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  1. #1

    Question Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    I feel silly asking this as I am such an advocate of car seat safety, but this month I'll be traveling with my son, who will just turn 2, on a 3 hour flight. I have a car seat at my destination (mom's house) but I am considering leaving my Radian at home & letting DS sit in his own seat for this trip. :hides under table:

    I know it is much safer to use the car seat, but is it bad parenting (for lack of better phrase) to consider traveling without one for this trip? I will be flying alone and our last trip was a complete nightmare (car seat cover ripped, almost missed flight, running through airport w/baby in back carrier while holding diaper bag & the Radian which was not contained in the ripped cover..., and pulling our luggage which didn't make it in time to be checked in)

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  3. #2
    Moderator - CPST Instructor snowbird25ca's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Edmonton, AB, Canada

    Re: Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    My suggestion would be to buy an inexpensive seat like the Scenera to take with you. It's light weight, and should still fit your kiddo easily at 2yrs old.

    Personally speaking, I wouldn't fly without a carseat for a 2yr old. I could list more than one reason, but the biggest reason would be lack of containment. The plane seatbelt won't contain him, and you have potential for a kid who won't stay in the seat during landing or take-off without you trying to hold him down - which is bound to make for some darn good screaming...

    My honest suggestion would be to just get to the airport earlier. Buy a lighter seat if it makes juggling your bags earlier, check as much as you can so you have as little as possible for carry-on's, and have someone accompany you at least as far as when you check your baggage if possible so that you can get that taken care of without having to stress over keeping track of your ds.

    I've flown with my ds and a seat by myself and also flown with him and just a CARES harness on a 2nd trip... I brought a seat back home with me for the return trip... I did spend 30 mins holding on to the back of his pants to prevent him from trying to slide out of the lap belt on the way there, while the trip with his carseat he'd been perfectly content both ways.

    So nope, no way I'd fly with a 2yr old without a carseat even if I had a carseat on the other end. If my trusted friend hadn't been able to send me home with one of her spare seats, I would've gone out and bought one just to get home - it's that much of a difference.

    Give yourself extra time at the airport and you'll be fine. I'm sorry that you had such a rotten experience the first time. Having extra time I'm sure made my flights feel more manageable... So give it a try.
    Trudy - Canadian CPSAC certified CRST Instructor-Trainer and mommy to:
    Janeen - 17 yrs and learning to drive!
    Jillian - 11 yrs, 80'ish lbs, 5-stepping in each car. :O
    Jonas - 8yrs, 65lbs, Riding in an Oobr in each car.
    Both safely riding in either a 2007 Outlook or a 2015 Subaru Legacy depending on the day.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Naples, Italy

    Re: Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    I definitely would advise to bring the car seat. I traveled without my daughters since I was traveling alone with two small kids. (barely two and four months) because I thought it would be easier not to have to carry hers on the flight. It was a huge mistake. She figured out how to unbuckle the seat belt in the first two minutes and kept undoing it. I had to hold her down to keep her in her seat until she fell asleep.

    I had had a few nightmares with the car seats on planes and going through security before too. I traveled from Hawaii to Italy this summer and it was such a nightmare getting to VA, that I never wanted to set foot on a plane again. Traveling without the car seat was definitely worse. I would recommend a scenera that weighs barely anything or a travelmate to roll your radian with.

    Good luck.

  5. #4
    Moderator MomToEliEm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Re: Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    For me, if I had a seat at my destination, I probably would try to just use the airplane seat. The child may not fit too well in the regular seatbelt, but the odds of an airplane crash are very small. The seatbelt should still hold the child in for minor turbulance issues if they might occur (provided the child hasn't unbuckled the seatbelt). If the trip was during a nap or overnight, I might bring a seat due to the child sleeping better in the carseat, but otherwise, I would just utilize the regular seatbelt. That may go against the "best practice", but sometimes I make compromises.

  6. #5
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Re: Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    Car seat, car seat, car seat.

    We're on planes 3-4 times a year, and one of those is a 14+ hour flight. The only time I've had any difficulty was when we did NOT have the car seat. DS didn't want to sit and it was a nightmare flight of 4 hours.

    To make it easier - take your stroller, strap the car seat to the stroller with a bungee cord and then DC strapped into the car seat. Have a back pack for a diaper bag so you have your hands free. You have to have time to navigate check-in and security. Let DC walk from security to the gate if it is not too crowded, so they can get tired. Ask to preboard, so you can set the car seat up and gatecheck the stroller. On the plane with a portable DVD player and some snacks. Fingers crossed DC will then fall asleep and you will be able to rest too.

    I did just take DS without a car seat on the plane but he's nearly 5 yo, and he knows he has to sit in his seat and not undo the seat belt. He also knew that if he didn't behave, he will lose the privilege. He did complain that the airplane seat was not as comfortable as his car seat, and his bottom hurt.

  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy Sceason1972's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008

    Re: Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    For em - we always took our stroller in order to tote the car seat and carry-ons and then put the child in a backpack carrier. The back pack was nice because I could set it down with her still strapped in. You can gate check the stroller.

    I found my kids were far more comfortable at that age being in a car seat on the plane. A comfortable child is important when you are in such a confined sapce.

    There is one other option - esp if you will be flying often to a place where you already have a seat available. The CARES harness.

  8. #7
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Re: Plane ride w/2yo...with or w/out car seat?

    I've flown with both the Scenera and the Radian and actually, the Radian was easier. I put it on a metal luggage cart and it was too simple to pull it through the airport. It carted the carry-ons os I didn't have to carry anything. I borrowed a stroller at my destination so I didn't need to pfaff with that.

    I was able to board the plane and roll the Radian down the aisle. My dd could sit in it when she was tired. She usually prefers to walk.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities

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