While traveling with children and all of their gear, you may have thought about whether or not you should carry your car seat on a plane. If you haven't and are planning an upcoming trip, now's the time to consider your options with car seat safety! While it's a hassle to have to load and unload a heavy car seat on a plane, there are outstanding reasons why you should do it anyway, so keep reading!
1. It's Safer
The most important reason to carry a car seat on a plane is that it's safer! The FAA and AAP strongly recommend that children use an approved child restraint device for flying. During take off, all items are required to be stowed away, except ironically for a child sitting on a parent's lap. During take off, landing and even turbulence, a child could easy fall, causing injury. Even an older child (under 40 lbs) using only the aircraft seat belt is at risk for whiplash and other injuries, particularly in an actual crash.
2. Saves You Money
Taking a car seat on board a plane is free. That means you won't have to rent a car seat during your trip! Depending on the length of your stay, you might end up paying at least half or more of the cost of a new car seat, just for a rental! So save your pennies and take along your seat in-flight.
3. Protects Your Car Seat from Damage
Have you ever seen luggage being tossed around after it's been checked? Most airline workers who load and unload checked baggage don't pay attention to how they are handling personal items because time and efficiency are the goals. This includes car seats unfortunately, and even if you can't physically see damage, it still could be there. Many companies will consider a car seat "crashed" after they have been checked.
4. It Won't Get Dirty
I actually checked a car seat a couple years ago and was surprised by how insanely dirty it got! Generally airlines are supposed to cover your car seat with plastic but they did not and we had to strap our son into that dirty seat in the rental car. Not fun.
5. Your Child Will Be More Comfortable
Your child is used to his/her own car seat and is comfortable riding in it. While it may be more of a hassle to carry your seat on board, you're almost guaranteed a peaceful ride! You may even be blessed with a sleeping child as the hum from the plane lulls him to sleep, just as a car ride would.
6. You Know How to Operate It
Another advantage of taking along your own car seat is that you know how to operate it. Car rental companies generally don't provide a manual for rental car seats so you're left guessing how to install it. No one wants to deal with that with kids running around!
7. You Won't Have to Deal with Dirty and Potentially Damaged Rental Seats
Just as you wouldn't buy a used car seat for your littles due to safety reasons, the same applies for rental seats. I've heard horror stories of companies providing car seats with rental cars that were dirty, stinky and stained with dirt, food and vomit! There's also no guarantee that a rental seat hasn't been in an accident, so why risk it?
Hopefully this list shed some light on traveling with a car seat! Have any of you traveled with car seats before? What was your experience?