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  1. #1
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    questions about airplane travel

    I am planning a trip and my DH and I feel strongly about using the carseat on the plane.

    Has anyone traveled on Southwest? Southwest says that your car seat should be 16" or less in width, because anything more is unlikely to fit. My son will be 7 months at the time of travel (april) and now, at 4 months he is already 15.5 lbs. I am a little concerned that we will need a new car seat before then. I can't seem to find an infant to toddler seat that meets that requirement. So far i have not found anything less then 17" in width. We cannot spend a huge amount of money, but for the right seat, I will pay more. any ideas?

    Our current seat is a Graco Snug n Ride, which I love and it is only 16" in width. If he still fits in it, do I take the base, or leave it at home? Any information about traveling by air in general and with this car seat would be appreciated as well.

    some info: we will be in the air for 3-4 hrs and are flying either Southwest or Spirit (not my decision, my parents). i will have my parents with me to help lug stuff across the airport.

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  3. #2
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    First, good for you for using the seat on the plane! It's absolutely safer for your baby!

    That 16" thing is a bit deceiving. I've never heard of a seat not fitting on an airplane, and we've had a lot of people on this board fly with seats! In fact, many of us, including me, have flown with the Britax Marathon, which is 19.5" wide. No problem at all!

    I haven't flown with the SnugRide, so I'll leave that question to someone else. If you fly with a convertible, my experience is that it works best to put the seat on a 2-wheeled luggage cart, strap the carry-ons on top of the seat, and then pull the whole thing through the airport with one hand. I put the baby in the sling, and I still had one hand free for whatever. If you're flying with more adults than kids, though, you may be able to just have one person carry their carry-on and the seat and another person carry their carry-on and the baby.

    Enjoy your trip!
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  4. #3
    Moderator MomToEliEm's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    I have used a snugride on United, America West, and Delta and never had an issue with it not fitting. The width thing they are probably quoting to you is there the armrest falls between seats (though I am guessing seats are wider then what they state) so with most convertibles, the widest part of the seat falls above the armrests. When installing a seat, you can usually raise up the armrests to get an install with almost any harnessed seat (besides the britax regent which isn't FAA approved).

    Before you travel, print off the following FAA regulations for using carseats per the manufacturer's instructions. Some flight attendants may be reluctant to let you install your carseat on the plane (especially rearfacing), but the documentation in the FAA instructions state that it is required to install it rearfacing per the manufacturer's instruction (at least for a child under 12 months and 20 pounds).

    FAA Regulations:
    http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory...%20120-87A.pdf

    If your child is still fitting the snugride at the time of travel, leave the bases at home. Learn to install the seat with a seatbelt and no base and you should be fine during your trip.

  5. #4
    Senior Community Member natysr's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    I've never had trouble with my Britax Marathon fitting rearfacing on the plane. I've flown several times on Southwest, American, United, and Continental.

    Also Britax is having a sale at the end of this month if you want to start shopping around for a convertible.

    Ulrike...Just out of curiosity. Do they every make you take your baby out of the sling to go through security?

  6. #5
    Moderator MomToEliEm's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Quote Originally Posted by natysr View Post
    Ulrike...Just out of curiosity. Do they every make you take your baby out of the sling to go through security?
    I had to take my child out of the sling (New Native Carrier) when I was going through security at the airport. The sling had to go through the regular detector with all the other baggage.

  7. #6
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Quote Originally Posted by natysr View Post
    Ulrike...Just out of curiosity. Do they every make you take your baby out of the sling to go through security?
    Yes, but I was using a sling with metal in it. On MDC, a couple of the moms have been able to go through without removing the child, simply by explaining that there's no metal in it.
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  8. #7
    CPST Instructor azgirl71's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    I flew SW with my SnugRide and it was fine.

    ETA: I did not take the base. I just used it without. Also if he has a paid seat you you will obviously be seated next to him and be able to put your armrest up. I think I did have to do that.
    Lisa - CPSTI
    Mom to Tucker, 5 years old, 29.2 lbs, 39.25 inches tall who has a variety of different carseats to ride in.
    My new grandson is my signature photo

  9. #8
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Thanks everyone. i like the idea about the luggage cart and not using the base for the infant seat (much less weight to carry). i have an evenflo snugli that i was going to take and a kolcraft umbrella stroller that i figured i could gate check. my only concern about the umbrella stroller is if he will be ready for it at 7 months. if he can use that, i can use it to haul either him OR the stuff.

    Also: If anyone has any good ideas about a packing list and guidelines for on the plane, i am all ears. I am planning on calling TSA regarding getting through security with formula. i am trying to figure out the best way to travel with formula...powder, premixed etc. i know that all the products are allowed, i just am worried about HOW they want everything done.

  10. #9
    Carseat Crazy Brilliantmama's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Quote Originally Posted by UlrikeDG View Post
    Yes, but I was using a sling with metal in it. On MDC, a couple of the moms have been able to go through without removing the child, simply by explaining that there's no metal in it.
    I keep G in the didymos (no metal) and walk through before asking. If they asked I would remove it, but we mostly fly out of Burlington, VT (where they kicked a nursing mom off of a flight) and after the giant nurse-in, they tend to give moms and babes a little more lee-way.
    Bridget, mama to Abigail 04/15/04 30lb 38in (FF Princess Radian)
    Georgianna 08/22/07 ~27lb 31in (RF Shannon BLVD)
    Maple Kate's coming in October (Strawberry Coccoro)


  11. #10
    CPST Instructor azgirl71's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Use powder for the flight. It is easier to get through security. But a bottle of water on the other side of securiy to mix it with. Make sure baby is sucking on a bink or bottle during take off and landing to help with ear pressure.
    Lisa - CPSTI
    Mom to Tucker, 5 years old, 29.2 lbs, 39.25 inches tall who has a variety of different carseats to ride in.
    My new grandson is my signature photo

  12. #11
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    FYI, seatguru.com is a great resource for selecting seats. They list the seat width by plane and carrier. According to SeatGuru, Southwest and Spitir have a seat width of 17.0" in Economy Class. Seat width is defined as:
    Seat Width is typically the distance between armrests on a seat. If there is no armrest, the seat cushion is assumed to be the seat width.
    Re: outgrowing the seat: the growth really does tend to slow after the first few months. We got a convertible at 6 months because I was convinced with O's percentiles we'd outgrow the bucket at any minute, and he still fits in the bucket at a year. Go figure.

    Re: formula - I think it's a toss-up. Ready-to-feed is nice because it's so quick and clean, but with powder you can pack more but carry less weight. Either way, what's worked for us is to put all munchkin liquids/gels (babyfood, formula, Tylenol, etc) in one large zip-top bag. It helps prevent spills and makes it easy to pull out and let them inspect. I've been through MSP, STL, LAS, SDF, DTW, and EVV and not once had a problem.

    Other tips:
    - Once you book, check the airline's site for info on travelling with babies - sometimes there's some good stuff in there about extra baggage allowances and the like.
    - Pack as light as you can for carryon. We always have too much stuff.
    - Don't wake up the baby to get him to suck during takeoff/landing. (I learned this one the hard way.)
    - Check the airports sites for family-friendly areas. A lot of them have family rooms and play areas.
    - Some planes will require you to sit in particular seats when travelling with a baby (though I think this is more for lap-child situations). You might want to call ahead of time to check on this.
    - If you've never installed the seat sans base before, practice before you fly. Bring your manual, too.

    Sorry for the book. Good luck on your trip! The anticipation is WAY worse than the trip, I swear.
    Engineer , Wife of a Drummer , Mama of a Valentine's Munchkin (02/07), and a little Squidget (06/09)
    ~~I've given in to the siren call of the Minivan. And it is love. I <3 sliding doors. ~~

  13. #12
    Senior Community Member canadianmom2three's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Have flown both southwest and spirit (and by my choice - there are 5 of us, so I a cheap flight) and have had nothing but good experiences with the staff and the flights. On our last southwest flight DS dropped a fistfull of crayons he was carrying on and a couple of them fell thru the crack and down to the pavement below. After takeoff the stewardess came over to DS's seat and handed him his crayons. She said the pilot had gone down and gotten them when he heard DS crying I thought that was really sweet - it was just 3 crayons, but very thoughtful. The seats are plenty big - we have brought on the AO and it fit great, but at any rate, the armrests raise and there should be loads of room for most seats. I'm certain a scenera would fit no problem, and is very reasonable $$. Southwest used to let families with kids/seats board first, now I think it has changed to between the A and B group, but really there should still be lots of good seats left...spirit you can pre-book your seats and families with seats/young children pre-board ahead of regular passengers. HTH

  14. #13
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Formula shouldn't be an issue at all. The policy has changed, and it's supposed to be a non-issue now.
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  15. #14
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Southwest Airline uses the 737 and the seats are a standard width, typically any convertible seat or infant seat will fit. You may need to lift the armrest etc to install a seat FF, but RF it should fit without issue.
    Some of the regional airlines use planes that the seat widths may not be as wide, but even on Horizon and SkyWest airlines I have had no issue with installing my Britax convertibles.
    Enjoy your trip.
    Lori (I drive Cadillac Escalade ESV) SAHM to Brooks 9/13/01 seatbelt only, Brady 7/4/03 seatbelt only, Kinsadie 2/23/08 Pink Britax Frontier, and Brakin David 6/7/10 FF in a cowmooflage Britax Frontier Clicktight

  16. #15
    Member MandiRN's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    We flew from NH to IL when DD was 4 months old. She was in her SnugRide at the time and we bought her a ticket. It was the best thing we *ever* did. We've flown since with her as a lap passenger and we won't do that again. She'll be in a ticketed seat even if it puts us in the poorhouse.
    Anywho...We had the whole Graco travel system and brought all of the pieces.
    We took the bucket out of the car and snapped it into it's place on the stroller.
    We took the base from the car and put it in the basket beneath the stroller.
    Checked in.
    Wheeled everything up to security.
    We put it all through security bucket first, base second, stroller third as DD and I went through security first.
    I put her back in the seat, strapped her in, clicked on the base, DH picked up the stroller, we got the rest of our stuff and moved aside and reassembled.
    We asked to be pre-boarded and were able to.
    We gate checked the stroller, clicked the bucket into the base, put it in her seat and strapped it in RF.
    Worked as slick as can be.
    As for things to bring, I would bring powdered single serve formula packets and either buy water once you are through security or get bottled water from the flight attendant. All of the FA's we've encountered have been wonderful, generous people willing to do whatever they can to help you. Use your diaper bag as your carry-on and pack light. Extra outfit or two for baby, diapers, wipes, etc. But, make sure all of your ointments are in 3oz or less containers. Go to http://www.tsa.gov/311/ for the specific details. Read everything you can on the TSA site and you'll do fine. I read and read and read and we got through with no problems. HTH! ~M
    Mandi, ~ Mom to A, 9 years old! ~
    84 lbs, 56 in, belted in her Britax Parkway SGL

  17. #16
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    I was just on a Southwest flight (4 of 'em, actually) last weekend. I had my 2 year old rfing in a Marathon and had not the least bit of trouble. In fact, the staff was by far the friendliest that I have *ever* dealt with in flying with kiddos. The pilot on two different flights actually took the seat from my hand (with me insisting I could get it) and put it on/took it off the plane for me.

    The MA fits their seats just fine, but I did have to lift the arm rest to do it. It also fits rfing just fine (sometimes a concern ppl have). While all of their planes/configurations are the same, I did discover that on one flight there was about an inch of clearance from the back of the MA to the seat in front of it, and on the other three flights I kind of had to jam it in there (not hard, but it was wedged). No one said a word about not being able to recline the seat right in front of the car seat, just fyi. I know that is a concern of some folks.

    I do highly recommend checking in 24 hours in advance online so you can get into the A group. It isn't a huge deal b/c you'll be able to board b/w A and B regardless, but the flights where I was in the 20s and 30s in A group I was in the 3rd and 6th rows. Sooo much easier to get the seat on and off if you are only going a couple of rows in. The flight where I was number A60 (the last in A group) I had to get to row 13. Still not horrible, but it was definitely better to board as early as possible.

    You do have to take the babe out of the sling through security (and take their shoes off depending on the airport)

    Any liquids you just have to 'declare', as in while in the security line 'I have formula for the baby'. They may or may not ask you to take it out of the bag and put it in their bins. I took juice, water and contact solution through and once I had to take them out of the bag, once I didn't.

    Good luck. Flying with kiddos stresses.me.out b/c I worry about the airlines and their policies, but I had a very good experience with Southwest.
    Paula, CPST and mom to Sage (5/08/03) Kai (2/27/06) and Rowan (2/26/09)

  18. #17
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Quote Originally Posted by Cedarmom View Post
    Any liquids you just have to 'declare', as in while in the security line 'I have formula for the baby'. They may or may not ask you to take it out of the bag and put it in their bins. I took juice, water and contact solution through and once I had to take them out of the bag, once I didn't.
    Liquids must be under 3.2 oz, I believe it is 3.2 rather than the 3oz that the TSA website says, and must all be contained in 1 quart size ziplock bag. One per passenger, so technically you could have 2, if traveling with a baby. The ziplock bag will need to be removed from your carry on and placed in a tub to go on the belt.
    The instructions are here:
    http://www.tsa.gov/assets/pdf/311-brochure.pdf
    I am really surprised you were allowed to take water through security, but that might be because you were traveling with a child. As water, juice etc. is typically not allowed.
    Lori (I drive Cadillac Escalade ESV) SAHM to Brooks 9/13/01 seatbelt only, Brady 7/4/03 seatbelt only, Kinsadie 2/23/08 Pink Britax Frontier, and Brakin David 6/7/10 FF in a cowmooflage Britax Frontier Clicktight

  19. #18
    Admin - CPS Technician Emeritus UlrikeDG's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    From the link above:
    • Pack liquids/gels/aerosols in your checked baggage. For a short trip you are permitted to carry-on 1 quartsize, clear plastic, zip-top bag holding 3 ounces or less containers of liquids, gels or aerosols. Limited to one bag per traveler.
    • Exceptions include: baby formula/breast milk/baby food while traveling with a small child, medications, liquids (to include water, juice or liquid nutrients) or gels for diabetics or other medical needs. All exceptions must be declared to the Security Officer for screening.
    From the TSA's Traveling With Children page:
    Mothers flying with, and now without, their child will be permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than three ounces as long as it is declared for inspection at the security checkpoint...

    ...When carrying formula, breast milk, or juice through the checkpoint, they will be inspected, however, you or your baby or toddler will not be asked to test or taste breast milk, formula, or juice.
    Ulrike, mom to:
    Roman (3/98), Evalina (3/00), Nadia (3/03), and Kira (11/07)


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  20. #19
    CPS Technician crunchierthanthou's Avatar
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    they exclude bottles for infants. In fact, we took sippies of rice milk for ds through age 2 without any problem. You just have to declare it at the security checkpoint.

  21. #20
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    Re: questions about airplane travel

    Yup. Travelling with children allows some exceptions like quoted above.
    Paula, CPST and mom to Sage (5/08/03) Kai (2/27/06) and Rowan (2/26/09)

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