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The Best Car Seat – Nobody says that parenting is easy, but throwing a plane trip with a small child into the mix and you are faced with a terrible new barrier.
A mother can prove it after United Airline officials reportedly questioned the use of her 8-month-old daughter’s car seat on a recent flight. On June 10, Cassie Hutchins shared in a post on Facebook that after boarding his plane at Denver International Airport, he tied his son to the back seat of a rear-facing Graco car, which this manual seems recommended for his age and baby’s weight. However, an agent reportedly told him that he needed to change the car seat to face forward before the flight could begin.
“They told us that the plane could not leave without us moving it, so I knew we would be kicked if we did not obey,” Hutchins wrote in his post.
In the end, Hutchins switched his daughter’s chair forward, but said he could not safely tie a chair in using a seat belt and instead had to hold the baby’s head back to stop it from being thrown forward during the flight.
In response, United told USA Today that they launched an internal investigation to review the incident and return Hutchins’ daughter’s plane ticket.
But the Hutchins situation got us (and other parents on Facebook) thinking: What exactly is the correct protocol when it comes to using a car seat on a plane? To get to the bottom of it all, we tapped our pro at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
First of all, do children really need to be in a car seat on a plane?
The FAA does not require children to use car seats, but it is recommended. While some parents under 24 months of age choose to fly with their child sitting on their lap, the Federal Aviation Administration says that it uses a “child-approved safety (CRS) or” government approved “retention system in an airline seat facing Ahead is your safest bet But what does that mean?
Basically, not all car seats are fine used on planes. The car seat that you have used in your car is definitely safe for the plane, but you have to make sure it is a hard-backed safety seat that is approved for motorized vehicles and airplanes. If your car seat meets this standard, it will have the words “this restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and airplanes” printed somewhere on it. The FAA also approved the use of CARES Child Safety Devices for children between 22 and 44 pounds, as long as it was printed with the words “approved for aircraft use only.”
Rachel Rothman, the premier technology expert at the Good Housekeeping Institute, says that together to make sure your seat is approved by the airplane, you should make sure that you check the dimensions to make sure it fits. “Airlines with websites must publish the narrowest and widest weight of seats in each class,” he explained. If your car seat doesn’t get airline approval or is too large for airline restrictions, you may be asked to check it as baggage.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children under 40 pounds use car seats – but if the idea of dragging a car seat on a plane sounds frightening or buying your own baby seat is costly, it is also important to consider that injuries during turbulence are rare. According to FAA, a total of 321 passengers were injured due to turbulence between 2006 and 2016.
So, should the car seat be installed differently on the plane?
Depends on You will want to check the manufacturer’s instructions that accompany your car seat. This will give you specific height, weight, and age recommendations to help you decide if your child’s seat should be facing forward or back on the plane.
Rothman said in general, installing a rear-facing seat on a plane was the same as installing it in a car, but a front-facing seat might require some additional maneuvers. “The rules state that the actual aircraft seat must face forward, not a car seat,” Rothman explained. “Sometimes people misinterpret what might be the reason for this problem.”
No matter how your manual instructs you to install your seat, it is important to always make sure that the airline seat itself is facing in the direction that the airplane will travel. It can also help to package certain installation instructions, too – on If you have problems while on board.
What if my child uses a booster seat?
Know that the FAA prohibits the use of a booster seat and ties the vest during movement of the ground, takeoff, and landing. This may seem strange, but government agencies have found that this device does not provide the best protection during your flight part, and a child big enough to use a booster seat in a car is better just using the seat provided by the belt carrier.
There is no FAA official limitation to use this type of restriction during the sections of the flight cruise, but certain airline policies may prohibit it completely, so it’s important to check directly before you get to the airport.
Okay, but can you tell me which car seat is best for the plane?
It is the favored car seat of the Good Housekeeping Institute and restrictions when it comes to air travel.