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BA CAR SEAT GUIDE • ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

If you are flying with a young baby or child, you may wish to bring a car seat on board your flight to use. This BA car seat guide gives you all the information you need about taking a car seat on British Airways and includes tips to help you decide what would work best for you.

BA car seat guide.

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BA CAR SEAT POLICY

You will find out the car seat dimensions permitted to use on board the flight, rules specific to British Airways, alternative solutions as well as policies you may not be aware of when using a car seat abroad.

Can I use a car seat on British Airways?

You may take the car seat on board the aircraft, if you have booked a seat for your infant or child and intend to secure the aircraft approved car seat into that seat.

Please check car seat dimensions and safety requirements so that you know your car seat will fit safely into the aircraft seat.

Car seat dimensions and safety requirements:

  • The age/weight range of the child is in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • The maximum width across the car seat should be no more than 45cm (18 inches) to ensure it fits in the aircraft seat.
  • The child in the car seat must face the same direction as the aircraft seat to which it is secured. This means that currently rear facing car seats cannot be used on BA for taxi, take off and landing or when the seat belt sign is on. (Be aware that rules on rear seat car seats use on airplanes vary from country to country, so if you are on a codeshare flight with American Airlines, rear facing car sears are allowed by federal law and under the FAA.
  • The car seat harness must secure the lap, torso and crotch, but does not need to have five individual straps.
  • Non-approved car seats may only be used during the cruise when the seatbelt sign is off. At other times, these car seats must be stowed in an overhead locker.

Please note: Two part car seats, (a seat and separate base) are not suitable for use on aircraft seats. Only child seats supplied by British Airways can be used on Club Suite (Business Class.)

Car seats airplane, child restraint devices CARES harness back
CARES harness (front) Photo courtesy of Tim Kelley

Other BA Child Restraint Device Policies

British Airways permit the use of your own AmSafe CARES Restraint System harness which is suitable for babies over one year old.

Safe Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES)

If you have your own AmSafe Child Aviation Restraint System, you can use this on board in economy seats for infants and children who weigh between 10-20kg.

The AmSafe System is not suitable for use in first class, business class, Club Suite or premium economy and cannot be used in the rows before, after or on an emergency exit.

Please note: If you have paid for a separate seat for your infant and you don’t bring a child seat or AmSafe System, your infant must sit on your lap using an extension seatbelt during taxi, take-off, landing and turbulence (when the seatbelt sign is on). The cabin crew will provide the extension seat belt and show you how to use it.

TAKING A CAR SEAT ON BA AS BAGGAGE

KIDS’ BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE ON BRITISH AIRWAYS

Your child will have the same free checked baggage allowance as you, which will vary depending on which cabin you are travelling in.

In addition, you can also take up to TWO of the following items free of charge (as checked baggage):

  • fully-collapsible pushchair (stroller)
  • car or booster seat
  • travel cot
  • baby back carrier

If you are taking your car seat as baggage, it may be a good idea to use a padded car seat bag. You don’t need a bag to check a car seat (and many car seats are transported from A to B quite safely), however, you may want one. Some baggage handlers can be quite rough, even with items that have a ‘fragile’ or ‘handle with care’.

Whilst your car seat is likely covered by your travel insurance, it can take time organising a replacement which could restrict your movements and plans. (Tip: Take a photo of your car seat or stroller before your travel so you can show insurance companies the condition pre any damage.)

Using a car seat bag can mean you can store some extra items to help pad it out, like diapers/nappies, a cuddly toy etc. (This way, you get a little bit of extra baggage, but shhhh, keep that quiet!)

Why padded infant car seat travel bags are better

If you can find one, I recommend padded car seat bags for air travel, over just a normal bag. Although you could pad a jumbo laundry or storage bag with nappies/diapers like mentioned above, it would be tricky to cover the entire car seat.  A non-padded car seat bag only really helps keep a car seat clean, but offers little protection.

A padded car seat travel bag will offer better protection from over zealous bag handlers. However, even if your car seat looks in great condition after the flight, please do look underneath the car seat cover to check if the polyesterine shock absorbing material is in tact, with no cracks before using.

It is always worth asking around friends if they have one you can borrow, as it is not an item you will use frequently. Some airlines can provide you with a strong plastic bag which can be used as a car seat airline bag or for other items. However, again they don’t really protect items, but do help keep them clean.

If you are looking for the best infant car seat travel bags, here are a few to look out for to buy or to see if you can find secondhand. 

J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag

The J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag is a backpack style gate check stroller bag. It offers thick padding to encase your seat whilst being transported to the aircraft hold. 

It’s made from heavy-duty fabric, has padded handles too.  It does fit most car seats, but check this guide first if you own a USA bought car seat. For latest prices and further information and reviews  see here.

Hello Jolie Padded Car Seat Bag with Wheels

The Hello Jolie car seat bag is the only one I have found which is fully padded and has 4 wheels to transport it easily. It is made of approximately 1cm thick padding with a strong nylon cover.

This car seat bag also comes with an internal strap to stop the car seat from moving around too much. It has a convenient and easy access opening plus plenty of room to fit other lightweight items in. A more detailed review is here. For more information and to check latest prices see here.

 ZOHZO Car Seat Travel Bag

The ZOHZO is another padded backpack style car seat gate check travel bag. It’s similar to the Childress car seat check bag, but it has small plastic protective feet for a bit of added protection. It is also water resistant and similarly priced. For latest prices, more information and more reviews see here.

Luvdbaby Premium Car Seat Bag

The Luvdbaby Premium Car Seat Bag  is a denim padded travel bag, which is large enough to fit most car seats in and ideal for when you little one grows out of a smaller car seat into a bigger one. As it is denim, it is a little easier to spot on the baggage belt at arrivals. For more information and latest prices see see here. 

If you have a Britax car seat, then Britax do have their own brand of car seat bag. It is not padded but it is one of the few car seat travel bags with wheels.

Alternative ideas to help protect your car seat.

If you want to try and pad your car seat yourself and look for cheaper versions, then there are plenty of alternative non padded car seat bags available. You could also ask the airline if they have a durable plastic bag that you could use, although this won’t really protect it from knocks and bumps but will help to keep it clean.

Most airports offer baggage wrapping for a charge, or you could purchase some bubble wrap and use this method instead – just make sure you have enough for the way back!

If you have found a good gate check bag for car seats please let me know in the comments to help other readers too.

Important stuff to know BEFORE you pack your car seat on British Airways

If you are flying with a baby or a toddler, and plan on using your car seat abroad, first please do check if it meets that countries rules and regulations. e.g UK and EU car seats are approved for use in the UK and Europe only. Read more about car seat laws around the world here.

UK car seats are NOT legally approved for use in the USA, Canada and Australia AND vice versa. More details about this are in the link above. Hiring or buying at your destination might be the best option. You can use a UK bought car seat in Europe and vice-versa if it meets i-size or EC44 legal requirements which all should do.

(Remember, as mentioned above, If you are intending on using your FAA or aviation approved car seat on the flight, then you will need to purchase a seat for your infant.)

However, if you are all set to go, and you have decided to take your own car seat with you and either check it in immediately or gate check, my best advice is DO invest in a car seat travel bag and a stroller travel bag.

When you travel with British Airways, your child (aged 2-11) has the same hand baggage allowance as an adult.

Can you gate check a car seat?

Absolutely, but if you are not using your car seat, you may as well check it in with the rest of your luggage to save lugging it around. Alternatively, a car seat gate check bag can be used to help protect it.

What does gate check mean?

Gate check means when an item is taken from you at the gate, rather the check-in counter and then put into the hold of the aircraft. Gate checking is particularly useful for strollers being used at the airport, but if you are using a car seat as part of your travel system at the airport, you may want to gate check your car seat.

In terms of the meaning in relation to a bag, a gate check car seat bag is just another name for a car seat travel bag, and likely got the name due to people gate checking strollers in a bag.

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