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  1. #1

    Air travel with 4 year old

    I am flying (Spokane->Seattle->San Diego) with my two sons age 10 and 4.25. My younger son is FF in a Britax Marathon, 49 inches, 50lbs.

    My plan was to gate check the Marathon, until I came here! The last time I looked into this I thought this was recommended over counter checking but apparently it is all bad. I will admit, I haven't written this option off completely--we are traveling on Horizon/Alaska Air and I have a bag that would hold the seat which I would pad.

    BUT I am looking for other options!

    I will not use it in the plane. The thought of keeping him from putting/pushing his legs on the seat in front of him for the whole trip sounds awful. He will love the responsibility and novelty of sitting in the seat and will be content to color and read.

    My husband asked if a booster in SD would be an option. It is 40 min from airport to hotel and we will just have two 10 min trips (each way) when we are down there. I really do thing he would sit still and correctly here too--but then how do I explain to my husband/son/in-laws that he really does need to be in a 5-pt harness otherwise ("But he rode in a booster for 40 min...can't we just have one to use in our car???").

    Buying a new seat just for this is not in the cards. We probably need to get him a wider seat soon and are thinking Nautilus, so there is no way I could buy both a seat for the trip and a seat for every day use. I guess I could buy the Nautilus now and use the HBB mode for the trip...but that really solves nothing, does it?

    Are there any options I am missing or have I just talked myself into a never ending circle??

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  3. #2
    CPS Technician Mommy0608's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Re: Air travel with 4 year old

    Hi there, and welcome.

    I can certainly understand not wanting to lug a heavy seat around if you don't have to. Your situation is kind of a tricky one. While your child is 50lbs, age 4 is a little young for booster riding, since many (most?) kids just don't have the maturity/impulse control to sit properly in position for the whole ride. You're right that gate checking and baggage checking both are risky for car seats, as baggage handlers aren't exactly gentle with them.

    The RSTV could be an option at your destination. I'm sure someone else will be along soon with more suggestions. I don't have personal experience with kids and air travel.

    I hope you can find a solution that works for everyone.
    CPST and mommy to
    Jessica 6.18.06 and Tyler 8.5.08
    Both riding in Frontier 85s

  4. #3
    Ambassador - CPS Technician
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Sheridan, WY

    Re: Air travel with 4 year old

    If he fits correctly and you're sure he'd sit properly the entire trip, a highbacked booster is appropriate. To explain to DH and the ILs why he can't be in it all the time, tell them that a booster only protects a child that can sit properly all the time. On this trip he would be in it for short periods, and you could have someone back there to remind him to sit properly if he got wiggly.

    Like the PP mentioned, the Ride Safer Travel Vest is another option. It crash tests better than a booster for frontal collisions. You'd probably want to put him in the middle seat for side impact protection purposes. Your DH and ILs would probably be less likely to want to use one in their vehicle, because while it's a convenient size for travel, it's not any easier to use than a harnessed seat.

    I agree that checking a seat isn't a good idea. Baggage handlers don't treat bags nicely, and unless your seat is packed in the original packaging, the airlines generally consider them to be "fragile" and won't cover any damage (that doesn't even address any unseen damage the seat could have).
    CPST, SN Trained

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