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  1. #1
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    Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    Hello all,

    I will be taking my first vacation by plane with my 5-year old son who is severely disabled (pretty much immobile) with choreoathetosis cerebral palsy. He weighs 42 lbs and is about 44" tall. We're flying United and have received information regarding his special needs, including a car seat for flying. Of course the car seat must be FAA approved, and United allows it to be a maximum width of 17 inches. I've decided to purchase a new car seat for my son to fly in, and also to use in the rental car at our destination.

    I have more than one child, and in the past, have used Britax Advocate and Radian XTSL car seats and love them both. I know the Britax Advocates are too wide, so my first thought was to pick up another Radian. But it looks like the Radian models have changed over the last few years, so I had a couple questions I was hoping you all could help with. Bulleted below...

    - Are the Diono R100 and Diono RXT essentially the replacements for the old Radian XTSL line?

    - The Diono R100 and Diono RXT appear to have the same outer dimensions. Is this a case (similar to the Britax Marathon / Boulevard / Advocate series) where both seats utilize the same outer shell, and the only difference is in the interior? For example I can see that the Diono RXT has head wings and an infant insert. Are there major differences to be aware of?

    - Assuming the cost difference isn't an issue, would you go with the Diono R100 or the Diono RXT if the primary purpose is plane travel and use in rental cars? Any major reasons I should consider a different car seat altogether?

    - Does anyone have firsthand travel experience with either car seat? If so, I'd love to hear pros and cons. Bonus points if it was on United Airlines, and extra bonus points if it involves any sort of special needs child. (I travel a lot for work so I'm no stranger to travel but will confess to loads of anxiety about how this trip is all going to go )

    THANK YOU for reading and for any tips and feedback! For what it's worth, we'll be flying from California to Florida for a visit to Disneyworld, hence my paranoia in making extra sure that I cover every base possible.

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  3. #2
    CPS Technician Brigala's Avatar
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    Of the Radian models, I'd choose the R100 because it's the least expensive. And at your son's size, I don't think he'll hit the max weight limit before getting too tall to use it anyway.

    That said, I'd like to suggest a 3rd option: The Harmony Defender. It is available at Walmart (usually online) but if it's out of stock try calling Harmony directly. The Defender is MUCH less expensive, and a lot lighter.

    http://www.walmart.com/ip/Harmony-De...-Seat/22796374

    The main reason I suggest the Defender is because of price. It's as narrow as a Radian. It has a little more height capacity in the harness.
    Mom to 2 adults and 2 little kids.
    Tall 8 year old in Incognito; Petite 3 year old RF in CA65

  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    I just wanted to add that under FAA policy you cannot be restricted from using an approved carseat on a US-registered airline, as long the child meets the height/weight limits (and is under 18). Most airplane seats are 17"-18" wide, so I could see how they'd *recommend* no more than 17", but the Britax seats do fit (sometimes you have to raise the armrest, though) and are still an option for you, if you prefer for some reason. We have used various Britaxes on multiple aircraft types, even small propeller aircraft, with no trouble, though I agree that the Radian is a good travel carseat.

  5. #4
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    Hi, just wanted to thank you all for the help and feedback. After some deliberation it looks like we're actually going with the Diono R120. I reviewed this data matrix (http://carseatblog.com/14805/diono-radian-rxt/) and verified that the R100, R120, and RXT all use the same outer shell, and the R120 seemed like a good compromise between quality of materials and weight ... I would've loved the creature comforts of the RXT for regular everyday use but for travel use it looks like the R120 will save us from carrying around a few extra pounds.

    Thanks a lot for the suggestion on the Harmony Defender as well, Brigala. That looks like a GREAT seat for the price but we figured we'd err on the side of caution and pick up another Radian because it's always a bit of a shot in the dark as to what will and won't work with my son's cerebral palsy symptoms.

    And cantabdad, thanks very much for the tip on what's allowed per FAA rules on US airlines! This is a domestic trip within the US so that's excellent info. Being that it's the first time we'll be traveling via plane with my son in tow, any info to keep in our back pocket is greatly appreciated. It's been a little stressful getting all of his medical supplies together and even needing a car seat was a bit of a surprise (we naively assumed he'd be able to fly without leaving his wheelchair which seems silly looking back at it ) so it's great to hear that at least the car seat shouldn't be a big deal to worry about so long as it's FAA certified.

  6. #5
    CPS Fanatic jacqui276's Avatar
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    You are correct that the R100, R120 and RXT are all the same shell with just a few differences (seat padding, infant cushions, head wings and weight limits). All of them should fit the same on an airplane/in a vehicle.

    Good luck with your trip! I hope that it all goes smoothly!

    Jacqui - mom to: DS; 4.5yrs (50lbs, 46", Diono Radian RXT), DD; 12yrs (5'2, 5-stepping)

  7. #6
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    Doh! Well shows what I know ... I was poking around Amazon and other online retailers (literally 5 minutes ago) about to make the purchase and wondering why inventory of the R120 looked low everywhere. Then I finally realized that Diono has a brand new line in the Rainier, Pacifica, and Olympia This whole time I thought the R100, R120, and RXT were the latest and greatest (last seat I bought was the Radian XTSL so it's been a while).

    Back to the drawing board for a bit to see what the deal is with the newer Diono seats. If there's any feedback on how those work in a plane, it'd be welcome ... the only thing I dislike about my Radian XTSL is I recall the install requiring some gymnastics in certain cars, so I do wonder a little about speed-installing a similar seat in a plane. If any of the new Diono line has become easier to install using seat belts versus the Radian XTSL, I'd love to know as that would be a huge plus in my book.

    Thanks for all the feedback and well wishes!

  8. #7
    CPS Fanatic jacqui276's Avatar
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    The newer Diono seats are the same width at the base of the seat and install the same but are a bit wider up top and have deeper sides for more side impact protection. I would imagine that since the base is the same that the install in a plane wouldn't change.

    Their 3 "levels" have essentially the same differences as the R100, R120 and RXT.

    Jacqui - mom to: DS; 4.5yrs (50lbs, 46", Diono Radian RXT), DD; 12yrs (5'2, 5-stepping)

  9. #8
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    Thanks a lot jacqui276! I'm actually more confused than I'd thought, as I just went to the garage to double check the dimensions of my Radian XTSL ... turns out it's actually *not* a XTSL. It's a Diono RXT : So this seat that I've owned, used, and called a XTSL for the past year is actually a RXT.

    That made the decision easy ... just pulled the trigger on a Diono Rainier. When it arrives I'll just need to spend a little time comparing the RXT and the Rainier side-by-side and after that it should be an easy call which one to take on travel.

    Thanks again, and sorry everyone for asking about a seat that I already own. Definitely suitably embarrassed

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: Diono R100 or Diono RXT for disabled 5-year old traveling by plane?

    No need to be embarassed -- we have all been there!

    If you want to be extra sure of not having any issues on the flight, you might want to print out (or save on your phone) a copy of FAA Advisory Circular 120-87B. It spells out all of the regulations that airlines must abide by with respect to child restraints. Perhaps also a copy of the airline's own carseat policy from their website. All of this might be overkill -- I've never had a problem on a domestic flight -- but it couldn't hurt.

    For seatbelt installation, the aircraft lap belt is a lot easier to work with than a typical car seatbelt. You can pull back the velcro flap on the front of the carseat to get more room to work with, then just put the two parts of the seatbelt together, buckle and pull tight. For that part of the trip at least, I would not worry at all.

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