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  1. #1
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    I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    We just came back from a trip to Florida. DS is 8.5months old, 20lbs. I borrowed a Graco ComfortSport for the trip and was all ready to install him RF on the plane.
    I couldn't get it to fit! We flew Southwest and I was struggling to wedge the carseat into the seat RFing. Width-wise it was fine, but for whatever reason, I couldn't get the seat in the proper angle. The ComortSport has that little guage on the side with a rolling ball, and when it is at the right angle, the ball sits in the green area. I could not get that ball out of the red area. And there was nobody in the seat in front of me so it's not like that seat was reclined or something.
    Today, I looked online, and it says that the seat pitch is about 32", which should be plenty of room. On Thursday, we're taking a 15 hour international flight and I was planning on using the ComfortSport. Continental's website says their seat pitch is only 31", so that's even worse! For a 15 hour flight, I really want him to be rear facing, mainly because he can see me easier.
    I'm stressing out. Did I do something wrong...or should I use a different carseat? Has anyone else had problems rearfacing in planes?

    On another note, I have a membership question that I can't seem to find the answer to. I registered for membership a few weeks ago, and I guess I'm supposed to get some email confirmation to get get account approval? I never got an email, and I can't find anyplace on the site to resend it. Is there any way to get that email resent so I can get my account approved?

    Thanks so much for your help ladies...

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  3. #2
    CPS Technician Ali's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    We flew Southwest when DD was 18 months and I installed her Marathon RF with no problem. I honestly wouldn't worry about the recline on an airplane with an older infant or toddler.
    DD Jan 2005
    RF to 3 1/2 years; Harnessed to 7 1/2 years; Now Boostered

  4. #3
    CPS Technician tiggercat's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    It is perfectly fine to install the seat rearfacing at a more upright angle (make sure the mechanical recline foot is in the correct reclined position). The little ball shows you 45 degrees which is the maximum allowable recline and most appropriate for a newborn. A child over 4-6 months that can hold their head up well can be from 30 to 45 degrees (from vertical).

    Hope this helps,
    Natalie
    Natalie, CRST-I, mum of Greg (15), Megan (10), Benjamin and Samuel (6).


  5. #4
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    What the others said. You don't need it at 45 degrees. He'll sleep just fine more upright than you think.

    When you install the seat push the seatback back, then pull it upright when you're done. That will help get a nice and tight installation, and it might move it an inch or so toward the back of the plane which may give a little cushion for when the person in front of him reclines.

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  6. #5
    Senior Community Member steph's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Ryan sat pretty upright rear facing on our recent flight in his BV and did just fine. Like others said don't worry about the level indicator.
    Steph
    Mom to R (5-steps),
    E and A (riding in Nuna Pipas)

  7. #6
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Thanks for the replies. After more research and phone calls to Southwest, it turns out that I was in a row with a much shorter seat pitch. They said that 32" was their *average* seat pitch, but they looked up my particular flight and my particular row and said it was significantly shorter. It wasn't just that the seat was too upright, but it wasn't really sitting on the seat. I could put my hand right underneath the seat and it made me feel that the seat was too unsteady and sort of just floating there.
    On the phone, they told me that carseats shouldn't be placed in that row, FF or RF. I wish the flight attendants told me that!
    I feel *much* better about our upcoming flight this week. I was really stressed out!
    Thanks so much

  8. #7
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by KAK22 View Post
    We flew Southwest when DD was 18 months and I installed her Marathon RF with no problem. I honestly wouldn't worry about the recline on an airplane with an older infant or toddler.

    I couldn't agree more with this. The angle is not as important on the plane.
    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

  9. #8
    Forum Ambassador TechnoGranola's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaxmama View Post
    Thanks for the replies. After more research and phone calls to Southwest, it turns out that I was in a row with a much shorter seat pitch. They said that 32" was their *average* seat pitch, but they looked up my particular flight and my particular row and said it was significantly shorter. It wasn't just that the seat was too upright, but it wasn't really sitting on the seat. I could put my hand right underneath the seat and it made me feel that the seat was too unsteady and sort of just floating there.
    On the phone, they told me that carseats shouldn't be placed in that row, FF or RF. I wish the flight attendants told me that!
    I feel *much* better about our upcoming flight this week. I was really stressed out!
    Thanks so much
    Did they know you were bringing a car seat on the plane when you booked the flight? If so, why did they give a row that car seats don't fit? And if they didn't know, why the heck did they stick you in that row once you arrived WITH a car seat? And why did they not switch rows for you once they saw you struggling with it on the plane?

    What did you end up doing?

  10. #9
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by technogranola View Post
    Did they know you were bringing a car seat on the plane when you booked the flight? If so, why did they give a row that car seats don't fit? And if they didn't know, why the heck did they stick you in that row once you arrived WITH a car seat? And why did they not switch rows for you once they saw you struggling with it on the plane?
    Cause Southwest is always mean to people with kids and wont even let you pre-board!
    DD 5.5yo, 38lbs, 43" - FF in a Radian XT and Frontier85 SICT
    DS 3yo, 33lbs, 38" - RF in Radian XT and Britax MT

  11. #10
    Admin - CPST Instructor wendytthomas's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Flight attendants are woefully ignorant about car seats. I've had some tell me outright that I was killing Piper by having her rear facing at 21 pounds (in a Britax Advantage which RFed to 33 pounds), and that it wasn't allowed for a 3.5 year old who weighed 28 pounds to be RFing in a Britax Wizard (RFs to 33 pounds). That FA went and got her manual and learned something new. So they don't know what they need to know. I don't know if their manual would cover row by row, probably more just a general info bit on carseats. Seatguru.com doesn't list the differences between rows either. Was it right around an exit row?

    Wendy
    wendy, cpst-i mom to
    piper, 7/26/02, 62", 108#, seatbelt, driving her own car
    laine 9/16/09, 54", 96#, Nuna Aaces, Diono Solana 2
    in my husband's 2018 Toyota Land Cruiser, my 2017 Volvo XC90, and big sister's 2016 Honda Civic
    https://www.car-seat.org/image.php?type=sigpic&userid=1353&dateline=1552329  785

  12. #11
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by technogranola View Post
    Did they know you were bringing a car seat on the plane when you booked the flight? If so, why did they give a row that car seats don't fit? And if they didn't know, why the heck did they stick you in that row once you arrived WITH a car seat? And why did they not switch rows for you once they saw you struggling with it on the plane?

    What did you end up doing?

    In the defense of the airline, they have numerous seating configurations, even though they all are 737s with the same standard seats etc., the number of rows vary per plane, seat pitch etc. They surely wouldn't know when the reservation was made, which plane you would be on, and even when you checked in, they might not have known as aircraft swaps often happen last minute. BUT they surely should have tried to get you to another row when you had trouble installing the seat. SWA tends to be in a hurry to board and get going, so they aren't always helpful in making the process easy for their passengers.


    Wendy, being a previous FA and not considering myself to be ignorant with regards to carseats now. In defense of the FAs, it really isn't their choice to be ignorant. But if you don't have kids, it isn't something you concentrate on. AND there are a lot more important things to learn in training than how carseats need to be installed. The type of FA that I was, I would have assumed the parents were installing the seat properly, and only verified it was FAA approved and installed in the proper place on the airplane. I will say that it is something that is not taught much about in training. AND in all honesty, when I was an FA, without kids, I knew nothing about carseats, other than what my manual said, which wasn't much. I do not agree with ANY FA who would argue with a parent about how the seat is to be installed, and surely not one that would tell a parent they are killing their child. I hope you filed a complaint with the airline.
    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

  13. #12
    CPS Technician Chameleon's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Was it right around an exit row?
    This happened to me while flying with one of the kids. They booked me on a row that happened to be either in front of or behind an exit row, I forget, but neither of which are allowed to have child restraints. So instead of switching our seats in the computer, they told ME to make somebody get out of their seats and switch. Yeah isn't that their job? It made for some pretty pissed off people, myself included.
    DD1 12 Seatbelt
    DS 10 Seatbelt
    DD2 8months Keyfit

  14. #13
    Carseat Crazy Brilliantmama's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chameleon View Post
    This happened to me while flying with one of the kids. They booked me on a row that happened to be either in front of or behind an exit row, I forget, but neither of which are allowed to have child restraints. So instead of switching our seats in the computer, they told ME to make somebody get out of their seats and switch. Yeah isn't that their job? It made for some pretty pissed off people, myself included.
    I had to swap seats after ppreboarding, installing A's seat and getting our stuff all spread out. We were about to back out of the gate when the FA told me. Then everyone glared at me while I tried to get ourselves moved to the next row so we could take off.

    Oh, and I was 25 weeks pregnant.
    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)


  15. #14
    CPS Technician crunchierthanthou's Avatar
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    OP, what row were you in (numbe, or general location)? Having worked for one of their competitor airlines, I'm willing to bet they're all the same configuration. If I ever fly Southwest, I want to be sure I don't end up with it. It's got to be especially frustrating since you can't choose your seat ahead of time.

  16. #15
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chameleon View Post
    This happened to me while flying with one of the kids. They booked me on a row that happened to be either in front of or behind an exit row, I forget, but neither of which are allowed to have child restraints. So instead of switching our seats in the computer, they told ME to make somebody get out of their seats and switch. Yeah isn't that their job? It made for some pretty pissed off people, myself included.
    That happens to us often, we travel standby on DH's benefits, so we just do it because we don't want to cause a rucus, but it is RIDICULOUS to tell a paying passenger they have to change their own seats. Unfortunately some gate agents don't want to put the effort in to moving people around. I cannot tell you how many times, when I was an FA, that I would have people come on telling me that they are spread out all over the plane, have a carseat and were assigned a seat in the exit row etc. Some FAs would call for a gate agent to come fix it, we are not allowed to have less than 3 FAs on the plane once boarding starts, so I would typically just move people around myself. Free drinks go a long way sometimes.
    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

  17. #16
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    Re: I couldn't do RF on the plane...why?

    When I booked the tickets, they probably knew I was bringing a carseat. But it's not really their fault that I was in that row, because on Southwest you don't get seat assignments, you pick your own. I was in row 8, and yes it was near the exit rows. On our way back, we also chose row 8 again (I didn't think it had anything to do with row like I do now), and I kept saying to my DH that it seems like there's more room and we should try RF again. But he was the one that was struggling and struggling with it the first time, and our plane was delayed and the baby was crying because he was so tired, so DH didn't want to fuss with it again so we just installed it FF again. But I could have *swore* we had more room on the way back. So I think the configuration does change slightly plane to plane.
    When they saw us struggling with the carseat, a flight attendant came over and said to us "your carseat must be really big, that's why it doesn't fit." I fibbed and said I had flown with this same carseat RF before and it fit fine, but she insisted that it was a problem with the carseat, and didn't offer to switch rows or anything, so my guess is that she just didn't know that that particular row had a shorter seat pitch. She was trying to be helpful though. It is irritating that they don't let families pre-board. On this particular flight (from Orlando) there were TONS of families, so by the time all of them got on, there were very few seats that were together. So the flight attendants were trying to help those people out. I wasn't frustrated with the flight attendants really, I was upset I couldn't put the carseat in the way I wanted, but I felt lucky that I at least got to sit next to my DH and DS!

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