Flying With A Toddler--Specifically Issues w/ His Carseat--Educated Answer Needed!
  • Juliet
    Posts: 46Member
    We will be taking a family vacation in April, and it is the first time DH and I will be flying with our DS. He will be 19 months at the time. We chose to purchase him his own ticket/seat rather than taking him as a lap child because he gets fidgety being held that long and because this way we will get a whole row to ourselves as we all have seats.

    Originally we planned on using his carseat on the plane as I have heard this is pretty much the norm. But my question is whether it is just very highly recommended or if it is law. I have not been able to find anything on either TSA's website or Southwest Airlines' site. If it's not law, I can only assume they don't talk about it because it is so highly recommended. And my friends I would normally ask for advice because they fly on a regular basis, have only taken their children as lap children, so I need help from any of you SM's who might have some answers, or at the very least can suggest better resources for me to scour.

    I need to explain my family's issue, and why I am hoping DS can just sit in the regular airplane seat and use the regular lap belt: I am in a wheelchair because of a disability that makes it impossible for me to walk long distances. And airports certainly qualify as long distance. When I fly, I have to reserve a wheelchair and be pushed and escorted through security and to the gate by airport staff. However, I have never flown as a family of 3 before, so challenges are presenting themselves. As it is, my DH will have to be solely responsible for our DS, push the stroller, have the diaper bag, get them both through security, etc. I will have to rely on the help of a staff member and be pushed in the wheelchair by them, assisted by them in security, and wheeled then to the gate. I will also have to handle whichever of our family's carry-ons I can possibly fit in my lap in the wheelchair, as DH will already have his hands full.

    So, DS's bulky carseat has become the thorn in our side. I have racked my brain but can't figure out a way to take it with me in the wheelchair, and my husband doesn't have a free hand between the stroller and the diaper bag. We need to bring the carseat for the rental car once we arrive at our destination, but if there is any way my DS is allowed to not use it while in flight, it would be perfect if we could just check it at the counter with our other luggage.

    Help! Ideas? Answers? Advice?

    P.S. This is the flying issue I need help with first, but after that I would be more than happy to chat and pick your brains on other general tips regarding flying with a toddler, like what to pack, how to get through security, how to keep him entertained and as quiet as possible, and what to do about cranky passengers when I can't keep him entertained and quiet! LOL.

    Thanks all!
  • It is not required by law. That simple. If it was we would be required to purchase a seat, not given the option. I flew with a 3 week old.

    Also, you can't sit in a emergency row - but TRY to get the very first row of coach. Then he can play in front of you on the ground once the seat belt light goes off.

    Does that help??
  • Lil_Belle
    Posts: 58Member
    I am not sure about whether or not it is required but there is something you can buy that the carseat hooks to and makes it a stroller..then you will have a way to push your son through the airport and have the carseat ...I'm not Sure exactly what its called but you can find it on Amazon or babies r us
  • SofaQueenSofaQueen
    Posts: 169Member
    @Lil_Belle -
    I had that carseat/stroller for my son. We traveled half way around the world when he was just 3 mos old. I mean we, me & him! Military thing.
    That thing was a God send! It's a nice carseat that has wheels in the bottom and a handle that pops out of the top. It's called Sit-n-Stroll.
  • OH! You know what I just realized? Does a car seat count as a checked bag that you have to pay for if you don't take it on the flight? I am assuming that you will need a car seat on the other end.
  • unforgivenunforgiven
    Posts: 12,718Confessional Manager
    I traveled with my daughter when she was 3 months old. THANK GOD she was so young so she slept most of the time and she was strapped to my chest for most of that time. I felt better with her ON me. I imagine having a car seat for the older kiddos would be ideal... I agree that they would get antsy as a lap rider. The car seat is not a requirement though. Just bring lots of things to keep him busy. @irishlass might have some tips for you. They do not charge for the car seat. You get that for free. :) At least they didn't on American Airlines. I think if they charged for a car seat that would be RIDICULOUS. 

    confessional-manager

    "What looks like torture is a time to rejoice
    What sounds like thunder is a comforting voice
    When what is beautiful looks broken and crushed
    And I say I don't know you
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  • Mommyp
    Posts: 43Member
    You can check the car seat for free. He does not have to sit in it on the plane. When my daughter was little like that I would have her ride on the rolling carry on, then I didn't have to worry about a stiller too! Or use a back pack for a carry on, then husbands hands will be free. Do you have a portable DVD player w/ head phones ? Or can he watch Netflix on your phone/ lap top. That is always a life saver for me!!! Happy travels!!!
  • AnonMomAnonMom
    Posts: 2,410Member
    These women are SO smart!  It is not required by law to have children sit in a car seat on the plane, even though the FAA strongly recommends it.  A car seat and stroller check-in do not count against your two check-ins (via the Southwest website).

    Another thing to look into is the possibility of using one of the golf carts for the whole family.  Sometimes when it is a family traveling together, especially with small children, they will drive you.  Worth checking into.  I know they've done that for my mom.
  • DemandaDemanda
    Posts: 5,920Member
    It should be free to check his carseat, I've never paid. I've also never brought my car seat right on the plane - I don't see much point considering he'd only be strapped in at takeoff and landing. ( I don't drive so my son has always hated being in a carseat - totally not a kid that would be happy being in one for hours)  
    Additionally, if you're in a wheelchair, they'll likely give you a courtesy seat in the front row and that will give him the chance to play on the floor in front of you.  
    "The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off." ~ Gloria SteinemPhotobucket
  • serenitynowserenitynow
    Posts: 2,210Member

    my dh and ds flew southwest a few weeks ago.  car seats are free to check and you can either bring it on the plane (not required) or just have them load it with the luggage. also, if it is a carseat that coverts into another type of seat, you can't use it. the car seat will say on a sticker somewhere on it if it complies with FAA regulations.....i personally would not use it on the plane because it's more of a hassle than anything. they only have to be buckled in during takeoff and landing anyways so i would totally let him be "free" the rest of the flight

  • shouldcleanshouldclean
    Posts: 2,808Member
    The last time I flew ds was about 18 months. You don't need a carseat for the plane and most airlines will let you check it as a baby item and the stroller you can check at the gate. Our Maclaren umbrella stroller has flown to vegas and san diego. How long is your flight? Personally, I wouldn't lug something I didn't have to
  • SammieSammie
    Posts: 8,345Administrator, Moderator
    Hey there!! I'm a car seat safety psycho, at your service. :D 

    Seriously though, the airline will accommodate you. You need to call your specific airline to let them know that along with your assistant you will need someone to assist with your baggage as well. They will provide an extra set of hands for you or the assistant will pull your bags on a handcart. You just want to make sure all of these specifications are laid out with your airline ahead of time, to avoid chaos and confusion while you're trying to make your flight. 

    I think it is an excellent idea to bring your car seat! It is legal to fly without a car seat, but I feel strongly about riding with one. Not only for the obvious safety reasons, but typically kids do better in their own environment and the carseat is something they know and are (typically) more comfortable with than a big, strange airline seat. Different airlines are known for being more accommodating for car seats than others, so I strongly recommend printing out the FAA guidelines and having them handy in your purse/diaper bag or whatever your carry on tote is. You can find that document here: http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC%20120-87B.pdf 

    Also, here's a link to the 'Airplane' section on the Car Seat Lady's blog. This should help you feel more comfortable flying with a child. It lays out all the details and offers tips/tricks for installation, navigating through the airport, your rights, regulations etc. I can't say enough about this woman. She's been a pediatrician for decades and is one of the nation's leaders in car seat safety adovocacy. The post is easy to read and will probably leave you feeling much more comfortable about the entire upcoming experience. I was FREAKING out when we traveled by air for the first time (with a 19 month old too!) and this post really helped me to figure everything out and soothe my stresses. http://www.thecarseatlady.com/airplanes/

    Good luck on your travels!! Let me know if you have any more questions/concerns and I will try to offer support and find answers. :)

    community-manager


  • SammieSammie
    Posts: 8,345Administrator, Moderator
    Also, unrelated to car seats, but still helpful. If you haven't viewed it yet, TSA has a special section regarding disabilities and traveling. It seems fairly vague, but also helpful and informative in helping you prepare for travel and knowing what to expect. If you already know it all, no worries, but I thought I'd share the link just in case.

    community-manager


  • Kande
    Posts: 6Member
    Not only is it not illegal to fly without a carseat, but airlines are picky about which seats meet regulations. However, we are leaving soon with our toddler, I am bringing our carseat. If it doesn't pass their regulations they just check it same as the umbrelka stroller.mI feel my kid willbe happier in her own seat - more comfortable and familiar. And she is better contained as she has tosit for take off and landing in her own seat, if she decides to resist it is easier to strap her into her five point harness than into a seatbelt that she could easily slip out of. Also for those saying no car seat period - yes it is bulky. But also necessary for leaving the airport. Yes technically she could be in a taxi with no seat. But when I called the taxisfor some reason they would not 100% guarentee me an accident-free ride ... so her safety comes first, and in an inconvenient but tragedy avoiding (shoukd an accident occur) carseat she will be ...
  • WickedDunkieJunkieWickedDunkieJunkie
    Posts: 8,649Member
    I think everyone has pretty much answered your question, so I'll just toss in my 2¢.
    I have traveled with children ranging from infant to teen... I've taken my carseat, but never been able to use it *on* the plane. It was never correct regulations for aircraft.
    I've always checked it at the door of the plane, so its right there when I get off.
    I prefer not to check it with my luggage, just in case.
    WDJ_Avatar_zps4536679b
    We Are The Music Makers... And We Are The Dreamers Of Dreams...

  • shouldcleanshouldclean
    Posts: 2,808Member
    @Kande I personally wouldn't leave home without our carseat. Most airlines let you check it for free
  • WickedDunkieJunkieWickedDunkieJunkie
    Posts: 8,649Member
    @unforgiven

    I traveled with my daughter when she was 3 months old. THANK GOD she was so young so she slept most of the time and she was strapped to my chest for most of that time. I felt better with her ON me.



    The first time I traveled with kids, my youngest girl was 4 mos & I had her in the Snugglie strapped to me. Before the landing, they made me undo the straps, & holds her in my arms. They said it was SAFER, because if I fell I wouldn't land on her. (so instead she'd go flying out of my arms?!)
    This was in 2002, I'm just wondering if you had the same experience, it if they said nothing.

    WDJ_Avatar_zps4536679b
    We Are The Music Makers... And We Are The Dreamers Of Dreams...

  • unforgivenunforgiven
    Posts: 12,718Confessional Manager
    KDT7688 said:

    The first time I traveled with kids, my youngest girl was 4 mos & I had her in the Snugglie strapped to me. Before the landing, they made me undo the straps, & holds her in my arms. They said it was SAFER, because if I fell I wouldn't land on her. (so instead she'd go flying out of my arms?!)
    This was in 2002, I'm just wondering if you had the same experience, it if they said nothing.



    YES!!!! @kdt7688 They made me do that too!!! I was kinda pissed, she was all snuggly in there and happy and I had to wake her up just to do that? I kinda cheated and only took her half way out. I flew with her in March 2010.

    confessional-manager

    "What looks like torture is a time to rejoice
    What sounds like thunder is a comforting voice
    When what is beautiful looks broken and crushed
    And I say I don't know you
    But you say it's finished"
  • crazymama2twocrazymama2two
    Posts: 841Member
    but wait - don't you need the car seat when you get off the plane and into a car to drive anywhere???  unless you have relatives or what-have-you that already have a car seat, eff it.  dont bring one...but if yoiu need it, dont forget that part of it.  we are going to disney next january and imalreayd panicking about it...but ill need the car seat for the car rental so its coming with us.
  • irishlassirishlass
    Posts: 7,057Member
    @Sammie knows ALL her safety stuff SO well!! 
    I literally just flew with a 2yo. We didnt bring our car seat. The seat was included with our rental car, and i found, especially for my son (who is big) the carseat would have been hellish! We placed him in the middle seat. Our flight was 5hours, and there was no turbulence (luckily) during take off and landing he sat in the middle seat with his lapbelt on and his dad and I crossed our arms over him, just so he felt safer. During the 5 hours he did lots of moving around, but only in our row, because there was plenty of room. We put the arm rests up so it was like a sofa for us all to sit on, and he climbed onto his dads knee to look out the window, and then sat back in his seat. At one point he had a nap and he curled up on his dads lap, he had plenty of room to stretch out and really relax. 
    We made a massive game and excitement about it all, how it was so funny how the plane took off! If you are anxious about it, your child will be too!

    "Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who matter don't mind and those who mind don't matter." - Dr. Seuss
  • Juliet
    Posts: 46Member
    Thank you for all the advice, ladies! It really means a lot and is improving my confidence level. A question for those of you who have suggested a portable DVD player to keep him entertained-- we were definitely going to do that, but he doesn't like to keep headphones on. Did you just practice in advance at home with headphones and/or did you find a certain style works best? Or is my kid just weird and the only one who doesn't like wearing them? Lol.

    Oh, and one "grown-up" question- do any of you have motion sickness and if so can you recommend a brand of motion sickness bands or bracelets and where to purchase them? I have always taken Dramamine for flying but on my last flight it wasn't enough, so I thought I'd try something like that too.
  • stinkersmommystinkersmommy
    Posts: 1,887Member
    One more tip if for some reason your split up seat wise (happened to me kiddo n hubs) just ask the person next to you to swap and ok it with the stewardess my poor seatmate flew outta his seat the second he realized daddy was 6 rows up and he could swap!! Kiddo was a lap baby and a yr old (next child will have own seat from 6mos on even if we don't really use it that was hell with fidget monkey)