Flying With A Child In A Carseat? Bring Along This FAA Tip Sheet!

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In this trip report I posted a few days ago I wrote about some of the more ridiculous rules that flight attendants have made up and tried to enforce over my past few years of flying with kids.

Unfortunately training is far too short, especially in regard to child safety.  The FAA strongly recommends that all infants should have their own purchased seat and fly in a carseat.  Many airlines will allow an infant to have an empty seat, but they are not obligated to.

If the child is rear facing in a car they should also be rear facing on a plane.  If the child is forward facing in a car they should be forward facing on a plane.

A DansDeals Facebook member shares his experience on Southwest where the flight attendant demanded that they use their carseat in the forward facing position and not the rear facing position as it was hindering the ability of the passenger in front of them to recline their seat.

Others are sharing similar experiences on American and JetBlue and I’ve had the same happen to me on United and on Cathay Pacific.  In fact I learned afterward that Cathay Pacific specifically outlaws rear facing carseats and they require belly buckles for lap children that the FAA says are dangerous.  But for domestic carriers you can always use a rear or forward facing carseat.

As I wrote in the trip report, out current travel solution is:
-Talia in a Chicco Keyfit 30 pushed in an Uppa Baby Vista which is gate checked. Those are both her everyday items.
-Rafi in a lightweight Cosco Scenara convertible carseat pushed in a GoGo Babyz Travelmate. Those are only used when we fly.
We also have an UppaBaby Rumble Seat that we check under and use when needed at the destination.

Carseats make sure the child can’t open the seatbelt at will and also makes it easier for your child to sleep on the plane.
Make sure your carseat visibly says “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft” on the label on the side of the seat.

The Chicco Keyfit can only be installed rear-facing, there is no way for it to be installed forward facing.  Even convertible carseats are often designed to be forward facing only for children weighing more than 22 pounds, so it is a safety issue to put an infant in that seat forward facing.  To be sure you don’t run into problems with an uninformed flight attendant be sure to bring along at least 1 if not all of these FAA directives when you fly with a child in a carseat:
-FAA Child Safety Tips (1 page)
-FAA Regulation: No airline may refuse a carseat for a child with a paid ticket (1 page)
-FAA Advisory Circular with full carseat rules (14 pages)

In the Southwest case what should have happened when the person complained about not being able to recline was the flight attendant moving the family with the child to the bulkhead row where they wouldn’t bother anyone else.  That’s exactly what the FAA says they should have done and what you can show the flight attendant in the FAA Regulation 1 page printout.

If a flight attendant refuses to comply with the FAA rules ask to speak to the purser or the captain.  And be sure to take down names so that you can file a complaint afterward with the FAA and DoT so that everyone not in compliance with the FAA rules can be properly educated.

FAA Complaint Form
DoT Complaint Form

Have a story to share as well? Hit the comments!

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15 Comments On "Flying With A Child In A Carseat? Bring Along This FAA Tip Sheet!"

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Sola

“The FAA strongly recommends that all infants purchase their own seat…” I guess if infants can earn miles, they can shop for carseats.

David

Note the phrase “in the same class of service” in the FAA regulation. We ran into this issue on Frontier last year. Because our convertible carseat (Britax Marathon) did not fit rear-facing given their miserable seat pitch without pushing on the seat in front, Frontier required us to pay $100pp extra to upgrade to more legroom. Apparently Frontier classifies more legroom as a different class of service, therefore they maintained that they had no means of accommodating us “in the same class of service.” (The bulkhead row had more legroom.) Our mistake was trying to deal with this before getting on. (We had an issue on our first leg, and made the mistake of trying to be proactive on our second leg.) Had we simply jammed the carseat in once we got on the plane, we probably would have been fine.

Anonymous

Dan do you think they will get compenstaed big time ?

Dan

@Sola:
😉

@Full story:
Thanks.

@David:
Did you file an FAA/DoT complaint?

But you’re correct, you should have just set the seat up in the window seat and if someone would have complained they would have had to “upgrade” you for free.

Noturbizniss

I’ve heard that stome airlines prohibit cat seats in first class. Is that allowed if I paid for the seat? The guidelines input it is not allowed

David

@Dan-

We did pursue things with the airline (it was like talking to a wall), but did not file an FAA complaint. While we had planned to, at some point it just isn’t worth the time. We will act with our feet, by never flying Frontier again. For our next trip we are buying a smaller convertible seat (the Britax Marathon we have is huge). FWIW, our baby carseat (Britax B-Safe) also is tight on many airlines. However, as an infant has no option to just sit and he had a ticket, we’ve never encountered more than grumbling from airline staff.

Isaac

I had a very unleasant experience with an American flight attendant and her “FAA regulations” .
They were totaly bogus and she said that my 2 year old was too big for car seat.
A long and strong email ( mentioning my involvement in many well respected flyer blogs), I received a $300 voucher.
So if you have bad experience ask for compensation (always ask for a high $ amount).

Mo

From my recent experiences most Airlines within the US would have no problem allowing you to bring infant car seats for unpaid infants so long there is an extra seat. But take note that flying to/from Canada is different. In my past 2 times with west jet they would not allow car seats Cuz of some weird Canadian law. However we are able to convince them to allow us on but on condition we hold the infant during take off/landing. (though they agree it’ll be more safe to be in car seat)

Judah

Purser, the guy says…

Yaakov

We flew a little while ago with our four children the youngest at the time 3 months. We had ordered in advance a bassinet on every flight where it was offered. On one flight (I think it was BRU-JFK on SN) due to a mix up our seats were not in the bulkhead row. When brought to the attention of the staff they were very accommodating and assured us that as soon as we reached cruising level they would provide the bassinet. So they placed a bassinet holding our not-so-quiet little baby in front of a not-so-happy older gentleman in the bulkhead row. To make a long story short, that man and his wife after a little while decided that they’d rather take the offer to move to a different part of the airplane and my wife got to sit with the baby.

David

I have an aisle and a window for me and my wife, the baby is a lap infant. Could/should we try to bring our car seat on the flight assuming that the flight isn’t fully booked? We are flying el al so any comments, experiences, or recommendations would be greatly appreciated as this is our first time going to Israel with our soon to be one year old!

Mark

I flew 6 times to Israel each time I used a regular graco car seat. They never gave us issues.

henny

@Mark
But to Israel you dont pay for an infant so how do they give you an exra seat for him/her?
I am asking bec I am also flying August with a 1 year old and would like to take my carseat as well.
Thanks!

Gt

Does the cosco scenera carseat install securely (not able to seay back n forth?) last time we rented a car and carseat, all they had was cosco brand and it wudnt install properly in any type car 🙁

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