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  1. #1
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    Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Next summer we'll be traveling to Europe (London and Barcelona and then a cruise) with our two kids, who will then be 6y3mo and 2y7mo. DD1 currently rides in a Frontier harnessed and a high-back Monterey boostered. DD2 is RF in a Peg convertible and a Diono RXT. We also have a Marathon G3, a True Fit, a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, a Complete Air LE, and another Radian XT (SK version) - oh, and an RSTV for DD1. And a Bubble Bum. Um, just a few car seats. I'm also completely willing to get a new seat if it will make this trip easier.

    1) On the flight there, we have business class seats that lie flat, and DD2 will likely use the seatbelt with no issue and might do better to be able to lie down to sleep for the long haul flight (we are flying from San Francisco, 10 hour+ flight). We ALWAYS travel with a car seat on board for her, so this is a tricky question -- a) what to do with the seat if we don't bring it on board and install for her so that she can take advantage of sleeping flat on the long flight and b) whether she'll do okay in the aircraft seatbelt (she is a calm, calm kid, though, so I could see it working). We will need the car seat for the other four flights in our trip (London to Barcelona - 1.5 hours, Barcelona to Frankfurt - 2 hours, Frankfurt to Newark - 8 hours+, and Newark to San Francisco - 6 hours).

    2) When we are in London, I can't see needing car seats. Am I wrong? Can't we just take the Tube (subway)?

    3) In Barcelona, we may need to take a car service from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to the cruise ship terminal. What is my best bet for both girls? Since it's not US, I don't know what to expect seatbelt wise, top tether, etc.

    4) Whatever car seat we take for DD2 should easily fit into the closet of a cruise ship stateroom (so for example, the KF30 and the CCO both fit great, but not with a lot of room to spare).

    ANY ideas would be really helpful! Thanks for helping me think this through!
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPS Technician LISmama810's Avatar
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    I take the BubbleBum and a Maestro, probably. The Go would be ideal, but I'm not sure if there's a guarantee on tether anchors.

    What carriers are you flying? Non-US-based airlines might not allow car seats on board, so look into that.

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  5. #3
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    We're on United and Lufthansa. We've had a car seat on Lufthansa before without problems, but who knows about next time

    Thanks for the pointer to the Maestro. We haven't tried that one yet in our many travel adventures. How is the install?
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

  6. #4
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    I spent 6 weeks in London a few years ago and never used a cab. The tube and buses are very easy to use. You can get to and from the airport using public transport too. All of the touristy things to do are very accessible using public transit, even the places that are a little further out like Windsor Castle, Kew Gardens, and Hampton Court Palace.

  7. #5
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calihannah View Post
    Since it's not US, I don't know what to expect seatbelt wise, top tether, etc.
    The thing that took me most by surprise in Europe is that their cars, even the newest models, often have neither Isofix (their version of LATCH) nor automatic locking retractor seatbelts. I'd thought that Isofix had been mandated years ago.

    So for the taxis that you may need to take in Spain, I think your best bet (out of the carseats you listed) would be the Marathon, which has lock-offs. That way you will not need to fumble with a locking clip as you install the seat in an unfamiliar vehicle. (At least, that would be one of my key criteria since I find locking clips hard to use -- but I know some folks here are very adept with them.)

    The Marathon is also among the easier seats to install in whatever vehicle you end up in (versus, say, the Radian, which can be difficult or even impossible in certain cars) both RF and FF. It will also be easy to use on the aircraft if you choose to do so. I am not sure whether it would fit in the closet in your stateroom.

    In terms of flying with a 2.5 year old, strictly speaking she should be in a carseat (or CARES, though it may not fit on a sleeper seat and it's unclear to me whether Lufthansa allows the use of CARES) since the lapbelt may not fit tightly enough on someone so small. FAA's guideline for using the adult belt is 40 lbs. But we only ever fly coach, so it's hard for me to say how the lie-flat seat might change things.

    If you do go seatbelt-only on the plane for her, you'll have to gate-check the carseat. A few months ago the carseat manufacturers' association issued a statement that their products can withstand normal handling during gate-checking, so it's not out of the question (though I personally would still wonder about the possibility of it being lost or damaged).

    I agree that you're unlikely to need to take a cab in London.

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  9. #6
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Quote Originally Posted by cantabdad View Post

    So for the taxis that you may need to take in Spain, I think your best bet (out of the carseats you listed) would be the Marathon, which has lock-offs.
    Great, thanks for suggesting that. She will likely outgrow it RF by then, but we can probably FF her for the purposes of this trip, I'd think.

    Quote Originally Posted by cantabdad View Post
    It will also be easy to use on the aircraft if you choose to do so. I am not sure whether it would fit in the closet in your stateroom.
    Yes, it travels quite well on planes...will have to measure and think about the stateroom closet issue some more!

    Quote Originally Posted by cantabdad View Post
    In terms of flying with a 2.5 year old, strictly speaking she should be in a carseat (or CARES, though it may not fit on a sleeper seat and it's unclear to me whether Lufthansa allows the use of CARES) since the lapbelt may not fit tightly enough on someone so small. FAA's guideline for using the adult belt is 40 lbs. But we only ever fly coach, so it's hard for me to say how the lie-flat seat might change things.
    We are flying on Thursday (with her Marathon of course), so I'll test her in a seatbelt just to see the sizing/fit issues (even though the Europe trip is 7 months away). She's by no means small -- >99th percentile height and 85th percentile weight, so maybe it won't be an issue. Thanks for mentioning it so that we have the opportunity to test it out in advance!

    Quote Originally Posted by cantabdad View Post
    If you do go seatbelt-only on the plane for her, you'll have to gate-check the carseat. A few months ago the carseat manufacturers' association issued a statement that their products can withstand normal handling during gate-checking, so it's not out of the question (though I personally would still wonder about the possibility of it being lost or damaged).
    Yeah, we've never gate checked (or baggage checked) a seat before, which is saying something because we travel >10 flights per year on average, sometimes many more. I'm nervous about that, to be sure.
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

  10. #7
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    The CARES will not improve seatbelt fit; in some cases it may worsen it. Further, seatbelt lengths vary by airline and even plane... I'd not count on the belt fitting on that flight even if it does on another...

    I would bring a seat that can rf because my kids happily would sleep 10 hours rf, bit not necessarily ff... Does she fit in smaller seats or is she over 40?
    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!

  11. #8
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Quote Originally Posted by ketchupqueen View Post
    The CARES will not improve seatbelt fit; in some cases it may worsen it. Further, seatbelt lengths vary by airline and even plane... I'd not count on the belt fitting on that flight even if it does on another...

    I would bring a seat that can rf because my kids happily would sleep 10 hours rf, bit not necessarily ff... Does she fit in smaller seats or is she over 40?
    She's ~29lbs now, so I don't think she'll gain 11lbs in ~7 months fortunately!

    We flew yesterday and, since we have so little driving on this trip but so much flying, chose to use the CCO and forward-face her for the first time ever (she is over the height limit for RFing in the CCO). It turns out that this seat is pretty reclined even when FF, so she had no problem sleeping in it.

    So if she still fits in the CCO by height next summer, it might be a good option for us. But whether she'll fit is unknown, and possibly unlikely. She probably has an inch to go before her ears are level with the shell, and she seems to have less than an inch until her shoulders are level with the harness straps...so depending on her torso growth, we might or might not be in luck

    Her height means that she is already unable to use some of the more travel-friendly seats (Evenflo etc -- the lightweight ones). We tried for a trip last July at 19ish months and couldn't do it even then with our tall kiddo! That's why we have the Marathon in the first place, because at 19 months there's no way I would FF even for travel, but now at 25 months, it's more grey area especially vs carrying the MA through 5 different airports on this trip Even *less* desirable next summer at 31-32 months when we'll be schlepping the car seat through several countries!

    Anyhow, I am COMPLETELY open to acquiring another seat for next summer's trip, so if there's a RF seat that might work AND would be less bulky than the MA to carry, I'm all ears.

    Side note: I also feel like I could make a parental call to RF on the airplane in the CCO even though she is over the height limit (not 1" of shell above the head), because the purpose of a CRS on an aircraft as I understand it is to prevent the child from becoming a projectile in turbulence much more so than protecting them in an actual crash situation (different crash forces, for one). But I could be wrong here Anyhow, same thing applies for the MA, by the way -- by next summer, she won't be over 40lbs, but she very well may be over the RF height limit for the Marathon, so if deliberate misuse as a parental judgment call on an airplane won't fly (haha, pun intended), I'd love to know so I can cross that off our list of considerations
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

  12. #9
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Most injuries that happen happen on the runway, and turbulence is second, I believe... I'd be uncomfortable with it. Unless you switched from ff at takeoff to rf to ff for landing...

    What about a Classic Marathon/Classic Roundabout 50 if she outgrows by height? Fits well on planes, taller than Marathon 70, Marathon has lockoffs... For toting through the airport you could strap it to something (Traveling Toddler, luggage cart, stroller, depending what you're bringing...)

    That said, she'd be under the weight limit (is there one?) to use the Marathon 70 ff with recline, yes? And it's one of the few seats I'm entirely comfortable with without a tether ff. So maybe just figure a better way to tote it?

    It sounds like she's way too tiny for many plane belts. Heck last time we flew my 47 lb 7 year old's wouldn't tighten enough.
    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!

  13. #10
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Quote Originally Posted by ketchupqueen View Post
    Most injuries that happen happen on the runway, and turbulence is second, I believe... I'd be uncomfortable with it. Unless you switched from ff at takeoff to rf to ff for landing...
    Good point, I could definitely switch it back and forth.

    Quote Originally Posted by ketchupqueen View Post
    What about a Classic Marathon/Classic Roundabout 50 if she outgrows by height? Fits well on planes, taller than Marathon 70, Marathon has lockoffs... For toting through the airport you could strap it to something (Traveling Toddler, luggage cart, stroller, depending what you're bringing...)

    That said, she'd be under the weight limit (is there one?) to use the Marathon 70 ff with recline, yes? And it's one of the few seats I'm entirely comfortable with without a tether ff. So maybe just figure a better way to tote it?

    It sounds like she's way too tiny for many plane belts. Heck last time we flew my 47 lb 7 year old's wouldn't tighten enough.
    The classic MA is a good idea. I'll keep it in mind as we see her growth in the next few months!

    On the toting front, we have it nailed with our stroller stacking system (we travel a lot), but DH is just not thrilled about doing it quite so much with such a bulky seat (in his opinion). I'll talk him 'round before next summer

    OOC, what other seats are you okay FF without a tether?
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

  14. #11
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Radian, Nautilus, other Britax 2nd/3rd gen seats. Frontier with long belt path. Maybe a few more but I'd have to look it up.
    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!

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  16. #12
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    What airline are you taking within Europe? My car seats have been taken away from me flying within Europe. I've flown into Barcelona and they wouldn't let me use my American car seat. Some airlines wont allow gate-checking. Car seats have to be checked as luggage.

    You can use your car seats on board on U.S. companies. Lufthansa is also good about it, better than other European companies.

    Why don't you bring the car seat on board for take-off and landing? Those are the most important times to have the car seat for safety reasons. You're not allowed to pull the sleeper seats all the way out until you're in the air anyway.

    I can't believe you have to haul through Newark on the way back. It adds so much more flight time since it's so off-route. The non-stop goes much further north, into the Arctic Circle, more directly to California. Adding another 2-3 hours, plus transit time is grim. Can you change that??

    We took two Med cruises, one out of Barcelona. The port is really close.

    I did NOT stow the car seat in my cabin. The stewart stowed it for me. Ask for it back the night before when you put out your suitcases. That way, you wont have to go hunting for it like I did! You'll have room once the suitcases are gone.
    Former Flight Attendant, 13 years, 2 companies in 5 countries
    3 trilingual, international travelers with two nationalities
    http://flyingwithchildren1.blogspot.com

  17. #13
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
    What airline are you taking within Europe? My car seats have been taken away from me flying within Europe. I've flown into Barcelona and they wouldn't let me use my American car seat. Some airlines wont allow gate-checking. Car seats have to be checked as luggage.

    You can use your car seats on board on U.S. companies. Lufthansa is also good about it, better than other European companies.
    Fortunately, we are on a combination of United and Lufthansa for most of the flights, but I think we'll be on Iberia for the LHR-BCN flight. Any ideas on Iberia's car seat policies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
    Why don't you bring the car seat on board for take-off and landing? Those are the most important times to have the car seat for safety reasons. You're not allowed to pull the sleeper seats all the way out until you're in the air anyway.
    We'll do this if there's a chance we can stow the car seat on board if she does sleep on the seat instead of in the car seat. This thread has been very helpful on that front Thanks, all!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
    I can't believe you have to haul through Newark on the way back. It adds so much more flight time since it's so off-route. The non-stop goes much further north, into the Arctic Circle, more directly to California. Adding another 2-3 hours, plus transit time is grim. Can you change that??
    Unfortunately, other routings were >$1000 more per person x4! The kiddos will be a bit zonked, but we'll all survive

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
    We took two Med cruises, one out of Barcelona. The port is really close.
    I recall that from a couple of years ago -- we left from Barcelona airport directly from the port and found the ride very short. Thank goodness for small favors!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
    I did NOT stow the car seat in my cabin. The stewart stowed it for me. Ask for it back the night before when you put out your suitcases. That way, you wont have to go hunting for it like I did! You'll have room once the suitcases are gone.
    We have been on a number of cruises with our car seats, and we've always had to stow them (and our suitcases) in the stateroom, unfortunately. And the stroller But fortunately, I think that some of the FF seats mentioned here might actually fit just fine in the closet, so that's one less thing to worry about!

    Thanks again for all of the ideas!!
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

  18. #14
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    For $1000 pre person, I'd take a really long route like going through the East Coast! A few years ago, I found it for about $100 less per person (four of us) but I just couldn't do it. Paid more and went non-stop. 2-3 hours more is a lot with kids! (especially alone, I don't have the luxury of flying with my dh).

    LH is good about car seats. Iberia took mine away and wouldn't let me use it. That was a long time ago. European companies, with the exception of LH, aren't very cooperative with car seats.

    I had the stewart stow my seat. Did they refuse on your cruise? They're usually so helpful. Before handing it over, I tried to slide my Radian under the bed. No go. It just wouldn't fit anywhere. If you're cruising with Celebrity, maybe they'll stow them. None of our ports needed car seats but we didn't do many excursions. Our kids were little and it was really hot and crowded.

    We stayed in an excellent hotel very close to the port. We could see the ship the morning of our departure. I can't recall the name but I'll get it if you want. Better than staying in Las Ramblas!
    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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  20. #15
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    You know, it's funny, we've always just stashed the car seat in the closet -- don't think we ever asked the steward! It's Disney, so they're usually super helpful about all things kid-related

    I think we've sorted hotel for pre-cruise, but we'd love a rec for post-cruise if you have suggestions!
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

  21. #16
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    Re: Traveling to Europe from US - car seat questions

    Oh, and DH just informed me that we can easily fly BA to BCN from LHR instead of Iberia, so hopefully that will go more smoothly
    Ruthie, 3/29/07 - 63lbs, 49.5" FF Britax Frontier 90 harnessed and Diono Monterey HBB (ERF to 3y7mo)
    Zevi, 11/10/10 - 38lbs, 41" RF RXT and Peg Convertible, FF Frontier 90
    and a Safety 1st Go Hybrid, Bubble Bum, or RSTV for frequent travel

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