FAA Approved Car Seats & Airline Approved Car Seats 2019

 

A question I often get asked by parents is about airline approved car-seats, and what to look out for to make sure they are FAA (Federal Airline Association in the USA) or CAA (Civil Airline Association – in the UK) approved. What is clear is international airline associations rules do vary, so this effects the airlines rules on what car seats you can bring on-board.

A rear facing car seat approved in the USA may not be approved for use on a UK airline. This guide will help you sift through the rules, provide you with knowledge so you know your rights or how to easily find them when you travel with car seat.

This information will also provide you with a range of FAA airline approved cars seats and answer many of your questions regarding traveling with carseats even if you are not flying with a USA airline. I will have a post on UK airline approved car seats soon.

Please use the contents table below to quickly find the section you need, or grab a cuppa and find out all you need to know by reading the whole post.

This post does contain some affiliate links, which will cost absolutely nothing to you. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

FAA approved car seats, car seats for air travel, airline approved car seats

 

If you are looking for an airplane car seat for travel with an infant or toddler there are a few things to consider. I look in to each of these more in depth below. Things to consider when you are travelling with a car seat include:

  • Should I bring a carseat on the plane? 

 

  • Which car seats are approved for air travel?  (Not just with a FAA sticker or similar but does the airline approve it?

 

  • Will it fit on the plane seat I’m travelling on? Airplane seats vary not just from economy to premium cabins but from economy to economy seat.

 

  • Which is the best car seat for traveling – is it easy for you to carry around and transport?

 

  • Is it approved for use in the country you are traveling to? Are you just using it for the flight or do you intend to use it in a car once you have arrived in a different country?

Can you bring your car seat on the plane?

Should I bring a car seat on the plane?

Legalities

Choosing to bring a car seat or not is entirely up to you, and please don’t let yourself be judged by others over the choice you make. Flying is one of the safest modes of transport but of course accidents and incidents do happen.

It is not a legal requirement to bring a car seat on the plane but the FAA do advise it. The FAA recommends that a child weighing up to 40 lbs (18 kg) use a certified, harnessed child seat while traveling on an aircraft. You must purchase a seat for your child if you decide to use a car seat.*

Under twos do not require a seat when flying, and are often referred to as lap babies as that it where they sit.

If you are wondering, “Does a 2 year old need a car seat to fly?” the answer is again, no. They can sit in a normal seat using the provided seat belt, but you can also use your car seat or CARES harness.

*If you have not purchased an airplane seat for a baby or toddler (of under two years), an extra seat may still be offered to you free of charge. For your best chance of this, arrive extra early to the airport and make this request upon check in.

The ground staff will have a much better idea of what seats (if any) are available or if any become available due to no-shows. To maximise your chances of a spare seat, choose seats online that leave a gap between you. This way the middle seat is likely to be the last one to go as no one likes to choose a single middle seat. 

 

Do car seats count as a checked bag?

No. Most airlines allow you bring a car seat and a stroller as additional luggage. Those that don’t, usually offer you one piece of luggage up to 10kg plus a car seat or stroller, so if you pack your child’s clothes with your luggage, then you can take both. You do not have to pay extra to bring your car seat on the plane as a restraint device, but you do have to pay for the airplane seat to use it!

Flying with a UK, European, Australian, Middle Eastern Based Airline.

Some airlines  e.g UK, European, Australian etc airlines will provide you with an extension belt or lap belt (belly belt) which secures baby to the parents seat belt.  This must be used for taxi, take-off, landing and when turbulent. On USA or Canadian airlines, this is not permitted. 

Additionally, you can purchase a seat for your car seat and use your own car seat or CRD , Child Restraint Device. (The majority of airlines will allow you to also purchase a seat for your infant (under two only) with no restraint device for that seat, if you hold them on your lap for the above key phases and use the lap belt. A picture of a lap belt is shown below.

child restraint devices airline lap belt, FAA approved car seats

infant lap belt

Flying with a USA or Canadian Based Airline

If you are flying on a USA or Canadian based airline, the options are either to fly with your infant on your lap with no lap belt or purchase a seat and use your child restraint system (CRS) such as car seat or CARES harness for key flight phases such as taxi, take-off, landing etc. (The majority of airlines will allow you to also purchase a seat for your infant (under two only) with no restraint device for that seat, if you hold them on your lap for the above key phases. 

A CARES harness can only be used for babies over the age of one, up to the age of 4 / weighing 22 to 44 pounds and up to 40 inch tall., whereas an airline approved car seat can be used by any aged child or baby that fits into it and meets the weight restrictions for that model of car seat.

 

Cost

If you are flying internationally with an infant under two, the airfare is noticeably a lot cheaper and often 10% of an adults fare plus any relevant taxes. If you purchase a seat for an infant or child, then you will need to pay a child fare which averages between 66%- 80% of an adult fare.

Since parents are not required to purchase a separate infant airplane seat or toddler airplane seat for a child under 2 years of age, many people choose to have their baby on their lap throughout a flight because it is free for domestic USA based flights and discounted with others.

Which car seats are approved for air travel?  

(Not just with a FAA sticker or similar but does the airline approve it too?

Can I Use My Car Seat on the Plane?

This very much depends on a few factors. Below details the steps to take to check if you can use your car seat on an airplane.

Always Check

Even if a car seat has an airline approved sticker on it, ALWAYS check if there are any other requirements on your airlines website BEFORE you book.  

There is nothing worse than preparing and potentially buying (especially what in your eyes is the best car seat for airplane travel) to find out last minute that it doesn’t meet an airlines additional rules. The below sections explain this in more detail. Depending on the instructions, you may be able to use your travel  car seat base.

Airline Rules Vary 

Airline rules vary, so even if you have used your car seat with one airline you cannot assume you will automatically be allowed to use it on another airline. Aviation authorities rules vary from country to country.

Every airline follows the aviation authority to the country which the airline is registered to. E.g British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, EasyJet etc follow the CAA and EASA; American Airlines, JetBlue etc follow the FAA. Interestingly, the FAA insists that the airline must find an appropriate seat, where the CAA say it is up to the airline if it is acceptable.

The USA has these clear guidelines with the FAA stating,

No operator may prohibit a child (an individual who has not reached his or her 18th birthday) from using an approved CRS when a seat is purchased for the child, the child is accompanied by a parent or guardian and the child is within the weight limits for the CRS.

If an approved CRS, for which a ticket has been purchased, does not fit in a particular seat on the aircraft, it is the responsibility of the aircraft operator to accommodate the CRS in another seat in the same class of service. The following are examples of design variations where accommodation is required.” Read more here.

However, do be aware of this additional policy below which highlights some conditions.

“An operator may have policies based on safe operating practices that establish certain seat locations for a passenger who uses a Child Restraint System (CRS) on a specific aircraft.

Even if a certain seat in another location in the same class of service can accommodate an approved CRS, an operator does not have to permit the CRS in that location if the operator’s policies disallow the CRS in that seat.

However, prohibiting the use of a CRS (if a ticket has been purchased) when there are seats on the aircraft, in the same class of service where the CRS could be used safely is not consistent with the requirements stated in parts 121, 125 and 135. Read more here

What does this all mean?

Essentially, this means if you are flying on a USA based airline governed by the FAA, on an airline approved car seat for which you have a seat booked for, you must be accommodated.

However, if the airline has a policy about using certain seats ( ie seats which could block an exit like an aisle, or that have an airbag installed in the seatbelt, then the airline DOES NOT have to permit your car seat, CRD or CRS even if it would fit in that particular seat.

However, stopping the use of a car seat/CRD when there are other seats where it could be used safely, is not allowed.

Good Tips to Follow

The FAA advises parents to (April 2019) 

  • Make sure your CRS or device is approved for use on airplanes.

 

  • Measure the width of your CRS. It should fit in most airplane seats if it is no wider than 16 inches. (Note by me to add, finding a car seat that measures 16″ in width is incredibly hard. It is worth measuring how wide your car seat is where the aircraft arm rest would be, (a few inches up from the bottom) as many airlines will insist the arm rest must remain down for key phases of flight.)

 

  • 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 CRS.

 

  • Reserve adjoining seats. A CRS must not block the escape path in an emergency. Many airlines have policies that require a CRS to be placed in a window seat. Do not place a 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 CRS, a child, and luggage through a busy airport can be challenging.

 

 

  • Always use a CRS when driving to and from the airport.

 

  • Wear your seat belt at all times.

 

  • 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 direction as indicated on the label for the size of the child.

 

The CAA state,

“Forwards facing child restraint devices may be installed on both forward and rearward-facing passenger seats but only when fitted in the same direction as the passenger seat on which it is positioned. Rearward-facing child restraint devices can only be fitted to forward-facing passenger seats. 

Child restraint devices can only be fitted on a suitable aircraft seat using the type of seat belt/harness for which they were designed. For example a child restraint device that needs to be secured by a car type seat belt which includes a shoulder harness, cannot be installed on an aircraft seat that is fitted with a lap belt only.

The permitted use of restraint devices can differ between airlines, so it is important to contact your airline in advance of your booking or flight to ensure that the device that you may wish to use is acceptable.”

 

FAA Approved Car Seats & Airline Approved Car Seats.This guide will help you sift through the rules, provide you with knowledge so you know your rights or how to easily find them when you travel with car seat. This information will also provide you with a range of FAA airline approved cars seats and answer many of your questions regarding traveling with carseats even if you are not flying with a USA airline.. #familytravel #faa #carseat #airplane

What are the airline car seat policies? Will it fit on the plane seat I’m travelling on?

Most airlines stipulate which airline seats car seats can be used on. Usually, this is a window seat, so the path to the aisle is not blocked. Car seats will not be allowed on emergency exit rows either. Some airlines will not allow car seats in premium cabins due to the seat layout.

Clearly, there are many variations and rules with each airline. So ALWAYS check on your airlines website first. Below are a few examples. As you can see the policies vary greatly.  

 

  • American Airlines – Allows certain forward and rear facing car seats. But no device that positions the infant on the lap or chest of an adult. labels must be similar to, “This child restraint system conforms to all Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards” and “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircrafts” or “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” or a label which gives approval of a foreign government or a label showing that the seat was manufactured under the standards of the United Nations.

 

  • British AirwaysThe harness must secure the lap, torso and crotch, but does not have to be 5 individual straps. Non-approved car seats may only be used during the cruise when the seatbelt sign is off. At other times, the car seat must be stowed in an overhead locker.

 

  • Cathay Pacific-  Permit forward-facing and in operational condition. Rear-facing car safety seats are also permitted if the use of such seat will not cause any impact on other passengers’ comfort. You should contact their Reservations Offices to request for an assigned seat. Cathay also provides a free infant seat known as a child restraint seat for infants over 6 months old up until 3 years old, which must be ordered 24 hours in advance. This is especially convenient, as on some flights, Cathay Pacific cannot allow the use of car seats due to safety regulations on certain aircraft types.

 

  • Delta– Allows certain approved car seats and the CARES harness only.

 

  • Easyjet -Infants sitting in their own seat will need to use a car seat for take-off and landing, and any time when asked by the crew.  Only forward facing seats are allowed on board and the crew must be able to secure it safely to the aircraft seat. 

 

  • Emirates Airline. Infants weighing under 10kg;can travel in either a forward facing or rear facing car seat, however if your infant weighs more than 10kg, their car seat must be forward facing. It must face the appropriate direction, and it must be secured using the lap seat belt. Unfortunately we can’t accept car seats that need to be secured by a three-point seat belt or shoulder harness.

 

  • JetStar– Will allow Australian made car seats, US and EU and others subject to conditions. Occasionally, they will allow rear facing seats depending on if it impedes on fellow passengers space. Generally, JetStar  don’t give  approval for rear-facing car seats as they usually inhibit the seat in front from reclining. They can approve your rear-facing car seat if a family member or friend sits in the seat in front and is happy for their seat to remain upright for the flight. If your rear-facing seat is Australian designed the top restraint points are usually too far for the straps to reach. If your child weighs more than 18 kg they can’t fly in an Australian-designed car seat. You need to purchase them an allocated seat. Please note Jetstar Asia cannot accept Australian-designed car seats on board the aircraft.

 

  • Qatar Airlines– Qatar provide their own restraint device which must be requested at least 48 hours in advance. You must purchase a seat at the child fare though. The child restraint device (CRD) are designed to safely and comfortably seat infant and children weighing from 20 – 40 pounds (9.05 kg to 18.10 kg) or 40 inches (101.6 cms.) height. Car seats are allowed for infants and children within the age group from 6 months to 36 months.

 

  • Ryan Air – Car seats must be forward facing and fit in the 42.5 cm (16.8 inches) space between the armrests of an aircraft seat.

 

  • Singapore Airlines – Approved car-type child seats may be used for a child under 3 years but not less than 6 months of age. Forward and Aft facing are approved. An aft-facing child safety seat that doesn’t have a belt path must be used with a detachable base. However, these child seats that require detachable bases may not fit properly in the passenger seat. An aft-facing child safety seat that has a belt path, and is properly labelled, doesn’t need a detachable base. It must also be approved by a foreign airworthiness authority /government standards.

 

  • Virgin Australia – Do not accept some car seats on their planes. Car seats that comply with Australian design standard AS/NZS 1754 which do not bear the approved label for fitment in an aircraft are currently unsuitable for carriage on Virgin Australia aircraft, as they require a top tether in addition to the fastened lap belt to secure the three-point attachment. They do accept forward and some rear facing seats. 

 

  • Virgin Atlantic – Car seats must not require the use of a three-point harness to secure it to the aircraft seat. Children aged 2 and over are not permitted to use a car seat onboard).

 

How to Find  the Best Car Seat for Travel

When you are choosing  the best travel car seat for your little one, there are several main points to consider.  

1. Does it have an FAA Approved Car Seat Sticker – FAA approved infant car seats, and FAA approved toddler car seats MUST have a sticker affixed to them that reads “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”. Ground staff and a flight attendant may check for this when you are boarding.

Other countries in the EU, Australia and Canada will have stickers similar to below. The EU sticker does not specifically say airline approved but will state ECE R44-04 which mean it is approved under United Nations regulations.

If you are unsure then check out the EASA airline authority link here which states,”the proposed examples for acceptable child restraint devices include car seats, and item 2 of AMC1 CAT.IDE.A.205 lists the standards with which the CRD should comply. This includes the UN standard ECE R 44, -03 or later series – this is commonly indicated on the car seat’s label”      

FAA approved car seats labels

Airline approved car-seat label examples

2. Width – When it comes to finding the best carseat for airplane use, obviously, the narrower the better.. Many airline websites do provide the seat width for car seats in the Family Travel or Travelling With Children section. If not, do contact their service center.

 

3. Weight – The weight of a travel carseat is very important as you will need to carry it to and from the airplane, especially with your cabin baggage and child. traveling with a car seat can mean going up and and down steps, transitting on a bus or terminal train and more, if there is no  direct airbridge available. The best carseat for airplane travel should be ideally under 10 lbs. 

 

4. Age & weight range – Most capsule or bucket style infant car seats are suitable for use on an airplane  (subject to the airline approved label located on the seat.) so it is highly likely you will be well within both the age and weight range when flying with an infant.

However, finding the best airline approved car seats for older toddlers can be a bit tricker, as it is very much airline dependant whether they are allowed to be used onboard.  

When it comes to using a car seat, the weight and height of your child are the most important factors but the age – range does give you a good indicator for which will be the best car seats for airplanes

 

THE BEST CAR SEATS FOR AIRPLANES (FAA approved) Comparison Chart

Car Seat ImageWeight suitable from and to Width Of
Car Seat
Weight of
Car Seat
Convertible|
Forward & Rear Facing
Baby Trend Flex Loc5 to 30lbs16.5"18.7lbsRear Facing
Britax Emblem Rear Facing from 5-40lbs and forward facing from 20lbs to 40lbs.18.5lbs19.5lbsRear & Forward facing
Britax Pinnacle25lbs up to 90 lbs.22.5"26.5lbsForward Facing Only
Chicco KeyFit 304-30 lbs and up to 30” in height.17" wide (with the base being 15" wide),9.5 lbs Rear Facing Only
Cosco Scenera Next5-40 lbs Rear facing and 29-43) forward-facing.17"7.1 lbsRear-facing and forward-facing.
Cybex Aton 24 to 35lbs17.5"8.8lbsRear Facing Only
Doona4 to 35 lbs17.5"16.5 lbsRear facing Only
Evenflo SonusRear facing 5-40lbs
Forward Facing 22-65 lbs
19"11.28 lbsRear and forward facing
Evenflo TributeRear facing infants from 5-40 lbs and Forward facing toddlers from 22-40 lbs. 17"9.29lbsRear and forward facing
Graco SnugRide 354-35 lbs18.6"7.5lbsRear Facing Only
Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/354 to 35 lbs and up to 32” tall17" wide at its widest point (where the handles connect to the sides of the seat9.5 lbs Rear Facing Only
Safety 1st Guide 65Rear-facing 5-40 pounds and Forward-facing 22-65 pounds18.5"14lbsRear and Forward Facing
Uppa Mesa 4–35 lbs and up to 32” in height17"10lbsRear Facing Only

 

The Best Travel Car Seats Reviews 2019

Below is a more detailed look at the best travel car seats which are FAA approved.

 

Baby Trend Flex Loc Infant Car Seat

 The Baby Trend Flex Loc is an incredibly narrow infant rear facing car seat,  at only 16.5″ wide and with a competitive price point. 

This Safety Seat may be used without the Base in an airplane in the same manner as it is used in a car. It must be used in only a forward facing airplane seat.

The Baby Trend Flex Loc it doesn’t support a great  weight range,(5 to 30lbs) and is not the lightest to carry at 18.7lbs but it is very compact for travel. People have that the straps can get twisted.

  • Product weight 18.7lbs
  • Can accommodate infants from 5-30 pounds (2.2 and 13.6kg) and up to 30″ (76.2cm).
  • 16.5″ wide
  • For more information and latest prices see here.

 

Britax Emblem

The Britax Emblem is slightly lighter (19.5lbs) and narrower than the Pinnacle (18.5″) and can also be used via LATCH or the belt system both rear and forward facing. It is suitable for a rear facing child weighing 5-40lbs and forward facing from 20lbs to 40lbs.

  • Product dimensions 21 x 18.5W x 26 “
  • 3-position recline
  • Product weight 19.5lbs
  • Forward and rear facing
  • For more information and latest prices see here

 

Britax Pinnacle 

FAA approved car seatsThe Britax Pinnacle Click Tight is suitable for airline use when it is harness mode (not as a booster). In harness mode it has an upper weight limit of 2 years and 25lbs up to 90 lbs.

It is FAA approved in forward facing harness mode only. Although it is suitable for up to slightly older toddlers, the downside is the car seat weight.

At 26.5 lbs it is pretty heavy to lug around and it is not the slimmest car seat either but it is a reliable and trusted brand.

  • Maximum weight and age 25-90lbs up to 2 years
  • Product dimensions Minimum (harness)22.5 W x 28″H x21″D
  • Product dimensions Maximum (harness)22.5″W x 36’H x 21″D
  • Product weight 26.5lbs
  • FAA approved in forward facing harness mode only.
  • For more information and latest prices see here.

 

Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Car Seat

The Chicco keyFit 30 is consistently recommended for airline use and is ideal if you are looking for a lightweight car seat for travel.

It is a narrow infant car seat at 17″ wide (with the base being 15″ wide), but it is not quite as slim as the Baby Trend Flex Loc Infant Car Seat (16.5″) or the UppaBaby Mesa option (15.5″ wide!).

It is installed on an aircraft without the base and is fitted the same way it is installed in a vehicle with a lap belt. It is one of the lightest car seats at 9.5lbs

Features:

  • Suitable for infants (rear-facing only) from 4-30 lbs and up to 30” in height.
  • Product Weight: Carrier 9.5 lbs / Base 7 lbs
  • Product dmensions –  27.5″ x 17″W x 24″.
  • LATCH system for use in vehicles.
  • Fits 3 in a row in most cars.
  • FAA certified airplane infant seat.
  • Can become a great travel car seat stroller system when combined with the Chicco Caddy Stroller Frame, the or the Go-Go Babyz Deluxe infant car seat transporter.
  • For more information and latest prices see here
  • If you like the look of the Chicco KeyFit 30, it might be worth looking at the Chicco Fit2 also. It is slightly heavier (11lbs without the base) but offers a bit more flexibility for having your toddler rear facing.
  • For more information and latest prices see here

Cosco Scenera Next 

This Cosco travel car seat is one of the best portable car seat toddler options due to its flexibility, price, narrowness and lightweight features.

It is more affordable than several of the other options, so you could buy it purely as a travel car seat or as a spare. It is one of the best lightweight car seats for travel at only 7.1lbs

 

Features:

  • Dimensions – 23″ H x 17″ W x 22″ D. (23″ wide with detachable cup holder)
  • Suitable from 5-40 lbs (19-40″) rear-facing and 22-40 lbs (29-43″) forward-facing.
  • Weighs only 7.1lbs making it a great light car seat for travel. (Weight checked with Cosco directly)
  • LATCH equipped.
  • Fits 3 in a row in most cars.
  • For more information and latest prices see here

Cybex Aton 2 Infant Car Seat

The Cybex Aton 2 is an European made rear facing car seat  which is an extremely lightweight, ultra-portable slim infant car seat with some excellent safety features and reputation for high quality.

It is one of the brands we currently use due to the consistently good crash test results.  The Aton 2 seat supports babies from 4 to 35lbs and has an infant insert included.

It is incredibly lightweight at only 8.8lbs and 17.5″ wide including the handle. However, it is one of the pricier narrow car seats, so unlikely to be one you would buy purely for air travel, but for daily use.

If you are looking for a cheaper travel only alternative then consider the Chicco.

Features

  • Rear facing only
  • The Aton can also be used as part of travel systems on other popular strollers.
  • Meets and exceeds FMVSS 213 Standards and is approved by the FAA for air travel.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry around. 
  • Energy absorbing shell
  • Can use with or without base. ( Base bought separately)
  • large sun canopy
  • 18 x 17.5 x 26.25 in
  • Weighs 9.8lbs
  • 17.5″ wide
  • For more information and latest prices see here

Doona

The Doona is the only car seat that I know of that coverts to a stroller too, and yes it is airline approved!

As it is a combination of both a stroller and car seat, it doesn’t have as many features such as a storage bag and it will only last until your child passes the 35lb or 32″ mark (approximately 1 year old).

It has a 5 point harness and is only suitable as a rearward facing car seat. On larger aircraft you could potentially wheel it down the aisle directly to your seat as it is 17.5″ wide.

As with any stroller, car seat or other such device, medical professionals agree that a baby should not be restrained for long periods of time. Therefore, Simple Parenting recommends not to keep your baby restrained in the Doona™ for longer than required.

Features

  • Rearward facing infant car sear
  • Infant weight 4-35lbs /1.8 -13kg
  • Product weight 16.5lbs/7kg
  • Width 17.5″
  • For more information and latest prices see here

 

Evenflo Sonus

The Evenflo Sonus is also certified for use In Aircraft: When used with the internal 5-point harness this restraint meets FAA Inversion requirements for airplane use.

If you are looking for travel car seats for toddlers, you’ll be pleased to hear this one is convertible and can be used both forward and rear facing.

For rear facing it can go up to 40lbs and for froward facing up to 65lbs.  It is fairly light for a portable toddler car seat when forward facing. 

Features

  • Dimensions: 29.0 x 19.0w x 19.0
  • Product Weight: 11.28 lbs.

REAR-FACING

  • Weight: 5-40 lbs (2.3-18 kg)
  • Height: 19-40 in. (48-102 cm)

FORWARD-FACING

  • Weight: 22-65 lbs (10-29.4 kg)
  • Height: 28-50 in. (71-127 cm)
  • Age: At least 2 years old
  • For more information and latest prices see here

Evenflo Tribute

The Evenflo Tribute convertible car seat helps protect rear facing infants from 5-40 lbs. and forward facing toddlers from 22-40 lbs. The removable cup holder and seat covers make it practical for cleaning.

When used with the internal 5-point harness this restraint meets FAA Inversion requirements for airplane use.There are 4 shoulder strap positions.

However, the padding is thinner so to stop the buckle from irritating baby, I recommend asking for a seatbelt extender from the flight attendants so that the buckle won’t sit directly behind the middle of the car seat. It is one of the best travel car seats for toddler aged children. 

Features:

  • Suitable from 5 – 40 lbs (19-37″) rear-facing and 22-40 lbs (28- 40″) forward-facing.
  • Dimensions – 25″H x 17″ W x 19″ D ( Info direct from customer services)
  • Fits 3 across in the back seat of most vehicles.
  • 4 shoulder strap positions
  • Product Weight: 9.29lbs
  • For more information and latest prices see here

Graco Snugride 35 FAA Approved Car Seat

The Graco SnugRide is a rear-facing i-Size/LATCH-approved baby car seat that is suitable from birth up to when your child is 87cm/32″ tall, which is when they’re around 18 months old.

It is suitable for babies weighing: 4-35lb and is travel system compatible. The belt guides are quite narrow and hard to find, which makes it harder to fit the belt through, so there’s an increased risk of doing it wrong if you are using it without the base, like on an airplane,

Features:

  • Rear-Facing Only
  • Suitable from 4 – 35 lbs (up to 32″ in height)
  • Dimensions: 15.6″ H x 18.6″ W x 30.6″ D.
  • Product weight: 7.5 lbs without base making it great choice for a baby travel car seat. It is 14.17lb with the base.
  • LATCH-equipped/ISOfix 
  • Compatible with Graco strollers.
  • Read reviews for the Graco Snugride 35 lightweight travel car seat here.

 

Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4/35 Infant Car Seat

The Primo Viaggio infant rear facing car seat measures a slim 17″ wide at its widest point (where the handles connect to the sides of the seat), and the base is only about 14.5″ wide. The base cannot be used for fitting onto an airplane seat.

Made in Italy with stylish lines and soft padding, it does come at the higher end of the price bracket but is one of the narrowest lightest car seats on the market.

Features

  • Product dimensions: 25.9″ x 17.0″ x 23.9″
  • Rear facing infant car seat only
  • For babies 4 to 35 lbs and up to 32” tall
  • Includes base with “Right Tight System”
  • Travel System Compatible
  • Product weight 9.5 lbs /base weight 7.4lbs
  • For more information and latest prices see here

 

Safety First Guide 65

At 18.5″ wide, the Safety First Guide 65 car seat is ideal for a smaller car or if you need more room to fit three seats across the back. As it is narrow, it is ideal for aircraft seats.

This seat is one of the best best toddler car seats for travel as it is convertible from rear facing (5-40lbs) to forward facing (22-65lbs) or up to a height of 52″ and is FAA approved.

It is a fairly light car seat at 14lbs and comes at a reasonable price point,  but there are lighter ones available on the market.

 

Features

  • Rear-facing 5-40 pounds and Forward-facing 22-65 pounds
  • Fits 3 across in the back seat of most vehicles
  • Weighs only 14 lbs
  • 5-point harness with up-front adjustment
  • Adjustable head rest
  • Removable body pillows
  • Removable cup holder
  • LATCH equipped for use in the car
  • FAA certified for travel on airplanes
  • DImensions – 27.25 in x 18.50W in x 20.25″ as per the Safety First website
  • One of the best travel convertible car seat options for older children.
  • For more information and latest prices see here

UppaBaby Mesa Infant Car Seat

The Uppababy Mesa Infant Car Seat is certified for use in an aircraft when used according to manufacturer’s instructions. Like most travel car seats, the base is not approved for aircraft use.

The entire seat is only 17″ wide and the carrier weighs under 10lbs..  It fits babies from 4 to 35 pounds (up to 32″ height), using the included infant insert for the littlest ones.

For car use it includes LATCH connectors, and weighs less than 10lbs. The travel system is compatible with the smart Uppababy Vista pushchair and Uppababy Cruz stroller.

An indicator window changes from red to green for visual confirmation the base has been installed correctly every time. This ease of installation is one contributing factor for MESA’s NHSTA 5-star rating.

 

Features

  • Suitable for infants 4–35 lbs and up to 32” in height
  • Carrier weighs under 10 lbs
  • UPF hideaway canopy
  • Attaches directly to VISTA and CRUZ strollers without adapters, and the MINU stroller with the addition of convenient adapters
  • Adjustable headrest with Side Impact Protection
  • For more information and latest prices see here

 

How to Fly With A Car Seat

Is the Car Seat Easy for you to Carry Around & Transport and How to Protect Your Car Seat

Let’s face it, car seats are not the easiest things to lug around, and are rather cumbersome but if you intend to use it on the plane you will need to take it with you, just as you would you cabin luggage.

  • If you are flying solo with your baby, the best option would be to use your stroller travel system and fix the car seat to the stroller frame, as otherwise it could be a long way to walk with your capsule/ car seat.
  • Another option is to use a car seat travel cart or trolley. The often fix to the trolley by using the LATCH or ISOFIX connectors and you can even secure your child in the car seat and transport them through the airport with the cart. They fold up and fit into the planes overhead compartments.
  • If you have no option but to carry it, then look for the lightest but safest car seat.
  • Alternatively, you could look for special car seat travel straps or belts to fix your car seat to your carry on wheelie bag. A car seat travel belt  convert your car seat and carry-on luggage into an airport car seat stroller & carrier.

How to Protect Your Car Seat

I sometimes get asked, “Do I need a travel bag for my car seat? The answer is you don’t need one, but they are a good idea. Baggage handlers around the world can treat fragile items ( even car seats) very differently, so whilst many safely make it from A to B without incident, there are always stories of people having their strollers or car seats broken. Here are some options to help protect your car seat.

  • If you are checking in your car seat, look for a travel padded bag to protect it. They can be bought brand new from Amazon and other places, but also keep a look out to see if anyone is happy to lend theirs or sell you one second-hand.
  • Alternatively, you can use a large plastic bag that some airports supply or use a cheaper and thinner car seat travel bag and pad it out with nappies/diapers  to protect it a bit further. (This means you will save a little bit of space in your suitcase too!)

Can I use a Booster Seat on an Airplane?

This is not allowed on any airline as any type of restraint, CRS or CRD, for taxi, take-off, landing or whenever the seatbelt sign is switched on. 

Whilst the FAA does not prohibit using a booster seat or other non-approved devices for a lap child during the cruise portion of the flight only, airlines have policies which may or may not allow the use of those devices. Always check with your airline first and make it clear that you don’t wish to use it for whenever the seat belt sign is switched on.

 

How to Install a Car Seat on an Airplane

As a pre-warning, and as an ex long haul flight attendant for twelve years, I never saw one car seat being used on any of my flights If someone had, I had all the details and regulations in my manual to double check the requirements but training did not include physically installing a car seat.

This may have changed now and obviously varies from airline to airline, so I think to manage expectations, don’t expect the crew to be an expert at installing it or to install it for you. I am aware some airlines make it entirely the passengers responsibility to initially install a car seat and then for the crew member to double check.

DO expect crew to check for the label and DO be aware that just because you could use a rear facing car seat  or use a car seat for an infant under 6 months on one airline or does NOT mean you can automatically use it on another. See above section ‘What are the Airline Car Seat Policies’ for more details.

On that note, plenty of airlines and crew, especially American based airlines see car seats used on a more regular basis and are very helpful.

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

  • 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 (AND if the airline allows it.) If your airline is governed by the FAA then your airline DOES allow you to use a rear facing car seat as long as the airplane seat is forward facing, whatever the age of your child. (See above section ‘What are the Airline Car Seat Policies’ for more details and to check the details if you are flying from a non FAA governed airline.)
  • You must make sure the car seat is not blocking anyone from exiting the aisle – this means you should install the car seat  next to the window, or in a centre row section of the plane).
  • Here is a useful video (not by the FAA) on how to install rear facing car seats for airplanes.

 

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. This is often stowed in a small compartment in the back of your car seat. If not, just look for the make and model serial number on the frame and then look it up online.

An ideal seat is the bulkhead seat as you have no passenger seated in front of you and with a car seat, a small child is at an ideal height to kick the seat in front of them. Choosing a bulkhead seat can stop this from becoming an issue and causing any potential tension with another passenger.

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 and be ready for take-off). If you need an extension seat belt, just ask the flight attendant.

Here is a useful video from the FAA on how to install a forward facing car seat on an aircraft.

Car seats airplane, child restraint devices CARES harness back

CARES harness (front)
Photo courtesy of Tim Kelley

3. Installing the AMsafe CARES harness on an Airplane

An AMsafe CARES harness can only be used for children aged between one and four years old and it is the only airline approved CRS which is not a car seat. Be aware it may not fit some premium cabin seats and can only be used on forward facing seats.

It is light and compact so a good alternative to a bulkier car seat or for using with airlines that don’t allow the use of a car seat past the age of two.

Here is a useful installation video from Fly Safe, the makers of the CARES harness.

 

 

 

 

Other options

If you have a car seat that doesn’t slot into a stroller or you don’t want to use a belt  (the cheapest option), you can also buy a car seat transporter. However, these are sometimes more expensive than the car seat, so unless you are intending on doing a lot of flying, these just won’t be worth the extra cost. Below are some other alternatives.

1. The BabyTrend Snap’n’Go is a wheeled stroller frame which you can attach certain car seats too. Some compatible car seats include Chicco Key Fit 3,  Combi Shuttle 33, Cosco, Evenflo Embrace , Graco Snugride 22 and 35, & Safe Seat 32, Maxi-Cosi Mico, Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 30, Safety 1st on Board 35 and others. Britax also has their own line of travel accessories, including a padded car seat travel bag, and a travel cart.

 

Car seat travel belt

2. Car Seat Travel Belt

A car seat travel belt, simply connects your car seat to your hand luggage, so you can easily  wheel it around. This particular style is not meant for use with a child inside, but could be an option if you are using your travel stroller or baby carrier to carry your child around the airport. Check Car Seat Strap Prices here

 

 

 

Volk Go travel strap

The VolkGo car seat travel strap, can be used with a child inside the car seat. 

 

 

 

 

Best Car Seat Travel Bag Options

If you are looking for a protective car seat bag for airplane travel, here are are some suggestions. The best travel bags for car seats are padded but they are more expensive than the others.

It’s worth checking if any are available second hand but they can be found at a reasonable price on Amazon too.  You can use your car seat gate check bag at the main check in, or use it at the boarding gate if you don’t intend to use the car seat for your flight. It is also ideal to put the base in, if there is no room to stow it on the plane. 

 

1. J.L Childress Padded Car Seat Bag and Backpack

 

The  Childress Ultimate Backpack Padded Car Seat Travel Bag  is one of the most popular ones on the market and is well designed. The backpack style allows you easily carry it around. It fits most car seats and is fully padded for protection. For more information and latest prices, see here.

 

2. VolkGo Car Seat Travel Bag

The VolkGo is not padded ( so it is cheaper) but is made of a durable nylon. It has padded straps and folds up very compactly if it is not needed. If you need to carry a car seat through the airport, this could be the option for you. Size wise the dimensions are 34 x 18 x 18 inch, which fits most major brands. For more information and latest prices, see here.

 

FAQ’s

  • Do I take the base of the car seat too or just the car seat?

Usually it is just the airline approved car seat (not base) which is approved for you on an airplane. However, always check your instruction manual before you fly. Consider if you prefer to put the base in the aircraft hold  (as it is heavy) or store it in the overhead locker.

  • Is it a requirement for carseats to be in a window seat only?

A car seat cannot block or impede an exit, so normally the best place is a window seat. However, it can also be used in a centre row seat.

  • My car seat is FAA approved but wider than the airline suggesting 16″. Can I still use it?

On certain airlines yes. USA/Canadian airlines need to find you a seat that is suitable as per the FAA rules. However, other airlines may not be able to accommodate you.

Always check the airline website first and have a copy of your manufacturers instructions to hand when discussing with an airline representative. Be aware, that customer service reps may not be knowledgeable of the answer as they do not work on the plane, or see flight manual saying what is and isn’t permitted. So if you are unsure, ask to speak to a manager and explain your concerns.

 

  • My car seat doesn’t fit, despite meeting all the airline regulations, what can I do?

 

Some airlines provide a child restraint device of their own, for circumstances, such as these, but you do need to request this usually 48 hours before your flight so it can be loaded onboard the plane. I’ve have written more about this and what airline provide this in my child restraint device summary post .

If this is not an option you many have to consider other options such as the CARES harness if your baby is over 1 year old.

  • I am traveling with two under two by myself. What are my options?

You can use two travel car seats on the airplane, or you can have one child in a car seat and the other as a lap baby.

 

Pin for later?

FAA Approved Car Seats & Airline Approved Car SeatsThis guide will help you sift through the rules, provide you with knowledge so you know your rights or how to easily find them when you travel with car seat. This information will also provide you with a range of FAA airline approved cars seats and answer many of your questions regarding traveling with carseats even if you are not flying with a USA airline. #familytravel #faa #carseat #airplane

 

Disclosure: This post does contain some affiliate links, which will cost absolutely nothing to you. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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