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  1. #1
    Carseat Crazy
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    CARES harness question

    Exploring options for the next flight I'm taking with my daughter next month.

    I know the CARES harness fits kids 22-44 pounds. How young of a child would you consider safely putting in one of these harnesses for air travel? Is 20 months (90th percentile weight and height) too young?

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  3. #2
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    FYI, they do not tighten the lap belt or lower it. Children on the lower end of the allowed range may not have it tighten enough, or even children on the upper end with a skinny build. It has no crotch strap and is not able to mitigate the belt being on the abdomen rather than hips. It also doesn't prevent the child from unbuckling, which can be a big issue with cranky little travelers. My 3.5 year old kept trying to escape, it was miserable.

    I wouldn't recommend it for a child who is 20 months for all these reasons. If wasn't a rear facing seat for comfort and safety at that age.
    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!

  4. #3
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    I'm just trying to see myself managing her, her stroller, and her car seat. I mean, the stroller is easy enough, she rides in it til the end of the jetway, then take her out and park the stroller there for gate check.

    It's after that that seems daunting. Managing her and her car seat (carrying them both down the aisle of the aircraft...along with the diaper bag), what to do with her while installing the seat, what to do with her while uninstalling, how to wrangle the diaper bag, her, and the seat to get off the plane...

    Maybe this seems so overwhelming because I haven't ever done it this way. She's always been a lap child. And on a few flights I've been able to take her in her infant bucket and take a seat up for her. That was easy...carry her in her carseat with diaper bag on back...collect stroller, open it, pop her on top (travel system). That's the beauty of the travel system, I know, but alas she has grown bigger. Lol.

    Last time we flew I gate checked her car seat both ways. I know that's not the safest option, and while she is booked as a lap child, I want to be prepared to take her seat on with us and use it If they offer that to us.

    Obviously, lots of advice needed.

  5. #4
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Ask for help! Flight attendants are always happy to help carry my bag, my car seat, or my child. I usually buckle the child into the aisle seat as I install the car seat, but they always volunteer to keep holding the child while I do. You can strap the car seat to a folding luggage cart and pull it right down the jetway too. You can wear your child on the front or hip and use a backpack diaper bag while doing so and skip the stroller (or counter check it if you'll need it at your destination.) There are a lot of ways to manage and lots of us have done 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. #5
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Is she walking yet?

    It walkers, I get the child in front if me and have them walk down the aisle. I follow behind with seat and bag. Once we find our seat, I have the child hang out in the row behind our seats while installing the seats. Usually a flight attendant comes over and talks or plays with the child while I get the seat installed. I don't like askin for help but I am sure that if you did ask, the attendant would help in some way.


    CCO 4/15

  7. #6
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Another good possibility is to take a double umbrella stroller -- she rides in one side, and the carseat rides strapped into or onto the other. If you're traveling alone and need to pull a carry-on bag as well this doesn't work so great, but if you can get by with a backpack and/or have someone traveling with you to handle the other carry-ons this tends to be pretty easy with a child too heavy to carry easily but too little to hike through the airport.

    But I definitely do agree with taking a convertible seat. CARES harnesses are better suited to older children who are past the very squirmy stage.

  8. #7
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    She is walking, shes 20 months, but she's one that will bolt. She'll take off down the aisle for sure. I have to somehow secure her while putting in the seat and uninstalling it. That's probably the part that concerns me the most. She's too big to wear.

    I ordered some straps, much like the diono ones, to make the car seat a backpack. I'm thinking if I put on my actual backpack, I can wear the carseat like a backpack over it, with the inside of the seat towards me like a turtle shell. Is that ok? I'd take them off for using the car seat. I know there are pints at the top of the car seat to attach them, I'll have to look to see if there is a point at the bottom.

  9. #8
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    As long as you're wrapping around, not bearing weight on the harness, that should be ok. I'm guessing you won't have a carry on or I'd mention the Traveling Toddler.
    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!

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    No, not the harness. I bought some longer straps and on the back of the top there are molded plastic loops I could hook them to. It's where you can clip the latch buckles to carry your carseat somewhere. I'll have to see if there is a place to hook them at the bottom. If worse comes to worse, I can find a way to hook them onto the carseat carry bag and make that a backpack.

  11. #10
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    My carry on is my backpack diaper bag.

  12. #11
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie View Post
    My carry on is my backpack diaper bag.
    I usually bring a diaper bag as one of our personal items (the baby's! Lol)
    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. #12
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie View Post
    She is walking, shes 20 months, but she's one that will bolt. She'll take off down the aisle for sure. I have to somehow secure her while putting in the seat and uninstalling it. That's probably the part that concerns me the most. She's too big to wear.

    I ordered some straps, much like the diono ones, to make the car seat a backpack. I'm thinking if I put on my actual backpack, I can wear the carseat like a backpack over it, with the inside of the seat towards me like a turtle shell. Is that ok? I'd take them off for using the car seat. I know there are pints at the top of the car seat to attach them, I'll have to look to see if there is a point at the bottom.
    As long as you have her walking in front of you towards the back of the plane, there is no where for her to bolt. Even if she gets way ahead of you, there is no where for her to go. The only open exit will be behind you. For the airport itself, I'd recommend bringing a small stroller and strapping her in and finding a way to hang the seat or the backpack off the back of the stroller. It will be much easier if you only have to carry the backpack or the seat instead of wrestling with everything else. IF you have a sling, you can also use it to make a 'leash' from it for boarding and taking the time to fold the stroller.


    CCO 4/15

  14. #13
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    As long as you have a workable system for getting your carseat, carry-ons and daughter through the airport, once you're actually in the boarding process I think you'll find it much easier. Once I'm at my seat, I take a quick look around to see who is smiling at my baby and ask whether they'd like to hold him for a couple minutes. If she doesn't like strangers holding her then find someone who has an empty seat next to them and is willing to keep an eye on her. You can buckle her into that seat -- she may try to squirm out of it but at least you will have bought yourself some time. I've found it helps to have a small container of snacks handy. Usually a bowl of goldfish crackers on the tray table will distract ours long enough to get the carseat installed.

    If you're the first person to board and there's more than one flight attendant, the aft FA will probably be available to help you out. But I can't think of a flight, when we needed some extra hands, where there wasn't a grandparent, or an aunt who missed her nieces and nephews, or a business traveler who was a parent and had traveled alone with a little one sitting nearby and more than willing to help out.

  15. #14
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Quote Originally Posted by Angie View Post
    and while she is booked as a lap child, I want to be prepared to take her seat on with us and use it If they offer that to us.
    If she's booked as a lap child, won't you have to check her seat prior to boarding the plane so not be able to use it anyway?
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  16. #15
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechnoGranola View Post
    If she's booked as a lap child, won't you have to check her seat prior to boarding the plane so not be able to use it anyway?
    It depends. I had luck when my oldest was a baby by bringing the seat to the gate and before boarding started, asking if there was an extra seat we could use on the plane. Easiest with southwest, since there is no assigned seating . So if there wasn't a seat, I gate checked it. Of there was, I brought it on and used it. Not sure how easy it is today to get that extra set with the amount of overbooking going on now. But worth a shot.


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  17. #16
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Quote Originally Posted by Dillipop View Post
    It depends. I had luck when my oldest was a baby by bringing the seat to the gate and before boarding started, asking if there was an extra seat we could use on the plane. Easiest with southwest, since there is no assigned seating . So if there wasn't a seat, I gate checked it. Of there was, I brought it on and used it. Not sure how easy it is today to get that extra set with the amount of overbooking going on now. But worth a shot.
    That's the thing though, you're stuck gate checking it then. I guess if you had a decent padded bag for it and brought that along to the gate too. I had my stroller in a padded bag and they still damaged it when it was gate checked. So I'd just want to make sure have a really good bag with me (better than what I had for my stroller. Ha ha)
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  18. #17
    CPS Fanatic bubbaray's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    I gate checked strollers and car seats and never had an issue with damage. I only used the red JL Childress gate check bags, which are not padded.
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  19. #18
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    I had a gate checked stroller come in two planes later, and another broken despite a padded bag. About 3 out of 4 seats I check that have been gate checked unprotected have visible damage.
    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!

  20. #19
    Carseat Crazy
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    Re: CARES harness question

    Quote Originally Posted by ketchupqueen View Post
    I had a gate checked stroller come in two planes later, and another broken despite a padded bag. About 3 out of 4 seats I check that have been gate checked unprotected have visible damage.
    This post helped me decide to bring her cheaper lightweight stroller this time. Last time we flew, I took my CityMini, and although I got a great deal on it, I think I lucked out that it didn't get damaged that time. I think it'll go better this time, just based on taking the cheaper stroller, because to put the CityMini in the travel bag that is made for it, you have to take all three wheels off, fold up the stroller, put it in the bag, put the wheels in the bag, zip it up, and it all goes in one way... and last time I had JUST enough time when I got the the terminal to actually accomplish that, AND I hurried...AND she flopped around in the front carrier I used since I had to put the bag on the floor to accomplish all that.

    By bringing the cheaper one, I am relieving myself of THAT anxiety. I'd like it to survive this trip, but if it doesn't, it doesn't. If I was traveling WITH my hubby this time, I'd take that complicated to pack stroller, but not again by myself. No way.

    The damaged car seats were in no bag at all? I have to gate check our car seat if no seat is available...and I kind of worry about nonvisible damage. Ours goes in a bag. We have the Jeep one.

  21. #20
    CPST and ketchup snob ketchupqueen's Avatar
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    Re: CARES harness question

    I don't trust a padded bag to protect things any more. After my stroller, and also several other seats in commercial padded bags I've seen damaged anyway. If you HAVE to check a seat I recommend a sturdy, well-fitting box with padding as needed.
    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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