Expert Tips to Make Flying with Kids Safer and Easier

Infant Seats

INFANT SEAT WITH A EUROPEAN BELT PATH: To ensure that your infant seat will install securely without the base in any car you get in – taxi, Uber, rental car, family member’s car – choose one with a European belt path. Say what? Click here to read more about the European belt path and see which infant seats feature this.

The Chicco Fit2 is an infant seat with a European belt path that fits kids longer than any other infant seat. It will fit kids who are in the 95th% for height until about 15 months and 50th% until at least to their 2nd birthday! Almost every child is too tall long before too heavy for their infant seat. Too tall is when the child’s head is within 1 inch of the top of the seat. The Fit2 lasts longer than any other infant seat because it is taller in the seated height than any other infant seat.

DOONA – INFANT CAR SEAT WITH BUILT IN STROLLER: The Doona installs securely using the European belt path on the side seats (driver or passenger) in most cars anywhere in the world. However, make sure you watch this video to know what to do when the seat belt seems too short to use the European belt path. Note: We do not recommend the Doona for families who will be using a base as the US version of the base may not install securely in your vehicle and there are many other infant seats that did better in crash testing with their base.

Rear-facing Convertible Seats

Travel within the U.S. and Canada

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Travel within Europe

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Travel anywhere else in the world

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Forward-facing Seats

Travel within the U.S. and Canada

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Travel within Europe

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Travel anywhere else in the world

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Booster Seats

Boosters are seats the child sits on and uses a lap AND shoulder belt across them as their restraint. Because boosters need shoulder belts, they can’t be used on planes because planes only have lap belts. Therefore, you’ll either need to put the booster in the overhead bin (if it fits), or check it (which means it can get lost or broken). To know if your child is ready to ride in a booster, click here Here are some boosters that are the most travel friendly – smallest & lightest:

The Rightguide is fabulous! It weighs just 1.8 pounds, is super slim (you can easily fit 3 of them in a canvas market bag) and fits smaller and bigger kids really well. While it is the narrowest backless booster on the market (so also great for narrow center seats and 3-across) it fits wide kids really well due to how the red belt guides can flare out. This video shows how easy it is to use!

The Turbo Go (not to be confused with other Graco Turbo’s) is 4 lbs, costs less than $20, and folds to fit in a larger backpack. The Turbo Go has a deep seat pan – so isn’t ideal for the youngest kids as they may slouch a little to get their knees to bend over the edge (slouching is dangerous in the car) – but is fabulous for the older kids who want better support for their legs.

The HiFold is 10 lbs and like a transformer folds compactly into its own backpack that can easily fit in the overhead bin of any plane. For kids who will be sleeping on the car rides during your trip, HiFold is a great option. High back boosters let kids sleep much more safely than a backless booster as the child is more likely to stay upright with the seat belt on the proper parts of their body.

Getting the Car Seat through the Airport

Infant Car Seats + Strollers

Use a stroller that your infant seat fits into – this way you can easily wheel baby + car seat + stroller through the airport.

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: Be aware that most gate checked strollers won’t meet you at the gate. Rather, they’ll meet you at baggage claim. Which means that after a long flight with a baby you’ll be stuck carrying the car seat + diaper bag + baby + all your other stuff through the airport, through customs, and then waiting for your stroller at baggage claim. To avoid this, we recommend getting a stroller that fits your infant seat AND fits in the overhead bin of the plane. The Mountain Buggy Nano will take almost any infant car seat, and the Babyzen YoYo will take Clek, Cybex, Nuna, and Maxi Cosi infant seats.

STROLLERS THAT FIT IN OVERHEAD BIN: If you have a stroller that fits in the overhead bin, make sure you put it in a bag (laundry bags work great) that covers the whole stroller – including the wheels. Why? Most airlines don’t allow strollers on board. Therefore, if they can’t see its a stroller, because its in a bag, they won’t force you to check it.

Toddler Seats (Convertible and Harness-to-Booster Seats)

ROLLING LUGGAGE CONNECTOR STRAP:

There are straps – like this one from GoGoBabyz – that allow you to connect a car seat to your rolling luggage. This is helpful if you plan to bring a piece of rolling luggage onto the plane. Your child can not be in the car seat while it is connected to your rolling luggage.

ROLLING CART:

Several companies make folding hand carts designed specifically for car seats. These allow you to have your child in the car seat while you roll the car seat through the airport on the cart.

Our favorite of these is the GoGoBabyz TravelmateThis video shows how to secure the car seat onto the Travelmate (and how to get the car seat off). Parents tell us that the Travelmate Original is more durable than the competitor’s products as well as the Travelmate Mini. We do not recommend the Travelmate Deluxe – it is very bulky and connecting the car seat is much more difficult than it needs to be.

You could also buy a regular folding hand cart and use a strap or bungee to connect the car seat. However, you can NOT have the child in the car seat on these carts as the car seat won’t be secure enough. All of these carts fold compactly and will fit in the overhead bin of the plane.

CAR SEAT LADY TRAVEL HACK: Due to the unique design of the Clek Fllo, when it is on the GoGoBabyz Original Travelmate there is enough room to fit a small stroller on top of the Fllo so that with one hand you can pull baby + car seat + stroller through the airport! The 3 small strollers that balanced on top of Fllo will also ALL fit in the overhead bin of most planes.

CAR SEAT BAG OR BACKPACK:

If carrying a car seat on your back sounds like the easiest way to get the seat through the airport, then by all means buy a backpack that can fit it.

However, we’d much prefer to wheel the car seat than carry it on our back. This bag has 4 spinner wheels (like luggage) and will let you wheel the car seat through the airport. This bag is especially helpful if you may need to check the car seat during part of your trip (perhaps you are flying an international airline that doesn’t allow car seats). While it won’t protect a checked car seat from getting lost or broken, it will prevent it from getting dirty.

Installing a Car Seat on a Plane

 

Make sure you don’t get the seat belt stuck in the child’s car seat – watch the above video!

If the car seat is wide, raising the airplane seat’s armrest (if possible) will add space.

If two adults are traveling, one can board first and install the car seat. To reduce restlessness, the child or children can stay in the boarding area with the other adult until the last call.

Remember, a car seat can never block an adult’s exit to the aisle – so the car seat must go by a window, or on large planes the car seat can go in the middle of a middle section.

Keeping Ears Comfortable During Flight

Sucking and swallowing will help baby’s ears pop. Bring along a bottle or a pouch to have your child drink during take-off & landing. We love the ChooMee SipN’ – it’s a silicone cap for pouches which puts a valve on the pouch… decreasing the chance that you and your child will be wearing the food 🙂

Best Travel Toys, Books, and Games

Be sure to check out our pediatrician-curated guide to the best toys, books, and games to keep boredom at bay while traveling. These are great for all parts of your trip – on the plane, in the airport while waiting to board, at a restaurant while waiting for your food, in the hotel room, etc. Use straps like these to secure a toy or two to the child’s car seat while on the plane so your baby’s favorite toy doesn’t end up on the floor where you can’t reach it. Before you fly, try prepping a child on what to expect by “playing airplane” as shown here in this post by No Time for Flash Cards.

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FTC Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this page. No monetary compensation was provided, however, a few of the reviewed products were supplied by the manufacturer or distributor to help facilitate the review. All opinions are those of The Car Seat Lady, LLC.