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Flying with Car Seats

Why should children fly with car seats?

Recent news this week has struck about a flight to Bangkok in which severe turbulence caused at least 22 injuries including 3 babies who broke their spines.  Babies under the age of two are allowed to be “lap babies” and children of any age are not currently required to use any type of child passenger restraint on airplanes like they are in cars. Some airlines have stated their protocol in an emergency is to have the mother place the baby on the floor of the plane. Most encourage parents to buy a seat for their baby but don’t require it. However, air travel is quite safe so rarely do we hear about the dangers. Before I heard about them, I flew with my son on my lap.

According to the FAA, in nonfatal accidents, in-flight turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to airline passengers and flight attendants. Each year approximately 58 people are injured by turbulence when not wearing their seatbelts. Generally, two-thirds of turbulence-related accidents occur at or above 30,000 feet.

Many people fly every day and are perfectly fine. Air travel is generally very safe, but I am a mother that worries about the “what-ifs” What if we were on a plane with horrible turbulence? What if I couldn’t protect my child? The fastened seatbelt sign is there for a reason. Unless a child has a car seat, they aren’t properly restrained. Most children under the age of 5 do not fit correctly in a lap belt, leaving them still vulnerable to injuries.

The truth is simple, the safest place for a child during a flight is in their car seat. Most of the time you will need a car seat at your final destination anyway, so please don’t check the seat….. use it.

Now you may be thinking: “But that car seat is WAY too heavy” and I am with you on this one. Which is why I purchased our Cosco Scenera Next. This seat is a simple install, airplane approved & very lightweight.

“But how will I get it to the gate?” I usually just toss the car seat into the stroller(with the carry-ons) and then put PJ on my back. But you may not like that idea, so there is an awesome car seat travel accessory. It is a very simple tool that hooks your car seat to your wheeled carry-on & the child can even ride in it! Another awesome tool is the Car Seat Travel Cart which is a set of wheels you can attach to your car seat .

“But they won’t be comfortable” Now that’s just silly. We don’t use that excuse when we are driving in the car, do we? If anything, parents report children feel safe and protected in their familiar car seat.

Now, I understand there are many parents who travel with lap babies and make the informed decision to travel as such. That is their decision and I am not here to judge anyone’s situation. If you didn’t buy a seat for your lap baby, I encourage you to still bring that car seat to the gate & ask if there is an extra seat so you can bring your car seat aboard & strap your baby in safely. Southwest Airlines and their “open seating” is amazing for this benefit. They are well known to allow parents to bring their seat on board if there is an open seat. However, once your child is old enough that they have their own seat, please bring that car seat on board!

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