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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    I know questions like this come up fairly often, and I've already gotten some good ideas from the archives here, but would be much obliged to have any more detailed advice for our particular situation.

    In the spring we will be traveling with our 2 children on an overnight flight to Paris and then in a taxi to our accommodation.

    - Our baby is now 6 months and 21 pounds, and at the time of the trip will be about 10.5 months old and perhaps 25 pounds or so. She's about to outgrow her Snugride 22 and move into a Britax Roundabout that we have.

    Would you recommend taking the Roundabout for her on this trip, or would we be better off investing in a Snugride 32/35 or a Cosco Scenera? The Scenera is inexpensive and lightweight, and the Snugride 35, while expensive, gives us the convenience of a 'carrier' or bucket-type seat. (It might be nice not to have to disturb her if she's still sleeping on arrival.) I don't have experience installing any of these on an aircraft.

    My understanding is that later-model European cars have the equivalent of LATCH, though the Snugride would have to use the seatbelt since we wouldn't bring the base. Are automatic locking seatbelts also the norm in Europe, or would we need to use a locking clip? What is the most 'forgiving' seat in terms of installation in an unfamiliar vehicle? My concern about the Roundabout is that the Versa-tether can be hard to use in RF mode, even in our own car. For the taxi ride, would it be OK to skip the Versa-tether?

    - Our older child will be just over 4 years old at the time of travel and somewhere in the range of 45 pounds (currently 41 lbs.). She is tall for her age. Would it be sufficient to just have her use the regular aircraft seatbelt and then a backless booster or Bubble Bum for the taxi?

    If it makes a difference in your answer, the flight is on Delta using a 757-200 aircraft, 7 hours non-stop, with a seat purchased for both girls. If necessary we could skip the taxi and use public transportation to our hotel in Paris, though (despite our best efforts to pack light) we will have a fair amount of luggage.

    Thanks in advance for any advice you could provide.

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member SuzaBanana's Avatar
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Welcome to Car-Seat.org!

    I have a couple of questions for you before I answer as many of your questions as I can.

    1) Does your Roundabout have lock-offs? I know the newest models do, but am unsure about older models.

    2) Are you planning on bringing a stroller & if so, which one?

    3) What does your older child ride in now? Is she booster trained?


    Now to answer some of your questions:
    My understanding is that later-model European cars have the equivalent of LATCH, though the Snugride would have to use the seatbelt since we wouldn't bring the base. Are automatic locking seatbelts also the norm in Europe, or would we need to use a locking clip? If you bring a seat without lock-offs, you should become VERY familiar with locking clips. We've traveled in Europe over than past 3 years with our older daughter & haven't yet found a taxi OR rental car that has ISOFIX (LATCH equivalent). Most European cars do NOT have ALR belts & require a locking clip. We've found this to be the case in Italy, Germany, Croatia & Greece.

    What is the most 'forgiving' seat in terms of installation in an unfamiliar vehicle? An infant bucket without a base is typically pretty easy, as are most of the Britax convertibles - assuming they have lock-offs. I ask about a stroller because you may need the bucket for your preferred stroller - or not.

    My concern about the Roundabout is that the Versa-tether can be hard to use in RF mode, even in our own car. For the taxi ride, would it be OK to skip the Versa-tether? I'm fairly certain that the RF tether is not required RF, so you can opt not to use it if that's easier.

    Our older child will be just over 4 years old at the time of travel and somewhere in the range of 45 pounds (currently 41 lbs.). She is tall for her age. Would it be sufficient to just have her use the regular aircraft seatbelt and then a backless booster or Bubble Bum for the taxi? If she is booster trained, sure. Most kids that age do not have the maturity to sit properly in a booster. Another option would be a Ride Safer Travel Vest, which is a portable 5 point harness. This does require a tether anchor & I honestly don't have experience with that in a European Taxi. As far as the plane goes, if you think she won't bolt out of the seat with just the lap belt, it should be fine. If you think that may be an issue, either bringing a harnesses FF seat or getting a CARES harness for the flight would be good options.



    Hope that helps & whatever you decide to do - bring your manuals & FAA documentation on your flights just in case you get hassled!
    integrity is doing the right thing when no one is watching

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  5. #3
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Suzanne covered most of it. Just wanted to confirm that no, the tether is not required rear-facing, and as long as there is a lap-shoulder belt and head support (there should be) in whatever you are riding in, the belt fits appropriately, the child is able to sit still (usually easier with an adult right there) the BubbleBum or another backless booster is an appropriate choice for taxis.

    Also, you may be able to figure out a way to fit the Roundabout, or whatever you are taking, into a stroller, to attach it to a luggage cart, or to use a GoGo Kidz Travelmate, so you don't have to carry it around; alternatively, there is a product that allows it to be worn like a backpack, I think, or bags with backpack straps. I agree that you will need to master locking clips if you're going to bring a seat without lockoffs. So I'd either bring the Roundabout (because it has lockoffs), or do the infant seat- the benefit of the infant seat being that you can bring a stroller frame for it and use it as your stroller.

    Will you be flying a US airline on all legs of the flight? If you are transferring to a European carrier at some point be aware that your seat may not be allowed on the plane, so you definitely need to look at that when making decisions about what to bring and how to manage it.
    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!

  6. #4
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Thank you both for your thoughtful and prompt replies. To answer your questions:

    - Yes, I believe the Roundabout has lock-offs, though I've never used them, since we used LATCH

    - We were planning to bring a lightweight umbrella stroller (Maclaren or Peg-Perego) -- nothing that can handle a carseat adaptor, though in the past we have stashed an empty carseat atop the empty stroller for wheeling convenience through the airport (with baby in a carrier)

    - The older girl is currently in a Sunshine Kids Radian XTSL, forward facing. She is not booster-trained but I have confidence in her ability to sit still, especially for a short taxi ride while still in her pajamas from the overnight flight.

    - The flights are nonstop on Delta in both directions, no connections or code-sharing.

    I guess my question boiled down to whether the additional convenience of the infant seat (baby can be toted around sleeping, possibly easier to install with seatbelts) was worth laying out $150 for a Snugride 35, or whether the Scenera is so much lighter and eas ier to install that it would be worth it. But if the Scenera doesn't have lock-offs and European taxis are unlikely to have ALR belts, that doesn't sound like a good option. I have used a locking clip once before, and it was OK once I got the hang of it (it took about 5 tries), but it is something I'd rather avoid, especially in an unfamiliar European car while operating on a few hours of sleep. So that argues in favor of the Roundabout, even though it just seems a little wide for an aircraft. But as others have noted here, you can lift the armrest if needed.

  7. #5
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    I think I agree with your conclusion. If you were going to be taking a LOT of taxis, I'd say perhaps the infant seat is worth it. But if it's only for a short ride, to and from the airport, not as worth it. You can try the seat in the umbrella stroller and see if using the LATCH you can hook on to the frame of the stroller somewhere, or get a sturdy metal ring that allows you to hook them both through and around the frame and then to the ring, to hold it steady... It's something to experiment with if you want.

    Practice installing with a seatbelt so you get familiar with the ins and outs before you go.
    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!

  8. #6
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Hi,

    I've been living in France for 15 years and I worked at CDG airport for 2 1/2 years.

    Please, please, please do NOT take a taxi into town. There's the Air France bus, which can hold more of your luggage. The taxis you get out of CDG always get stuck in traffic, take you crazy routes to get more money and all sorts of nonsense. They often don't speak English nor French very well. They often claim they "don't understand" by the time you realize you're in a remote suburb...

    Enough horror stories! The AF bus is safer and more comfortable than those smelly cabs. You can get one at the AF bus stops once you get off.

    The 4 year old wont need a seat or booster on the bus.

    http://www.airfrance.fr/cgi-bin/AF/F...PageAction.do#

    I used to use a Sit & Stroll for bopping around Paris when mine were little. I actually don't recommend this product unless you can borrow one for the trip. This is NOT the best loved car seat on this site but it is darned convenient!

    http://www.lillygold.com/

    I'm also wondering if you don't know anyone with a S&S, you might with an outgrown infant bucket that your younger one can fit. Those seem to be in everyone's garage or attic, waiting to be sure they're "done" or just whenever they get around to getting rid of it. Would solve your dilemma without dishing out the $150. Just an idea!

    Be aware that babies can ff from 6 months of age onwards so if you take a cab, it might be better to have an infant seat that can't ff, so that the cab driver wont argue with you about rfing a 10 month old in a convertible. They might get snappy at you for taking the extra time to install it rfing.

    I'm constantly being told that it's okay to not use a car seat, put him on your lap, that boosters are okay for 2 year old's, etc. here. They're not very safety conscience here so just be prepared.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

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  10. #7
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Thanks for the report straight from France! It is very useful to have such specific details.

    I had considered the Air France buses, and am still open to the idea, but it seems like there's no getting around the fact that we'll still need a taxi for the last mile or two from the bus' final stop at Gare de Lyon. So if we're going to take the trouble to install the carseats once anyway, my thinking was that we may as well enjoy the convenience of a door-to-door taxi ride, without having to transfer luggage from the bus to the taxi. The difference in cost is pretty small.

    Do you happen to know what kind of seatbelts (if any) the Air France buses have? We don't use carseats for local transit buses here, but a big coach that goes on the highway seems like a different story.

    Since RF is clearly safer than FF for a 10 month old, I don't mind arguing with the taxi driver about that one... or more likely just ignoring him.

    Your note about carseat attitudes is consistent with what I have heard from other European travelers, but it is somewhat surprising because I normally think of Europe as somewhat more safety-conscious. (They have many fewer traffic fatalities, even when adjusting for fewer miles driven.) And it is absolutely mind-boggling how restrictive some European airlines are about carseats. What do they fear?

  11. #8
    CPS Fanatic bubbaray's Avatar
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Coach buses typically don't have seatbelts, even in North America. For example, the Disney express buses do not have belts. I'd way rather take a bus than deal with a French cab driver, they are crazy.
    Melissa

    DD#1, April 2004, FFg in a Pink Harmony Literider & Onyx Parkway SG
    DD#2, January 2007, FFg in a Pink Monterey & Purple with Pink Hearts HBTB

    Riding in my 2010 Toyota RAV4 and DH's 2011 Ford 150 Crew Cab

  12. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Also, if you have to take a cab the short distance, at least you don't risk the headache of them taking you to a whole wrong part of the city. They used to try this with me, not knowing that I lived there.

    They also pull this trick where they drive all over the place claiming "there's too much traffic" on the main highway. Yeah right...

    Transferring your bags is a LOT easier than having the problems with the cab drivers. Be sure to have a map and know where you're going before getting in any cab for any distance.

    Can't remember if AF has seat belts. Remember that even unbelted, you're safer in a full sized bus.

    Honestly, the transport in Paris is so good, try to skip the cabs entirely. Where in Paris are you staying?

    I think this idea that Europeans are more safety conscience if more from Scandinavia where they rf until age 4. The traffic accident rate here in France is not good, from what I understand. It's a case of the further south you go, the worse it gets. Everyone gets into accidents here and cars have bumps and scrapes all the time.

    I wonder if you're looking at highway stats. Fewer French have cars, or even licenses (mine cost about $800 and that was someone with a license from the States already!) For long distances, people take the train. The highways are usually filled with large trucks and locals. The accidents are happening in heavy traffic, at low speeds, and thus fewer fatalities. That's just my observation. I can't prove it.

    Btw, you can also take the RER into town but I don't recommend that. Pickpocket heaven! The AF bus has passengers and airport workers only. Not the public getting on and off... My supervisors actually asked us not to do the RER and several of my coworkers were relieved of their passports (once on my crew!) It's the passport they're after and while in Paris itself, know that the fact you have children, and will be thus distracted, you might be a target. The passports go in the hotel safe and your wallet is in an inside pocket.

    I recommend a stroller that folds with one hand for the Metro.

    My article address (I put it on a blog) is in my siggie, for flying tips.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

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  14. #10
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Thanks again, everyone.

    I just learned that our outbound flight on Delta has been cancelled and replaced with an Air France codeshare. A quick Google search and a search of this site suggests that AF has an inexplicably unfriendly attitude toward carseats. However, Air France's own website clearly states that an approved carseat may be brought on board and installed either RF or FF... which, on paper at least, is much better than some other European airlines.

    My questions:

    Despite what the AF website may say, how much hassle are we likely to get from the crew about installing a carseat? Again, this would be a Britax Roundabout for a 10-month old with a purchased seat. Is there anything I could say or show them (e.g. the website printout) that would help?

    Alternatively, for no increase in cost, I could re-book on Icelandair, which has an excellent carseat policy. It means a middle-of-the-night connection in Reykjavik instead of a nonstop.... I'd rather avoid that, but I also don't want to be stuck with a totally unsecured infant. What would you do?

  15. #11
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    Tough call on that one.

    I think AF depends on the day. I avoid flying them because they take your stroller at the door of the aircraft and you don't see it again till your final destination. That's not really a factor for you because Paris IS your final destination but it isn't mine.

    They used to take my car seat away, the few domestic times I flew them. I've seen claims on the net that the crew let them use theirs'. I've also had friends allowed to bring them on board, then were forced to remove the baby and put him or her in a dangerous "belly belt". How counter-logical is that??

    You know one of my ex-coworkers works for them. I should ask her!
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

  16. #12
    Carseat Crazy shashoo's Avatar
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    Just wanted to share my two cents. I am in Italy now and was just in France. We rented a car today and it did NOT have ALR belts. The carseats in the rental place had built in lock offs as I believe is common with all seats here so I vote for the Roundabout. When I was in France it was with a group so we were on busses. The front seats have a lap shoulder belt but again they do not lock and the rest of the bus seats have lap belts only that do not lock.
    Good Luck!

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  18. #13
    Carseat Crazy newyorkDOC's Avatar
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    The RSTV does NOT require a tether when used with a 3-pt seatbelt. It requires the use of a top tether when used with a lap-only belt. Honestly I would seriously consider one in your shoes. It's soooo easy to fold in half and shove in a backpack. Probably easier than dealing with a booster (even backless) or having to inflate a bubble bum.

    As others have said, most cars here in Europe do not have ALR. So if you plan on traveling with the britax, I'd definitely want to streamline with an RSTV.

    A lot can happen between now and your flight in terms of aircraft changes. I'd raise the issue with delta and insist on a delta flight. I don't know where you are flying from but I've seen flights out of NYC that are delta then 30 min layer another flight that is code shared.

    I never ever take taxis to/from the airport in Europe. The public transport option is usually always cheaper and more time efficient.
    Mom to Caterina born January 12, 2009 and FF in a TWE and Julian born September 6, 2012 and RF in a Varioguard

  19. #14
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Carseat(s) for aircraft and European taxi

    I should have posted a follow-up.... As it turned out, we took the Roundabout and a Bubble Bum, and everything worked out great. The Roundabout was easy to install on the aircraft and in the two taxis that we used, and my older daughter had no problem with the Bubble Bum.

    (The taxis had neither ALR belts nor ISOFIX/LATCH, so it was great to have the lock-offs on the Roundabout.)

    Delta cancelled their non-stops on the days that we needed to travel, so we stuck with Air France, as their stated policy is that they do allow approved carseats. On the outbound flight, their crew initally hassled us about the carseat but eventually relented (see my other post on 'recent Air France experience') and on the way home we had no trouble at all.

    I wish we could have just taken public transport to our accommodation -- I've done so in the past when traveling light -- but we were just too laden down with stuff, and the taxis were actually very convenient.

    We've always used carseats for our kids, but compared to even a few months ago I feel like I have learned A TON on this forum about the nuances of different airline policies, seat configurations, and non-US vehicles. Thanks again, everyone.

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