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  1. #1
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    flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    We're flying several times this coming year (in the US) with our 4 and 8 year olds, who are RF in a Graco Extend2fit and in a 5-point harness in a Britax Pinnacle. We used to put the kids in the car seats on the plane, but they are too big for that now. After renting very sketchy car seats abroad last summer, I want to either bring our car seats or (yikes) buy new ones at our destinations. I prefer to bring the car seats since buying new ones will be so expensive, but don't want the car seats to get damaged if we check them in cloth bags.

    Does anyone know of hard-shell cases that would fit these huge car seats? I figure that even if hard cases are pricey, they are cheaper than buying new car seats, and we expect to use at least the Britax Pinnacle for several years with one or the other kid.

    Any other suggestions are very welcome! Thanks

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member 2BunniesMommy's Avatar
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    I don't know if you could get a hard shelled case that would fit either seat, but even if you could, I can imagine the baggage fees for the weight and size would be very expensive, especially over multiple trips. Those are also beasts of seats that I would not want to try to travel with.

    I would get 2 Cosco Finales at about $40 each and use them on the plane, if your 8 year old still fits in those. If not, or just as an easier option, just one for the 4 year old and pack a backless booster in your carry on for your 8 year old to use at the destination.

    I know that isn't what you asked, but hopefully it is helpful.

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  5. #3
    Admin - CPST Instructor murphydog77's Avatar
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2BunniesMommy View Post
    I don't know if you could get a hard shelled case that would fit either seat, but even if you could, I can imagine the baggage fees for the weight and size would be very expensive, especially over multiple trips. Those are also beasts of seats that I would not want to try to travel with.

    I would get 2 Cosco Finales at about $40 each and use them on the plane, if your 8 year old still fits in those. If not, or just as an easier option, just one for the 4 year old and pack a backless booster in your carry on for your 8 year old to use at the destination.

    I know that isn't what you asked, but hopefully it is helpful.
    I agree. The cost of a bag/case would be around $40-$50 as well, so you'd end up with a carseat you can use as a bonus. Use the carseat on the plane for your 4 yr old; she'll find it more comfortable than the plane's seat for sure. As for your 8 yr old, if you feel comfortable with him in a booster, you can either go the backless route, as 2BunniesMommy suggested, or you can bring the highback portion in a large suitcase with the backless portion as his carryon. We did that one overseas trip and it worked just fine.

    Note: if you are traveling overseas, vehicles there may not have locking seat belts. In that case, you'll want to bring a locking clip if you bring either the Extend2Fit or buy a new Cosco Finale since those don't have built-in lockoffs.

  6. #4
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    Thank you both - your advice is very helpful! I just checked on Amazon and the Evenflo Maestro is the same price as the Costco Finale (and is recommended on car-seat.org's blog), so that could work well for the 4-year-old.

    When you took your highback booster apart and carried on the seat, could you fit the highback in a carry-on so that it didn't get bumped around with the checked luggage? Is it any safer to have a 52-inch (60 lbs) kid in a highback booster compared to a backless booster seat?

    Thanks again.

  7. #5
    Senior Community Member Dillipop's Avatar
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    There is no evidence that a high back booster is safer than a backless booster for an 8 year old who is your child’s size. There’s little to no evidence that either is safer for any kid who is old enough and big enough. I’d personally travel with a backless booster for my 8 year old.


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  8. #6
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    The only reason I might take a high back is if (s)he might sleep during a drive. My 8 year old got too tall for his high back, so we tried one long trip with a backless and promptly got a taller high back booster before the next trip. When he fell asleep, he was falling all over the place.

  9. #7
    Senior Community Member 2BunniesMommy's Avatar
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    I would go with the Finale over the Maestro for a few reasons, which is why I didn't mention the Maestro as an idea originally even though it is also a good, affordable seat.

    The first is a higher harnessed weight limit, 65 lbs vs 50 lbs. Depending on how your kids grow, that might not make a big difference but it could make a huge one. It also has a 10 year expiration date, making it a better deal if you are able to use it longer or pass it down to a possible future child or friend or family. Last reason isn't huge, but it is a bit lighter, maybe not enough to make a big difference with transporting it, but maybe.

    Now knowing your 8 year old's stats, forget my suggestion of two Finales, your 8 year old has outgrown it. I'd surely go with a booster for travel for the 8 year old.

    I do still think it could be perfect for your 4 year old, for the reasons above as well as when the time comes, it seems to make a fairly decent high backed booster for a bit. The Maestro booster is outgrown at the same time as the harness due to height.

    For your 8 year old, I'm still thinking the backless would be an excellent, easy to travel with choice. If you get one soon, you can start doing short trips around town to get used to it and to have your 8 year old practice leaning back into the car's headrest when tired, even if not tired, but practice the position while relaxing, but still staying in place. I would really not want to travel with a high back for an 8 year old, I say that as the mom of a newly 9 year old.

    I have been considered quite anal by many friends and family for my crazy car seat use, because it is always so much more than any of them are doing etc. She would be in a high back booster still, but I had to switch to backless because the low slope of our car's roofline made it impossible to have a booster tall enough for her height. She's currently about 56, maybe 56.5" and 76 lbs. Just want you to know that even though I'm not a CPST, I am very passionate about car safety and would never suggest anything I wouldn't feel completely comfortable with myself for my kids. The switch to booster from the Frontier was also due to the car's shortness, booster needed less space at the top, so that worked for a year or so before having to go backless.

    Oh, if you do decide you'd be comfortable with your 8 year old using a backless for travel, I'd get either the Harmony Literider (about $13) or the Bubble Bum (I think they run about $30, not sure). They both offer good belt fit, are easy to use, and lightweight. The Bubble Bum is an air cushion with belt guides, it can be deflated and packed very easily and is of course super lightweight and makes an wonderful travel booster.

    I apologize for any spelling errors or grammar mistakes, or just general jumping around. I went to bed over 2 hours ago, but couldn't sleep, so I should be sleeping and my thoughts are somewhat random and all over the place, but hopefully I made sense. If not, please ask any questions you may have and I will answer/explain what I meant, when I am fully awake, unless of course someone understood anything that might not make sense and is able to translate prior to when I get back up and on here. I really do hope I've been helpful and that you don't feel like I am dismissing your concerns in any way, I'm truly trying to help you figure out a safe, easy, and not bank breaking plan.

  10. #8
    Senior Community Member rachelandtyke's Avatar
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    We just returned from a trip with a 4yo and 8 yo. The 4yo rode on the plane in a ffing convertible, and then we used it in the car when we got there. We took a Harmony literider/youth backless booster for my 8yo (who usually rides in a high back). He did great in it, even when he fell asleep. We just took the booster with us on the plane and put it in the overhead bin.
    DD1: 13, finally five-stepping!
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    DD2: 6, ffing RA50

  11. #9
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    Re: flying with convertible and front-facing car seats?

    I can't thank you all enough for this great advice. My 8 year old doesn't sleep in cars, so I think we'll go with the backless for this trip, and with the FF for the little one. Would you put the backless booster in the middle row? We're renting a minivan so should be plenty of room, and I assume middle is safer if the booster will fit there.

    I appreciate the suggestions, 2BunniesMommy. I also get the odd looks when my 4 year old climbs into her RF seat, but so be it.

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