When we are about to take a holiday trip to a place that we have always dreamed off, we are so stressed about making hotel reservations, booking airplane tickets, and making other reservations that will make your vacation a trip to remember. But do you prepare your baby’s car seat that you will use on the plane? Federal safety rules require all children below a certain age and weight to be in their car seats when boarding an airplane.
There is a slight difference in car seats that are installed in planes and those that can only be used in motor vehicles. The baby car seats have a label that will indicate if the car seat complies with Federal Safety Regulations and if they are certified to be used for motor vehicles, airplanes, or both. Some airlines allow pre-boarding services that give you time to put your children in place (install the car seat), but you always have to ask your travel agent if the airline you are boarding has the family pre-boarding policy.
What Are Your Rights When Boarding A Plane With An Infant?
There are safety policies that airlines have to adhere to when they are flying with an infant on board. Here are the services that airlines are supposed to provide for you when you are traveling with your infant:
If you have booked a seat for your child, you should be allowed to install a car seat for the booked seat.
You can be allowed to use a car seat if the manufacturer has specified that it can be used on an airplane.
During booking, you can specify the seat is for infant and request the airline to provide you with an appropriate Child Restraint System.
In case your car seat does not fit the plane seats, the flight attendants should provide you a car seat that fits, and it should match the travel class you are in.
The FAA refers to child restraint system that is approved for aviation only as Aviation Child Safety Devices. However, these child restraint systems are not safe to be used in the cars.
You can use boosters for toddlers who are not old enough to seat on their own as indicated on the FAA regulations.
How to Install Car Seat in an Airplane
Installing a car seat for your baby in a plane is not hard if you know what to do. Most of the manufacturers provide a manual that will show you how to install the car seat in a motor vehicle and airplane. Here are simple guides to help you install the car seats correctly:
I. Rear-facing car seat
Before you install your car seat on the plane seat, ensure that the harness straps on the car seats are well adjusted to suit your child. This position is usually suitable for
Lift the arm rests to get more working space while installing the car seat.
Place the car seats in the center of the plane seat.
Recline the car seat to the right and comfortable position for your baby. You can use a pool noodle to help you position the seat better.
Use the belt path to thread the belt through it.
Latch your baby seat buckle and while you are at it push the seat down and inward to tighten the belt and make the seat more secure.
Before you put your baby on the seat try to move it around and if the seat moves more than an inch then you have to fasten the seat more. Sometimes it becomes hard to install the seat in a rear-facing position; you can use the front-facing position as an alternative.
II. Front-facing position
People with infants prefer the rear-facing position because it is much safe in case of an impact. However, the front-facing position is suitable for any infant in a plane because the level of turbulence is reduced compared to the road. Installing your baby’s car seat in the front-facing position is also much easier as compared to the rear-facing position. Here is a guide on how to install the car seat correctly:
If your car seat is large raise the plane’s seat armrest to get a convenient working space.
Adjust the harness to fit your child comfortably and securely.
Place the car seat facing forward and at the center of the plane’s seat
Use the seat belt path to thread the seat belt through it and then fasten the seat belt (make sure the seat belt is as tight as possible).
Place your knee on the seat bottom to push it down and your hand on top of the seat to press the seat back as you tighten the seat belt.
Counter check you work by trying to pull the car seat from the plane’s seat and if it moves more than an inch that’s an indication that you need to fasten the seat belt further
Bring down the arm rest and place your child on the car seat and slide the harness straps on each shoulder tighten it.
Make the chest clips are fastened, and your child is secured in their seat.
It is not recommended that parents carry infants on their laps because, in the case of turbulence, your arms may not have the strength to hold your child in position. Car seats hold your infant in place and also provides comfort in case they want to sleep; car seats provide a proper spine alignment during child’s sleep compared to carrying your child on your lap.
When you are installing your car seat on the plane, whichever position you decide to place the seat always ensure that it is well fastened. When you install in the seat in a rare-facing position, you might inconvenience the passenger in the front seat, talk to them and ensure they do not recline their seats further that will jeopardize your child’s car seat.