Why should I use a car seat on an airplane?
Car seats are the safest way for little ones to travel on planes. When we fly, we’re putting our kids into vehicles moving at a high rate of speed, and just like in cars, sitting in parents’ laps or using the seat belts intended to restrain adults is not the safest place for children to be.
A lot of people tend to think of plane accidents only in terms of fiery crash landings where everyone–or almost everyone–dies. If everyone on the plane is going to die anyhow, a car seat might seem like a lot of added hassle for not a lot of benefit.
As a former flight attendant, though, I can tell you that most accidents on planes aren’t fiery crashes. You’re more likely to experience severe turbulence or a failed take-off or landing which, while scary and certainly dangerous, usually don’t come with a large number of fatalities. However, death or injury could occur from a child being tossed around a plane because they weren’t properly restrained. A car seat, installed and used properly, could save your child’s life in the case of a plane accident, just like it could in the event of a car accident.
This isn’t to scare you. These sorts of accidents are incredibly rare, far less common than car accidents, but it’s worth being aware that they happen and that there are ways to protect yourself and your kids. For the last couple of years, my husband and I have always brought a car seat along for plane trips, which we make fairly regularly to see family across country. Not only is it safer, it’s way more comfortable for the whole family and convenient when we arrive at our destination.
Thinking about bringing a car seat on a plane might seem a little daunting. Here are some of the questions I can answer about flying with a car seat in this series:
- What are the rules regarding car seats on planes?
- What are my rights to use a car seat on a plane?
- Will my car seat fit on an airplane?
- If not, what car seat should I bring?
- How do I install a car seat on a plane?
- How will I travel with my car seat in the airport?
Part One: The FAA on Flying with Car Seats
Part Two: Best Car Seats on Airplanes
Part Three: How to Install a Car Seat on a Plane
Part Four: Traveling with Car Seats in the Airport
* This post originally ran on May 27, 2013. It was edited and republished on September 1, 2014 and July 17, 2015.
Melissa E saysNovember 7, 2014 at 2:38 pm
These are some great points. I won’t pass on the car seat now!
Bianca Munoz saysNovember 8, 2014 at 2:59 pm
This is so important! We flew once and checked our car seat. Never again. Thank you for this post!
Beth R saysNovember 9, 2014 at 7:05 pm
I would never have thought of bringing a carseat on a plane. Thanks for the tips! We will be bringing our on the plane next time
Nansie R. saysNovember 15, 2014 at 4:46 pm
My husband and I may be moving across the country sometime next year and this has definitely been one of our hot topics. This makes our decision a little bit easier. Sucks for the wallet, but you can’t put a price on your child’s life.
Christina Swenson saysNovember 21, 2014 at 9:19 pm
I learned that brink a car seat flying will help my child feel more comfortable!
Jessi H saysDecember 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm
Interesting. I had a friend asking for advice on Facebook recently, I’ll direct her to this post!
Shanna Rodgers saysDecember 4, 2014 at 12:55 pm
This is a great read! First time mom here, and living overseas, I have a lot of questions for infant travel. Thank you for sharing <3
Keara B. saysDecember 5, 2014 at 11:18 am
There’s a chance we will be flying with my two young daughters next summer, and while we will be taking the car seats with us, I never considered actually using them on the plane. I really had no idea there were safety issues with simply using the seat belt provided ,but it makes sense! Thanks so much for opening my eyes to this.
Jo b saysDecember 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm
What a great series – this will be very helpful if we do go on that vacation we’ve been dreaming of!
Mariah Sekaz saysDecember 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm
I’m big on car seat safety but Ive honestly havent thought much bout using one on a plane because we dont fly often, but these are some great tips and I will be using one if we do fly!
Sara l. saysDecember 6, 2014 at 11:00 am
I never would have thought to use a car seat on an airplane. Thank you for the informative article.
Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom` saysDecember 6, 2014 at 9:47 pm
I’m one of those who thought that most incidences on planes usually end in death. I suppose I’m going to have to rethink the car seat on airplanes thing.
Mesha C. saysDecember 7, 2014 at 10:23 am
Good point. I also image that having the child’s car seat allows the child to make the connection that they are traveling/ being transported. The car seat itself is familiar, which is a big deal for children in an unfamiliar atmosphere.
RJ saysDecember 7, 2014 at 12:22 pm
I’ll admit I thought pretty much all plane accidents were deadly. I suppose it’s because that is all we ever see on the news. It never really occurred to me there was survivable crashes. That said I do believe children should be in car seats while on a plane. The last flight I took the parent’s allowed their child to climb up and down the seat and run down the aisle. It was extremely inconsiderate of other passengers and the baby ended up falling from the seat while climbing and hitting its head. To me it only makes sense if they warn adults to stay buckled then children should also.
Nicole U saysDecember 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm
Thanks for the great information.
aurora P saysDecember 7, 2014 at 9:26 pm
You’re totally right it’s safer for babies to be on a car seat on a plane but we (parents) don’t want to deal with extra stress while traveling. But definitely will look it in a different way for next time to travel.
maria carrasco saysDecember 7, 2014 at 9:34 pm
This is really important. Thanks for writing this post. I would never travel without a car seat again.