A car seat is a useful travel item to have when traveling by air with young children. It comes down to the fact that an infant car seat can function as a safe spot for your child. This is crucial during both take-off and landing. Moreover, it also has the added advantage of helping you avoid having to hold the infant in your lap. To fly with an Infant Car Seat there are a few things you need to take into account.
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In this article about flying with an infant car seat, we will discuss whether you can use a car seat on an airplane and if airlines charge for car seats. We will look at when you can travel with a newborn on a plane and how to fly with an infant car seat. We offer practical advice on how to take a car seat through the airport and the best infant car seat travel bags to use. For those traveling with multiples, we will discuss how to carry two car seats through the airport. As well as the best infant car seats for travel and flying.
Can you use a car seat on an airplane?
Most importantly, you should review the airline’s policies regarding traveling with children. Whether or not you can use a car seat on an airplane will depend on two factors.
Firstly, you have to consider the airline itself. Most US and Canadian carriers allow passengers to travel with car seats. There are, however, a couple of exceptions to note. For example, if you are traveling first or business class in some airplane models on some airlines. Airlines may prohibit car seats as the seats are not suitable for installing a car seat. You need to make sure that the airline and seat type you are flying is compatible with car seats. For this, it is imperative to check the airline website for details.
When flying an international airline, however, things become a lot more complicated. There are no global rules for whether or not car seats are allowed into the cabin of the plane. Due to this, each international airline will vary wildly in terms of its policy. Once more, you can only know whether the car seat is allowed if you check the airline’s website.
The second factor is the car seat itself. The FAA approves most, but not all, car seats for use on planes. To board with the car seat, you will have to prove that the FAA approves it. A white sticker usually contains this information in red print on the car seat.
It could mean trouble if the FAA has not approved your car seat. Alternatively, it may also be missing the sticker. In this case, you will have to consider purchasing some other seat.
To learn more about FAA guidance on flying with children click here.
Do airlines charge for car seats and strollers?
Generally speaking, airlines in the US and Canada will not charge families for bringing along a car seat. This is especially true in case the family has an infant who requires it. However, this is not universal, and giving the airline website a look will be well worth it.
Internationally, it varies between airlines, and some may charge for car seats. This is because they may consider it extra luggage. Thus you should do your research well ahead of traveling.
When can you travel with a newborn on a plane?
Usually, you can travel with a newborn without issues as long as they are more than seven days old. You will, however, need some paperwork in case the infant is less than seven days old. Your child’s physician will have to fill out a form in order to allow you to travel.
Some airlines might not accept newborns younger than two days old. Thus you should take an in-depth look at the various conditions and requirements before newborns can air travel. To learn more, consider checking out this article When can you Travel with a Newborn?
How to fly with an infant car seat?
To fly with an infant car seat, simply bring the seat with you to the check-in counter. Here, you will need to show the sticker on the seat. It must mention that the FAA has approved the seat for air travel (see also, ‘How to Pack Liquids for Air Travel‘). Note that you may be asked to show the sticker later during other parts of the boarding procedure. Some airlines may only ask you when you are entering the plane itself.
Once you are seated, you can set up the car seat on an empty seat next to you. One thing to make sure of is that the car seat has a safety harness attached to it. You will not be allowed to fly with the seat without the safety harness. Once the seat has been set up, simply strap your child in for take-off and landing. Moreover, in case you encounter turbulence, you can also put your newborn into the car seat.
In the situation that there is not an available seat adjacent to you, things may get tricky. You may have to place the car seat into cabin storage. Instead, you will have to carry the child in your lap for the duration of the flight.
Sometimes you may be unsure about whether or not there will be an empty seat adjacent to you. If you are certain that you want to use a car seat, you can book an extra seat. This way, you will have a guaranteed spot to set up the car seat. Moreover, you can strap in your infant safely for the flight without any issues or unpredictability.
How to take car seat through airport
Taking the car seat through the airport is not a particularly complicated endeavor. One thing to make sure of is that you bring a travel bag for the car seat along with you so that it is easier to carry around in large airports.
The ideal scenario for traveling with a child less than about one year old is to use a lightweight travel system stroller for a baby. A travel system includes the infant carrier – used as a car seat – that clips into the stroller. This is the easiest way to push your baby around the airport, have a place to carry extra carry-on bags or winter jackets, and also provide you the flexibility to keep your infant car seat and stroller easily transported together to the departure gate.
In case you need to learn more, read this post about how to get a car seat through the airport. It covers many important details, so you will know what to consider before you travel with a car seat.
Best infant car seat travel bag
In case you do not have a travel bag for your infant’s car seat, there are a series of options available on the market to choose from. Some options are best for protecting a car seat you check in when you arrive at the airport. Other car seat travel bag options make it easier to transport the car seat through the actual airport. Features such as a car seat backpack or wheelie bag are better options to help you maneuver this big, bulky – and often heavy – item when flying with children.
Let’s take a look at the various options of car seat travel bags for when you fly with an infant car seat.
One of our favorites is the J.L. Childress Gate Check Bag. This car seat gate check bag is ideal if you check your infant car seat at the check-in desk when you first arrive at the airport. Or if you are going to use an infant carrier in a travel system and can use the stroller to transport the infant carrier through the airport. Then you can use this car seat gate check bag to check your infant carrier car seat at the departure gate. This bag will help protect your car seat from damage and dirt.
With its bright red color and prominent text, this bag is easily identifiable from a distance, making it perfect for airport travel. Moreover, the bag also includes a spot for you to enter your name so that it can easily be collected and mix-ups with other passengers’ car seats can be avoided.
Another good choice is the J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack. This bag has additional padding integrated into the design. This feature proves helpful in protecting your travel seat from serious scuffs or damage during travel. Thus, this bag is more durable than many of the alternative options on the market.
The backpack feature is helpful when your baby uses an infant car seat that cannot be clipped into the stroller. If you need to carry your child’s car seat through the airport, then using a car seat bag that doubles as a backpack will be the best option. Wearing the car seat on your back will be heavy, but this will allow you to have your hands free to wheel a suitcase and hold your child’s hand.
Depending on what airports you are flying from and flying to, however, you may have to face a lot of walking, standing, and waiting over the course of your trip. Thus having an infant car seat travel bag with wheels can prove to be enormously helpful. One such option is the J.L. Childress Spinner Wheelie Deluxe Car Seat Travel Bag which can seriously help reduce the amount of strain on you while traveling.
Using a car seat travel bag with wheels is very helpful to transport your car seat through the airport. Consider this option when you fly with an infant car seat. This is a convenient way to get your car seat to the departure gate, where you can gate-check your car seat or take it on the airplane (if you have a seat for your child).
How to carry two car seats through airport?
The process of carrying two car seats is very similar to that of carrying one car seat. You just have to make sure that your airline is alright with it and that the car seat has the right documentation to prove that it has been approved by the FAA for use on planes. If both these conditions are met, you just need to get two travel bags for the car seats when traveling.
Also, consider using a car seat stroller when you fly with an infant car seat. Your child can sit in the car seat while you pull it through the airport. This functions as a car seat roller for travel. It is foldable, storable, and can be stowed under your airplane seat or in the overhead compartment.
Best infant car seat for airplane travel
When traveling with an infant, it is important to bring along lightweight equipment that is easy to transport and use when you’re on the go. For these purposes, your infant car seat should be lightweight and compact, as well as the stroller you use.
If you need help deciding what lightweight stroller system to use for your infant when traveling, check out this article about the Best Lightweight Travel System Strollers for a Baby.
From personal experience, I can tell you that I found it easier to take my travel system through the airport while traveling with infants a year old or younger. You can simply check the stroller and car seat travel bags at the departure gate and wear your child in a baby carrier to keep your hands free.
I put my coats, diaper bag, and backpacks in the travel system stroller while making my way through the airport. On the airplane, I wear the baby or use the bulkhead bassinet available to let my baby stretch out and sleep.
Of course, things are even easier if you’ve purchased a seat for your baby because then you can bring their infant car seat on board with you. There are a lot of options for car seats. If you have an FAA-approved car seat, then you can install it in the airplane seat, similar to how you do in your car. That way, your baby just sleeps through the trip!
Best infant car seat for travel
If you are still looking into what the best infant car seat is when traveling with your family, consider reading this article about the Most Popular Infant Car Seat for Travel. If you have older children, check out these articles about Travel Booster Seat for Car Rides and Flying or Best Travel Car Seat for Toddler, or our review of the Best Travel Booster Seats.
Traveling with a car seat for your infant will require you to plan and ensure that a few different factors fall into place. Firstly, the airline must be fine with using car seats within the cabin. Secondly, you will need to make sure that the seat itself which you are planning to use is FAA-approved and thus appropriate for the task at hand.
Finally, the last thing to consider is whether or not you would like to book an extra seat on the plane for your infant to ensure that the car seat can be used. If you opt not to go ahead with another booking, then whether or not the car seat can be used during the fight will end up depending upon the availability of an extra seat adjacent to where you are seated.
We hope this article helped, and we wish you and your family safe travels on your next journey together!
For more about family travel, check out these posts:
What to Consider Before you Travel with a Car Seat
When Can You Travel With A Newborn?
Best Lightweight Travel System Strollers for a Baby
Most Popular Infant Car Seat For Travel