Today’s Aeroflot Flight Incident Shows Why We Buy Seats For Our Kids

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An Aeroflot flight from Moscow to Bangkok today experienced clear-air turbulence, causing 27 passengers to require treatment in a hospital. The video of the aftermath is horrific.

Of course this caused the inevitable, “Is Aeroflot safe” comments on the DansDeals Facebook group. Then again the “is XYZ (insert airline or country here) safe” question is so prevalent there that DDFB trolls now drive to Cleveland to ask me that question in person 😉

Of course clear-air turbulence can occur on any airline and it’s the reason that you should always wear a seatbelt when seated on an airplane, even if the seatbelt sign isn’t illuminated.

The Daily Mail says that 3 infants suffered major injuries on the flight when they were thrown out of their mother’s arms by the force of the turbulence.

That’s one of the primary reasons that we travel with carseats for our kids.

The FAA doesn’t require a seat for children under 2, however, “The FAA strongly urges you to secure your child in a CRS or device for the duration of your flight. It’s the smart and right thing to do so that everyone in your family arrives safely at your destination…The safest place for your child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system or device, not on your lap. Your arms aren’t capable of holding your child securely, especially during unexpected turbulence.”

Their analysis showed that requiring tickets for children under 2 would mean more people would drive, which is a statistically more dangerous way to travel.

I guess according to that logic, that means carseats wouldn’t be required in a car if walking was more dangerous than driving.

When our kids were under a year they went on a plane in their Chicco Keyfit 30 while we gate checked the UppaBaby Vista that pushed the carseat to the plane.

Now we use 2 GoGoBabyz Travelmates, which we use to make it easy to push Rafi in an Evenflo Maestro travel carseat and Talia in a Cosco Scenara travel carseat.


Rafi enjoying the legroom flying United Global First class from Houston to Honolulu on 1/29/14:



Aside from the safety aspect, kids in a carseat are more likely to sleep on a plane and you won’t have to hold them or stop them from opening the airline seatbelt. Plus if you need a carseat at your destination you don’t have to worry about airline baggage handlers mishandling and damaging your carseat.

As a bonus, having a paid seat for a carseat also defeats United basic economy by locking in a window seat.

When Rafi was an infant I used to make a game out of always making sure the seat next to us was empty so that we’d get a free ticket and a free seat for his carseat. But since my first failure we’ve always bought each kid their own seat.

Do you bring a carseat on the plane for your kids?

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69 Comments On "Today’s Aeroflot Flight Incident Shows Why We Buy Seats For Our Kids"

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Dan, I tried clicking on the page you posted with the laptop deal, and it said “You have been banned from this page”. Do you have any idea what this is about? (the link to the deal worked, just not the dan’s deals page with the comments)


Maybe they are bad at avoiding turbulence


But you stop in France and in countries packed with Muslims like France


There’s no question kids are safer in car seats on airplanes. The question is whether the increased safety justifies the cost. We have 3 seriously injured kids from the Aeroflot flight. How many other infant injuries could have been avoided this year if the parents had bought a ticket and brought a car seat? That’s the important data. I think you’d agree with me that logic, and not emotion, has to be the determining factor in this analysis.


Hi Dan… thanks for the great write up. We recently started flying back and forth to Israel via Europe and our daughter is now over two and one on the way… our last trip she was 1 1/2 and we regretted not buying a seat the entire time. I think at 1 1/2 year old they are no longer able to be held and they need their own seat.

Do the airlines charge the same amount for a under 2 year old seat as they do an adult seat? Sometimes its a financial decision rather than a safety or convenience decision as was our case. Now with two kids it just might be too much to buy 4 full fare tickets.



@dan, what was your failure when making sure there was an empty seat? And how DID you make sure?


I disagree with this post!
It’s like saying, the Malaysian saga is the reason why you should only drive and never fly!
When was the last time something even close to this happened?


I don’t buy a seat for my kids when I don’t have to but I always ask the gate agent if she can work with me on a flight that isn’t full. They are usually accommodating.


But you didn’t answer the most important question….


Dan, now it’s working. Thanks!

New mom

Dan, how did you make sure the seat next to you was empty?


@dan, but when it worked (to get a empty seat), how did you do it? You just asked them at the counter?


@Dan: Help! I am flying Aeroflot with my 4 month old next month… They told me I cannot reserve a bulkhead, it is first come first serve. How, then can I reserve a bassinet? Where exactly do they put it?


Always! But apparently if you suggest that others buy a seat for their child you’re considered sanctimonious…


I wouldn’t say air pockets where 27 people are hospitalised is a common thing, but yes, it’s a fact that they do exist and are not identifiable in advance.

And to all others here, if you would familiarize yourself a little with the aviation industry, you’d understand that when they tell you to keep your seatbelt on even when the signal isn’t on, it’s for your safety. Same thing when they tell you to put your seat forward, or when they ask you that your bag should fit completely under the seat in front of you, these guidelines are all for your own safety.


When my kids were little I did carry them as a lap baby once or twice.. but big mistake. I now buy seats on the plane for both of my kids and they sleep like a dream. I feel so much more secure knowing they are safe and snug in their car seats and as a bonus my husband and I get to enjoy the flight and the quiet time. Win-win.

Thank you for sharing this and making the information more widespread about the importance of having young kids safely buckled in a carsets on flight- go dan!

Mimi k.

Scary story but i never wear a seatbelt even during takeoff and landing.
I get claustrophobic.
If you get scared from these stories you might never leave the house

Shmiel joe

I wonder if you would’ve paid for your tickets with hard earned cash like most of us do if you would still buy”extra” seats?!?!?


Let me be clear, a child’s right to be safe on a plane is what we are talking about here. I don’t consider it an “extra” seat. I think people need to think of it as a matter of fact (a child gets a seat) and save money ahead for the cost or don’t go. The seats are usually at a discounted price anyway, because it’s for a child.


@Dan: Well, I think I could live with myself if the odds were crazy low of an accident. Just like if a madman murdered them on a walk I “shouldn’t” have taken. There’s some risk in any activity.

Fortunately, my kids were infants 15 to 20 years ago when load factors were much lower than they are today. I probably took 50 flights with an infant and got a “free” seat for them at least 45 times. But I’d guess my “batting average” these days would only be about 1/3rd. The chances are always best if you have 2 adults and book “window-aisle” with the middle seat free. Elite seating or the back of the plane has the highest probabilities of an empty middle seat.

Had I had to constantly hold the child or pay for a seat, I’m sure we would have travelled less during the infant years. That would have been a shame. The situation is unfortunate for parents of young children now, but I guess there’s not really a solution to the problem.


A mother flew with a baby seat next to her was empty and they took away her carseat because she didn’t pay for the seat! After it was bucked in and the baby wad asleep.

Menachem S

Do you know if Elal lets you bring a car seat on the plane?


File a DoT complaint for what? If you haven’t paid for the seat, you’re not entitled to bring on a car seat, regardless of the possibility that there is room. Now, some agents could be nice, but that’d be the exception, not the rule.


You were given incorrect information. SU offers advanced reservation of bassinets on all their aircrafts that have them (wide-body) for all infants up to a year.


I’m a perfect example of someone who’s recently chosen to drive (Lakewood to Chicago) instead of paying for a seat for my 6 month old (plus two other kids).Being able to run on our own schedule is also a factor though. The bottom line is that even the most customer centric airlines make flying with kids a massive pain in the neck and it’s just not worth the 5-6 hours it am saves anymore.


This seems like sponsored content a la Mindy Kaling and the Casper Mattress. Did you receive those products with embedded links to Amazon gratis or are you standing behind what you purchased? It feels strange to exploit an event where there are 3 hospitalised babies to push car seats.


We’ve found for older children (3-4 years old) of late it’s easier when they fly without the car seat due to legroom being so limited in economy. With the car seat, they spend the flight kicking the seat in front of them and get agitated by the lack of personal space.

Also, what do folks with kids do in cities where renting a car is inefficient or impossible? Have you taken your 3-6 year olds in the back of an Uber without a car seat?


Dan, I’m traveling to Israel in a month with a 3.5 year old who has a seat and a 1.5 year old (lap). I once brought the snap and go car seat on and got an empty seat next to mine which I’m hoping will happen again as we took 3 out of 4 with a middle seat open on El AL. My question is how do I know what car seats are eligible for being brought on the plane and also if I check them does that effect my luggage/carry-on allowance?


Guys seriously relax…. this post was informative for those of us that care to hear about extra safety measures for our kids (wether we can afford it or end up applying it is a different story)…. If you didn’t find it helpful move on…. I found this post very helpful and a good point to think about before next flight(and I pay for my own flights with hard earned cash)


These things can happen anytime and on any airline. And worse things can happen too. My mom was once on a flight from NY to Florida and suddenly the plane dropped 10,000 feet. It was very quick and she said everyone knew they were about to die. Somehow the pilot regained control and they eventually landed. The airline, a mainline and reputable US airline, gave everyone on the flight a free domestic ticket as compensation for the scare.


Once while flying redeye, i stretched out over 3 seats and fell asleep. I was thrown down from turbulence midflight. Thank G-d i wasnt really hurt but i sure learned my lesson about turbulence !
Now, what drives me insane
. My kids outgrew the sceneras and i need something else narrow,and lightweight to replace. So far no one has any good suggestions. I plan to fly solo with 2 kids and an infant, quite stressed how ill shlep it all.


We flew last week on a domestic delta flight, had an empty window seat next to us, the flight attendant wouldn’t allow us to put our baby in the car seat in the empty seat, saying she is a lap child and therefore must stay on our lap. She claimed FAA rules and started yalking some nonsense about FAA agents on planes undercover and if they catch her allowing an unpaid passenger to take a seat she can lose her job. We tried talking sense but i didn’t want to be the star in a delta abuse video, so we let it go. Really weird. I figured its no use complaining, because ultimately i didn’t pay for the seat.


And if you can’t afford a ticket for your 1 year old, then should you really be traveling?

Dan, I really take issue with this statement of yours. Some people travel for other purposes besides pleasure. Medical emergencies, sick elderly parents, and some of these people have to scrape every dime together for that one ticket, and have no air miles. You cannot make such a blanket statement like that. I know, since I was in one of the above scenarios with a 4 month old.


@Dan: I stand (sit) corrected. You’re the man Dan!


For some of us who are international families it’s not about going on a vacation it’s about taking a nursing baby with so you can go and sit with your mother as she goes through chemo, or be together with your family for the first Yahrseit, or a milestone event. Yes, you can leave the older kids home with your husband but it would be a little hard for him to take care of a nursing baby or an infant not in school. Paying for your own ticket for international travel to visit family is already a big item on your budget. If you fly between European city’s they give you a lap belt that attaches to yours. This should be the rule across the world


When I fly with babies I wear them in a baby carrier like an ergo, although I never flew much with babies.


I know people who can afford the seat still do not pay for one; me included. This is a personal decision each one has to make.

This was not normal turbulence. 27 people were injured due a bad moment of turbulence, that caught everyone off guard.

I do wear my seatbelt all the time normally in case I sleep and the seatbelt light comes on. I was thinking of dropping this habit but maybe I should not.


Do you wear a seatbelt when seated in the back seat of a car?

Mimi k.

@abe FAA rules just means company policy.
I’m not sure the exact timeline but at some point the airlines told the staff to blame everything on the FAA. Whether it’s no second drinks or no using the business class bathroom or just whatever the feel like. There are not as many faa rules as they would try to make you think.
@dan no i dont wear seatbelts in cars. And no it is not the same as smoking.


@New mom: I agree with Dan that we would book aisle and window seats with an empty middle. Usually the gate agents are awesome at helping us make space for our baby in their seat if possible without the extra cost of buying a seat.


The award to most boneheaded comment of the day goes to:

“And if you can’t afford a ticket for your 1 year old, then should you really be traveling?”

Seriously, some people really need a vacation, and you should be the first to know that. Just because someone scraped together a few grand to go on a vacation does not mean they can afford to plunk down an extra $800-$1,000 to avoid a 1 in a billion chance that they hit clear turbulence AND get injured. Literally 3.7 billion passengers (not unique) flew in 2016, and 3 babies received minor injuries (notice the CNN didn’t editorialize like the Daily Mail). Your comments are insensitive, fear mongering, and so far out of whack with reality. Don’t be ridiculous.


@Liz In situations like the one you wrote about, I always ask for the flight attendant’s (or whatever the nincompoop’s job is) full name. I make sure that they see that I am writing it down, along with the date, time and other important details. I rarely follow up with a complaint, just out of laziness, but it does make them aware that they are not all powerful.

It’s extremely important NOT to show anger when you do this. It will still probably give them a bit of a start, but anger makes you look weaker.

@Dan Thank you so much for this editorial!


I don’t think you sympathize if you tell people not to travel if they can’t afford an extra seat for a lap infant. Oh too bad you have a medical procedure, need to visit family, or simply need a few days to clear your head, you think people shouldn’t travel if they can’t afford an extra ticket. Sometimes people are forced to travel even when they can’t afford it. Never mind the dumb comparison of using car seats on planes vs car seats in cars. Cars are statistically a lot more dangerous than planes. You bring one case of turbulence across the world where a few kids got minor bruises as a reason to purchase an extra plane ticket or 2. The risk of getting hurt is so statistically low that you’d need to seriously alter your life to have these “risks” affect your decision making. How many times in the past 10 years did someone you personally know experienced risky turbulence? Now think about how many people you personally know were in minor accidents that could have injured kids that weren’t in a car seat? For me the numbers are 1000:0. For you maybe 1000:1.

While you’re at it, you may as well compare base jumping to traveling to Israel, seriously why take any unnecessary risks? You know how many thousands of people die a year walking up staircases? Did you install an elevator in your house to mitigate that risk? Think of the children!


This reminds me of when my children were infants and we flew, and we were always harassed to take them, often asleep, out of their baby carriers for take off. We were told that parents had to hold their babies, that they could not be wrapped or strapped to the parent for take off.

It never made any sense, and still doesn’t. No parent could hold onto a child by hand as safely as having the child strapped to you, and I could never figure out any downside (nor was any explained to me).


Don’t fly China Southern with stops outside the US. They won’t let you put a carseat even when you have a paid ticket.


I flew with my wife and infant son as a lap child on Cathay Pacific. They gave us an infant seat belt, which is basically a separate seat belt that loops around your seat belt.

It’s not as good as a car seat, but it will prevent your child from hitting the ceiling in a case like this.


We just flew from israel to nyc with a 2 year old boy on Alitalia with a stopover in Rome. As we had a seat for him,we brought along along a car seat knowing that he would sit and sleep better than just being on the chair. On EVERY leg of the flights we were harassed by the stewardesses who attempted to prevent us from bringing it on. One flight called out the captain who fought with us and finally let us go with an “i allow you to decide to, but I don’t like it.” Every time I repeated the same narrative: your seats aren’t made for a kid this size, your seatbelts are useless-I wouldnt even put him in a stroller using your belts. EVERY time it was a fight. BUT every time i ultimately won, and was allowed to take it.
Know that you may have to fight for it, but stick to your guns, say that all other airlines allow it, say its FAA approved, be logical and firm. I can say that it was very much worth it- our kid spent the whole time in it, and slept a nice amount


Thank you for explaining my struggle

The Safety Hazard on Your Lap

well I would point out that some airlines have lap belts for the infant on your lap such as British Airways and some bassinets have a cover over the middle to stop your baby flying out if turbulence should arise. so this is entirely subjective on the airline your flying. there is always a way to make the journey safer even with a baby on your lap.


@Dan The European aviation authorities consider the child lap belt safer than holding the infant in your hands. Repeating FAA, FAA, FAA doesn’t prove anything. Link to the exact studies and compare to the EU studies and then we can have a discussion.