Did you ever wonder why you need to use your child’s car seat in flight?
- A child riding on your lap could be torn from your arms in a crash or even in rough air!
- “Clear air turbulence” (rough air or a sudden drop) can happen without warning. Most car seats (child safety seats) are tested to hold a child securely if this happens.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends car seat use in aircraft by all children up to 40 pounds.
- Your child is likely to behave better on the trip if he or she is riding in a familiar, comfortable car seat.
- You will enjoy the trip more without a restless baby in your lap.
- The car seat will be ready for use at the end of the trip.
- You don’t need to worry about loss or damage that could happen if the car seat is sent as checked baggage.
Which car seats can be used on airplanes?
FAA rules allow use of car seats that have a label stating that they are certified for use on aircraft.
Infant car seats, convertibles, and forward-facing car seats with harnesses can be used.
Car seats less than 16 inches wide will fit in most airplane seats.
NO booster seats or child vests are allowed, even if labeled for aircraft use (see below).
No “belly belts” made to hold a child on an adult’s lap (allowed in some other countries).
Car seats with tethers can be used without the tether anchored.
Aircraft seat belts should be used by children over 40 pounds. (An aircraft lap belt usually will fit a child better than a seat belt in a motor vehicle.)
Foreign car seats can be used if they are labeled as meeting the standards of a foreign government or the United Nations.
Why can’t boosters and vests be used on board?
- Aircraft seats are different from motor vehicle seats, so some auto products work differently and fit differently in them.
- Crash tests have shown that car safety vests and booster seats with shields may not protect a child in an aircraft seat. Therefore, they are not allowed during take-off and landing, even though some have labels saying they are certified for aircraft use.
- A vest with a rigid plate behind the child allows too much forward movement.
- Some aircraft seats have backs that fold forward. In a crash, a child in a shield-booster could be crushed against the shield.
- A belt-positioning booster seat that uses a lap and shoulder belt in a car cannot be used. There is no shoulder belt for upper-body restraint. If the booster seat has an internal harness and your child weighs less than 40 pounds, you can use it that way on aircraft. For a heavier child, use the lap belt alone.