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?
* This post originally ran on May 27, 2013. It was edited and republished on September 1, 2014 and July 17, 2015.