Car Seats

Best FAA-Approved Car Seats(Airline Approved)

Naomi Lambert

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FAA-approved car seats will enable you to get the satisfaction that your baby is secured with a child restraint system when you experience some unexpected turbulence. As a frequent flier with my toddler, I have been tempted several times to have my baby on my lap especially when my toddler was still an infant. I felt it was more convenient and comfortable for both of us.

Fast forward to five years later, I have acquired valuable knowledge from flying with my baby and now assist other parents in ensuring baby safety during flights.

While compiling this guide on choosing car seats for air travel with a baby, I came across valuable resources provided by the FAA. My initial focus was to determine the existence of safety standards for child restraint systems designed specifically for use on airplane seats with child passengers.

I was surprised that there exist well-defined safety standards for child passengers on airplanes. See the snapshot below from Title 14 of CFR(91.107);

Snapshot from Title 14 of FAA Child Safety Regulations: FAA Safety Standards for Child Restraint Systems

While it is stated in the standards that children under two years old are allowed to travel as lap children, the FAA strongly advises against this practice. Instead, it is recommended that you secure your child in an approved CRS and provide them with their own seat for the entire duration of the flight. This ensures their safety and contributes to a more comfortable and enjoyable journey.

While FAA discourages lap seating, most airlines that I have flown with such as Southwestern won’t force you out of the plane if you don’t book a separate seat for your infant.

Lap infants are free of charge but being a safety-first blog we discourage lap-carrying in the plane as we have peer-reviewed evidence that unrestraint babies are much more prone to the following injuries during flights;

  • Head Injury Criterion(HIC): A 2014 Study by Graham Clark, et. al, titled ” Safety of Lap-Held Infants in Aircraft” found that unrestrained infants had a higher risk of head injury than those secured in an approved CRS. HIC is a measure of the likelihood of brain, skull or neck injuries resulting from impacts.
  • Neck Injuries: The Clark (2014) study emphasized the vulnerability of infants’ underdeveloped neck muscles when they are not restrained as passengers. When an infant’s head makes contact with the forward seat, the upper body continues to rotate, causing the head to tilt backward and stretching the neck beyond its safe limit.
  • Thoracic Injury: The Study revealed a noteworthy disparity in thoracic contact force between unrestrained and restrained conditions. The force was found to be 2.3 times higher for the nine-month-old and 2.1 times higher for the eighteen-month-old in the unrestrained condition compared to the restrained condition.
chart showing Thoracic contact force with both restraint and unrestraint 9-month-old and 18-month-old flying in a plane
A chart showing Thoracic contact force with both restraint and unrestraint 9-month-old and 18-month-old flying in a plane
  • Abdominal Injury: The fourth injury identified in the Study was abdominal injuries, which can result from a supplementary loop belt which is the belt adults use on the plane. In the restrained condition with a regular airplane seatbelt, the 9-month-old experienced an abdominal force 2.5 times greater, while the 18-month-old experienced a force 6.6 times greater than the unrestrained condition. Put simply, using airplane seatbelts to secure your little one makes them less unsafe.
Airplane seatbelt used with infants makes them less safe
Airplane seatbelt used with infants makes them less safe

You can read Clark’s 2014 Study here.

So, I think we’re now on the same page that a child-restraint system is crucial to ensure your baby’s safety when flying.

As per a clarification given by the FAA in 2019, children can use automotive Child Restraint Systems(CSR) or Aviation Child Safety Devices(ACSD) in a seat ‘solely occupied by the child.’ CRS approved by the FAA must meet the NHTSA standards in the FMVSS 213 with test results simulations to ascertain their effectiveness in airplane crash incidences.

Although I couldn’t locate the safety standards specifically for FAA-approved ACSD, I conducted thorough research to compare the safety ratings of different FAA-approved CRSs. A few ACSDs such as this AMSAFE Cares Restraint System is an innovative restraint for kids 22 44 pounds that attaches directly to the back of the airplane seat and augments the regular seat belt.

This FAA-certified Restraint System, unlike bulky CRSs weighing at least 5 pounds, is lightweight, weighing less than 1 pound. It is certified for all phases of flight, including taxiing, takeoff, turbulence, and landing. CARES is designed to fit all sizes of airplane seats and can be installed in just one minute.

Whether you choose ASCDs such as CARES Airplane Harness above or CRSs, your baby is better off in these restraint systems than in your lap. But it’s always wise to verify with your airline about the type of safety devices approved for use, as some airlines may have specific requirements.

FAA has put in place a way for you to know which restraint systems are approved for use. The FAA certification label is sewn onto the label of each CRS and ACSD, which must be visible on the equipment’s outer surface. Ensure you cross-check this for your child’s safety before deciding to buy or use a restraint system on an aircraft.

Different airlines have specific requirements on the labeling and you can expect the airline crew to check the label indicating that the seat is FAA-approved. For example, American Airlines allow certain forward-facing and rear-facing seats and Cathay Pacific allows forward-facing seats and select rear-facing seats that will not cause discomfort to other passengers. On the other hand, Airlines such as Delta allow FAA-approved CRSs or ACSDs such as CARES harnesses and EasyJet allows only forward-facing seats. Emirates requires forward-facing seats for kids over 10kgs and kids below 10kgs can use either RF or FF so long as the CRS is secured with an airplane seatbelt.

Qatar Airlines provides their CRSs but you need to request it 48 hours before your flight. When I know I am flying with Qatar, I usually tell my travel agent to request the airline during booking that I will need a CRS to avoid any inconveniences. You can also request the CRS directly from the airline if you’re booking your flight online.

Virgin Atlantic allows CRSs for kids under 2 years and the seats must not use a 3-point harness. Kids over 2 are not allowed to use restraint systems on the plane. Virgin Australia requires that you use seats that conform to the Australian Standards, AS/NZS 1754. The Standard has the additional requirement of a top tether on top of a lap belt to secure a 3-point harness. This additional requirement is not a common feature for most car seats in the US, hence be careful on this when purchasing an airplane seat.

Are you wondering which car seats are FAA-approved for flying with your child? Are you wondering if you even need a travel car seat for your child? We know how overwhelming the idea of flying with a toddler and a bunch of luggage can be-but not to worry.

In this post, we will answer these questions and guide you to find the best travel car seat that is also FAA-approved. We will also give you tips about bringing your car seat on board so as not to have worries when the time comes.

How do I know if a car seat is FAA-approved

Labels on FAA-approved car seats for UN, USA, Canada and Australia

To know if your car seat is FAA-approved, it should have a sticker that reads, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” or “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.” For car seats not made for the US market, check to see if the seat conforms to the United Nation’s Standard ECE R 44 including the latest 03 Revision in 2021

Does FAA Approve Car Seats for Airplane Travel?

No, The FAA does not directly test or approve individual CRSs or ACSDs for air travel. Instead, they rely on the safety approval provided by the NHTSA. The NHTSA certifies car seats after subjecting them to simulated conditions to determine their crash ratings in various settings.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a car seat can be used on an airplane if it is approved for motor vehicle use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), meeting the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS 231). This means that if your car seat is approved for use in a vehicle, it can also be used on an airplane as long as it passes safety testing to withstand crash forces and provide adequate child protection.

While we have used the ‘FAA-approved’ term in this article, we refer to CRSs that meet the FMVSS 231 Safety Standards by NHTSA and have a label indicating that they have been tested and ascertained by NHTSA to be safe for use in restraining child passengers on airplane seats.

It is important to note that not all car seats are approved for use in aircraft. Therefore, it is crucial to check for the FAA approval sticker or the UN standard ECE label before using a car seat on an airplane.

Below is the most common label to indicate conformity to NHTSA’s FMVSS on US car seats

a sticker appearing on car seats approved by federal aviation authority for flying.

List of FAA-Approved Car Seats in 2024:

FAA-approved Car Seat Reviews

1. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat 

Our best overall airplane seat in this list is the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat. We picked this brand as it is super narrow given that it was designed for small sedan cars. This narrow makes gives it an edge as an airplane restraint seat as most airplane seats are narrower than regular car seats.

In compact cars, you can comfortably fit three of these seats across the back row. But that’s not all. To solidify its position as the ideal choice for air travel, this car seat is equipped with an adjustable harness and headrest. This allows for easy installation on various types of airplane seats and provides multiple positioning options for optimal comfort.

Being a convertible seat, it grows with your baby and can be used rear-facing until your baby attains 40 pounds and can switch to forward-facing until your toddler one attains 65 pounds

Weight: 14 pounds

Width: 18.5 inches

Weight/height limits: 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing, 22 to 65 pounds forward-facing

Safety 1st Guide 65 is our best travel FAA-approved car seat because it’s lightweight enough to carry around, and it has a high weight limit that allows you to use it from birth to 65 pounds.

We also value comfort and love that this convertible car seat has a removable body pillow for your infant as well as adequate padding so that your child will be comfortable even on long trips.

This car seat is approved for airplane use in both rear and forward-facing configurations. And with 18.5-inch width, it will not be a problem to install on an airplane seat or three of these seats in your back seat.

The other reason it’s a top pick for us is that it’s easy on your wallet, so you don’t have to worry too much if it gets dirty or a bit damaged during your trips.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Narrow and compact design, easy to fit three across and in an airplane seat
  • Comfortable with a body pillow and adequate padding
  • Side impact protection
  • Great pricing

Cons 

  • Difficult installation with both LATCH and seat belt; you need to use a lot of force to tighten both

2. Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat 

Our second pick wins with super easy installation compared to Safety 1st’s model above. Although not as narrow as the top pick above, its crash test ratings are excellent, and can count on its safety features to provide superior protection.

My second favorite FAA-approved car seat is the Graco Extend2Fit Convertible Car Seat 

Weight: 18.4 pounds

Width: 19.6 inches

Weight/height limits: 4 to 50 pounds rear-facing, 22 to 65 pounds forward-facing

The Extend2Fit is perhaps the most popular car seat in the US. What sets this seat above its peers is having an extended rear-facing limit of up to 50 pounds. If you didn’t know, rear-facing is the safest riding position for your child because it offers head and neck protection. This has made the Extend 2Fit gain a higher safety rating than most of its peers.

This is a fantastic option for travel because of its easy installation using either Latch or your vehicle seat belt; many reviewers found the process easy. Plus, when adjusting the harness, you don’t need to rethread. The two cup holders and machine washable covers were also nice additions to have.

The other reason that sold us out was that this seat will grow with your child from infancy all through toddlerhood until they are 65 pounds. This makes it a smart investment, especially when you also factor in its budget-friendly price point.

The Extend2Fit is FAA-approved, but because of the cup holders, you might need to raise the armrest to get it to fit on the airplane seat. You should also note that this seat can only be installed in the forward-facing position on the plane. It would be a good idea to call the airline first and confirm it will fit before leaving.

Pros

  • Perfect fit for newborns with head pillow and body support
  • Comfortable with decent padding and breathable fabric and harness pads
  • 10 position adjustable headrest with no-rethread harness
  • Extended rear-facing weight up to 50 pounds
  • Fuss-free harness adjustment without rethreading
  • Extra legroom for your child’s comfort
  • 10 years expiration
  • Great pricing

Cons

  • Heavier and bulkier than other seats on this list
  • Customers complain that it’s a pain to remove the cover or put it back after washing
  • Takes up more space rear-facing when the leg rest panel is extended

3. Cosco Finale DX 2-In-1 Car Seat

If you want an FAA car seat with a super high weight limit to be used by a toddler, this next brand called Cosco Finale DX-2-in-1 Car is your best pick. This Cosco Finale brand wins over both Safety 1st and Graco brand above in terms of narrow width making it suitable for most airplane seats

FAA-approved Cosco Finale DX 2-In-1 Car Seat

Weight: 11.5 pounds

Width: 18 inches

Convertibility: 30-65 pounds forward-facing and 40 to 100 pounds in booster mode

If you have bigger kids, 3 and 4-year-olds, the Cosco Finale DX is a great car seat that provides lots of room for growing kids up to 100 pounds.

This car seat is a great choice for travel because of its low weight and slim design that easily fits in most cars and on airplane seats. In addition, the two cup holders remove to make it more compact, enabling you to even fit three of these car seats in the back of most cars. It is also very easy to install with a latch or seat belt.

As a car seat specifically for older kids above 2 years, the Finale DX is a forward-only facing car seat, and it does not recline. It is a tall seat with room for kids up to 49 inches in the forward-facing mode. Once your child gets to 4 years, you can convert the car seat into a booster seat until they get to 52 inches. However, it is important to note that you cannot use the booster seat option since the plane doesn’t have a shoulder seat belt to secure it down.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • A great choice for growing families
  • Slim design enables it to easily fit three across in most cars and on a plane seat
  • Easy to install
  • Easy care; fabrics and seat pad are machine washable and dryer safe
  • Inexpensive

Cons 

  • Some felt it might not last because it feels flimsy
  • Doesn’t have much padding

4. Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat

If you are looking for a super lightweight car seat approved for airplane travel by FAA and NHTSA, COSCO Apt 50 is your go-to-brand. It is almost 5 pounds lighter than our top 2 brands although it does very poorly in width. It is super wide, measuring 20 inches – almost 2 inches more than Graco Extend2Fit and 1.5 inches more than Safety 1st brand above.

Cosco Apt 50 Convertible Car Seat approved by FAA for airplane travel

Weight: 11 pounds

Width: 20 inches

Conversion: 5 to 40 pounds rear-facing, 22 to 50 pounds forward-facing

Cosco Apt 50 is a great portable car seat that you can carry around without feeling weighed down. However, it might not be a strong choice for air travel because it is a bit too wide at 20 inches, but you may be able to fit with the armrests up. Still, we recommend enquiring with the airline first if you plan on taking it onto the plane before you leave.

The car seat also comes with nice features like dual cup holders, machine washable pads, and a fantastic low price to boot.

Pros

Cons 

  • Doesn’t have head and neck support for newborns

5. Combi Compact Coccoro Convertible Car Seat 

Combi Coccoro is the ultimate challenger to Safety 1st brand above in terms of width and is the most portable seat that’s compatible with most airplane seats. With 15.5 inches in width, it is almost 5 inches narrower than Cosco Apt above. It does better than all the brands above but has weight limitations.

While it is a convertible seat, its forward-facing weight limit is only 40 pounds while brands like Cosco Finale above have 60 pounds in weight limit recommendation more than this compact seat by Combi.

Combi Compact Coccoro Convertible Car Seat is ideal for travel as it is compact and is approved by FAA for airline travel

Weight: 14.3 pounds

Width: 15.5 inches

Convertibility: rear-facing 3 to 33 pounds, forward-facing 20 to 40 pounds

Combi Coccoro is a favorite among traveling families due to its super slim design. With a width of just 15 inches, you will easily install it on any seat, even in bulkhead seats. It is the slimmest seat on this list.

The Coccoro is expensive and slightly heavier than some options on this list, but it has better quality, has slightly more padding, and is also more comfortable.

The other advantage of this car seat is that it installs a rear-facing position in the airplane because of its small size, and the seat in front can still be able to recline.

The Coccoro converts to offer both rear and forward-facing options, but it has a lower height than most of its peers. Hence some kids outgrow it before they even reach the weight requirement. Because of this, we would not advise getting this seat if your child is on the taller side.

Pros 

  • Perfect fit for newborns
  • Slimmest car seat on this list
  • Great safety with deep side walls and Side impact protection
  • The small size makes it a perfect option for tight spaces
  • Machine washable pad

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some kids outgrow the seat fast because of the low height limit
  • Difficult to install

6. Evenflo Stratos 65 Convertible Car Seat 

If you want a lighter brand than Combi brand above with a higher weight limit and is approved as airplane-travel-safe, then pick the Evenflo Strato 65 model. Its width is also decent, almost at par with Safety 1st above.

6. Evenflo Stratos 65 Convertible Car Seat approved by FAA for air travel

Weight: 13 pounds

Width: 18. 5 inches

Convertibility: rear-facing 5 to 40 pounds, forward-facing 22 to 65 pounds

Evenflo Stratos 65 is a great portable car seat approved by the FAA. It is a lightweight seat that you can carry around easily. It also has a slim design which makes it comfortable to fit on all plane seats.

This lovely seat is designed with your little one’s comfort in mind with a removable body pillow and six adjustable harness positions for the right fit. Additionally, it’s designed with ventilation channels for improved airflow to keep your child comfortable during rides regardless of how hot temperatures are.

Pros

  • Sturdy yet lightweight
  • The slim design makes it a comfortable fit in all plane seats
  • Multiple layers of energy-absorbing materials
  • Made with cooling fabrics
  • Easy installation
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Complaints about cup holders coming off

7. Graco Size4Me 65 Convertible Car Seat

Graco Size4Me Convertible car seat approved by FAA

Weight: 19.3 pounds

Width: 22 inches

Convertibility: rear-facing 4 to 40 pounds, forward-facing 22 to 65 pounds

Graco Size4Me is much heavier and the widest on this list, but we feel it’s a great travel option because it is super comfy for kids with nice cushions.

The car seat is FAA approved, and with a 22-inch width, you might think it’s too wide to fit on an airplane seat. However, because of its narrow base and shape, it still fits on most plane seats with armrests down.

It’s also a great travel option because it is compact and is able to fit even on small cars both rear-facing and forward-facing and still leave enough legroom for the driver or passenger seat.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Compact design, which is great for tight spaces
  • Easy installation
  • It comes with pockets to store buckles away
  • Easy to clean with removable fabrics

Cons 

  • One of the heaviest on this list
  • It is wide and may not fit narrow plane seats
  • Would be nice to have an additional cup holder

8. Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX

Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX is another great seat that is FAA approved when used without the base and only on forward-facing aircraft seats

Weight: 9.5 pounds

Width: 15.5 inches

Age range: 4 to 35 pounds

When you have a newborn, the best option for travel is an infant car seat that you can simply carry by the handle without waking your sleeping little one. Please note that this brand is FAA-approved when used without the base and only on forward-facing aircraft seats.

This infant car seat measures only 15.5 inches, so it will comfortably fit on all airplane seats. It’s important also to note that you cannot use the base of the infant car seat on the plane, but you can just keep it in the overhead bin.

The other nice thing is the shade canopy that will help to keep the harsh lighting on the plane from your baby’s eyes.

The Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX is compatible with all Graco Click Connect strollers, so you can have it as your go-to travel system to make your life much easier.

Pros

  • Soft fabrics and cushions for baby’s comfort
  • Easy to carry with handle
  • The silent canopy that blocks the harsh lights from the baby’s eyes
  • Slim design that fits on all airplane seats
  • Easy to install
  • True shield side impact protection

9. Graco 4Ever

Graco 4ever is another convertible car seat that is FAA-compliance except in the booster mode

Weight: 22.8 pounds

Width: 21.5 inches

Convertibility: rear-facing 4 to 40 pounds, forward-facing 20 to 65 pounds, high back booster mode 40 to 100 pounds, backless booster 40 to 120 pounds.

The Graco 4Ever is another great choice for travel, and it’s very similar to the MySize we saw earlier. It is just as comfy and even more versatile, but it ranks lower on this list because it’s the heaviest and much wider than others here. It is also the most expensive here.

That said, this seat will grow with your child from infancy to when they no longer need a car seat thanks to backless booster mode, which is often lacking in other convertibles. This makes 4Ever a valuable investment. It has a ten-year lifespan, just like the sister, MySize.

At 21.5 inches wide, you can still install this seat on a plane seat with the arms up. Plus cup holders can be removed to make it even slimmer. However, you can only use it with the internal harness system and not as a booster seat.

Pros

  • Perfect for growing families with a wide weight range
  • Proven crash safety records
  • Easy seat belt installation
  • No-rethread harness
  • Two removable cup holders
  • Removable covers for washing

Cons

  • Heaviest on this list
  • Some reviewers remarked that the head cushion pushes the baby’s head forward, which seems uncomfortable.
  • Bulky especially rear-facing
  • No locks off device for seat belt install
  • The harness can be tricky to tighten

10. Britax Emblem

Britax Emblem with a red sticker showing that it is FAA approved and is TSA compliant for airplane travel.

Weight: 19.5 pounds

Width: 18.2 inches

Convertibility: rear-facing 5 to 40 pounds, forward-facing 22 to 65 pounds

Britax Emblem is one of the heaviest car seats recommended here, but it’s also one of the best convertible seats in the market. It combines high-end quality along with Britax’s advanced safety features at affordable pricing.

Britax Emblem is approved for air travel, and with a width of 18 inches, it fits most traditional airline seats, although it might be a struggle to fit rear-facing due to the tall backrest.

Pros

  • Slim design
  • Perfect fit for newborns with a removable body pillow
  • Dual-layer side impact protection
  • Built-in lock-off for easy seat belt installation

Cons 

  • Heavy in comparison
  • Would be better if fabrics were machine washable
  • Doesn’t have cup holders

11. UPPAbaby Mesa

UPPAbaby MESA approved for use when flying

This is yet another fantastic option for families with a newborn. It is FAA approved, but it is super heavy with the base. The good thing is that it measures only 17 inches wide, so you can easily install it in all plane seats.

The other reason it’s a great travel option is that you can have it as a travel system with Vista or Cruz stroller; that way, you can easily wheel your baby right to the airplane door. Plus, you don’t need any adapters for these strollers. Read more about UPPAbaby vs Chicco Keyfit 3 here.

With the seat’s canopy, glaring lights in the plane are kept from glaring your baby’s eyes, allowing your little one to continue napping peacefully all through the flight.

Pros

  • Slim design
  • Comfortable with soft fabrics and infant insert
  • Hideaway UPF canopy that blocks the sun and glaring lights on flight
  • Side impact protection
  • No-rethread harness
  • Compatible with Vista and Cruz stroller without adapters
  • Easy and accurate installation with indicators

Cons 

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

More FAA CRSs to Consider:

One thing to note is that almost all seats in the US are FAA approved. If you don’t see your favorite car seat on the list, just check for the sticker. If it is there you should be good to go.

FAA-Approved Car Seat Stroller Combo

  • Graco SnugRide SnugLock with any Graco Click Connect Stroller
  • UPPAbaby Mesa with Vista or Cruz strollers
  • Chicco Bravo Trio Travel System

Best Airplane Travel Car Seats Approved by FAA Sorted By Age

Perhaps you don’t have the time to read through the reviews of our long list of recommended products, so we thought it might be helpful to have a chart classified by age and a brief description. This way, you can quickly pick a suitable product for your family.

Age groupBrand Description
Birth- 1 yearGraco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LXSuitable for babies weighing from 4 to 35 pounds. The seat weighs 9.5 pounds and its width is 15.5 inches comes with an adjustable carrying handle. It also has a head and body insert for comfort.NB: base is not FAA approved so it needs to be checked in.
1 -4+ years oldSafety 1 st Guide 65 Convertible Car SeatSuitable babies 5 to 65 pounds. It weighs 14 pounds and has a width of 18 inches. It is our best selling convertible seat
2-4 yearsWAYB Pico Car SeatSuitable from 22 to 50 pounds. The seat is for big kids who can sit in forward-facing mode. It weighs just 8 pounds and measures 14.5 inches wide. It also folds and is easy to carry and store.
3- 4+ year old CARES Travel HarnessThis is basically weightless at just 1 pound. Although it’s recommended from 1 year of age, we feel it has a better fit on older kids from 3 years and above. It is suitable for kids up to 44 pounds and 40 inches tall. 

Do Kids Need A Car Seat On An Airplane?

It is not a legal requirement, but both the Federal Aviation Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics highly recommend that you use an FAA-approved child restraint device. That means either an approved car seat or the CARES harness.

For small ones under 2 years of age, you may carry them on your lap or use an FAA-approved car seat. 

What To Consider when choosing the perfect brand for airline travel

When looking for a travel car seat, here are the things you should think about.

Your lifestyle

Your car seat should work for you. For example, if you travel frequently, you want a car seat that is lightweight and easy to carry. And if you usually use different cars, taxis, or rentals, choose a car seat that is optimized for easy installation and uninstalling. Or, if you walk a lot, choose a car seat that can fit in your stroller, but put more emphasis on the car seat, not the stroller, because it’s the one that may one day save your child’s life in case things go bad. And again, if you plan on air travel, make sure the car seat is FAA approved.

Seat dimensions

Car seats are not designed the same, some are very tall, and others are a bit wide. So you want to take a note of the seat dimensions (height and width) to make sure it will fit in your car, especially if you have a compact car or plan to install three seats in your back seat.

The width of a car seat is also an important consideration if planning on air travel because it has to fit on the airplane seat. Airplane seats have a width ranging from 16 to 22 inches, with most measuring about 17 to 18 inches.

Car seat weight and height limits

Car seats have different weight and height limits. Infant car seats provide the best fit for small babies, but you also use them for a limited time. Convertible car seats have higher limits, so your child can use them for many years, so they save you money in the long run. They also allow you to keep your child rear-facing longer, which is significantly safer than forward-facing.

But whatever seat you choose, make sure it has a comfortable fit for your child.

How to install Forward-facing Car Seats on Airplane:

After confirming that your car seat has the label indicating that it is safe as an airplane restraint[, the next step is to install it correctly.] When using a rear-facing car seat on an airplane, follow these steps:

  1. Place the car seat in the window seat: The safest location for a child on an airplane is the window seat. This ensures that they are not disturbed by other passengers passing through and provides extra protection in case of turbulence. Make sure you are not in an exit row. If you booked a seat next to the alley, ask the crew to change it. In 2015, the FAA clarified that airlines are responsible for finding seats that are suitable for fliers.
  2. Raise the armrest and move all the seatbelts away: The armrest must be raised to accommodate the car seat, which should sit snugly against the aircraft seat. Remove all other straps from the airplane’s seat, such as lap belts or extension devices.
  3. Place the child seat on the airplane seat facing forward: Place the car seat on the airplane seat, facing in the same direction as the airplane is moving. Make sure that it is snug and secure against the back of the aircraft’s seat.
  4. Thread the flat end of the seatbelt through the forward-facing belt path: This path is usually indicated by stickers on the side of the car seat. Make sure that the lap belt is lying flat against the child’s hips and not twisted.
  5. Buckle and tighten the seatbelt: Pull on the loose end of the seatbelt to ensure it is tight, as if you were wearing a regular seatbelt. If your car seat has an additional top tether, use it according to the instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  6. Make sure there is no movement: Once the seatbelt is buckled and tightened, give the car seat a firm shake from side to side and front to back. It should not move more than one inch in any direction. If it does, repeat steps 4 and 5 until the car seat is securely fastened.
  7. If the car seat cannot be installed properly, request a different seat or ask to change seats: Not all airplane seats are compatible with car seats, so it’s important to test the fit before takeoff. If the car seat cannot be installed properly or does not fit on your assigned seat, ask a flight attendant for help. They may be able to find you an alternative seating option.

How to Install Rear-Facing Car Seat on Airplane Seat:

Tips for Using A Car Seat On An Airplane

1. Make a point to call the airline ahead of time to notify them that you plan on bringing along a car seat. It would be best to ask them to issue you a written confirmation of approval that you can take on the plane just as an extra precaution.

2. When booking a seat to install your car seat, ensure it won’t block anyone from exiting. That means getting a window seat or one in the center section of the plane. Also, you may install your car seat in the bulkhead seats if the car seat is really narrow. Bulkheads have fixed armrests, reducing the space available for a car seat.

3. If you use the car seat rear-facing, the person seated in front of it might not be able to recline. Therefore, consider booking one parent to the right of your baby and one in front.

4. Remember, if using an infant car seat, you can only use the seat part on the plane itself. The base would need to be checked–in or kept in the overhead compartment if it fits.

5. Booster seats are not FAA approved for travel. If you have a combination car seat/ booster seat, you will only use the car seat with an internal harness, but the booster seat cannot be allowed because the plane does not have a shoulder belt to use.

6. Juggling your toddler, their luggage, plus your luggage as you make your way through the airport with all the luggage, a car seat, and your child is very tricky. Make things easier by getting a car seat trolley or using a backpack to carry the car seat.

Travel Tips with baby

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