Carseats on the Plane

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Carseat on the Plane or Not? Which Carseat on the Plane? Logistics of Using a Carseat on the Plane

Carseat on the Plane or Not?

Bring car seat on plane for 3.5 year old?

March 2010

We're going to Hawaii in a couple weeks and I'm undecided about bringing a car seat on the plane for our 3.5 year old daughter.

If I had a younger kid, I'd bring it for sure. But what about for this age? She's comfy in her car seat, but would it be better to have the seat surface free for her to use a sort of table when she's standing on the floor? I have never flown w/ her (or any kid) before, and don't know what to expect. If we don't bring the seat, do we check it at the gate or with our other baggage? Or would it be better to carry on or check a quality collapsable travel car seat? (I know that airlines don't let you sit in a travel car seat on the plane, but is it better to bring it on board so it won't get lost or damaged?) What's worked best for you?

Check it at the baggage area. Her legs will be too high and she will constantly kick the seat in from of her the whole time, plus when she realizes other people are walking she will want to get up. Keep her seat belt on when she's in her seat. Realistically how many plane accidents result in people walking away and do you think a car seat is going to change that? Do yourself a favor and focus on bringing lots of snacks & water and things for her to do. Books, coloring, video etc. seasoned traveler with kids

I'd check the car seat. We've traveled a lot with our now 4 1/2-year-old. We hit a point at about your daughter's age where she spent most of a flight kicking the seat in front of her. That was the end of riding in the car seat in the plane. By that age, it didn't even take that much leg swinging, which meant it was nearly impossible to get her to stop.

Before you go, do talk about the seat-belt sign and how important it is to wear the seat belt in the airplane. The biggest challenge with the transition to sitting in the seat is how interesting that seat belt is and how easy it is to open and close.

As for checking the car seat, we've never had a problem with one being damaged and it's really, really nice to not have to lug it through the airport. (Trust me, you'll be carrying plenty of other stuff.) Have a great trip!

Try using a CARES harness instead of the carseat. They're about $70, and very easy to use (we watched the little video they provide and were ready to go--took about a minute to put it on). It's essentially a five-point harness system that loops around the back of the airplane seat. Then you can just check your carseat with the skycaps or at the counter instead of dragging it into the plane cabin and installing it. We bought a cheap bag at Babies R Us to put the carseat in so we'd have an easy handle and could protect it. The whole plan worked great and I'd do it again.

Gate Check the Car seat (bring it to the gate, but don't bring it on board). Any car seat for a 3.5 year old is going to be waaaaayyyy to big for a plane trip without causing significant stress to you (your child will kick) and the person in front of you (who will want to kill your child). Your child will be fine in the regular seat.

My husband is an airline pilot and we have flown(okay...I have flown) extensively with our children (more than 100 flights each -- they are 5 & 7). ofetn I sit in the middle so that they can raise the arm rests and relax on me (or nap, even) while belted in... -a mom

I would just check it in. Airlines do not charge extra for car seats and do not consider it as a piece of luggage (unless that's changed as of last month). You can pack it in a plastic bag or in a cardboard box and check it in. We always bring our car seat with us whenever we travel, and we have traveled quite a lot. Never had a problem. Now that he is 4, I got a booster seat and that is slightly easier to carry. b

I would check the car seat. We fly once or twice a year with our now 4.5 daughter, who is on the smaller end of the spectrum. The last time we put the seat on with us, it was a nightmare. There was no room for her to move, and literally no leg room. Plus the person in front of her reclined his seat, making it extremely cramped for our little girl.

We bought, and appreciated, a CARES Airplane Harness for Toddlers. Julia

If you will need the carseat for ground transportation while you're there, then there is no question whatsoever. Bring the carseat on board the plane and use it.

If you aren't going anywhere by car while in Hawaii, or if someone meeting you there is providing a carseat for you, you might reasonably choose to let her just use the plane's seatbelt and not bring a carseat at all.

But definitely don't bring a carseat and then check it with your luggage, at the gate or otherwise. In my opinion, anyway, the risk of non-obvious structural damage to the seat is too high -- and if you're going to drag the carseat to the airport with you anyway, you might as well keep your child safer and more comfortable on the plane by using it!

It's true that the carseat may make it impossible to use the seatback tray table, because your child's lap will be too high. But this is easily solved by bringing a little lap desk for her to use. (We have one with a storage space underneath the desk surface for paper and crayons/pens. My daughter loves it.) You should not allow your daughter to stand on the floor of the plane and use the seat surface for play. For her safety, keep her buckled into her seat except when it's necessary to visit the lavatory.

If the carseat she normally uses is particularly large or heavy, you may want to consider buying a lighter carseat such as the Scenera (if she still fits in one) or the Safeguard Go (if she's too big for a standard convertible), just to make it easier to carry and install, but you will have to weigh the convenience against the cost as well as the safety and comfort difference from her normal seat. The other alternative is a CARES harness, but those can't be used in a car at your destination, so they're really appropriate only for kids who are old enough for a booster seat in the car (which your 3yo is not). Brings the Carseat

We have tried travelling without our carseat on the plane when visiting family back East and have a carseat waiting for us when we arrive ... our daughter did not nap, rest or sit still without her car seat on the flight to the East Coast.

It may be cumbersome to bring along the carseat but I highly recommend it .... When we travel with both our daughters (3-1/2 and 1-1/2) we do bring their carseats for their comfort and ours ... they sit, read, play and sleep on the flights more easily than when not in their seats. don't leave home without their seats

When do you stop taking the car seat on the plane?

June 2009

Hi- I'm wondering how old children generally are when parents stop bringing the car seat with them on the plane. Our 3-year-old doesn't sleep on the plane and prefers to be out of his car seat when we're flying. When do parents starts going without? Thanks! wide awake

We actually never took the car seat on the plane. The seats are small enough as it is to have one taken over by a car seat that your kid doesn't want to use! My kids are 3 and 5 and happily sit in their seats-- in fact, they're thrilled to sit in a seat like a big person. So, we check the car seats (for free) and stretch out in all that luxurious space. Check the Car Seat!

I think that I took the car seat a couple of times for each of my children (now 4 & 6) and then quit. We travel about once a month. My husband is a pilot for a major airline and has never questioned my choice (it is me traveling with the kids mostly). I've never hit any turbulence that is crazy enough to bonk my kid out of her seat onto the ceiling. In his 17-years of flying, except for a stormy day monitoring a missile test off of the coast of North Korea, neither has my husband. Ditto for landings. -another mom

We just made our first flight without car seat with our 3 year old daughter and it went great! The last time we had flown with it, she wanted to be out of it whenever the seat belt light was off which left my husband or I standing in the aisle. Without car seat it was nice because we could change seats to give her some variety, not to mention it was great not lugging it around the airport. She also never sleeops on the plane so that was not an issue and was completely fine sitting in her seat with her seatbelt on when she needed to. Not missing the carseat

We're planning a trip in August and DD is now 4 - we're not taking her car seat. We haven't flown with her since she was 3, but I think she's ok to not be in a car seat, although I'm sure it's safer. Our decision is based on the fact that our then 9-month old will be with us and he definitely needs his seat, and i'm not lugging 2 seats through the airport!

From what I've read, at least for American Airlines, they will let you check your car seat at checkin, for no additional charge. So we'll still bring DD's seat, but just check it as plane baggage. I sure hope that is the case because I am not paying $15 each way to drag a car seat! I'd just rent one on the other side if I have to spend $ to check it. Laura M

I used it as long as the child fit in and FAA approved seat. R.K.

We stopped at about 3 1/2. We quit using the car seat in the plan after my daughter spent most of a flight kicking the seat in front of her. That's not an issue when she's sitting in the airplane seat, but for a while it was a struggle to make her keep the seat belt on when it was necessary. If you think you could persuade your son to keep it on when he really needs to have it on, go ahead and check the car seat. (It helps a bit that the seat belt sign is easy to explain to a 3-year-old, although then they catch on that sometimes they don't have to wear it.) Flyer

I'm surprised you're still using a car seat on the plane at 3 years old. We stopped as soon as our baby made 1 year old (he's 2 and-a-half now). Instead of a car seat, we use the Cares brand ''kids fly safe'' harness that attaches to the airline seat belt. See details on their website at

We fly with our toddler at least 4 times a year to our hometown, and the flight each way is over 5 hours. Our baby boy has been very comfortable and safe with this device -- and it's airline approved!

Very much worth the investment. Antoinette

I've heard way too many horror stories about damage to checked carseats to risk it, and I don't trust rental seats either. So the carseat is coming onboard. And if it's onboard, there's no reason *not* to use it, and many reasons *to* use it. Your child should be harnessed in his carseat whenever the plane's seatbelt light is on.

Stop using the carseat on the plane when you switch from a harness seat to a booster for the ground transportation. Which should not be before your child is at LEAST 4 years old. (We've used a booster for travel convenience at 4yo even though the child in question was still in a harness seat at home. I'm far more of a carseat safety fanatic than many parents, I guess, but not completely rigid about it!) Holly

Bring carseat for 14-month-old for 10-11 hour flight?

April 2008

Hi, I am flying to Paris this summer with my daughter who will be 14 months old. It is a 10-11 hour flight... should I bring the carseat on the plane or will it just be more of a hassle than it's worth? (It seems like an awful thing to have to tote around on top of all our luggage). Also, once in Paris, we will mostly ride the metro, but will occasionally take a taxi. And we will definitely take a taxi from the airport. If we don't bring the seat, will we not be able to ride in taxis? Are the child seat laws in France as strict as they are here? Any advice appreciated! Kate

We flew to Paris with our 9 month old son and didn't bring a car seat. I think it depends on whether you buy a ticket for the baby. We bought a ''lap ticket'' since he was under two (which is generally free when you fly domestic, but for international flights there is a charge). So there was really no seat to put a car seat into. I believe if you buy a seat for the baby you are required to bring a car seat to strap the baby in -- but you might want to doublecheck.

Also, we rode in taxi's and he sat on our lap. No one ever said anything to us about it and I think that it's fairly common. If you're bringing a stroller, be prepared to carry it up and down many flights of stairs on the Metro -- there are very few escalators or elevators. Also, bring a narrow stroller so it will fit through the Metro gates -- we brought a Maclaren and it was the perfect size.

The people in Paris were super friendly to us with the baby -- he got lots of cookies & treats in the bakeries because he was so ''mignon'' (cute). Have a great time! Cathy

If your child will sleep in the car seat, bring it (it's worth it's weight in gold in that case). If not, don't. One more thing to lug and you won't use it once you are there. Fran

We bought one of these toddler harnesses for the airplane: It's one pound and fits in a little bag, and is approved by the FCC for airplane use. (They even sell it in skymall catalogs now.) You can't use it in cars, but it sounds like you won't really need that in Paris anyway. It's a bit pricey ($75) but worth it if you travel now and then. My son likes it, too. Andi

We have taken my daughter (17 mos) on about 5 roundtrip plane trips--and I haven't bought her her own ticket--which means she doesn't get a guaranteed seat. But, on almost every leg, we've gotten an empty middle seat, so then I can bring her carseat on. In addition to it being safer, my daughter is MUCH less squirmy and more content in ''her seat'' that she is already used to being confined to in the car than she ever is when I try to hold her just in my lap. For that reason alone, having her carseat makes the plane ride MUCH more enjoyable with less crying, squirming, etc. than it would be otherwise! So, if your daughter has her own ticket, I would definitely bring it--if not, we carry the carseat through the airport to gate check it (if only to make sure it arrives on the other end) and then if there is an empty seat, we take it on. The only thing that has made this possible (and actually quite easy) is the rolly-thing I attach to my daughter's regular carseat so that I can wheel her through the airport & not have to bring a stroller for the airport & lug the carseat around in addition. We have the GoGoKidz thing: and LOVE it. good luck!

Please take the car seat. Yes, it can be a hassle, but isn't your baby worth it? We know young children are safer on aircraft when they are in their car seats. The same is true in cars. I don't know what the laws regarding children and car seats are in France, but would you ever be able to forgive yourself is something happened because you didn't bother to bring a car seat? At the very least, please look into renting a seat for the time you're there. Stay safe and have a great trip! Anonymous

I would suggest not bringing it for the sake of the person sitting in front of you. Kids can't control kicking the seat in front of them since the car seat lifts them up high and moves them more forward in the airplane seat (I remember many dirty looks from passenger when my 2 kids were little). Plus you will have more room to entertain them. However, the car seat is good for sleeping. We have spent quite a bit of time Paris visiting relatives and at first we thought we would use a child seat in taxis but we never did. Once we got there it seemed absurd to lug it everywhere and the drivers never say anything. We also tended to cram lots of people into one taxi and our kids sit on our laps. In NYC you don't have to have a child seat in a taxi and it is probably the same in Paris (just guessing tho...). anon

16-hour plane trip: lug the Britex vs ''winging it''

June 2006

I will be travelling alone with a five year old and a ten month old on a very long trip (ten hours one transatlantic flight, six hours the next, with an overnight hotel in transit). I would like advice on whether to lug a big Britax car seat ( alas my baby has outgrown the smaller baby car seat/stroller combo) on this long trip,so the baby will hopefully sleep in it on the plane, or just check the car seat and have less gear and hold the baby or find a way for her to sleep comfortably in her own seat. I know they have little cots that pull down in the bulkhead seats on transatlantic flights, but you cannot always get such seats. Also, lugging the hefty car seat and the stroller and the older child's things plus my things, all over the planet in transit, and on hotel bus shuttles, might just weigh out on the negative for the car seat. What do you think? I have made this trip several times before with my husband and the older child when she was younger, without a car seat and she simply took turns sleeping on our laps, but now travelling alone with the five year old and the baby too, I only have two hands and one lap for both and it is more challenging Advice or suggestions would be very helpful. Thank you!
A hopefully not too weary travelling mother

I've traveled with our Britax car seat on many airplane flights through two kids, alone and with a partner, with one kid and two. For me, it's convenience and safety to have the carseat - my kids are much more likely to sleep, I have my hands and lap free, and if there's bad turbulence they can be safely strapped, as well as during takeoff and landing.

When I'm the sole grownup I ask for help, everywhere. Flight attendants will carry the carseat on and off for you and help with your hand luggage. You can get help at airport security. You're going to need help with the hotel transfers anyway - you can't manage all of your luggage and two kids alone.

I've found several ways to cart the seat around airports - one option is to lengthen the straps all the way and wear it like a backpack, while you push kid one in the stroller. Kid two is old enough to wheel a backpack or small suitcase with your toys, snacks, etc. for the flight. Or I give my son a small backpack to wear that has all the inflight entertainment, and put the rest of the diapers, snacks, etc. in my backpack, and hang the carseat off the back of the umbrella stroller (which won't tip if the baby's in it.) You can also use a small luggage cart, strap the carseat and your carryon bag on it, and wheel the whole thing along, if you have a stroller you can steer with one hand or the baby in a backpack or sling.

Call the airlines ahead of time and ask about carseat and stroller policies. International airlines have different rules about when you can use carseats and what kinds, and most won't gate check your stroller. British Airways let us carry on an umbrella stroller and stashed it on board for us. Otherwise you have to check your stroller all the way through.

Think small and lightweight for keeping your kids entertained and that will help reduce what you are carting around - crayons and paper, paperback books or kids' ''magazines'' like Ladybug, foam puzzles, or those little Magnadoodles.

I recently got a wheeled backpack for use as a carryon for airplane trips and its been a godsend. Frequent Flyer

If you decide to go the carseat route then you will want to purchase a car seat bag/backpack...we got one for our big britax carseat and have loaned it to many travelling friends over the years...the carseat plops into it, zip it up and throw it on your back...when installing it in the plane just unzip and unwrap in the seat (still in the bottom of the bag) and secure it in the seat...makes it all much caveat though...if the baby is sleeping in the carseat after you land you've gotta get 'em out in order to get off the plane...good luck! mz

Hi Travelling Momma - we also take long long transatlantic flights with two kids and having a car seat for my youngest (soon to be 2) is a big YES. It gives me space, no kids crawling over me, and also provides him with familiarity and helps him sleep more easily (as he's used to sleeping in it during car rides). It is a pain to haul around - buy a car seat bag if you haven't already - it has a strap so you can hook it over the back of the stroller/across your shoulders while walking around the airport. Still heavy and uncomfortable but easier to manage. You can also call the flight ahead of time to request the bulkhead seats (at least with Virgin & BA you can) - 99% of the time you will get them - call early! And call again and again - and then make sure once you check in.

If you feel buried under all your luggage then ask for help - the flight company will usually extend a friendly hand to struggling passengers eg. over loaded moms, old people and disabled travelers. Call the customer service line and ask what service they can provide for you.

I too will be traveling alone this summer with my 4 and 2 year old and I will be taking the car seat, plus backpacks, suitcases etc. I will look like an overloaded camel and I'm positive someone will feel sorry for me and help us along the way! Good luck! not afraid to try

I say, check the carseat. winging it too

I just wanted to say that as being a flight attendant and as a mother of 2 children (4yrs old and almost 2yrs old) I stop caring a carseat for my older child. Britax does make a snap on wheels so you don't have to take a stroller around. It's hard to travel with two little ones but just in case your 5yrs old falls asleep is your little one still fit into a baby bjorn? That's what I did when I traveled to Japan when my youngest one was 9months old. Amy

Do you have to take the trip? My partner and I could barely tolerate a 6 hour flight with one baby your child's age. If you have to do it, I would go ahead and take the car seat. I've found that even having my daughter in it for an hour can be a huge relief. I would buy one of those things with wheels that snap onto the car seat. I think it's even possible to push the baby in the car seat that way, with the wheels attached. I don't remember the exact name -- something with ''go go'' in it. One Step Ahead also has a complete carseat/stroller combo you can buy. If you're going to take this horrendous trip, I would spend whatever $ you can to make it easier. But most of all, I would really question if you have to take this trip at this point in your life. If you do, good luck! anon

I have a 7 year old and 2 year old twins and, while I've never flown with them on my own, we've done a number of trips with different combinations of seating. When they were 8 months old we flew to London with BA who reserved bulkhead seats for us and provided these fantastic infant seats (look a bit like Kick and Play bouncers but without the bounce) which attached to the fold down table. The babies slept for almost all of the flight (people asked if we'd drugged them!! - we hadn't) and we arrived feeling quite relaxed. Then we flew to Australia in January and, due to the exhorbitant cost, booked a seat for one (in a carseat) and lap for the other (United wouldn't give us bulkhead seats). Fairly hideous trip playing musical chairs - wished we'd had them both in carseats. A few weeks ago we went to the midwest and they were both in carseats and it was fine. Have you thought about getting a car seat carry bag (lots of results on Google - has them)? Obviously you'll resemble a packhorse but with that on your back, pushing a stroller with your hand luggage on the handles and your 5 year old carrying a small backpack with his or her own stuff it would be just about manageable. I think the pay off would be great in terms of having your baby securely strapped in for the 16 hours of flying. You'd be able to eat, go to the loo etc for a start. Also, don't be shy about asking for (actually, make that demanding) assistance from the cabin crew. We've had mixed experiences and it makes such a difference if they're sympathetic and helpful. Gate check your stroller at the door of the plane, ask to pre-board so you can get the car seat buckled in and disembark last. Hope you have a great trip whatever you decide! Becky

You might consider buying or borrowing a ''Sit'n'Stroll'' for your long flights. (Available at, among other places.) It works as a car seat, stroller, and plane seat (tho' you'll probably have to explain it to the flight attendants and/or point to the little pictures on the side before they let you on the plane with it). It's not a great stroller, so if you really need a good stroller at your destination, it might not work for you -- but it was a wonderful thing to have when we flew with a nearly-12-month old to India. He only sat in his seat about 1/3 of the time, but it was nice to be able to have someplace for him to sit when we all were trying to eat, etc.; it also worked well for moving luggage through the airports (while we carried him, of course!)

Also, keep in mind that those little bassinets may not work for a 10 month old. At least on Singapore Airlines, there are weight and length limits (check your airline's website), and they're really shallow (so your little one probably could climb out). Plus, you can't always get them (as you mentioned).

Best of luck with your travels! Have passport will travel

I would bring the car seat! I just did this with a 2 year old and a 5 year old and although my trip was much shorter than yours, I was so happy to have the extra seat (and be able to strap the little one down)... This helps especially when you have to go to the bathroom or take the bigger kid to the bathroom! There are special backpacks you can purchase just for car seats-- or perhaps get a cheaper lighter carseat just for this trip. Your arms will be so tired if you try to hold the baby the whole time, even if the baby does sleep. Plus, you will have to help the 5 year old in and out of the seatbelt, etc. Airplane mama

For all the reasons already stated, I say bring the carseat! To lug it through the airport, instead of using a carseat carrier or those combination carseat-strollers, here's what I always did - use the stroller to lug the carseat, diaper bag, etc., and carry the kid in a sling (or whatever wearable carrier you prefer). Then when you gate-check the stroller, your hands will still be free to carry the car seat (although it's even easier if the flight attendent helps!). Do be sure that the ORIGINAL FCC-approval sticker is still on the carseat. I once had to check our carseat because it had fallen off, and the flight attendent refused to allow it on board. R.K.

I've done a few long-distance flights with transit (though no hotel) alone with one child, both with and without car seat. Own car seat is nice, but it does get very heavy when you carry it around in transit - together with everything else! My suggestion would be to find out if the airline can offer you a bassinet (wall-fitted; the 'on the floor' ones tend to just be oversized sportsbags). My daughter slept in it until close to age 2, when she had to 'fold up her legs' to fit, and would also sit in it and play for a little while when she was awake. If you have a choice between car seat and bassinet, I'd definitely ditch the car seat. antje Glad to be Past the Grunties

Carseat for the Airplane? Trip to Hawaii

In January, my husband & I are taking our 9 month old daughter on her first plane trip to Hawaii. Since we've purchased a seat for her, we'll be bringing a carseat but she is too big for her infant carseat and I'm not relishing the thought of dragging her Britax Roundabout through the airport. I am thinking of buying or borrowing a smaller lighter used carseat for the trip. Can anyone recommend specific carseats that they've brought on planes? I checked the website for past recommendations but no one mentioned what carseats they used. Thanks! Joan

Until our daughter hit the 20 pound mark, we used our Evenflo carseat with the handle for air travel, and the Snap 'n Go stroller, which can be stashed in the overhead. We now use a large, collapsible stroller which we gate check, and the Britax car seat. If you loosen the straps, it can be worn fairly comfortably like a backpack (seat side against your back). I've flown quite a bit on my own without much difficulty with the baby, stroller, car seat and carry on bag. Kristina

Some advice on what NOT to buy for air travel: you need to make sure that any car seat you choose for air travel does not have the seat belt running directly under the back padding of the seat. This is fine for most cars, because the seat belt buckle is at the side, but on most aircraft, the seat belt buckle is at the center and would make a big lump under the baby's back. We had this problem on a night flight home from Hawaii with our 1 yr old and it was very difficult. The problem could probably be resolved by bringing a seatbelt locking clip with you to fold up one side of the aircraft belt and bring the buckle to one side. But, why not use a childseat provided by the airline? You should make sure to call ahead and reserve it. Kathy

Trip to Europe - should I being the Britex?

Dec 1999

There seems to be difference of opinion on whether or not it is worthwhile to bring a car seat on a plane for a young child. I will be traveling to Europe 3 separate times this Spring with my now VERY ACTIVE 16 month old son. I have purchased him a ticket, and had planned to take his Brytex Roundabout car seat with us -- although I was not sure how I would single-handedly manage him, his stroller, his diaper bag, my carry-on AND the car-seat. However, this evening i read a post from a parent who just returned from Brussels who noted that only certain car seats fit on the plane!

Does anyone have any first hand experience specifically with the Brytex? Is it really worth the hassle? it does seem that it would be a bit easier to NOT bring it (in terms of hauling stuff through several airports by myself). also, in that i am connecting to Geneva on a commuter flight -- it seems likely that my car seat will not fit on that flight. will i have to check the car seat upon arriving in europe? any comments/advice are very much appreciated. thanks!

Unfortunately, I can't answer most of your questions, but I can assure you that I have flown 3 times with a britax roundabout and never had a problem with it fitting on the airplane seats. I've been told that you can only put the seat next to a window since it sticks out past the end of the plane seat (some arcane FAA regulation), but you'd problaby want your toddler next to the window anyway. FWIW, I've had good luck taking a backpack instead of a stoller. Best of luck planning this big undertaking!

We traveled to and from Seattle (a short flight -- just 2 hours each way) with our very active 16-mo-old daughter. We brought our carseat with us. It, too, was a Britax Roundabout, and it fit just fine. Southwest Airlines (which we flew) has one of the narrowest seat bases, so if we could fit on SW, you should be fine. One of the huge advantages for us was that we had not bought our daughter her own ticket. If the flight had been totally full, we would have had to check the carseat at the gate. But there was 1 empty seat, and we got permission from the flight attendants to put Sasha and her carseat in it. Without the carseat, there's no way we could have cadged an extra seat. During the flight, the seat was of mixed value. She slept for about an hour each way, and then it was great to have the carseat, so we could do what we wanted. But once she woke up, she insisted on standing on our laps or on the tiny slice of floorspace available. We're flying with her to Hawaii -- 6 hours -- in a few weeks, and I'm sure we'll spend lots of time following her up and down the aisles. I don't think there's a way to keep bouncy toddlers from walking on a long flight. Finally, you're right about the amount of carry-on you need with a baby. We were ridiculously overloaded. One suggestion: we used the baby backpack rather than the stroller to get our daughter to and from the gate. It left us our hands free in the airport and plane. (If you have a kid on your back, you can throw the diaper bag into the carseat and carry it with two hands pretty easily.) Good luck!

I've traveled about 6 times with my son to Texas and Minnesota - these trips last about 3.5 hours since I always book the non-stop direct flights because my son is sometimes very active and squirmy (always has been).

Most recently I traveled alone with him. I took my fanny pack (with valuables), a backpack for diapers, toys, etc, a lightweight stroller that I checked at the plane door and his booster style Century One-Step carseat (I sling it over my shoulder by one of the straps - it's not elegant, but it works just fine). My son (who is an active 2 year old) stayed in the carseat for about 3 hours and toward the very end he got restless and I let him stand up in it for awhile and crawl in my lap - but soon we were descending and I strapped him in again. I was relieved that he didn't put up a fuss about being in the carseat.

However, when my husband has traveled with us, he sits in the middle seat instead of the window seat and seems to get more restless about the carseat. I think the window seat was more secure and had more plane noise to lull him to sleep.

Also, now that he can understand my request that he stay in his carseat, it's easier. And finally, I had to fight my own urge to let him out in order to hold him. It was best for my son not to let him out of the carseat so he got used to it. Good luck and have a great trip!

The Britax Roundabout does fit standard airplane seats. Whether or not it is worth it is another issue. It is difficult lugging it around, especially with all the other paraphanalia and if you're travelling alone with your toddler. I personally think it's worth it. Just make sure you ask the airline staff for help and definitely board first and wait to get off last. Good luck.

My Britex carseat fit with no problem on the airplanes I've taken it on (sorry, don't know the types, but I flew coach and I don't think the seats get any smaller than that). Except it did take me a while to realize not to use it rear-facing the way I would in the car (as if I really thought that the carseat would protect the baby in the event of a plane crash... duh...) I would recommend taking it because I don't see how else you would get the baby to sleep on the flight, plus it is MUCH safer for them in case of turbulence. As for managing all that stuff singlehandedly, see if you can make a strap for it to sling it around your shoulder. That way you'll only have three things on your shoulder. Gatecheck the stroller, for sure. Hopefully kind strangers will help you. The flight attendant will also hold the baby while you get settled. (They aren't permitted to touch dirty diapers but they can and will hold babies.)

We do not have a Britex Roundabout, so I can't speak to that issue. However, we have travelled a fair amount (domestic and international) with our now 2yr 8 month son, so I have some experiences to share about car seats in general.

Our son behaves much better (I'm sure this varies by child) when he has his carseat on the flight. Particularly when it comes to sleeping on the plane for long flights. We have one car seat (I think it is Century) that is FAA approved for use on flights that we take along. Before he was two (when we didn't have to buy him a seperate seat) the airline would allow us to check in the seat at the gate--if there were no extra seats available on the flight. I never bothered to put on a cover or anything on the seat, though I have seen people do so. You can do the same when you switch to a commuter flight. Our experience has been that European Airlines (we've flown Air France, British Air and SAS) are much friendlier and nicer to deal with.

About lugging everything along. When my son still used the stroller (and I was travelling alone) I had him in the stroller, used a diaper back-pack (and put my stuff in it too) and held on the car seat. It's difficult, you often have to ask for help and it takes you twice the time to do anything. When we travel as a family it's easier, but now my son refuses to use a stroller!!

The bigger hassle (in our experience) is once you're out of the airport. We were recently in England, and it was a major PAIN to lug the seat around on the subway, the trains, buses etc.etc. If someone is picking you up from the airport, and you have some way of finding/renting a car seat once you arrive this may not be a problem. Hope this helps.

I have a Britex seat, and have taken on planes many times. It does fit, and fits well. As to whether you should bring it--I swore by it when my son was smaller, as he slept in it, and it was a great way to keep him confined while trying to spoon feed him, get him to sleep, etc. NOw that my son is walking and climbing (22mos) I don't travel with it on the plane anymore. I find that it is better to have the empty seat for him to play on (standing on the floor) or lie down on (with his head in my lap) I have also gotten him to sleep by spreading a blanket on the floor and lying him down there under my feet. Believe it or not, it really works. So, as to what to do, if your child sleeps well in the carseat, and you think it will increase your chance of naps on the plane, I would say bring it. If not, Id say check it. (I haven't mentioned the safety issue--it is, of course, safer to have the child in the car seat for takeoffs and landings especially. But I knew my toddler would scream if forced to sit in it, so I took that risk)

I have traveled between the East/ West coasts several times with the Britax Roundabout. The times I traveled without my husband were when my daughter was 11 months and then again when she was 22 months. It is a challenge but doable to accomplish this with a stroller and a single carry on bag (actually once I did with a laptop too!)

I think the carseat is well worth it since my daughter was used to sleeping in her carseat and it made it much more comfortable for me. As far as carrying it all-- I loosened the carseat straps all the way and then carried it like a backpack over one shoulder. The other carry on went on the other shoulder- leaving both hands free for getting hte child and the stroller down the jetway. If you can have the party who's meeting you bring a stroller- it's actually much more convenient! Good luck!

I have taken a Britax Roundabout on a number of flights (local and international) and did not regret it even for a moment. This was when my son was 11-14 months old. It is bulky to carry between check in and boarding but I found that if you loosen the belts you can 'wear' the carseat as you would a backpack - not ideal but it does free your hands. I never had a problem fitting it into a plane seat.

We have taken our Britax Roundabout on Southwest airlines many times, and we also flew to Hawaii with it on another airline. We believe it is safer for her to be in the carseat than a regular seatbelt, and our daughter goes to sleep comfortably in her carseat. Facing forward the Britax seat fits fine, although the armrest can not be moved once the seat is installed. Even when she was facing rearward in the car, we had her face forward on the airplane. I think there was not room for the seat to face rearward. You should be careful when getting seats and checking in. The carseat has to go by a window on most planes so it won't block the aisle. Also, Southwest often just assumes my daughter is a lap child, so we have to make sure we get a boarding pass for her too.

It is a pain to carry all the stuff through the airports. We often get those little carts to put everything on, and they usually have a seat for a child too. Also, I have found the when I am alone with my daughter and all the stuff, other kind people (often parents of slightly older kids) offer to help get on the plane.

My other advice for longer plane trips is to bring some new small toys, books, etc. and wrap them up so the child spends time unwrapping them. My daughter (at about 16 months) spent about 10 minutes putting the paper back over her toy and then pulling the toy off.

Car seats that are labled for FAA approval should fit in any standard airplane seat. But if you are still concerned... as I was, you can call the airline in advance to get the measurements of their seat. It took a little while because the customer service person had to call the tech people to get the specs for the particular plane type used for that flight, but that way I was sure that the seat would fit.

Someone else responded about FAA requiring that you put the seat by the window. The information that I received was that the car seat could not be in a position where it blocked another passenger's access to the aisle. However, when I flew with my baby, I was also with my mom. We were seated in a row that had 3 seats together next to the window. My mom wanted the window seat so we put the car seat between the two of us. One passenger tried to make a stink about it, but the flight attendant said that it was ok, as long as the passenger who was trapped was a relative and had consented.

I would highly recommend taking a carseat! The first reason is for your child's safety, both in the air and on the ground. If there is turbulance, you can not hold your child, he will fly right out of your arms. You can also put him down when he is asleep or you need a break! Do several things- first check to see if your carseat is flight approved. The manual should say, as well as a sticker on the carseat itsself. Second, bag the stroller and rent or buy one at your final destination. (It is more trouble than it's worth to carry with you). Third, combine the diaper bag with your carry-on. That leaves only your child, the carseat, and one bag to worry about. I hhave a 5yr old girl who has been flying with me since she was 6 weeks old for a total of about 25 trips all over the place. I have always gotten her her own seat and have taken the carseat. It is a lifesaver!!!!

Just returned from a trip with air and taxi travel with a 15 month old. Checked a car seat as baggage and used it in taxis (once had to refuse an offer of a taxi because the seat belts didn't work, but just took the next taxi). It is a cheap seat that is easy to get in and out. One day carried it with us, mostly by putting in in the stroller seat (sort of a hassle, but not bad really). For air travel we got a window seat which worked out really well, lots for baby to see. Did the lap child thing which worked just fine. Next time I'll bring backpack as well or instead of stroller for the airport since our child likes the backpack most of the time, but doesn't like the stroller a lot of the time. For walking around a big city a backpack is a great idea too...maybe a stroller for pushing the carseat in???

Which Carseat on the Plane?

Travel Car Seat for Big 15 MO

April 2007

Hi! We're about to take our fourth long-haul transatlantic flights with our son in May and I would appreciate some up-to-date advice about travel car seats (what's in the archives is from a few years back). Are there any good travel safety seats on the market (that work in both planes and automobiles), or are we best off lugging our Britax along with us? We have the Go-Go-Babyz wheels for it, but it is still quite a load to haul through airports. He will be a large fifteen-monther around thirty pounds and 33-34'' by the time we go. We will need to use the seat on the plane, in a cab and a rental car. Thanks! laurap

Safety first makes a travel seat that would work for your child, i think. We plan on using it mid may for the first time, but friends have highly recommended it.
not lugging the big one

Travel Carseats - Tote'n Go vs. Sit N Stroll

Feb 2007

We will be travelling to Cabo San Lucas this fall with our daughter who will be a little over 2 years old at that time. We've decided not to use a carseat on the airplane, but do want to bring one for the trip from the airport to the hotel and back (about 45 minutes travel each way). My preliminary research suggests we have 4 options:

1. Tote'n Go Travel Vest
2. Sit N Stroll Travel Carseat/Stroller
3. Purchase cheap/small carseat specifically for our trip and check with luggage
4. Bring our large/heavy Britax Decathalon and check with luggage
I'm sure someone out there has been in our position. Do you have any advice about which option will be easiest but also safest for our daughter? Any advice about the two specific travel products above? Any general advice about bringing a 2 year old to Mexico? Any input would be appreciated! Lia

I know this isn't a travel carseat, and it's only good in the airplane, but there's a fantastic product out there called the CARES harness. It was designed by a Berkeley grandma and is a little pricey but is totally worth it for convenience and safety - it's the only harness certified by the FAA - you can read more about it at If you went this route, you could check your carseat but still have a ''seat'' on the airplane and totally win on the safety side. amy

We have traveled several times with our son. Bring your own carseat. Airlines will give you a sturdy large plastic bag to put it in if you check it. It's worth the peace of mind (and safety). Cheap ones are uncomfortable, and you will never use it anywhere else. So, ultimately, they are a waste of money. Have fun in Cabo.

Airplane seat safety for toddler

June 2004

We are going to go on a trip to Europe with our then 2 1/4 year old toddler and we wonder how to deal with the safety in the airplane. There's a lot in the archives about this kind of questions, but I still don't quite get it.

We'll take BART all the way to the airport. We won't be using cars or cabs at the other end, but trains, busses, underground, and we will be walking a lot.

So, all we would need the carseat for is the actual plane trip. Adding a carseat to our regular luggage would be more than we can carry during our trip through Europe. A combined carseat stroller wouldn't work for the amount of walking unsmooth ground we'll do and it's cumbersome in public transport (we'll go for a backpack). Storing a carseat at the destination is not an option either, as we'll be flying out from a different airport for the way back to the US.

How do we secure our child in the airplane seat? Since over 2, she'll have to have her own seat. Do the airlines provide seats or rent them for a fee? I know that one simply cannot count on being able to hold a child in a crash, because the forces applying there may be too sudden and strong. I read that airlines don't allow the use of this ''mini carseat'' (some sort of 5 point harness security system without an actualy seat). Does this mean they'd rather have the child secured with an unappropriate adult seat belt than using this one? What is known about the safety of this ''mini carseat''? If it's not FAA approved, but actually safe, I'd go for it, but if it cannot compeed in safety, I'd not. Can I have by child attached to me (and myself my seat) in a bundle up frontpack carrier? I'm a slim person, but there may still not be enough room between my an the seat in front of us to make this save in case of an accident. I want my child to be safe in the airplane - any ideas out there how to arrange that? Julia

Commercial airliners are so much safer than cars that you do not need to worry as much about having a car seat. Also, in the unlikely event a big jet crashes, it is probably going to be an accident where a car seat would not make a difference in saving lives. Car seats are required for cars because statistics show that they save children's lives in the type of crashes you usually see on the road. They're not required in airliners because there is no evidence that they help. However, it is definitely NOT recommended that you hold your child during any situation where there might be a crash. If there is a minor impact or severe turbulence, your child will be torn from your arms easily (there is plenty of evidence showing this as well). The lap belt will hold your child securely during turbulence or a minor impact. If you know you are going to make a crash landing, you can have your child assume a brace position by leaning forward and grasping their ankles. This will keep their head from banging into the back of the seat in front of them at the moment of impact. That's a safer position than sitting upright in a car seat. pilot and driver

Someone may know of the magic solution, but if not, maybe you ship your car seat from your arrival city to the hotel that you are staying at the night prior to departure so that you can have it for the return trip. That way you don't have to lug it around Europe and you can keep your child safe in the event of bad turbulence on the flights. looking for that magic bullet, too

We gave up bringing the carseat on airplanes for my now 33-month old toddler when she was a little over two. It just seemed like too much hassle. She sits in her own seat with the seatbelt snug across her lap. This keeps her from bouncing around during turbulence. I know that if she were in her carseat she would be 'safer' during a crash, but, really, what are the chances of any of us surviving a plane crash?

Why don't you place an add in UC parents Marketplace asking for a used car seat. Or find a friend, or anyone you know who would be willing to sell their seat for real cheap, or better yet, just give it away. I'm sure there must be someone in this area who's child is about to grow out of their Britex Roundabout or something equivelant who would be more than happy to donate it to your situation. Then, when you get to your destination, you can simply give it away to someone else in need. Laurey

While car seats (rated for airplane use) are better for the more minor things that can happen on an airplane (rough turbulence, bumpy landing), the lap belt is actually pretty good for a small child. And of course for a serious problem (crash) it's firstly highly unlikely to happen, and it rarely would matter at all what kind of seat or seat belt was being used. So if you have no use at all for your car seats for the entire trip (no rental cars, driving with friends), then I'd deffinately suggest not taking the car seats at all. Mike

Be aware that European carriers usually don't allow you to take a car seat with you onto the airplane, even if you have purchased a seat for your child. We had a lively discussion on this recently with several flight attendants from Alitalia, who explained to us that it violates their safety regulations. Similar regulations apply to Lufthansa. They will gate-check your car seat, and the child has to sit in the regular plane seat, with the regular lap belt, which worked out fine for our 3 year old. Apparently, US carriers are the only ones who allow you to haul a car seat on board. And even if you have a ticket issued on a US airline, you might end up on a code share flight flown by the partner airline, and then their rules apply. So, check with your carrier and consider leaving the car seat at home. Regarding children under two, the regulations on European carriers are stricter than in the US: Infants cannot fly unrestrained in a parent's lap, but the airline gives you a special belt for the baby that hooks into your own seat belt and loops around the baby. mommy of two frequent fliers

Logistics of Using a Carseat on the Plane

How to manage toddler + carseat + stroller by myself

Feb 2010

I've done a ton of flying alone with my baby, but this will be my first time flying alone with him when he has his own seat (He'll be about 16 months old when we travel). As a result, I'll need to bring his carseat (a Britax Roundabout) on the plane. We'll be flying across the country with a plane change.

I was wondering how other folks have managed this. I have a back-pack carrier for the carseat, so I can carry it on my back. I could bring a stroller for my son and gate check it (this would help with the plane change, but them I'm dealing with the stroller, carseat, and my son when I'm going through security). Or would it be better to just rely carry my son in the Ergo (then I'm carrying the carseat, him, and the diaper bag, etc. when we change flights)? None of it sounds simple. Has anyone tried those wheels that can attach to carseats and turn them into strollers (and does it work/fit to wheel the carseat down the aisle of the plane -- it would be a disaster for me if it didn't and I had to carry the carseat and my son)? Questions, questions. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks in advance! Susannah

my motto is: minimize, minimize, minimize.

the ergo is great - skip the stroller if you can live without it. some people like to carry all sorts of crap in the stroller, but it's just another thing to handle in my opinion.

instead of using a carseat carrier on a backpack, i used a small rollie suitcase that can fit overhead, then bungee-corded the roundabout upside-down with the cushion portion against the outside of the suitcase. (can you picture it in your head?) it's kind of like how restaurants put chairs away on tables.

so you wear the baby, roll a suitcase with the roundabout bungee-corded, and you carry a diaper bag (or even bungee that on top of your suitcase/roundabout contraption.

good luck!! oh, i don't envy you... light traveler

I was in your exact situation a couple years ago. Here's what I did: I purchased a lighter carseat (Cosco Scenara, $35 at Walmart) because the Roundabout is much heavier. I just use this extra carseat as a travel carseat or spare one when I'm at home. I ended up wearing the carseat in a backpack. I also ended up wearing my 16-mo old in the ergo in the front...yes, 16-mo is too old/tall to be in the front, but it worked for the short trip through the airport. I had to do it because, for various reasons, I did not want to bring a stroller on this trip. In addition to the carseat backpack and the toddler in the ergo, I was carrying a gigantic diaper bag (which had my purse, etc in it). I was a total sherpa, but it worked! If you have the flexibility to bring a stroller, and gate-check it, that would probably be the easiest for you. Build Up Those Mom Muscles!

I HAD to respond to you! Boy do I know your anxiety, frustration, etc. I travelled by myself from OAK to Chicago with a 1.5 yr old while I was 4 months pregnant and INCREDIBLY sick. Unfortunately, I have to tell you that it was one of the toughest days of my life BUT mostly bc of the pregnancy and bc I was moving from the Bay Area which I love and adore. Here are my tips: find someone to get a pass to walk to the gate with you and then at the other end, if possible, have someone meet you at the gate. Doable without but was a big help for me with being pregnant and COMPLETELY an emotional wreck. I wore the carseat like a backpack, and brought a full stroller. It was a life saver because I had my daughter, stroller, carseat, backpack, diaper bag, and computer bag. My husband helped me through security then had to go. Getting on the plane was REALLY challenging at first and I felt like everyone was watching me with critical eyes, but at that point I could have cared less. Two wonderful gentlemen helped me get the carseat and stroller onto the plane. The flight attendants helped tremendously getting the carseat hooked up. After the flight, I waited to let everyone off so I could awkwardly get off the plane (might not be an option depending on your layover) and actually those same 2 gentlemen were waiting for me to help me get the stroller and carseat and get everything situated. Since it was a 5 hour flight I put my daughter in one of those backpacks with a leash *cringe* to let her get some energy out before and after the flight and piled everything in the stroller to get through the airport. In other situations traveling alone with the kids I put baby in the Ergo and didn't even bother with the stroller. When we went to Japan, I wore the carseat like a backpack and baby on the front. I ignored any pressure from other passengers at security and the people working there were always SUPER friendly and patient and helpful, so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

Bottom line: don't be afraid to ask for help, from a friendly looking stranger or from someone you know. Get rest so you have patience. Try to plan as much time as you can to get through each step of the process. Good luck! Missing the days of reading on a plane!

We have the gogo Kidz Travelmate that attaches to our Britax Roundabout and used it last year. It was very handy to wheel our kids throughout the airport to the gate. There was no need to bring a stroller. On the plane that we were on, I could roll the carseat with the wheels down the aisle, but it was a pretty tight and stressful to manage that, my kids, the diaper bag, while having a lot of people in front and behind you waiting to sit down.

In my experience, I do not recommend using the Britax Roundabout on the plane. The person sitting in front of my kid reclined the seat, so that person's seat was literally on my kid's knees. Also, we had some difficulty removing the seat since we fastened it to the chair so well, that we were still trying to remove it when the plane cleaning crew was doing their thing. I recommend that you check the carseat/wheels at the gate and it will be ready for you after you disembark the plane at your arrival gate.

If you go this route, be sure to either ask for a plastic cover bag at checkin (keep it for future use) or bring your own carseat bag to cover the carseat when you check it at the gate. This will keep your carseat clean on the tarmac (sometimes it rains or your carseat gets dirty).

Net-net, the gogo Kidz Travelmate is pricey, but worth simplifying travel. I couldn't imagine carrying the Britax Roundabout on my back, carrying a diaper bag, and trying to keep my hands free for my kids. Anon

carry/wear baby in ergo; wheel the carseat (and diaper bag, etc)in stroller, which gets gate-checked. Then, when you're going down the aisle, baby is still in ergo, leaving your hands free to carry stuff (and others often offer to help at that point) been there done that

Here's what we do. Each parent gets a wheeled carryon bag, a carseat, a kid, and a ''personal item'' (i.e., backpack/lumbar pack). The car seat gets bungee-corded upside down to the carryon suitcase and gets pulled. The kid gets patapum-ed (well, ours now walk). The personal item is carried on back, front, waist, on top carseat... depends! Can we make it down the plane aisle? some airplanes. But when we can't, the flight attendant is happy to carry the carseat for us or hold the suitcase at the entry while we settle the other stuff in. We don't bring a stroller. We use the ''personal item'' to carry inflight entertainment, change of clothes, etc. don't bring a shoulder diaper bag, use a backpack or lumbar pack which leaves hands free. Since we use the carryon size wheeled suitcase, and don't check a bag, there's no worry of lost luggage and every once in a while we need to access that wheeled bag inflight. voila! happy family traveller

We flew with a car seat, a stroller (the kind the car seat snaps into), my carry on bag, a backpack with baby gear/toys, an ergo and my daughter when she was 6 months. It is a juggle, but the stroller can be gate checked and should (where else would you put it?). The ergo can be stuffed into the baby bag, or used. I was worried about security also, but the line moves slow and everybody there wants to help you to make sure you don't hold up the line. If you need an extra set of hands, ask for help. Also, they didn't make me take my kid out of the ergo when I went through the metal detectors. It was surprising, but it made things easier because I only had to deal with all the stuff and my shoes. Having the gate checked stroller will help you do the connection because you can put your kid in the ergo, and everything else in the stroller. It'll work out. Don't worry too much. Have a good vacation!

Having both carried the car seats on the plane and checked them through, my very strong recommendation is to check the car seat and pick it up at your destination.

the car seat is bulky awkward to carry and adds no value while on the plane. Your child will be happier with the additional space that a whole adult seat affords. At that age, he can like across the seat to sleep or squirm and move about much more easily than he can in the car seat.

In the terminal before and after the flight, I had more than enough other things to carry and keep together; schlepping that seat around was a major hassle.

Finally, the already-seated passengers will appreciate not being whacked by the car seat and your carry on as you struggle down the aisle with all that gear. --traveled with twins

Once our baby boy made 1 year old, we never used the car seat on the airplane. We've always used the CARES harness [see description, price, and ordering info at]

We fly cross-country at least 3 times a year, so we've gotten a lot of use out of the CARES harness; and it's very comfortable for our toddler.

We ''check'' the carseat -- it's not charged as an extra bag. The baby gets pushed through the airport in his umbrella-style stroller which we check at the gate; at the layover, the stoller is again placed at the gate by personnel and thus available for us to cruise around for an hour or so. Then we check it again for the final leg of the flight.

The CARES harness is really indispensable to me. Antoinette

We check the car seat at the check-in counter so we don't need to drag it all over the airport. We use an ergo to carry our son through the airport. We bought a CARES strap for the airplane seat. A little pricy, but he's secure in the seat, it weighs 1 lb and is super easy to use. If you can't buy one, maybe a friend has one you can borrow? Andi

My experience with this suggests that it is worth it to bring the stroller, which functions as an ersatz luggage cart; the only real issue is your willingness and ability to lug the britex in the backpack carrier. I have - more than once - nestled the upside-down britex over the stroller itself, child amusedly tucked inside (inside the stroller! not the upside-down britex). This, of course, depends on the shape of your stroller and temperement of your child.

I don't see the security line problem unless your child is a runner by nature, and if so you've already had to deal with this sort of thing; presuming you to be deft with the folding of your stroller, it's just one more piece of gear to deal with.

In the final analysis, your hands will be full, either carrying your kid or pushing your stroller. Stroller's easier, IMO.

I've also had generally good experience with gate checking the stroller, making plane changes a LOT easier. I have often been offered assistance by flight attendants in carrying the carseat down the aisle, assistance for which I was grateful; I would not hesitate to ask for it if I needed it. I have never used those wheels, but our Britex was too wide to be easily carried down the aisle without lifting it over the seats.

Final note; when belting in the car seat, take care to tighten the belt such that the buckle unlatches towards the plane seat and away from the britex seat; I have tightened it the other way, and it can be so tight as to make it very difficult to unlatch, especially when you're working by feel and not by sight. Good luck! Ian

I haven't done this before but my friend works for the TSA at the Oakland airport and she said that you can request a helper to get you through security. She said you ask at the ticketing/bag check window. You could also probably ask that someone be there to meet you when your plane arrives to change planes or go to baggage claim. She said usually people who ask for a helper get to go through the priority line as well. It doesn't cost anything and it could only help. Also, you could get one of those smart carts for your stuff. They have a kid seat in the front. Good luck! anon

I tried the Gogo Kidz Travelmate car seat attachment and the car seat (Britax Boulevard) would not stay on, so I had to reattach it multiple times on our short trip through the airport. Also, it would not fit through the aisle of the plane, which left me to manage my son, the car seat and the Travelmate separately - fun stuff when you are traveling sans partner! Needless to say, I returned the Travelmate to Amazon, and gladly ate the restocking fee. I'd love to hear how other folks successfully managed a single parent/car seat/toddler combo at the airport!! Heather

I have done this with a Roundabout and I recommend bringing the stroller (umbrella/lightweight if you have one). It actually is not hard to get through security with everything, you just have to think ahead a little bit. For example- everything on the conveyor belt (including the carseat which has to come out of the bag), shoes, coats, etc. Then take your kid out of stroller, then fold stroller and put it on last. You will have to have a flight attendant or another passenger help you carry the car seat onto the plane anyway, because it doesn't really fit between the seats, you have to lift it over them to walk down the aisle, and you can't do that one-handed while carrying your child. If you get one of those GoGo kidz things to attach to the car seat, you have to unscrew it to take it off before going through security, than put it back on, then the same thing once you're on the plane. It doesn't seem worth it. I have the backpack carrier for the carseat, and it works great, I have even dragged it along behind me when my back was hurting and it held up great. I gate check it along with the stroller. The carseat has to be in the window seat by the way - so contact the airline ahead of time if you don't have a window seat booked. Good luck!

I just returned from a solo trip with 2 kids (ages 3 and almost 2) and truthfully, one of the hardest parts of the trip was getting through security - schlepping 2 kids, a stroller, our carry-on and a car seat for my youngest. I was envious of the parents who had that contraption that straps to your car seat to convert it to a stroller. I think they're fairly expensive (in the $100 range) but seemed to make things easier for the parents who had them.

The Ergo is great - but security makes you take the child out of it so it can be sent through the scanner (a total drag when you have a sleeping child in the Ergo, but a security measure they are unwilling to budge on.) Just be aware of how much weight you're carrying (kid in carrier, diaper bag over shoulder, etc) - seems to be the case that your gate is always the furthest away when you're carrying the heaviest load (Murphy's Law or something.)

I brought a bungie cord and strapped the car seat onto my rolling carry-on luggage, which freed up a hand for pushing the double stroller. But everything has to be dismantled at security - so just prepare yourself for a bit of chaos getting through. If you bring a stroller, gate check it and just ask a flight attendant to carry your car seat to your seats on the plane so you can carry your child. Same for when you're getting off the plane. It should be no problem for them to carry your car seat off the plane to where you gate checked the stroller, strap the carseat onto your rolling luggage and you're on your way! Good luck (and bring snacks, favorite toy and extra diapers in your carry on!) Globe Trotting Mama

I'd strongly suggest the attachment you're talking about - made by GoGo Babyz. It is the most genius contraption ever. I've used it multiple times with my son, the first time when he was 16 months old and I was 5 months pregnant. It saves you the hassle of a stroller and if your toddler is like mine was at that age, it still keeps them totally contained. Technically, you are supposed to remove the attachment from the car seat before putting the car seat in the airplane seat. BUT, on 6 different flights I've take it on - only ONCE has a flight attendant asked me to remove it. It's much easier to just keep it on during the flight if you can.

Good luck! The GoGo Babyz is pure genius, and you'll be stunned at how many people stop you in the airport and ask you where you got it. Mag

Oct 2008

We have booked seats on a flight to Europe for our 18 month old twins. I am starting to get nervous that our carseats won't fit on the airplane seats (and British Airways has told us that under two's MUST be in a carseat if they have their own seat). We have a Britax Wizard and a Britax Roundabout Advantage (not the regular Roundabout). We will be traveling on a Boeing 747-400. Does anyone have any experience with using one of these kinds of carseats on a longhaul flight? I checked the archives and there was only advice about the Roundabout and the Marathon. Thanks! Reluctant Flyer

Don't worry, both of your carseats will fit on the plane. I've taken both an Advantage and a Wizard on a few flights and never had a problem. You might not be able to rear-face the Wizard, but as your kids are 18 months they should be fine forward- facing. Always buys the kid a ticket

Most Airlines have their seat measurements listed on the website. Look up the your seat assignment size and break out the measuring tape. If the measurements are not listed the Airline should be able to give them to you over the phone. Good luck! Anon

Every airline has a different pitch, so what fits well on one airline may not fit well on another even though the aircrafts are identical. I know that both of my girls have flown on JetBlue JetBlue (greater pitch than most) at 18-months in their roundabouts and they could easily kick the seat in front of them. The seats fit, though. I found the dimensions of the Wizard -- it is significantly bigger...I couldn't find the advantage, except that it was retired in 2003 - which means that you are up to replace it this year anyway. Maybe you could buy the replacement for it that is a similar size to a Roundabout since you are going to have to replace it anyway by year's end (you may already be past the replacement date -- the date of manufacture is stamped on the side, so just add five years to that and that is your replacement date). And take the Advantage and the replacement...just a thought. -anon

I haven't used that particular seat, but some information that may be helpful can be found at They list the width of the seats on various aircraft for all major airlines. That measurement will at least help you estimate if the seat MIGHT fit.(They also let you know which seats are particularly unpleasant due to being by the lavatories, for example). R.K.

Lugging 2 heavy carseats through the airport

March 2007

We are planning on flying to Florida next month, and will for the first time be lugging our 3.5 yr old's Recaro Young Sport car seat as well as our 9 mon. old's Britax Marathon. We have a zip-bag/shoulder harness carrier that works for the Marathon, but that style bag is too small for the Recaro. Has anybody found a good brand of carrier that fits the very large Recaro, or have other suggestions for lugging it through the airport (this would be 2 adults, along with 2 kids, 2 backbacks, a laptop, and a stroller)?? first time with 2 carseats

I would leave the huge carseat at home. Is there a reason you're taking it? Maybe spend a little bit of money on a cheaper, lighter carseat or a booster. When we travel with my 3 yo, we take a Graco full (with the back on it) booster, and it's a lot easier. My son is really tall and around 40 lbs, so that works for us. If you would rather have a true car seat, Babies R Us sells cheap seats for around 50 bucks... could be money well spent, and you could always recoup some of that by selling it on BPN! Sarah

I don't understand why parents are obsessed with lugging around carseats (especially 2 of them!) when you can rent them from rental car places (with or without a rental car). A minimalist

My suggestion - pile the two carseats in/on/over the stroller, carry the baby in your favorite carrier or sling, and let the older child walk as much as possible. When the kid tires out, one adult could carry the older one, the other wears the baby and pushes the stroller. R.K.

Actually, I would check the 3.5 year old's seat, and have the child just use a seat belt on the plane (I say this not knowing about the personality of your child, assuming that staying in place with a seatbelt is not an issue). I fly with my 6 year old and (now almost)4 year old, and they have both been flying with just the airline seat belt for the last year or so. We check both seats, and they are waiting for us at the other end, for when we get in a car again. It makes being in the airport, and getting from gate to gate, much much easier. So in your case, I would bring the carseat for the 9-month old onto the plane, and check the 3.5 year old's seat. Good Luck-- Donna

I feel your pain\xe2\x80\x94and my chiropractor\xe2\x80\x99s still helping me get over it! You might consider the Pac Back carrier that has padded shoulder and waist straps designed to protect your hips, with lumbar support. It\xe2\x80\x99s not a bag, so the seat doesn\xe2\x80\x99t have to fit inside of it. Rather the heavy-duty straps go around it, with quick-release buckles\xe2\x80\x94much more convenient if you plan to use it in the airplane. It says it supports car seats up to 45 lbs. (the Young Sport weighs 21 lbs.). We\xe2\x80\x99ve used ours with the Marathon with no problem, and the straps could have extended further.

Rather than put that much strain on your back, however, you might prefer to just roll your big kid to the gate in the car seat (or strap the laptop or one of your backpacks in it). The new GoGo kidz UNIVERSAL Travelmate (not the old model that only worked with Britax seats) does work with the Ricaro Young Sport car seat. It\xe2\x80\x99s like a little flip-out hand truck or \xe2\x80\x9cdolly\xe2\x80\x9d that goes under car seats with a telescoping handle. It\xe2\x80\x99s a bit spendy, but you may prefer it to other options. While you have to remove it when using the car seat in cars, you can leave it on, underneath the seat while flying (if your child has enough leg room). My friend traveled with her Travelmate to Nigeria and wrote about her experience using it:

Also, if you don\xe2\x80\x99t absolutely need the laptop, you\xe2\x80\x99ll probably be very glad you\xe2\x80\x99ve left it behind. In case you\xe2\x80\x99re mostly planning to bring it onboard for entertainment, it might be worth getting a small, portable DVD player instead that will fit in one of your backpacks. Good luck out there! Shelly This is the only FAA approved harness seat belt for toddlers. I LOVE this thing. Except the price--$75?? Come on. But, it works wonderfully, is so easy to travel with. It is NOT approved to use anywhere but on an airplane--no cars. I generally travel to the same place--visiting the grandparents twice a year. Well, I bought a cheap Evenflow booster for the kids on that end, and travel with this on my way over there. I don't advise renting car seats from car rental places. They often look disgusting and ancient, AND, for the amount they charge you, you can buy a brand new one. Kids have to be a certain age, weight, height to use, so you may still have to carry one car seat with you. And, my justification for the price--I'm going to eBay the thing when I'm done--it seems indestructable, and would last forever. And/Or, I'm going to ''rent'' it to my friends for $5 or $10 per trip to make up the cost. Works great! Happy flyer

I missed your original post, so I'm not sure how old you child is, but the FAA has approved the Child Aviation Restraint System, which allows children between 22 and 44 pounds to ride safely in their own seats without a car seat. anon

Does the carseat have to go in the window seat?

May 2004

Hi - we are flying back East next month with our 19 month old. We purchased a seat for him, and had planned on installing his car seat in it. I have just come across a few posts on this site and others that mention in passing that the car seat must be installed in the window seat - is this true? Our seats are in the middle 3 seats, so the plan was to put him in between us - is this acceptable to most flight attendants? Also, I've seen a lot of discussion about the Britax Roundabout, but not other car seats. We have a Graco ComfortSport (?) - does anyone have experience flying with that, or other car seats that have worked well for them?

Legally, the car seat MUST be in the window seat. There is no negotiation whatsoever with the flight attendants, because they do not have a choice in the matter. Karen

The ''rule'' is that the car seat can not block anybody for take- off and landing. If you have the 3 middle seats than putting the car seat in the middle is fine. After take-off and before landing you can put the car seat anywhere. Be aware that flight attendants don't always know. Look on your carseat if there is an indication that you can fly with it. It should be on there. have a nice trip

We always purchase seats for our two daughters and it is true that car seats must be in a window seat. This has been frustrating at times because the situation splits up our family if we are all flying together...and my husband likes to sit by the window. ;) My suggestion is to go to the counter immediately upon arrival at the airport so that they can attempt to remedy the situation before you are actually on the plane. The little ones generally like to look out the it's not always a bad scenario. I only know about Roundabout car seats. Have a great flight! Laura

I had read that before, so we've always put my 2.5 yr old's seat by the window. But we just traveled earlier this month, now with our 2nd as well (7 weeks and a lap baby), and we really wanted the seat in the middle so we could both interact. On the way out, no problem. But the flight attendant on the way back made us move it, because she said my husband had to be able to easily get out in case of an emergency, and the carseat would be in the way. Heather

Yes, the car seat has to be by the window. My husband and I would take turns sitting in the middle and being ''on duty.'' Getting the third seat is definitely the way to go, though! Don't know about your brand of car seat, but most any current model should be fine. Check with the manufacturer (most have websites) or store that sells your model to be sure it'll work on the plane. anon

hi there...its an faa rule that the seat has to be installed in the window. i had the same expectations as you (the baby in the middle so both of us could take turns interacting with him) BUT was informed en route to takeoff (the plane was literally moving) that he had to be at the window seat, so we had to quickly move the seat. the reason is that in case of the need to evacuate the plane no one has to struggle to get around a carseat in the middle or aisle seat. sorry to bum you out! good luck on the plane!

Call the airline that you're flying with and ask them about your particular car seat. We've always called ahead because some flights (depending on the size of the plane) won't let you use your car seat. fly a lot family

I believe that the rule is that the carseat cannot block access to the aisles, that's why they say window seat. I believe the middle of the center section is fine, too, since both aisle are accessible, but not all flight attendants will see it this way. I suggest you call the airline and inquire; they may prefer to move your seats. Since you purchased a ticket for the baby (good for you!), they should ensure there is an appropriate seat for the car seat. R.K.

From my understanding the rule regarding carseats and airplanes is that the carseat cannot obstruct another passenger's access to the aisle. Therefore when you're on the sides of the plane the carseat needs to be by the window. I believe when you're in the middle three seats that the only place you can place the seat is in the middle of the three seats. So it sounds like you're fine! Have a great trip! Airplane mom

I just flew with my twin boys to Minnesota and used car seats. Specifically, the FAA reg states that the car seat can not extend beyond the length of the regular seat. Since each plane seat is a different size, there is no way to predict in advance if your carseat will extend past the regular seat or not. On our flight there, it did, so the boys sat at the windows. On the return flight, it did just barely, but we put them in the middle anyways. We used Century Car Seats. You can pre-board with the carseat and see if it can fit in the middle seat. The attendants should be aware of the SPECIFIC reg. But it's not bad having baby at the window. Happy Vacation! Sue

In my experience (over 15 flights with kids and carseats), they do make you put the carseat in a window seat only. Don't worry if you are already assigned to a middle seat--they will certainly move you when you check in if you tell them your plans. When you are at the gate, let them know again. They have a lot of flexibility to move your seats.Don't' stress about it-- it won't be a problem. freq. flyer.

The FAA controls where a car seat can be placed on an aircraft. If you are in a narrow body aircraft (two rows of seats) then the car seat must be placed next to the window. If you are sitting in a widebody , then (three rows of seats), and are assigned to the center row of seats, then the seat must be placed in the exact center of the aircraft. Also, car seats can't be placed in exit rows or in the row immdeiately in front of the exit row. Call the airline if you are not assigned suitable seats and let them know that you are planning to use a car seat. If they can't reassign you to your preferred (I am assuming that you are in the middle of a wide-body from your post) seats, ask a FA to help you when you get there. Keep in mind, though that you may not get what you want. My husband and I had middle seats on a recent flight across the aisle from each other while traveling with a lap baby. No one in our row wanted to give up an aisle or window seat (understandably), so there was lots of handing the baby across the aisle when the child wanted the other parent. Everyone was just fine with it (its amazing how nice people will be when you are travelling with a baby -- yes, I am serious). 30 flights with baby and counting

We have purchased many seats on airplanes for our children, and yes, the car seat must be installed in the window seat. It cannot be installed anywhere where it would block someone ffrom getting through to the aisle. We had middle of the plane seats once, and they had to re-arrange several passengers to accomodate our carseat. You cannot sit in the bulkhead seats either (those great rows with extra legroom!) as they are exit aisles and whomever sits there must be able to open the exit door there in case of emergency. Good luck -- it still seemed to work well for us and my husband and I took turms sitting by our daughter. Trish

You do not need to put the carseat in the window seat unless it is a small plane (and thus the space between seats is small, and the car seat ''blocks'' the row if its not in the window seat). We just flew two weeks ago and had our son's seat in the middle seat on the flight from SF to Houston, but when we went from Houston to Shreveport we were required to put the seat in the window. It was fun to fly!

Will tray table lower with [Britax] carseat?

July 2003

Hi. We're going to Maui at the end of the summer. Our son will be 3 months shy of his 3rd birthday. He's really rambunctious, and is not the type of child to sit there and play with toys for long and prefers to be moving. I'd like to hear from others about the pros and cons of bringing a car seat on the plane. We took a short trip this spring, and brought a Cosco seat with us on board. While it was great to have him strapped in, I found that I couldn't bring the tray table down fully with the seat. We have a Britax Roundabout --Does anyone know if that car seat will allow the tray table to rest flat? Are we better off checking the seat? It's a 5 hour flight and I don't want to make the entire plane, including our family miserable. Please send me your advice. Mollie

Hi, No, the tray table won't go down with the Britax car seat... It is a real bummer, since it prevents them from being able to use it for coloring or other crafts... We leave for vacation later this week, and have decided to check the carseat. We have discussed safety with our daughter and she knows that she must wear the seatbelt. She is really excited to sit on the big-girl seat and use the tray. Here's hoping this works for us both, michelle

We take a trip to Maui yearly, and we also have an active son. I've done the trip both ways, and I have to recommend checking the car seat. I don't recall if the tray goes all the way down with the Britax seat (we have the same model), but I'm pretty sure it doesn't. My son was the happiest without his seat as he could stand in front of his seat and play, or he could sit in his seat and use the tray table. I found that having the car seat was a pain because it takes up too much space. There were more options to keep him entertained without it. Good luck! Kristin

In our experience, the tray table does not come all the way down with the Roundabout, either. Sorry! Christina

We took our roundabout with us on every flight until my daughter was just shy of four. the first trip w/o the seat on the plane was actually to hawaii, and it was much much better for her, easier for her to relax in her plane seat, more room, less constriction, and she could use the tray table (we also didn't have to lug the seat through the airport to our connecting flight!). with the car seat, if you do use it for safety, the trays usually do go all the way down, but then your kid has nowhere to put their legs except out to the sides of the tray! not the best set up. the airlines have always been pretty lax about child seats in my experience--they don't require one for any kid, i don't think, so they won't bother you if you have a seat or if you don't--good luck deciding! anon

We recently took a trip to the east coast and took the Britex Roudabout for our 17 month old. It was terrible! We had purchased the extra seat for her and she refused to sit in it screaming her head off the entire time. And no, the tray table cannot be put down. And when the people in front of us reclined their seats, they were practically on top of her and she would kick their seat the whole time to make more space for herself. So we took her out and she refused to get back into it. So we were stuck with her on our laps using just two seats with the Roundabout crowding us in the third seat.

Since we had a connection in Chicago, we checked it in there and did much better without it on the second leg of our trip and without it on the way back. We had a lot more room and she was able to use the tray for coloring and playing. I also noticed that no one on the flight (which was full of children) had carseats aboard unless they had an infant. Check it in!

I got back a week ago from Maui with my five y.o. and nineteen month old. I took the Britax on the plane. Not sure I'd do it again. I definitely wasn't even CLOSE to being about ot put the tray table down. I mostly brought is so she could sleep in it on the ride. She slept two hours out of it on the way over (there was a whole empty row) and only about 45 mintutes in it on the way back. It did allow her on the way back to stand up high and see her dad and sister behind us, but it was cumbersome and a pain in the butt really. If she had been three like you son, I definitely would NOT have taken it. Hilary

Regarding the Britax car seat on airplanes We took our then 15- month old daughter to France at a very physical and active stage. I found that the seat was very bulky for the average economy seat and made us feel exceedingly cramped. Furthermore, it was very difficult to retrieve the many items she dropped on the floor. To your question regarding the tray table, we were definitely unable to use it with the Britax in place. In a subsequent trip to India, we flew without the car seat and were much more comfortable. The lap belt was adequate and she was able to use the tray table for play and eating. By the way, we found the best form of distraction was a Sesame Street software game that my husband installed on his laptop. If this is an option for you, it may help you pass the time. Best of luck traveling with your toddler and have a wonderful vacation! Lopa

When our child was a baby, we traveled quite a bit and always took our Britax car seat on the plane. The tray table worked fine, as I recall. One thing that was problematic was getting the car seat on and off the plane -- the main issue was with some flight attendants, who often said things like, ''You don't have to do that. You can just hold her in your lap.'' They seemed to dislike us taking up a few minutes to get the car seat in place. My standard line was to ask why, if it was unsafe to hold a piece of carry-on luggage on my lap, it was safe to hold my baby. Wasn't she just as likely to be flung about by turbulence as a piece of luggage? My husband and I preferred the relatively minor inconvenience of using a car seat on the plane to the thought of our baby suffering injuries. We always kept her in the car seat, even during longer flights. As a toddler, I entertained my daughter by offering her a series of little travel toys. Each was wrapped up so that unwrapping the ''gift'' was part of the fun. She squirmed and wanted out of the car seat sometimes, but my husband and I took turns entertaining her. We also tried to schedule flights for her naptime, so she'd sleep for a while and give us a break. Signed, Safety First

We've certainly found with our 2/3 year old in recent trips that we and he are better off, comfort wise, checking the car seat and allowing him the extra room to move around. Plus we don't have to worry so much about keepign him from kicking the seat ahead. anon

We just took two long plane trips with our daughter in the Britax Roundabout. I don't recall the specific plane models we were on, but on no flight were we able to put the tray table down. Also, it was only on the last flight, where we had United Plus seating (extra legroom) that her legs couldn't reach the seat in front of her. She's only 16 months, so I would imagine your 3 year old's legs could comfortably tap the person in front of him the whole way to Maui! The car seat was great for her to sleep in, so maybe consider bringing in on the plane if your flight is during a time that he might sleep. Good luck! Anna

No, a Britax does not, IME, allow the use of a tray table on a plane. It's a pretty high seat. On Southwest, the tray table just came down to rest, at an extreme angle, against my son's legs. As for keeping your active 3 y.o. occupied the single best thing I brought on our 2-leg trip to Orlando was our camcorder, on which I had recorded some of my son's favorite videos (following instructions on the UCB Parents website http// and scroll down). I also brought crayons & coloring books, but the other real hit was an activity book w/stickers that I got at Wal-Mart for 40 cents. And lots of snacks. Good luck; it can be tough. Jennie

We just returned from Hawaii traveling with our toddler in a Britax seat and NO you can not lower the tray table! This was on a 757, so it might be different on different planes, but I doubt it. I did notice that we were the only ones using a car seat on our nearly full plane that was at least 25% kids, and that might be due to the all the hassle with transporting the seat and how crammed the kid feels while in it. I think the safety is worth the hassle, but that's just my 2 cents! Aloha!

Hi, We fly several times a year with our kids (now 3 and 9 months), and if I were you, I'd check the car seat and let your son sit in the seat without it. I've asked at the airport, and they are supposed to be quite safe with the regular seatbelt after 2. The week after our (also rambunctious) son turned 2 (last year) we took the first trip with him where we checked the car seat (a Britax Roundabout) instead of using it on board, and it was GREAT. Much better than the trips before for all concerned. The tray table won't rest flat (or even close enough) with the Britax, and the seat took up so much space there wasn't room for him to move around - except on top of us, in the aisles, and in the bathroom (where we were reduced to hanging out and emptying the cupholder at one point). On that first trip sans-Britax we talked a LOT about the seat belt light, and what it meant, and turned it into a bit of a game - light on means seatbelt on. As long as he has the window seat, he does overall very well - mcuh better than he would with a carseat.

The other advantage (as long as you are ok with him taking the seatbelt off for short portions of the flight, which we are) - he'll have more room to play, read, etc if he has his own seat. Our son uses the tray a lot in flight, and has also kneeled on the floor and used his seat as a table for his various trucks, stuffed animals, etc. He's much less tempted to climb over the seat and visit the neighbors when he has his own space.

Another idea, if you have a laptop with a DVD player, is to bring it and let him watch a DVD. I've seen parents do this on flights many times, and we actually tried it for the first time last month. It worked like a charm - kept him still for almost 2 hours. Which NEVER happens at home. (I think he was tired from all the excitement - make sure you let him run around a LOT before you get on the plane.) Good luck! Heather

When we traveled we took a Cosco Travel Vest (now called the Tote n' Go). This worked well for our 3 1/2 year old in a car. It is a small padded board with a slot in the back to thread a seatbelt through, and then a 5-point system attached to the board.

I don't know if it is intended for airplane safety or not. You would have to look at the instructions on one to see. You can buy one online; you type it into Yahoo and a whole bunch of places will come up that sell them. There have been some less-satisfied reviews of it (for a nice comprehensive one that seems unbiased, see http// but we found it to work relatively well; though it was fiddly to install, it was really convenient to travel with. The only problem most people have is that it is rather small, so I recommend trying one on before you plonk down the money. Hope that helps. Heather

After a transoceanic flight during which our then 20 mo. old sat in his Britax Roundabout and kicked the seat in front of him repeatedly, we swore never to bring the seat again aboard any flight. The carseat just took up too much room. He's now 2 and travelled to China and Australia without the seat and everyone has been happier we can lower the tray table to eat, for drawing and car play, and still strap him in when necessary. The only drawback is sleeping- we usually raise the seat bar and hope he'll stretch across us. Bon voyage- christina

The tray table will not fold down with a Britax (at least, not on any plane I've been on so far... and we've done quite a bit of traveling). My daughter is a little bit shy of 2 1/2 years, and we have found it much better for everyone -- but especially her -- if we check the car seat. That way, she can use the tray table and, if we get lucky, she can stretch out with her head in my or my husband's lap for a nap. (Impossible with a car seat in the way!). Don't worry about him being small in the seat -- our daughter is petite, but it doesn't bother her. In fact, I think having the room to squirm and wiggle in her seat helps to burn off some energy. Another (obvious) bonus is that you don't have to carry that carseat around the airport! Sarah

After traveling across the country 10+ times with the Britex here is my 2 cents... Pros 1. Your child is strapped in and unable to slither under the airplane seats and out to the aisle. 2. If your child falls asleep they have the comfort of the carseat to support them. Cons 1. YOu cannot use the tray. 2. Your child can EASILY kick the seat infront of him (and may have very little space between his legs and the seat infront of him, depending on the airline) 3. The carseat must be placed by the window, so there is no opportunity for 2 parents to tag team entertain. to solve the tray problem, you can purchase a lap table with a storage bin to hold crayons and paper to use during flight. Once my son was 2.5 I stopped using the Britex and asked a flight attendent to explain to him that when the seatbelt light was on he MUST be in his seat with his seat belt fastened. And that he had to ask permission to get up and go to the potty. Having a third party explain the ''rules'' seemed to enforce them even more, and every time the flight attendent passed him and he was well behaved he was acknowledged by the flight attendents. We let him sleep on the floor with the help of many blankets, and as long as the flight was smooth it gave us some ''down time'' to relax. Have a great trip!! courtney

We just flew back east with our 2 year old and took the Britax Roundabout on the plane with us. On the pro side, having the car seat on the plane made it much easier to keep our son contained and it gave him a comfortable place to sleep. But the tray does not clear the seat, and my son at 36'' tall was able to kick and push on the seat in front of him (luckily we had kind people sitting there). The bulkhead would be a better option, but it wasn't available for us. Sally

A cousin of mine recently graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, where he studied analysis of flight disasters (or something like that) in order to work with the National Transportation Safety Board. After hearing me complain about the inconvenience and discomfort of a carseat, he described in graphic detail the hazards for a child who is unrestrained or insufficiently restrained (such as those who are too small to use an adult lap belt effectively). The tales he had to tell of infants who were injured, even from routine turbulence, were sufficiently horrifying that I chose to deal with the inconvenience and always bring the carseat. The choice is yours, but it seems that safety should be the guiding principle, above all else. Don't let those snippy flight attendants and passengers intimidate you. Lauren

Twins in Britax Marathon carseats

May 2003

I am trying to decide whether to fly to Midwest this summer with my now 10 month old twin boys. I have read many postings in the archives but few if any have been posted for air travel since 9/11 and SARS, and none regarding the new Marathon car seats from Britax. I will not be attempting this alone. I will most likely be with my patient, kind hearted brother. Has anyone used the Britax Marathon on a plane? What are my alternatives. I would love to find a pair of stroll and sit carseat contraptions to rent or borrow but I have heard from a local kid store that they aren't that great a product as a carseat. Advice would be welcome. anon

I have traveled with a Britax Marathon and it was bulky, but worth it for us because we needed a seat at our destination and didn't want to rely on something we'd rent from a rental car company. I'm not familiar with the contraption you mention, but travelling with twins adds a twist I thought you'd want to know about. When we were using the Britax, the airline would only allow us to put the seat in the window position, not the middle. Once you're in the airplane you'll see the problem--the seat completely blocks the foot space, so you'd never be able to use the middle seat for a baby without blocking the exit for the window seat. So with twins, you'd likely not be able to seat them next to each other because you wouldn't be able to reach the baby in the window seat. They'd make you seat them in different rows, both in window seats. With your brother helping, this might not be a problem, but it sure doesn't sound very appealing to me. I'd recommend calling the airline and asking how they recommend flying with twins. They must deal with this question, but I suspect their solution involves holding a baby on your lap. Good luck. Lori

If you want the boys in car seats I think you have to travel with another adult because the car seats have to be in the window seats. I've done it w/ Britax car seats (don't know which model) and twins and a toddler. Its awful getting the seats and kids on to the plane. I think I had one in a back pack, carried the other and my husband carried the car seats. We definitely needed the double stoller up to the gate -- to carry the kids, car seats and carry ons and to change planes. We had a great time after we got there... Elizabeth

I don't know if you have already figured out the seat configuration yet--if not, you should know the carseats can only be placed at a window seat. This means you are best off booking two pairs of window and middle seats directly infront/behind each other. If the flight is empty enough you can end up with two whole rows--in which case it is best to be across the aisle from each other. I found it very helpful to call ahead to know how full the flight was. The best seats to get are the bulkhead seats. There is enough space in front of them to sit on the floor and play with the babies and even let them crawl a tiny bit. However, most airlines have a policy of not booking those ahead of time; so you have to be there 2 hours early to have a hope of getting them, and even then premier or disabled customers usually have priority for them.

We flew with our twins when they were 9 1/2 months old, and even though they had grown out of the bucket carseats at 5 months, we used them for the plane ride. They were easier to juggle in the airport, and since we had not purchased seats for our boys, we didn't want to risk checking our Britax carseats in the event there were no extra seats on the plane (which was the case on the return flight). My sister had bigger carseats we could borrow once we arrived, so the infant ones were for the plane only.

That being said, if the bucket seats are not an option for you, I had some thoughts about how to jugggle the two big carseats, carry-ons, stroller and twins through the airport. I have seen people use the childrens' seatbelts as straps to carry the carseats like backpacks. Each adult can take a seat that way and have hands free either for the stroller or the carry-ons. Another option is if you have a side-by-side with handles (like the Mclarens) you can hang the carseats off the back of the stroller-- a little awkward, but it works. The tricky part is getting onto and off of the plane after the stroller is gate- checked. If you are not able to carry all the stuff and the kids, my suggestion is to have one adult board with both carseats and install them while the other remains at the end of the gateway (where you gate check the stroller) with the children and the luggage until the other adult can come back and help. We managed to all board together using Baby Bjorns (which they were technically to big for, but were o.k. for the short walk) to get the kids from the jetway to their seats. Good luck and have a great trip! Julie

Like many posters, I was under the impression that the car seat can only be placed in the window position, but the more important issue is not blocking anyone's exit from the plane. So, if you are flying on a larger plane that has 2/3/2 seating, i.e 2 seats on each side and three in the middle, you could have 2 car seats next to each other in the middle set of seats. One adult could then sit across the aisle and still help with the child. I did this on a recent flight back to sfo from chicago. Happy Travels Gretchen

I just wanted to mention to all those moms who responded. I worked as a flight attendant for the last fourteen years and car seats DO NOT have to be at the window seat. Infant car seat must be at the window seat at all time only on a narrow body aircraft because aft facing infant carseats will block one's access to the aisle. Britax car seats are fine at any seat location except forward or aft of emergency window exit rows and yes, you can have two carseats side by side or an adult can sit in between two car seats. Most airlines do try to accommodate all passengers especially with those with children but nothing is guaranteed especially during summer peak season.

Carrying the car seat at airport

Sept 2002

I'm looking for advice on carrying a baby/toddler car seat at the airport. Up until now, my son has been in an infant car seat, which conveniently locks into a ''snap and go.'' We've used this combo for our air travel to date and it's worked well. But my son is tall and is getting ready for his next car seat, the Britex Roundabout, which goes up to 30 lbs. We will be traveling to the east coast and are hoping to find a ''snap and go'' type system that works with this larger car seat. We will be bringing the car seat onto the plane for him (he won't be a lap child) and would like to click it into a set a wheels so we can wheel him in his car seat throughout the airports and roll him around during our layover. We would then gate-check the wheels. We'd rather not have to carry him and his car seat separately through the airport. Also, I sometimes travel alone with him, and it would be much too difficult for me to carry a diaper bag, purse, and car seat all separately, while managing him as well. I can't check the car seat, as I will be using it on the plane. He's only 6-1/2 months old, so he's a long way from walking. Is there a ''snap and go'' equivalent for the larger car seats? Does anyone have a creative solution that would work? Any advice is welcomed! Thanks!! Linda

When I traveled alone with the baby and the Britax... I put the baby in our Baby Bjorn front carrier and for the walk down the jetway-- loosened the Britax straps all the way and slung it over my shoulder like a backpack-- not exactly graceful but it got us into the plane. Depending on whether the people at the other end had an umbrella stroller or not-- I'd take one of those as well. For the time in the airport I used one of the airport carts and was able to use it to carry the Britax. Lisa

We have a big heavy Britax. We hung it by the shoulder straps on the back of our umbrella stroller handles. This only works if the baby is riding in the stroller, and is heavy enough so it doesn't tip over backwards! It is a little awkward - you have to concentrate on not hitting your knees as you push the stroller, but better than carrying it. Try it facing backwards and forwards to see which way it works better. Remember when you take the baby out the stroller will fall over backwards! Also I highly recommend using the baggage carts as much as you can. Grab one as soon as you get to the airport. Put stroller, carseat and bags on there and put the baby in the sitting part or carry her in a backpack. It is totally worth the 2 bucks for the cart. Confession: it was so inconvenient lugging around the carseat that on our last trip we checked it on the way back and put him in the seatbelt. I think the airlines want them to be at least two -- He was only 17 months but big - 35 and 35 pounds. It was infinitly better not using the carseat on the plane once he was big enough for the lapbelt. Travlmom

I have never seen wheels that your convertible seat can snap into but I have seen some other options.
1) There is a travelling car seat you could purchase that has wheels that pop out of it and a handle that slides up. If you travel a lot this may be a consideration although I don't know how much they are.
2) I have seen backpacks that you can put your car seat in. Then, you could stroll your child in an umbrella stroller while ''carrying'' the carseat.
3) Finally, the cheapest alternative... I used to travel with my daughter a lot when she was still in a car seat and would just hang the straps of the carseat over the handle of the umbrella stroller. It wasn't the most convinient method but it worked. Gabrielle

The easiest way to travel without schlepping a car seat/wheels/strollers/etc, it The Sit 'N' Stroll. It's a car seat for infants to 40lbs with retractable wheels. It's FAA approved. You just stroll your child into the airplane, retract the wheels, place it onto the airline seat and strap it in. Your child is attached to the seat with a 5 point harness, and the airplane seat belt clicks right across the seat. I hope this makes sense. We used ours from when our daughter was 4 months (and too long for the infant seat) until she was 4 yrs old. We've taken it to France/Bora Bora/Hawaii/Ireland/Canada and it's held up really well. Just do a search for Sit n Stroll by Safeline, and I'm sure you'll find one. Happy travels! Brook

I also have the Britax car seat, and a 16 month old son. I've never found a ''snap and go'' for the larger carseat, unfortunately. I just got back from a plane trip with my son, just the two of us, and this is how I did it. I have a regular stroller, and I set the car seat in the stroller, and put the handle of the diaper bag around the handle of the stroller (so it hangs down in front of me) -- and my purse in the car seat. I also have a baby sling, and my son likes to sit on my hip with the sling around his back and bottom (he's done that since he was about 6 or 7 months and could sit up well). So I wore him in the baby sling, which left my hands free to push the stroller, which was carrying all my stuff. I gate-checked the stroller, and asked one of the flight attendants for assistance carrying the car seat (and put the diaper bag and purse over my shoulder while boarding). It's a bit of work at the security gate, but the security staff are usually quite helpful. Karen

The carseat has been a problem with our family as well. We have a big one now, 30-80 pounds, and what we have found useful is bringing a stroller along as well. The car seat fits in the stroller and the child fits in the car seat. You can gate check the stoller. Another idea we have been known to do if the stroller is not coming with us is get the rolling luggage carriers and put your luggage on it and the car seat and strap it in with the seat belt that is on the cart, then strap the child in. Our child exclaims ''weeeeee'' when we are running though the terminal trying to make a connecting flight and we aren't having to carry fifty million things. Good luck. Kristi

If you don't find a snap 'n go-type stroller that fits Britax (I've never seen one, but that doesn't mean they don't exist), here's what I do when trekking through airports with the heavy Britax seat:
- wear the Britax seat on your back. Loop each strap over your arm like a backpack strap so the cushioned seat side is snug against your back.
- pay $1 for a luggage cart and toss it in there. Often the carts have a seat for the kid (like a grocery cart) and you just push the kid through the airport on that. Happy travels. Danielle

I don't have any advice for you about carrying your Britax, but if you travel a lot you may want to consider buying another product. It is called a ''sit-n-stroll'' and it is a combination car seat and stroller. Basically, it is a car seat with retractable wheels and a retractable handle. It is FAA certified so you can use it on the airplane. So you wheel your child through the airport, then retract the wheels and handle and carry it onto the plane (most aisles are too narrow to roll it down). Once you get to your destination, you have both a car seat and stroller. It is not the best stroller, but definitely functional. And it is easy to use -- I used to live in New York City and I used mine when I had to take cabs as well as for airplane trips. You can find the sit-n-stroll on a number of websites (like I used it from the time my daughter outgrew her infant car seat (which I used with a snap-n- go) until she was 3. Please feel free to email me if you want more information. Stephanie

As far as I know, there is no equivalent to the Snap-n-Go for convertible carseats, but there is the Sit-n-Stroll carseat. You could buy one of those and leave the Roundabout at home. But if I were you, I'd forget the stroller and carry the baby around the airport in a sling. (Or a front carrier or a backpack.) Use an airport baggage cart for your diaper bag, other carryons and the carseat. If you must have a stroller, you can use a cheap umbrella stroller that folds up small enough to carry on (JC Penney has a pretty good one for $15), or go the backpack route and get one of those baby backpacks with wheels that can also be used as a stroller. Holly

We have a Britex Roundabout and what we discovered on our last trip is that it ''fit'' on our Maclaren Quest stroller. We had the little leg extensions out also. On the trip back east, it was me, my husband and our daughter. When we arrived she was sound asleep in her car seat. My husband carried her off of the plane in her car seat and I retrieved the stroller at the gate. We just set the carseat and the stroller and were very careful pushing it. She managed to sleep through the airport while we fetched luggage. She even managed to sleep on the shuttle to the car rental place and then we even put the car seat in the rental car.

On the way back it was me traveling alone with my daughter. The stroller held the car seat while I wore the diaper back pack and my daughter pushed the stroller with my help. When she was an infant we took a Baby Bjorn and put her in that. On another trip, I wore the backpack, had her in the Bjorn and pushed the stroller (which can hold the car seat). Amy

The britax is very awkward for air travel. We found a huge backpack at rockridge kids designed to carry it while you travel. It is surprisingly light once on your back although you are a very awkward in a crowded airport. I have not traveled alone with it. I don't know of any snap on system for the britax. We do find that we can squeeze the kolcraft umbrella stroller and a diaper bag into the back pack. Were I to travel alone I'd probably wear the snuggly and tote the back pack on a luggage cart to the plane. At some airports this would mean two rentals b/c often you can't take the cart through security. one step ahead sells a carseat stroller in one, but I have resisted b/c my daughter is quite tall and I was afraid it would do all it's jobs poorly and would prefer a really safe car seat. Jessica

I have travelled many times via plane in the past with just my daughter (now 15 months old). The key is to get a stroller wide enough to hold the Britax. We have the Britax and a McClaren Mistral stroller.

I park the car and then set up the stroller. I then take the Britax out of the car (with kid still strapped in Britax) and the car seat then fits nearly perfectly in the stroller. I then carry my bag on my shoulders and her bag (a big back pack) fits perfectly and balances nicely on the handles of the stroller.

I take everything on the plane when I preboard and then take the Britax out of the stroller and strap the Britax into her plane seat. It has always worked. pvgdad

It sounds from your post that you plan on bringing a stroller and your carseat with you. What has worked for us is to use our regular stroller like a luggage cart and put the carseat on top, seat side down. (Sometimes we wrap the tether of our Roundabout over the handle of the stroller to secure it.) Of course,you won't be able to use of the stroller for carrying Baby this way. However, we've found that our carry-on luggage ends up weighing a lot more than our son -- even now that he's a big almost 2-year-old. We've always brought a sling and/or a Baby Bjorn along to the airport to make carrying our son easier. Hope this helps! Grace

This is what I do, when I travel alone with my toddler (22mo) daughter:

We have a Combi Savvy stroller. She sits in the stroller while we are in the airport. My carry-on/purse is a backpack. Hers is her diaper bag, hung over the handle of the stroller. I can carry the carseat (an Evenflo, non-infant) by one of the straps, sometimes looping it over my wrist, while I push the stroller.

I ask for help whenever I need it, especially at security checkpoints, and in boarding. Gate-check the stroller, use the carseat (we buy a ticket for everyone--if you don't do separate tickets, but want to try for a vacant seat, you can always gate- check the carseat if that doesn't work out). We have made many trips to SoCal from here, just my daughter and me, and it's worked fine. Good Luck! Donna

If you can bear one more note on this topic--I never slung my Britax over the handle of my stroller; it wouldn't work, as my stroller has one continuous handle.

Instead, I brought along a bungee cord and strapped the carseat (through the seatbelt restraints) to the back of the stroller. I usually just put the bungee cord in the basket at the gate & collapse the stroller; it's always there when we deplane.

Good luck. (the stroller also tends to flip with this setup when the child gets out, so no help there. Jennie

For the mom looking for a stroller/car seat combo for her 6 month old baby, I recommend the Sit n Stroll, available online and also at Right Start. It is a carseat with wheels and handles that retract when used on the plane and in the car. I just bought one and used it this weekend. It works very well, however it is a bit too wide to roll down the aisle once you get to coach, so I had to ask for assistance from the flight attendant to carry it to my seat. It is a little awkward strapping into the car, rear facing, however it is much easier than lugging a britax and stroller thru the airport. heather

We got one of those car seat / strollers and it's worked out really well for us for travelling. The wheels tuck up beneath the seat and the handle slides down into the back of the seat. You push the kid in the stroller through the airport, right onto the plane and down the aisle to the seat. Then slide the handle down and pop the wheels in, place it in the airplane seat and fasten it in. Voila! (O.K., it can be a tad trickier than that - like if the aisle of the plane curves, the stroller will get stuck. We had to fold it up a few rows before we reached our seats. Also, it takes up enough room in the seat that the passenger in front won't be able to recline their seat... but I think that's the case with all child seats on planes.) The other thing is, it costs about $180, and we found it not a great alternative to a permanent toddler car seat. You have to strap this one in with the seat belt each time you take the kid in and out of the car. So we use this one for travel and shorter trips in my husband's car, and keep the permanently installed toddler seat in my car, since I take her to daycare most days. Good luck.

I also travel a lot with my daughter and sometimes alone. At the airport I pile everything on the stroller (the Britax carseat, diaper bag, soft cooler of bottles...) and when she was younger I would then put her in the baby bjorn. Now she's 12 months old so I would still pile everything on,push the stroller and carry her (it is alot!!!). But I just purchased a car seat carrier at Babies R US for about $20. It's a carrier to protect the car seat in case you do check it as luggage but it has straps so that you can carry it like a back pack. So now I can put her in the stroller and put the car seat on my back!! (I must look pathetic but it's the easiest way to get around). My friend raves about the portable car seat that turns into a stroller-I forget the name (snap and go?) Good luck Christine

Protecting a checked carseat

Jan 2002

I would like recomendations on ways to protect the stroller and carseat(we plan on checking both) we have been told the bags you can buy are a waste of money. what have worked for other travelers? jessica

We've done several five hour stints on airplanes, and in our experience we have found that the heavy duty ballistic nylon carseat bags (Prince Lionheart brand) have worked quite well for our two carseats. They are about $28 or so on the internet and offer more protection than just the plastic bags the airline would otherwise supply for you. Judging from the beating both bags have taken over 4 years of travel for the oldest, the carseats would have been toast by now without them. If you're concerned about damage beyond that, you can further pad inside around the frame of the seat with extra clothing/towels--on the return flights we often packed our dirty laundry (the larger items) in the carseat carrier, which was an added plus because we always have less room in the return trip. carolyn

My first choices would be to gate check the stroller, and put the carseat in an overhead bin. Second choice is to call the airline and ask them what to do. Heather

You mentioned that you were told carseat bags were a waste of money. I don't think I'd spend the extra money on them, but some friends lent us 2 carseat bags for a recent trip to Europe, and we were very happy to have them. The bags are HUGE, and there is plenty of room to stuff in items that would otherwise take up a lot of room in your suitcase, like coats. Since we were traveling with a 3yo and a 6mo, it was the only way we were able to stay within the 6 bag allotment. (Yes, we have become the kind of hopelessly loaded-down travellers we used to snicker at, but that's another story.) If money is not an issue, or if you can borrow one, they can be quite useful. In terms of just protecting the carseat, I've made 5 roundtrip flights with an unprotected carseat and never had any problems. Some airlines have heavy-duty plastic bags for backpacks and carseats, FWIW. Jennifer