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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy Cath3114's Avatar
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    Planes and turbulence forces?

    I understand the recommendation to use a car seat on a plane and not have a lap baby, though I flew with DD on my lap on 4 flights in the past (when she was tiny and would sit still).

    Today, I booked a flight to Dallas on SWA for 3 weeks from now. It's about 1.5 hours. DD will be almost 16 months. I am taking the MA70 because it installs like a breeze. While our Scenera would be easier to haul around, I can't install it for crap.

    While I know it is my right to RF her on the plane, I am very nonconfrontational and don't want to deal with possible hassle with a passenger in the row ahead being unable to recline the seat. Of course, if I can get in boarding group A and get one of the first row seats, I could avoid it all together (I'm assuming car seats in that row are allowed, correct me if I'm wrong).

    My question has to do with the actual benefit of RF on a plane. If it is a statistically significant benefit and harm reduction, I will absolutely do it regardless of other passengers or pressure from FAs. However, if it is such a minimal difference that analysis has not deemed it significant, it is likely I would choose to FF to avoid any problems and make the flight smoother.

    I am a scientific person, so I would like to see the evidence or any applicable studies. I need hard evidence, not just anecdotal, please. I know many of you are adamant about RF on a plane, but I need to see that the benefits are truly comparable to RF in a car, rather than just a hunch. I guess you could call me a skeptic, but I am fully open to having my mind changed!

    Thanks!!

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    I rear face on the plane for a few reasons. With the old versions of your seat, it was impossible to remove forward facing, and required a seatbelt extender. Yours shouldn't have that problem anymore, since it's an open belt path, but your DD may not find it comfortable to have the buckle behind her back. She may not care. I like it because if Laine drops things I can easily pick them up (most of the time), they're not constantly falling down to the footwell. She can see me, I can see her, it's easier to hand her things. She can't see the movie, but she plays with the iPad or my phone anyway.

    But at 16 months I wouldn't stress forward facing.

    However, I'd avoid the bulkhead row with a carseat. The armrests don't go up, so you have a very narrow seat in which to install a wide carseat, and no room for error or to get your hands in there.

    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
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  4. #3
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    I'd say most of us are adamant about the RIGHT to RF on a plane, but I think many (most?) of us are more lax about actually doing it after a certain point. (For example, my 2-year-old is RF in our car, but when we flew a couple months ago, I had her FF on the plane and thought nothing of it.)

    I don't think that RF vs. FF makes much, if any, difference in turbulence. Where it would make a difference is in an aborted takeoff or rough landing. While rare, it does happen.

    I'd say that using a seat on the plane at all is a huge improvement over not using one. You're protecting the seat against loss or damage, giving your kid a comfortable and familiar place to sit, and guarding your child against turbulence.

    I, personally, would probably RF a child your daughter's age. On the other hand, I wouldn't beat you over the head to try to get you to do the same thing.

  5. #4
    Carseat Crazy Cath3114's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendytthomas

    However, I'd avoid the bulkhead row with a carseat. The armrests don't go up, so you have a very narrow seat in which to install a wide carseat, and no room for error or to get your hands in there.

    Wendy
    I wasn't aware of that. Good point to know. Is that standard across all aircraft?

    Also, I don't even know how to install it on the plane. Does the one inch rule still apply? Would I need to use the lockoffs?

  6. #5
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    Quote Originally Posted by cathleencastle View Post
    I wasn't aware of that. Good point to know. Is that standard across all aircraft?
    Pretty much. It's where the trays are stowed, since there are no seats in front of them. http://www.seatguru.com

    Also, I don't even know how to install it on the plane. Does the one inch rule still apply? Would I need to use the lockoffs?
    The one inch rule applies rear facing, not forward. If you mean height. The one inch movement still applies, yes. In fact, maybe more so since you're going to be going 150 mph down the runway. I'd want my carseat tightly installed at 150 mph when there's a tall seat with a plastic tray directly in front of my child's face. Recline the airplane's seatback, install the seat, and pull the seatback back up. That'll help get any little slack out (rear or forward facing).

    You don't use lockoffs with a lap belt only. Car or plane. If you install it rear facing, you can go right over the cover and buckle it on top, if you think she'll leave the buckle alone.

    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
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  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy cupcakepirate11's Avatar
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    Wether you rf or ff can depend on whether you get a window or aisle seat. Window- rf or ff aisle & middle- ff only.
    Wyatt Henry, 5.25.2010

  8. #7
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    Can't put a car seat in the aisle. Against FAA rules. It can go in a center seat if there are aisles on both sides, which there aren't on WN (Southwest).

    Find out what you need to do to get in the first boarding group, the "A" group as they call it. I understand WN is now charging for this but have not confirmed this (nor how much). Use on line check-in, 24 hours prior, if you can't do the above.

    Yes, rfing makes a difference, like the pp's said, on take-off and landing. Aborted a take-off once. Wow! the force. You have NO IDEA but that was ONCE in 13 years of flying for a living...

    I've rf's for take-off and landing and turned the seat ffing for the flight itself but our flights are 11 1/2 hours. Plenty of time to do that!
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

  9. #8
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    If you FF, the kid can usually kick the seat in front. If you want, you can ask the person in front if they'd rather be bumped or sit upright.

    I think FF is fine but it is annoying to fish their toys and stuff off the floor, for sure

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy Cath3114's Avatar
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    Wendy, seatguru says those arm rests lift up in all SW planes. I called just to verify. The lady said they did, then told me a RF seat wasn't allowed :rolls eyes: I quickly told her it was FAA approved and that information could be found in their publication for using CS on a plane. She said they must have changed it lol. Guess I better print all that out if I do decide to RF.

    To the other poster, I've flown SW tons of times, so I'm familiar with the check in and getting an A boarding pass. I was also told on the phone I can request pre-boarding when we get to the gate. So I'm setting an alarm to remind me to check in, and will plead my case to pre-board lol.

    And it just hit me I'll need to do a 3 across at the destination, so I may end up having to take the Scenera anyway.

  11. #10
    CPS Technician Pixels's Avatar
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    The FAA rule does not say that you can't put a seat aisle or middle. What it says is that a child restraint cannot block the egress of another passenger. A forward facing seat, especially if it's something like the Radian that is very low-profile, does not necessarily block the egress. Heck, the arm rests being down do more to interfere with my movement than a FFing Radian does.

    If the window seat is empty, or has another child restraint, you can put another child restraint next to that.
    Melissa, CPST and Mom to three

  12. #11
    CPS Technician Pixels's Avatar
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    Quote Originally Posted by cathleencastle View Post
    Wendy, seatguru says those arm rests lift up in all SW planes. I called just to verify. The lady said they did, then told me a RF seat wasn't allowed :rolls eyes: I quickly told her it was FAA approved and that information could be found in their publication for using CS on a plane. She said they must have changed it lol. Guess I better print all that out if I do decide to RF.

    To the other poster, I've flown SW tons of times, so I'm familiar with the check in and getting an A boarding pass. I was also told on the phone I can request pre-boarding when we get to the gate. So I'm setting an alarm to remind me to check in, and will plead my case to pre-board lol.

    And it just hit me I'll need to do a 3 across at the destination, so I may end up having to take the Scenera anyway.
    No, they haven't changed it, she's just misinformed like many. The rule says the child restraint must be installed on a forward facing seat. That gets twisted around in their heads to mean it must be a forward facing child restraint, when what it really means is that the plane seat must face the front of the plane.

    Unless SW has changed their policy again, family boarding happens after A group and before B group.
    Melissa, CPST and Mom to three

  13. #12
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    Read this blog post that details (in clear English) the FAA regs re: car seats: http://carseatblog.com/8037/guest-bl...w-your-rights/

  14. #13
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    I've flown Southwest many times with DS and always get him a seat. If you don't manage to get 'A' boarding they allow folks with kids to board between 'A' and 'B'. They also will require the seat to be in a window, even if they have to move another passenger (which happened once when I was a bit late to the gate, but never when I boarded before B group). I have an older style blvd and always installed that RFing. The flight attendants don't really bother you about the seat in my experience so I'd just do it.

    ETA: Even if it's only marginally safer, RFing on the plane is more convenient since you're facing the kiddo for interaction and they're at a better napping angle.

  15. #14
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    Just for everyone's information, "SW" is the airline code for AIR NAMIBIA not Southwest Airlines which is "WN". This is important since this code will appear on your luggage tags, tickets, etc. Just to avoid confusion and simply to be correct, please use the right airline code (or write-out "Southwest").

    The FAA rule does not say that you can't put a seat aisle or middle. What it says is that a child restraint cannot block the egress of another passenger.

    Most airlines ban the use of any car seat on the aisle and wont allow a car seat to be placed between any passenger (including the parent) and their access to the aisle.

    I've heard that some airlines do allow certain car seats in aisles and/or between passengers and the aisles but I have never been able to confirm this. The skinny was that Delta had some specific models which are allowed but again, never was able to get the straight story. Perhaps will try my airline employee groups to see but I'm not sure...

    Both airlines I worked for did not allow car seats on aisles or between passengers and the aisles. Perhaps in theory, a car seat can go on WN in the center seat, if no one is seated at the window, since they only have one aisle planes but that wouldn't make much sense...

    Don't forget that the airlines are not allowed to overturn FAA guidelines but they can add to them. For example, one of my airlines didn't allow blankets over knees for take-off and landing. Since many of my flights were over night, long haul internationals, it was a bit of a task getting them all off... When I changed airlines, my new coworkers enjoyed informing me that this was NOT a FAA rule but one put in place by my old airline.

    There were a bunch of these add-on rules but the point is that if you point to FAA regs and try to argue this, and the airline has decided that no car seats can go on aisles, you do risk being tagged as "uncooperative with crew instructions", which can get you off loaded.

    Remember that airline staff are not allowed to interpret the rules. They can actually get in trouble for that. They're paid to abide by the rules, not assess them. We talked about this in training. It can be tough for those of us with degrees in, shall we say, "analytical" subjects and how we had to break that habit. "Straightforward material!" my trainer kept saying "Don't interpret it!!!"

    This is different to being told something that is in conflict with the FAA rules. Rear-facing car seats are a good example. The FAA does give airlines the right to add rules to those they mandate but not overturn those that they have put in place.

    I called just to verify. The lady said they did, then told me a RF seat wasn't allowed :rolls eyes: I quickly told her it was FAA approved and that information could be found in their publication for using CS on a plane. She said they must have changed it lol.

    This is a good example of why I always say WRITE the airline about their policies, never CALL them. You can't whip up a print-out of what the airline has told you over the phone at check-in.

    One of the problems is that most airline call centers have been sent off-shore. I think some of the operators have worked for British companies (who often set up their call centers in the same countries as U.S. companies do) and they simply get the rules mixed up. You aren't the only one who's been told that rfing isn't allowed, which is a CAA (British) rule.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

  16. #15
    Senior Community Member T4K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl
    Just for everyone's information, "SW" is the airline code for AIR NAMIBIA not Southwest Airlines which is "WN". This is important since this code will appear on your luggage tags, tickets, etc. Just to avoid confusion and simply to be correct, please use the right airline code (or write-out "Southwest").
    Did you momentarily forget you were in a carseat forum? lol

    I know why you want to correct everyone but for most of us, it won't ever matter. Heck, even Southwest themselves uses SWA in their phone number and all over their official literature.

    I like your advice especially since you have so much experience.

    I just have too many penguins on my iceberg to remember abbreviations of airlines.
    Mama to Baby Girl N - two years old
    Loving Stepmother of wonderful girls, H-9 and S-5

  17. #16
    Carseat Crazy Cath3114's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thirsty4Knowledge

    Did you momentarily forget you were in a carseat forum? lol

    I know why you want to correct everyone but for most of us, it won't ever matter. Heck, even Southwest themselves uses SWA in their phone number and all over their official literature.

    I like your advice especially since you have so much experience.

    I just have too many penguins on my iceberg to remember abbreviations of airlines.
    Exactly. To the layperson, SW/SWA = Southwest. I doubt very many people in this forum have or will be flying a Namibian airline. I understand the reasoning and whatnot, but I think we are safe using SW around here.

  18. #17
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    Southwest's website address used to be IFlySWA. So even they called themselves that. (I think that URL will still redirect to their current one.)

    Re: rear-facing on an aisle: The Advisory Circular was vague on that. It said that RF seats SHOULDN'T be placed on an aisle, but didn't say they COULDN'T. I took that to mean that airlines could interpret that how they wanted.

    The reasons given for why they shouldn't go on the aisle is that a parent would have to stand in the aisle to release the kid, thereby blocking traffic. Also flight attendants might need to climb over aisle seats and a car seat could impede them.

  19. #18
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    Re: Planes and turbulence forces?

    Just some more food for thought...

    When I boarded a plane, I let the passenger in front of us know that we would be installing a rear-facing car seat behind her seat and she wouldn't be able to recline the seat. That passenger was able to move to another seat.

    Since we flew as a family of 4 - with our twins in car seats - we put DS in front ff and DD behind him rf. This made it so that reclining the seat wasn't an issue as all.

    When you use the convertible forward-facing, it sits up so high that it is problematic when someone reclines the seat in front. There isn't a lot of room for the kid's feet and legs. So even if you install the car seat ff, you might find you have to talk with the passenger in front about putting the seat more upright. Of course, a kid kicking the seat will probably tell the passenger there's an issue too.

    Melanie

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