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  1. #1
    Moderator - CPST Instructor snowbird25ca's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Edmonton, AB, Canada

    My thoughts on flying with the EFTA and a toddler

    Now that I've had a couple days to get back into a semi-normal routine I'm finally finding time to post this. Some of you may have seen me and my trying to figure everything out for our trip... for those of you who didn't, ds and I flew to Toronto last Weds and then back again late Saturday night. I finally decided on taking the EFTA and I bought a gogo kidz to make getting through the airport easier.

    We flew WestJet both directions, and it was ok. The flight back was much better in terms of flight attendants, but more difficult in terms of ds... On the way there I was given a bit of grief about rf'ing him on the plane. After some calm discussion the passenger in front of ds turned to the flight attendant and told her he was fine with not reclining his seat and would just change positions if he wanted to. I suspect my comment about ds kicking the seatback in front and that wouldn't be comfortable for the passenger either may have factored in to that.

    So anyways, he was rf'ing in the EFTA on the way there. The first problem I encountered was that the buckle for tightening the lap belt ended up sitting right behind the crotch strap. With the EFTA the seat belt gets threaded behind the crotch buckle, so it basically meant that the plane belt's buckle was right in front of ds' crotch. When we took off, he slid forward in the seat and was quite uncomfortable - I spent pretty much all of the takeoff with my hand behind the buckle to try and give him a bit more comfort. Once we were up in the air I made the parental decision to switch which side of the plane buckle the crotch strap was on, and that removed the discomfort factor. The seat was still a tight squeeze and the back of the base wasn't all the way on the plane seat. All things considered, I wasn't super happy with the way it fit rf'ing on the plane.

    Ds didn't sleep, but the flight was otherwise uneventful. He snacked most of the trip and I read stories to him.

    After the PITA situation with rf'ing the EFTA and having had troubles with the flight attendants I decided to just ff ds on the flight back. Putting the seat in was easy enough - the buckle still ended up pretty much in the middle of his back, but he didn't complain about it - maybe because of the extra padding of the cover? At any rate, it ended up being ok in that regard despite my initial concern. The passenger in front of ds didn't get off as easily as the passenger on the first flight though. He immediately braced his legs on the seat in front of him, and discovered the joy that is kicking and pushing on the seat. He very early on realized he could use his feet to move the piece that held the tray table shut, and then he'd push the tray table up and down & up and down over and over. I spent a lot of time trying to get him to just cross his legs and leave the front seat alone. The passenger in front ended up not being able to recline her seat because of this, and just slept leaning on the side of the plane... I felt kind of bad about it, but really didn't have much control. Ds tried to sleep on the way home, but every time he was drifting his legs would start dropping and it would wake him up. I suspect just the pressure point on his legs at the edge of the seat was uncomfortable or something?

    Overall though, it was a good flight. The EFTA is wide and won't fit without raising an armrest. Rf'ing it was fine for me to sit beside and I had no problems with comfort. Ff'ing I didn't have to sit beside it because there was an empty seat in the row we had. I did try sitting beside it and it would've been uncomfortable for me. In cases where there's going to be someone sitting right next to the car seat, I think I would want a narrower car seat...

    Getting through the airport was easier on the way home than on the way there. I had 2 carry on's when we flew to Toronto, and on the way back I checked one of the carry on bags. This made a huge difference and I highly recommend that anyone flying with kids checks whatever they don't need to have on the flight. I was able to move a luggage cart and the gogo kidz at the same time - and on the way there I managed to pull the gogo kidz and the carry on luggage in the same hand while having a coffee, but the return trip was much easier with just the gogo kidz and a bag over my shoulder.

    So overall thoughts? It would definitely be easier to travel with a light weight carseat or at least one that's narrower. I do feel that the Scenera recommendations given around here for flying are definitely accurate and would make life the easiest for a kid who still needs to be rf'ing. For kids who are going to be ff'ing on the plane anyways, I think the CARES harness may be the way to go - depending on if you need a seat at your destination or not anyways...

    Other tips are like I said - check whatever you can, the less you have to carry on to the plane the easier it is to manage kiddo and carseat. Preboard if you're able to because it'll mean you'll be settled well before the plane is ready to leave the gate.

    I wasn't blown away with the gogo kidz. It worked great for getting through the airport, but was a huge PITA when it came to attaching the carseat to it. This could've been related to the seat I was using, but as it stands right now I'm not overly impressed by it...

    I'll be flying more in the future, and next time it will be with both kids. There'll be a seat on the other end for dd for sure, so I'll be using a CARES harness for her. She can have her own carry on suitcase, and I can bring a shoulder bag for ds, I'm undecided about what I'll do in terms of a seat for ds but with a short flight and him being unlikely to sleep I don't think a car seat is a huge concern for me right now and I may just do a CARES harness for him too. The benefit of being able to have them still safely restrained, but not having to deal with the carseat on the plane and manage the kids as well is very attractive.

    We did hit turbulence on the way back for probably about 30mins or so. It was just like a gentle roller coaster ride... I was definitely glad that he was buckled in to his seat when we hit the turbulence, but would've felt fine with the CARES harness as well truth be told.

    So there's my thoughts... The EFTA fits on the plane, but isn't the most convenient for traveling with. I'm sure if I'd had a MA I would've had similar thoughts mind you as I don't see it being much easier in terms of lifting over seatbacks etc. I can definitely understand why the Radian is recommended so much as a travel seat now because it's narrow enough it won't interfere with the comfort of the passenger beside the seat...

    I know I had a lot of questions preparing for the trip, so I thought I'd share my experience. Feel free to ask any questions you might have, hopefully this helps somebody out.

    (and amazingly, ds had no problems with his ears or anything - I'm not sure if it's because he ate pretty much all the way up and all the way down, but aside from the crotch strap discomfort issue on the way there, he was perfectly fine.)
    Trudy - Canadian CPSAC certified CRST Instructor-Trainer and mommy to:
    Janeen - 17 yrs and learning to drive!
    Jillian - 11 yrs, 80'ish lbs, 5-stepping in each car. :O
    Jonas - 8yrs, 65lbs, Riding in an Oobr in each car.
    Both safely riding in either a 2007 Outlook or a 2015 Subaru Legacy depending on the day.

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  3. #2
    Senior Community Member natysr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Northern California

    Re: My thoughts on flying with the EFTA and a toddler

    I had the same issue with the airplane buckle crowding Jordan's boys RFing in the marathon. I routed the buckle over the cover. Of course, he didn't complain until we were taking off. So, I pulled off one of the shoulder pads and shoved it between the buckle and him. It worked for that leg of the flight. On the flight back, I routed the buckle under the cover and he didn't complain at all.

    I can definately see where it would be less cumbersome to get around the airport without extra stuff, but for us, that convenience would be negated by an impatient and rambuncious 4 year old at baggage claim. That is why I'm such a fan of the Traveling Toddler, because you use wheel around carry-on and carseat all as one unit. Between that and a backpack, we don't have to check any bags at all.

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