. Do you know if any lightweight seats with a forward-facing belt path that the child would not feel?

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Richelle,
      Thank you for reaching out. I realized this must be rather frustrating. The problem of course is that when you add bulk (padding) to a car seat, you also add weight. The other two I like are the Safety 1st Guide 65 (15lbs) and the Evenflo Tribute (9 lbs). I do believe that Amazon has quite a flexible return policy on most items. If you are not able to look at these seats in a store, I wonder about ordering them from Amazon and then returning one/both if they do not look like they would be better. (Please check Amazon’s policy before ordering of course, and make sure the seller is Amazon, not a 3rd party.)

      • Carole
        | Reply

        Hi, Richelle. We recently traveled with our cosco on a longhaul flight to Europe. We were able to get around the situation you describe by asking for a seatbelt extender and making sure the buckle wasn’t directly behind our toddler’s back. Best of luck finding a situation that works for you!

        • Tara Cannon
          | Reply

          Carole,
          What a fantastic suggestion. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here and help out a fellow family traveler. 🙂
          Warm Regards,
          Tara

  4. Seana
    | Reply

    Hi! Thank you so much for putting this guide together! I will be flying solo next month from the US to Canada on WestJet with a 1 and 3 year old. I have seats purchased for all 3 of us, but am curious as to where I will have to put the car seats. Was hoping to sit in the middle, with the baby next to the window…but am thinking they make me take the aisle (which would be SUCH a pain!). Thoughts?

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hello Seana,

      This is a very good question. Obviously, it would be much easier for you to be in the middle. I’m going to delve into this and get back to you. P.S. How lovely you will be visiting Canada (we live in Vancouver). 🙂

      • Seana
        | Reply

        Wonderful! Thank you so much! We are definitely looking forward to it, Canada is a lovely country!

        • Tara Cannon
          | Reply

          Hi Seana. See below from a flight attendant friend.

          If the 1 yr old is in rear facing car seat, that seat has to go in the window. Forward facing seats can go in any spot as long as they won’t block the aisle. If I were her, I would put the younger one in the window rear facing if needed and older one in the aisle forward facing. Mum sits in the middle to assist both. So thinking safety and if the masks drop mum is able to put her mask on first and then the kids more easily if she’s in the middle.

          The one yr old can be lap held anytime the seatbelt sign is on for feeding or fussiness. It’s safest if they are in the car seat but as long as they are under 2 they can be lap held. The older one will have to be in their car seat any time the seatbelt sign is on but can sit on mums lap if desired if the seatbelt sign is off.

          • Seana
            |

            Fantastic information! Thank you so much!!

  5. Gem
    | Reply

    Tara

    I am traveling with a 2 yr old with Allegiant. I purchased a seat for him. Allegiant website is unclear whether a car seat or an approved harness is mandatory for the 2 yr old. Can you comment on that?

    Thanks.

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi! The rules are actually set by the FAA, not Allegiant. For a child 2 years and up, neither a car seat or a harness is mandatory (use of the regular lap belt is fine). The FAA used to have very specific language around this on their site, but as they are trying to encourage more parents to put their kids in car seats or harnesses (even over the age of 2), they seem to have removed it. I hope this helps ! 🙂

  6. Sam Miller
    | Reply

    Hey guys if you are traveling with a car seat i would recommend buying a strong and sturdy car seat bag to protect your childs car seat. I found this one on Amazon:

    http://amzn.to/2tVnD5a

    I really liked this bag it held up really well for the multiple times that ive used it and its still going strong.

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Thank you Sam ! So many of the bags out there rip quite easily, so it is good to know that this one is durable.

  7. Diana
    | Reply

    HI there,
    I am traveling with my 2yr old and need to know if this Portable Thickened Baby Child Safety Car Seat Beige & Gray L, is a FAA approved for airplanes??

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Diana. Do you know who the manufacturer of this product is? I could only find it on dodgy looking websites (ex. Tmart which is based in Wanchai HK) and the product does not seem to be made by a reputable company. I highly doubt that it is FAA certified. When I dug a little deeper on Google I found a post warning about these possibly illegal car seats. I would strongly advise against buying one. I hope this helps. 🙂

  8. […] The FAA recommends every child under 40 pounds use a car seat that is suitable for airplanes. […]

  9. Leah
    | Reply

    Hi there,
    I will be traveling for the first time with my husband and kids ( ages 3&5) we will be staying in Cali for 2 weeks so the car seat for a car is definitely needed. I am struggling with finding an affordable seat to use just for this trip that meets the guidelines for the plane and car. Spirit airlines says car seas larger 15.5 w X 25 H & 25 D may not fit but if meets FFA they will try to accomdate. Any tips or feedback? I would greatly appreciate it. 😀

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Leah. As long as the car seat has the sticker on it saying that it is certified for use on aircraft, it is the airline’s responsibility to find a seat that will accommodate you. Honestly, it is one of my greatest frustrations that many airlines (and the FAA) recommend that car seats be 15-16″ wide when there are hardly any car seats sold in America that meet this criteria. So that said, something that is in the 17-18 inch zone should work fine (you will put the armrests up on the seat to make more room). The Safety 1st Guide 65 is a pretty good choice (or see if the car seat you own already is FAA certified and a reasonable size so you don’t have to buy a new one?). Alternatively, you could use a Cares Air Safety Harness for the plane and rent a car seats at your destination. Basically, a flight attendant is going to be more concerned about making sure that your seat is FAA certified than if it overlaps on the other seat slightly (probably only infringing on you anyway).

  10. Ashley Denny
    | Reply

    Hi, I was wondering if you can use a child secure seat belt vest on a plane? Would that have to be FAA approved sense you use the seat belt with it?
    Thanks, Ashley

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Ashely. Unless something has changed very recently, the only safety seat belt vest that is allowed to be used for the whole flight (meaning also during takeoff and landing) is the Cares Airplane Safety Harness. Are you referring specifically to the RideSafer Delight Travel Vest? If so, I have emailed the company and will confirm back as soon as I hear. I know it would be nice if there was something that could be used both on the plane and in a car, but other than a FAA certified car seat, I am not aware of anything. Another baby safety airplane vest on the market is the Baby B’Air, but it is not certified for use during takeoff and landing (nor for vehicles).

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi again Ashley. If you were referring to the RideSafer Travel Vest, please see below for what I heard back from their online customer service department when asking if the vest was certified for use on airplanes (Feb. 5th, 2018). I will mention that our family used an earlier version of the RideSafer vest on some of our travels for use in rental cars (not on airplanes) and it provided a convenient solution (rather than bringing along a car seat).

      From Safe Ride 4 Kids:

      “It is not yet approved for use on airplanes.

      FAA says it doesn’t fit into their categories so they have to rewrite some policies before the RideSafer can be approved. We have no idea how long that may take. The manufacturer may request an exemption in the meantime but even that could take several months. We do know it is high on his list of priorities to keeping pushing for airline use.

      Once the airline approval goes through there will be an accessory released that will provide upper body restraint. As it stands now, the using the RideSafer with the plane’s lap belt won’t offer much more protection than just the lap belt itself.

      If you decide to let your children sit in the airline seat without a car seat, the RideSafer is wonderful for keeping in your carryon and having available as soon as you reach your destination. Since our kids were 4 and 5 and started using the RideSafer they attached it to their backpack and stuffed it under the airline seat. “

  11. smart.dke.univie.ac.at
    | Reply

    I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else experiencing issues with your website.
    It appears like some of the written text within your content are running
    off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to
    them too? This may be a problem with my browser because I’ve had this happen previously.
    Appreciate it

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi, Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Could you tell me which browser you are using?

  12. Sandy
    | Reply

    Hi All, Out of interest, does anyone know if US airlines would tend to require only the FAA sticker for aviation suitability or if they would also accept the European ‘CE’ aviation suitability sticker? I believe that in the UK, those airlines that enforce a requirement for an aviation approved car seat (not all appear to) accept either the CE or FAA certification. I wondered if this was the same in the US or whether it would need to be FAA only? If the latter, is it possible to buy FAA certified car seats outwith the US e.g for a traveller from the UK travelling on a domestic US flight? As an aside, we recently flew with Southwest in the US with our cheap, European car seat that attaches to or travel system an which is not aviation approved. We assumed we were travelling with a ‘lap infant’ and when we went to check in the car seat, the Southwest staff said “just take it onboard, there’ll be plenty of seats, you can use it wherever you like” – irrespective of the fact we hadn’t booked a seat or have an FAA sticker! Great for us and very flexible of them but possibly not ‘by the book’…. Many thanks, Sandy

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Sandy. If you click the link called “FAA Guidance” in this document under the heading “About Child Restrain Systems” (https://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/), point #9 leads me to believe that other CRSs meeting their guidelines may be used. That said, if you were going to use one in the U.S.A. with the appropriate EU certification, I would keep a copy of those guidelines with you, just in case you get hassled about it. Good luck ! 🙂

  13. Maria
    | Reply

    I notice all the car seats suggested are more than 16″ wide. Yet airlines say it should be only 16″ wide… any advice??

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Maria.If your child is between 3-40lbs you could go with the Combi Coccoro. Do not stress, however, if your CRS (car seat) is a little wider than 16″. As long as it has the sticker on it saying that “This Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft”, you are good to go. Please see the comment above regarding the fact that airlines in the U.S. must find a seat that will accommodate your car seat as long as that seat is certified for use on aircraft. Ideally, however, it is nice to have a car seat for travel that is not huge and heavy. Good luck with your travels !

      • Alexis
        | Reply

        I am having similar concerns. Do you know if anyone has used the Cosco Scenera Next on a Boeing 777-300 international flight? If it isn’t a domestic flight, do they still have to accommodate you? According to Cosco, the Scenera Next is 19″ wide (though I’ve seen it listed as 17″ and 17.5″ in other places).

        • Tara Cannon
          | Reply

          Hi Alexis. I have sent an email to Cosco to try to confirm those dimensions. Hopefully, I can get back to you on that shortly. As far as your flight go, which airline are you flying with and where to/from?

          Update: To confirm, the Cosco Scenera Next is 19″ wide.

  14. Anna
    | Reply

    Hi Tara,
    I will flying solo with my 3 year old and 17 month old to South Africa on Lufthansa. I have purchased a Cosco Scenera NEXT and the Safety First Guide 65 for my 17 month old (still trying to decide which one would be best as they haven’t arrived in the mail yet for comparison). For the 17 month old, will he need to sit RF on the plane? Also, I wanted to use the CARES harness for my 3 year old since I’m not sure how I can haul 2 car seats, carry-on, diaper bag, and two boys through the air port by myself. I have gotten mixed reviews regarding the use of the CARES harness on international flights, specifically on Lufthansa. I have not been able to get a consistent answer from customer service yet, but was wondering if you knew anything about if CARES harnesses are accepted on international carriers, specifically Lufthansa. Thanks!

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Anna! Good for you for planning ahead. Depending on which car seat you go with, I would contact the manufacturer to confirm which way the seat should be facing on the aircraft. Sometimes this is specified in the manual (based on age/weight), but sometime it is not. In my experience,car seat manufacturers tend to respond quite quickly to inquiries. Likewise, I would call Cares to discuss the use of the flight harness when flying abroad. Although their FAQ section on flying internationally does not specifically name Lufthansa, they may be able to shed some light on the subject as they sell a lot of these units. I totally agree that trying to make your way through the airport with two little ones and two car seats would be quite difficult. I wish I could be of more help to you Anna, but this guide was written specifically for Canada and the U.S. I might also suggest traveler forums such as a Lufthansa thread on Flyertalk.com where you can sometimes get very specific questions answered by frequent flyers. I would love to know how you make out if you have time to comment again post trip. Good luck Anna !

  15. Julie
    | Reply

    Thank you Tara. Yes unfortunately the customer service reps are not reliable for Royal Jordanian and their website is not nearly as helpful as Lufthansa. The rep said no car seats allowed but the website says they are for kids up to 36 mo. Then no specifics listed on which car seats or window vs aisle seats. Just wondered if you knew if it was airline specific or an FAA regulation. Thanks!

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Ugh. Don’t you hate that? Personally, I like dealing in certainties. I might suggest going to the website “Flyertalk” and seeing if you can find a forum thread on Royal Jordanian. You may find a Royal Jordanian frequent flyer who can provide a little more information. Good luck Julie. 🙂

  16. Julie
    | Reply

    Hello, do you know if for international airlines, is it a requirement for carseats to be in a window seat only or will an aisle work?

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Julie. For this article I only researched airlines in the U.S. and Canada. That said, I just had a read of Luftansa’s car seat policy to get an idea of what some international airlines do. In their case, they say that a car seat cannot be in an exit row, nor can it block a traveler from exiting their seat in any other row (thus it should be in a window seat or in a center section). Lufthansa also had a PDF stating which car seats were acceptable to be used on their flights (it was a long list). To be safe, I would contact the airline you will be flying with. 🙂

  17. Yen
    | Reply

    I am planning for my infant son’s first flight. Do I take the base of the car seat too or just the car seat?

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      Hi Yen ! For installing the seat on the airplane, follow the instructions in your car seat manual. If you do not have it, the manufacturer should have it on their website. You could also email the manufacturer and specifically ask. I have found most companies to be quite responsive. When we flew with an infant car seat, we would check the base (for use in a car rental later on), but just use the infant seat on board.

  18. Erin S
    | Reply

    Great article! I was happy to read that it is the airline’s responsibility to find a seat that fits the car seat as long as it says that it is FAA approved for airline travel. Thank you so much!

    • Tara Cannon
      | Reply

      So glad to be of help Erin. Happy travels !

      • CM
        | Reply

        It is the airline’s responsibility to find a seat that fits the car seat?

        • Erin S
          | Reply

          Yes, if you look at the FAA regulations, as long as the car seat is FAA-approved, it is the airline’s responsibility to find the seat that fits.

          • Tara Cannon
            |

            Thank you Erin. 🙂

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