Older Child using a MA on Delta?


New member
Alright, so we're flying at the end of the month from Tennessee to Utah via Delta with our 3 youngest kids. 12, 6, 3.

It's my 3 year old that I'm concerned about, she really. really hates flying. In the past, she's always been a lap sitter, but this is the first year she'll be flying in her own seat. Currently she's in a Britax Marathon, however, I'm REALLY struggling with whether or not to bring it on the plane. I've heard horror stories regarding luggage handlers being a little liberal in their treatment of car seats when they're checked, but my real concerns are the following:

1. Diana is 3.5, 37" tall and weighs 30lbs. I want her to be as comfortable as possible and I'm very concerned about leg room using the Marathon. Will she be involuntarily kicking the seat in front of her? Will she be able to use her tray for coloring and snacks?

2. I've also heard that airlines require a car seat be installed nearest the window. (Her very least favorite part of the plane). Is this a requirement or a suggestion?

I'm an overworrier by nature and I'm really looking for suggestions or tips or reviews from other parents!

PS: If we don't bring her car seat we'll be using the CARES harness.


Senior Community Member
You could RF her--assuming she's not too tall. Then she wouldn't be able to kick the seat.

The only carseat that allows you to use the tray table is the Radian. I'm not sure how a child would reach it if they were properly restrained though.

As for the window rule...she must be in the window seat UNLESS it's your party in the row. Then you can put an older child, kiddo in seat, then you in the row.



New member
We fly often with our MA and have taken Delta quite a few times. Hopefully I can answer these for you.

1. Diana is 3.5, 37" tall and weighs 30lbs. I want her to be as comfortable as possible and I'm very concerned about leg room using the Marathon. Will she be involuntarily kicking the seat in front of her? Will she be able to use her tray for coloring and snacks? Leg room might be an issue at that age. She won't be kicking the seat in front of her, but it might be tempting. I always had to remind DD a few times to cut it out. And in a Marathon, the tray can't come down and be level, so she wouldn't be able to use the tray.

2. I've also heard that airlines require a car seat be installed nearest the window. (Her very least favorite part of the plane). Is this a requirement or a suggestion? I've heard this as well, but not quite sure if it's necessary for a child who is FFing on a plane. If RFing they recommend the window because it would block other passengers from exiting the row quickly in an emergency. I'm not sure if the same holds true for FFing seats, though. DD always loves the windows.


New member
With the radian, if you're in a plane where the tray slides forward it is easy to reach, even buckled.

We had a leg room issue with a ffing marathon on the plane. My ds would always kick the seat in front of him and it was a constant battle. And the tray is not useable at all.

Usually techs will recommend 4/40 for airplane lap belts, but if you think your child would sit in it I would say that the risk to her is minimal. The lap belt will keep her restrained in turbulence, and the only time it would be more of a risk would be if there was a crash landing (IMO). You could also look into renting a cares harness.

As far as handling of car seats, I've never had an issue gate checking, but I also always check it in a car seat bag for a bit more protection.


New member
I think your daughter would be most calm and comfortable to be in the same exact seat that she is used to riding in in her own car. Pair that with another comfort item (special blankie etc.) I think she will do okay.

I would also want to rearface her on the plane.

We flew a few months ago with my 4 year old on a southwest flight. He was 30 pounds at the time. Here is a short video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wwg9w1Spf_c. Itis so much easier to entertain a RFing child on a plane.

(BTW, I like to use a product called the Traveling Toddler to transport the carseat through the airport)


Ambassador - CPS Technician
You may want to print this and take it with you in your purse, just in case you encounter any issues bringing the MA on board if that's what you decide to do.


As far as whether to bring the MA or not; only you know your child. My ds did poorly in our travel car seat last year because he couldn't use the tray, had little leg room (I was concerned about the person in front of us leaning back and crushing ds's legs) and it was hard to see/interact with him around the sides of the car seat. So the next trip I borrowed a CARES harness and it was GREAT. Easy to use, he had lots of leg room, was able to use the tray for snacks and coloring, we did put him in the window seat but mostly so we could put his pillow next to his head and he was able to curl up and sleep comfortably. He could have done this just as easily I suppose snuggling up to one of us with the armrest up. However, we were going to Disney and using Disney transportation so we didn't need a car seat at our destination. Checking a car seat isn't something I'd want to do if there was any possible way around it. So it's a toss up for me.


New member
We traveled last month with the MA, on previous trips we've used the Roundabout.

As far as I know, the carseat always has to be installed next to the window. I've seen that written directly in the online seating charts when you choose your seat assignments, and I've had many airline staffers tell me that both at the counter and as I boarded the plane. So I've always just choosen the window seat for my carseat. Fortunately, my daughter LOVES the window seat. Her favorite part is take off.

We have never been able to use the tray, but we try to find things that don't require a tray. We obviously don't have a tray in a car, either, so I've never had a hard time entertaining her without a tray.

We haven't had a leg room issue either. My daughter was 3.5 and 42" (and leggy) on our last flight. She rarely kicks the seat in front of us. When she does, a gentle reminder to "criss cross apple sauce" (cross your legs!) and she is fine. Once when my son was younger however, he kicked a set ahead of him through most of a flight, ack!

When we had the Roundabouts, I just carried them through the airport, no problem. The Marathon is heavier, and also doesn't have that handy bar on the back, so last trip we used the Traveling Toddler for the MA, although sometimes I still just carry it, it really isn't that big of a deal.

Next trip my daughter will have just turned 4. She currently weights about 35-36#. I'm pretty sure we'll take the carseat. I think it is safer, bad turbulance, rough landings, I've even heard of minor accidents like sliding or blowing off the runway or planes clipping wings while on the ground, that kind of thing - doesn't have to be an acutal plane crash to need the protection of a carseat, imo. Same situation as in a car, the lap belt does not fit properly and in any type of collision, the child can be injured because the lap belt is too high on their small bodies. I guess I'm just not ready to give up my carseat on the plane until my dd is at least 40#, but each parent needs to decide for themselves.

I know my children are more comfortable in their own carseats. Also, they are used to being in carseats in planes and in cars. I always purchased airline seats for my kids to be able to use the carseat even when they were under age 2. Since I never flew with them as lap babies, they don't know they are able to get up and move around in the plane. I guess I like to have them restrained for my own sanity as much as anything. ;)

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