flying with carseats



we are flying with two children to San Diego and will need to bring carseats ( we will need them in our rental car as well as on the plane).
We have two britax advocates that are just too bulky and heavy with the large air cushions to bring onboard a plane ( let alone 2 of them) - so we need alternatives.
Son is around 39.5 inches tall and 38.5 lb ( he is 5 but tiny) and daughter is 23lb and 32 inches
for daughter we are considering a scenera but I am a bit concerned about the flimsieness of this seat - is it safe or should I consider a few more $$ towards a seat with at least some eps foam or something ?

And son is the main issue -he would barely fit the scenera ( even if he still fits " on paper" - he looks a bit strange in there ) - any ideas? I would rather buy a convertible than a booster - I do know I want him harnessed as long as possible!

We will use these seats only for one flight and 7 days and then donate them to a women's shelter - I am mostly concerned about crash safety in our rental car and transportability


New member
All car seats pass federal testing. There is no way to know whether one brand or style is safer than the other. Britax spends a lot of money on marketing to make you feel safer, but a $40 scenera will save a life just the same when properly used.

Is there a reason you wouldn't want to keep the new seats as spares?
I have no problem with you being charitable, but I'm curious why you wouldn't want to keep your new seats.

Cosco scenera would be great for your daughter. I'm assuming she will be rear facing? The scenera has some install quirks, so you might want to practice installing it in a few friends' cars before you go in order to be comfortable with it.
If you have the budget and want a seat with a little more padding, the safety first guide 65 should work well for your daughter and it installs a little easier in most cars.

Is your son rear-facing? If he will be forward facing (perfectly safe at his age!!) there's no real need to get a convertible. A forward facing harness seat will harness just the same. I'd recommend an Evenflo maestro (about $80) if you want to harness him forward facing or an Evenflo SureRide ($100) if you want him rear facing.

To verify fit, for rear facing, there needs to be at least one inch of hard shell above the child's head. Not the adjustable advocate headrest, but the shell if you push the head rest all the way down needs to be at least 1" above the head. And as always, the harness needs to be below the shoulders. (Some small babies don't fit in many convertibles due to the height of the lowest harness slot).
For forward facing, the harness must be at or above the shoulders. When the advocate straps begin to go below the shoulders, it's time to switch to a new seat. A forward facing harness to booster combo seat will harness for several more years, then you can remove the harness and use it like a booster. The scenera has top harness slots of 15", which most kids outgrow by around a size 3t shirt so I don't think your son will fit in a scenera, and he may not have much room left in the advocate.


Well- I know the minimal testing standards - most carseats will survive a crash at 20 and maybe even 30 miles per hour ( like getting hit by a sedan in a school zone) - no tests are done with larger trucks hitting cars or regular speeds .
My reasoning with the Britax is that every bit of material between my child and a car counts toward safety- Bitax makes carseats in GermAny under a different name and they are tested with higher speeds and do really well.
According to my growth chart my tiny children will be able to use their advocates until they are at least 7 years old - my daughter longer-and won't outgrow the frontier - well - until they refuse to ride in it probably- our kids are way below 1st percentile for hight - so far they estimate my daughters end hight at 4ft 9.
I could rear face my daughter weight wise until she is probably 6 but that is out of the question- we turned her around when she turned 3 - none of her friends still rear face and she cried every time we put her in her seat.She is the smallest everywhere and maybe more sensitive when it comes to hight issues ( she can't use the rides in amusement parks, is excluded from a lot of fun- at Legoland a 14 month old friend could go on the ride and she couldn't because she is not tall enough sigh!)

We have two advocates and a frontier in hubby's car for my son so we simply have no use for more carseats - I would have to store the travel seats for over a year for the off chance that we might use them again for a week next year - I would much rather have someone use them. The women in the shelter I volunteer at often have nothing when they arrive - and a carseat means transportation- infant seats are often donated but convertibles are usually kept until they are outdated or plain

I found a Maestro at Babies R us with a 20off discount and a gift card we had so it worked out great and daughter will most likely get the scenera or maybe an evenflo model too?


Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
Graco also tests to European standards in Europe. As do Cybex and Dorel (I'm living in Germany, trying to remember who I see in the stores here that are also in the US). Dorel makes Maxi Cosi, Eddie Bauer, Cosco, and Safety 1st. In Germany and some of Europe Britax is known as Römer. In other parts of the world Graco is known as Akta.

European seats are made to European standards, American seats are made to American standards. Both save lives. One could argue since that American seats rear face longer they're safer, but Europeans booster longer, so maybe that helps too. Either way, they're apples and oranges.

Carseats in the US are tested at 30 mph. That's considered remarkably severe. In Germany and Europe seats are tested to 50 kph. That's 31 mph. A slightly faster speed, but not remarkably different. Here are the European standards. And the US ones.

Your Britax seats are perfectly safe. You're likely right that more between the child and something else is better, but maybe not. We have no way to know, unfortunately, what is tested and better and what is marketing.

I agree with the Scenera and Maestro for travel. And it's great that you'd donate them.

A tip for flying with them, I'd get wheels. Either strap them to rolling luggage, put them in a stroller, get a folding luggage cart and bungee cords, a GoGo Kidz, anything to put wheels on them. That will make it easier to get them through the airport. And often your kids can ride in them there, so that will make *them* easier to get through the airport too.

Practice installing the new seats before you go, ideally in someone's car where they have a lap belt only. Bring along a towel for your younger child so you can roll it and use it for the angle if you need to.

If you'd like an Evenflo model and you plan to donate it afterward I'd look at the Evenflo SureRide. It's pretty narrow and lightweight, not terribly expensive, and it'll fit kids from birth to about six or more. It has lower bottom slots than your Advocates and higher top slots as well. So the lucky recipient wouldn't need a new seat for a LONG time.



New member
So you have 2 children forward facing.

If you have them sit on a floor against a wall and measure floor to the top of their shoulders, that will give you an approximation of sitting shoulder height. The angle of tail bone changes in different car seats and vehicles which changes the shoulder height slightly.

The top slot of a scenera is somewhere around 14.5-15".
The Evenflo maestro is around $80 and has top slots around 18" - it is a forward harnessing seat and then you can take the harness off to use as a booster.
Evenflo also makes a forward harnessing seat called Chase. The harness weight limit is 40lbs and the top slot is about 16". Chase is about $65.
Cosco high back booster (misleading name since it has a forward facing harness with top slot of about 15.5") costs about $35.

The sled tests are 30mph. That's true. But the 20G of generated force is more severe than 95% real world crashes. That's a car seat going from 30mph to 0 mph instantly. No breaks, vehicle crumple zone, vehicle seat padding, nor any thing else to reduce impact. It's more the equivalent of about a 70mph head on collision. Any real world wreck usually involve breaks and swerving, at least one vehicle that's still moving as well as rebound, vehicle impact and crumple, etc that take the g-force away from the child.

The lightweight shell of lower cost seats flexes more than the rigid shell and steel frame of higher costs seats. Lightweight plastic can bend and move with the child whereas a steel reinforced seat needs EPS foam to lessen the transfer of impact through the steel to the child.
They're all safe! I promise!
Go ahead with whatever works best for your budget. The seats I listed above are all lightweight and slim which is great for travel.


New member
Sounds like you've got it all figured out.
But if you decide otherwise...

I flew about a year ago, and decided I didn't want my son riding in a seat that didn't have as much foam etc as the Advocate. Thats what I have too.

So we took the Advocate on the plane with us. We flew Southwest. It fit perfectly fine and was no extra trouble. He fit RFing on the plane in the seat closest to the window. He loved looking out the window and even napped on the plane, potentially because he was in the seat he was used to.

You guys could install your seats each next to a window and sit right behind one another.. like this:

Mom/kid in advocate/window
Dad/kid in advocate/window

I do totally recommend getting a set of wheels for the airport. It keeps the kids contained like a stroller would without the extra baggage, and it saves you from carrying a carseat around. This is no matter what seat you take. here is a link to one:
[ame=""] Britax Car Seat Travel Cart, Black: Baby[/ame]

[ame=""] GoGo Kidz Travelmate: Baby[/ame]

I liked having our normal seat with us in the rental car because he napped all the time in the car and it was easy to install the seat that I was used to installing. Especially in a car I wasn't familiar with.

I was worried about the increased risk of crashing because we were in a different car than we were used to, driving in an area we were unfamiliar with, etc.

SO proud of you for RFing to three!!!! YOU GO GIRL!!! Such a good Momma!!!!!!!!!!!


I was thinking about wheels and found a sit and stand stroller that we can probably put to good use at at the Zoo or in a theme park- it was on CL for $20 - a bit dusty but nothing major- I can put one seat in the front and tie the other one to the back somehow.
It is a short direct flight so I am thinking that we should be ok with transport. I will have my ergo with for the daughter too.

I agree that I would love to take my seats - and I would fly with one advocate - but two is just crazy considering that we will have to ride shuttles and such with two kids, 2 large suitcases, carry on, carseats and stroller- I would be scared to accidentally drop one of the seats in transport and they are just too expensive ( and still very new- maybe a year old at the most)- the pillows on the side don't help - but we love love love our seats!

Any experiences with the safety first Guide 65? We tried it out and it seem to be a great fit even though daughter barely clears weight requirement for foreward facing and is actually too short on paper - I checked harness slots and general fit and she looked good - I liked the big pillows - she tends to fall asleep in the car a lot and all other seats ( triumph, senera...) we tried would create a big neck slump ... Price is great AND it harnesses rear facing up to 40lb and foreward until 65. Not too heavy either. Lucky that they did not have the pink version in stock - otherwise daughter would have gone nuts...

I am usually ok installing seats - took one of those safety courses a while ago- and I have installed quite a few seats in a bunch of cars - but I always practice - there is nothing worse than arriving in the evening with two cranky kids and not getting that seat installed while hubby is rolling his eyes and the kids are screaming haha ...


New member
Guide 65 is a great seat. But your daughter would have to ride RFing. It would not be safe for her to be FFing under the height limit.
How old is she?


She is 3 - what confuses me about the safety first is that she fits this seat better than most with the harness slots where they should be - I called the company and they said the hight recommendation is only there for convenience and that she can use the seat safely as long as the harness slots are right for her upper torso length and she meets the weight -my kids do have shorter legs ...

No way she would rear face- we turned her around when she turned 3 - she is so proud to be a big girl now - she is a tiny person with a big personality lol


New member
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends RFing to age 4 to allow the vertebrae to mature ;-)
But age 3 is an excellent goal.
If safety 1st okays it, sounds like you're good to go!

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