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  1. #1
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    Recommendations for air travel

    I fly cross country with my 15-month-old at least every six weeks, sometimes more. It was easy when he was in his infant seat, but now that we purchased a big boy car seat, it's almost impossible to lug this thing through the airport. It's so large, that it doesn't even fit through x-ray. It also weighs well over 27lbs. I have to get a car seat that I can manage with just myself and the little one. Can anyone recommend a car seat that is easy to install on airplanes, relatively light, easier to carry, and has a high safety rating?

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    What seat do you have? I've traveled solo with big Britaxes and a Radian and not had a problem.

    How much does your son weigh?

    Do you have a Traveling Toddler or another way to carry the seat already?

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  4. #3
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    I currently have an Evenflo Symphony. I'll be honest, I do not like this car seat, and I didn't want it when I got it. The BRU employee talked my husband into it. I knew it was to bulky, and heavy to travel with. My son currently weighs 23 lbs. I bought the strap that you can use to attach your car seat to your carry-on, but the Symphony was to large for it. I babywear, so my son is generally strapped to me. I'm pretty accustomed to carrying him on my front or back for long periods of time. The two airports I check in at allow me to wear him through security. I do keep an umbrella stroller with us, just in case. I could stack our carry on, and his infant seat in it fine, but the size of the symphony wouldn't work.

    Edited to say: I just checked, and the strap I'm speaking of is the Traveling Toddler. So yes, I do have one.

  5. #4
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    Ok, I'd look at the Safety 1st Avenue, the Cosco Scenera, maybe the Evenflo Titan. But they'd be my choice in that order. We travel with the Avenue now. It fits through the scanner, attaches easily to the suitcase, and is lightweight and narrow. Very comfortable to sit next to. The Scenera is its even smaller and more lightweight, but unpadded, brother.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  6. #5
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
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    L.A. area
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    20,458

    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    The Travelling Toddler worked WONDERFULLY with my Complete Air. I've used it satisfactorally with my Boulevard as well (but I would recommend the Complete Air over the Boulevard.) So probably most seats it would work great with-- that funky LATCH may be the problem. However you might consider a smaller seat anyway, that's easier to travel with. The Safety 1st Avenue is a compact, economical choice that many have found very easy to travel with. There are many others as well that could be good choices but are more expensive. What's your budget?
    CPST and Mom to Emma, 15, Bridget, 13, Maggie, 11, Katie Sue, 6, Jimmy, born May 2019,
    and Becky, waiting for us as part of our eternal family.
    Our '02 Odyssey, car seats, and seatbelts saved our lives. Now riding in a '13 Odyssey!

  7. #6
    Registered User
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    I'd like to keep it under $250, and the further under $250 I can keep it, the better. All of the recommendations so far fit well within that, and the Scenera is really inexpensive.

  8. #7
    CPS Technician
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    Hmmmmm. The traveling toddler pics on their website show it used with a Britax convertible which is close in size to the Symphony. The Symphony should work. Have you considered the Go Go Kidz Travelmate? Or just strapping the seat to a luggage cart?

    At the end of the day the Symphony and many other seats are just big and bulky and difficult to deal with in an airport. It can be done. I carted my kids Marathons through many an airport!! NOT fun but can be done. If you are flying alone or just want to make things easier, I'd get a lightweight travel seat. The Scenera is super cheap and very very lightweight. We bought one for my ds for travel and it made air travel so much easier. It's easier to cart through the airport, it fits through the xray machine, it is smaller so takes up less room on the air plane.

    Just remember that the Scenera is a low cost, no frills seat!!! No padding, no EPS foam, no bells and whistles at all. Just a very basic seat. You will likely need pool noodles to get the correct rear facing recline. It also requires a child be 34 inches AND 22 lbs before they ff in the seat.
    Tanya

    Allie 6/6/03 - Monterey and Parkway
    Levi 4/3/05 - Probooster and Turbobooster

  9. #8
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    I can make the Symphony work, and I did. It was just frustrating. I'm also trying to avoid what happened on my US Airways flight from Charlotte to Seattle. They said that the Symphony would not fit (I would have made it!) and gave the seat that I had purchased for my son to a stand by passenger who complained the whole flight about me having a baby. I was livid. Airlines complain about people not buying seats for their children, and talk about how unsafe it is, yet this is the second time I've been told by flight attendants that my seat is not compatible although they are FAA approved, and made to hold my son in my lap anyway. I have considered the Go Go Kidz, but I've heard so many mixed reviews on it. The moms on another message board recommended the Sunshine Kids Radian, because you can strap it to your back. I saw that it is 20 lbs though. I guess if I can carry my son on my back who weighs slightly more for long periods of time, then I can probably manage that. I've been looking for car seat retailers in the area, so maybe I can go in and look at a few recommended for travel, and make sure they will install well in the vehicle(s) that we use when we get to our destination.

  10. #9
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    The Radian is not at all uncomfortable with its backpack straps. But it won't fit rear facing on a plane.

    I would be writing letters absolutely LIVID if someone gave away my ticketed child's seat and made them less safe. At the very least I would be demanding a full refund, and I would definitely ask that their attendants get training. Your seat is FAA approved. They should not be able to tell you not to use it. I would also, if it had to be checked, ask for their guarantee that the seat is still safe to use after being checked, and if it's not, since you did not desire to check it and you were forced to by their organization, ask what can be done about it. Someone here got a new seat after she was forced to check her infant seat.

    Start writing, and let us know what they say.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  11. #10
    CPS Technician
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    Oct 2005
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    MD
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    I don't think they are allowed to give your baby's seat away since you PURCHASED the seat. Were you issued a refund?

    We have a memeber here who was forced to gate-check her infant seat and hold her baby. She's a CPST and was able to get the money back for her child's seat AND they gave her $$ for the cost of the seat since she couldn't be sure that it was properly handled and therefore considered it unsafe to continue using it.

    Susan
    Mommy to my angel, Ethan Daniel (8/5/07-8/6/07)
    Mommy to Nicholas (12-29-08) RF'ed to 2.75 yrs in Graco MyRide(crashed) and a True Fit Primier. FF in the TFP and a Graco Nautilus Elite. Nicholas is 2.75 yrs old, 32 lbs and 36" tall.
    Child Passenger Safety Tech

  12. #11
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    I can be a bit of a pushover, but when I got to Seattle, and told my husband about this, he called US Airways to complain. They said that we should call ahead of time to ensure that the car seat was the right size to fit on the airplane. We had no problems when we flew with Delta. He asked for a refund on the seat, and they said they couldn't do it, and they kept throwing 'policy' at us. US Airways has worse customer service than Continental, and I find that amazing. I find it funny that they are partners now. I learned my lesson, and refuse to fly with those two airlines. I did have to gate check the car seat.

    The radian can't be installed rear facing? That figures. I'll probably end up going with the lightest seat, that has enough padding for a 5 hour flight, and doesn't skimp on safety.

  13. #12
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    It simply doesn't fit.

    And excuse my language, but bull cookies on the fitting. If it's FAA approved it'll fit. The Radian does fit in bulkhead rows, so technically it's fine, but bulkheads aren't guaranteed. Anyway, if it's an FAA approved seat and you bought a ticket they haven't a legal leg to stand on. Go back, go higher up, and get your money back. And get written confirmation from them that your seat is fine, or a check to replace it. Do NOT let this go.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  14. #13
    Unregistered
    Guest

    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    We recently flew on Continental and carried on my son's Recaro Signo. While in the airport, we put it in our car seat travel bag (tight fit but it worked) and used the handle to pull (has wheels). The bag also has shoulder straps but they're not padded and we opted to just pull the seat instead. The car seat was a tight fit in the seat on the plane (we were using it FF) but again, worked (and gave me a spot to rest my head, haha). I wasn't going to buy a car seat that I didn't think was as safe to use on a trip, especially while driving or being driven in a city we were unfamiliar with. After arriving at our destination, my son was asleep in his car seat and my husband carried him off the plane in it and (since it was late) there was no airport employees willing to assist us other than letting us use a wheelchair to help us wheel him through the airport (enough of us to manage safely). I know lots of people have issues with airlines when flying with young children, but their treatment of you and their complete disregard for the fact that you PAID for a seat and was denied it is really unacceptable. I hope you stand up for yourself and make them fix their error. And good luck on your future travels!

  15. #14
    Carseat Crazy
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    France
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    339

    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    Quote Originally Posted by MrsVolar View Post
    I can make the Symphony work, and I did. It was just frustrating. I'm also trying to avoid what happened on my US Airways flight from Charlotte to Seattle. They said that the Symphony would not fit (I would have made it!) and gave the seat that I had purchased for my son to a stand by passenger who complained the whole flight about me having a baby. I was livid. Airlines complain about people not buying seats for their children, and talk about how unsafe it is, yet this is the second time I've been told by flight attendants that my seat is not compatible although they are FAA approved, and made to hold my son in my lap anyway. I have considered the Go Go Kidz, but I've heard so many mixed reviews on it. The moms on another message board recommended the Sunshine Kids Radian, because you can strap it to your back. I saw that it is 20 lbs though. I guess if I can carry my son on my back who weighs slightly more for long periods of time, then I can probably manage that. I've been looking for car seat retailers in the area, so maybe I can go in and look at a few recommended for travel, and make sure they will install well in the vehicle(s) that we use when we get to our destination.
    I'm a former Flight Attendant and these F/A's actually broke FAA rules by not allowing your seat to be used on board. The FAA says that if a seat is purchased, and the car seat is FAA approved, it can't be refused. It's somewhere in this document, which you may want to print up and send with your complaint letter.

    http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgAdvisoryCircular.nsf/0/60d70126cf679d5a8625723b007841e7/$FILE/AC%20120-87A.pdf

    It's inexcusable that they used the seat for a standby passenger. This is also breaking regulations. I've had F/A's confused because I purchased seats for my under-2's but as soon as I told them this, they backed off.

    Please write and demand a refund. As an employee with two airlines, for a total of 13 years, there is no excuse! Management will want to know about this!!
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

  16. #15
    Admin - CPS Technician
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    I agree - you should continue to pursue the issue that they made you check your seat. That is completely against FAA regulations.

    I travel with a Cosco Scenera for my kids. The lack of padding seems to bother me more than them. I've had kids sleep the entire time in one on cross-country flights.

    I can carry the Scenera with one arm and my child (the current one in the seat is 25 pounds) with the other (I use a backpack as my carry-on). I did find it easier to get off the plane with DS strapped to my front in a mei tai and then carry the scenera above my head, but I have done it just carrying DS.

  17. #16
    Senior Community Member
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    Because you travel so often, I'll go a slightly different angle with my recommendation than previous posters have.

    I'd get the Combi Coccoro, and the Coccoro flash stroller frame.

    It's small, light weight, and the cheapest/easiest "travel system" type situation you are going to get right now.

    When that's outgrown, I'd get a CARES harness for the plane, and a Ride Safer Travel Vest for your destination.
    "If you don't know how to fix it, please stop breaking it." Severn Suzuki, age 12

  18. #17
    CPS Technician leighi123's Avatar
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    Re: Recommendations for air travel

    The Radian fit rearfacing on the plane for me, but the recline was the same forward facing or rearfacing (I put it RF so ds wouldnt kick the guy in front of him).

    In economy plus, it fits just fine rearfacing.

    I've also heard of people installing it without the foot rearfacing to make it fit (which you arent really supposed to do, but on a plane, I guess it isnt as bad)

    It is GREAT for carrying around through the airport though.


    The Titan 5 was super easy to install on the plane, and is easy to carry around, I traveled with it many times.

    The Truefit is more of a pain to carry, but I just bungee it to a rollaway bag and it worked. On some flights it fits rearfacing, some it doesnt, but on those I just took the headrest off to make it fit better (ds was 1lb over the headrest weight limit and well under the height limit at the time).
    Mama to my awesome environmentalist kid Levi! (google him if you'd like!)
    7-13-07, 55", 62lbs
    Rearfaced to 8yrs, 9months (is now 10) Still boostered!
    CPST as of 6/19/08!

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