So I assume everyone here frowns on flying with "babe in arms" or lap babies, right?

BMWBig6

Member
It's obvious that an unrestrained baby on a flight poses a risk to him/herself and other passengers in the event of something seriously affecting the plane's attitude. But then why do airlines (and their attorneys) have a "babe in arms" policy anyway if it's not safe? Or is that policy completely profit driven (they figure they'll lose out on the parent's airfare if they're not allowed to bring their under-2-year-old on the plane for free)?

While I'm not suggesting that any parent would necessarily value airfare costs over the safety of their child, is this the "correct" order (in descending order from "most safe" to "least safe")?

  1. Child under 2 flying in own RF car seat
  2. Child under 2 flying in rented/loaned RF car seat
  3. Child under 2 flying in own car seat but FF due to clearance or fitment issues in tight coach rows
  4. Child under 2 flying in rented/loaned car seat but FF due to clearance or fitment issues in tight coach rows
  5. Child under 2 flying in parent's Baby Bjorn or similar harness (except during take-off or landing)
  6. Child under 2 flying in lap (otherwise completely unrestrained)

Or can someone suggest other alternatives to consider besides the ones mentioned above (except not flying at all and driving a car instead--that's not always an option for certain destinations)? At which point (or how many days trip duration) does one consider it safer/better/cheaper to just leave the baby at home with a caregiver for a few days instead of bringing baby with you (I know, it sounds impersonal, but I'm really trying to get at the objective criteria people apply when making these kinds of travel decisions). If the answer depends on the age of the child, for sake of argument let's assume a 6-month old baby that can be bottle-fed with breastmilk (and supply is not an issue).
 
ADS

Ninetales

New member
It's purely profit driven. The FAA recommends everyone fly in their own seat, with child restraints when needed. They allow lap babies because they are afraid if they don't they will lose customers to driving. Considering everything else on a plane must be restrained I don't see infants as an exception.

For me, everyone flies with their own seat. If I can't afford a seat for everyone, everyone doesn't fly. If there's a serious emergency, and everyone has to go, I have credit cards. Will it suck? Of course. But for me that's just how it is. As safe as air travel is overall, I won't take the risk of my child getting injured/killed or harming someone else during an incident that would otherwise be uneventful.

Not to mention my kid would have been a nightmare for everyone else on the plane at any point over the age of four months. She sits quietly and plays or sleeps in her car seat.

At 2, everyone needs a seat, so if your kids are over 2, you make it work or do something else. I don't see under 2 as any different. People would still fly if they had to pay for under 2s, but because it's a choice they take it.
 

KaiLing

New member
I'm not sure this is the question you're asking, but as a CPST (less here, and more elsewhere) I run into many many people who are going to fly with a babe in arms, and it's not negotiable. So my priority is (as always, I suppose) to help those families be safer in the car by informing them of the danger to car seats when they are checked, or the danger of borrowed / rented car seats. SafER is always the goal, when safest isn't feasible.
 

Brianna

New member
I'm also of the opinion that if the family can't afford to buy a ticket and use a car seat on the plane, they can't afford the trip. I would only consider your number 1 and 3, but I would also try to bring a seat I knew could RF if I wanted to RF on the plane.

I don't know if it's a real reason or if it's just been said, but I've read that part of the reason lap babies are allowed is because the alternative is usually driving, and it's still statistically safer for the family to fly than drive.
 

LISmama810

Admin - CPS Technician
Yes, purely profit-driven. Every single item on a plane has to be secured and/or stowed for takeoff and landing...except for small, vulnerable human beings. The airline and the FAA would flip out if you tried holding a briefcase on your lap, but your infant is totally cool. Here's my open letter to the FAA: http://carseatblog.com/8584/guest-blog-an-open-letter-to-the-faa/ Strangely, they haven't responded. :(

NTSB has also been pushing for a change to the lap-baby policy. http://carseatblog.com/16971/lap-babies-on-airplane-a-warning-all-parents-must-see/

Part of the issue is safety on the plane, part principle (IMO), and part safety OFF the plane (ie, when you arrive at your destination with a damaged seat or without any seat because it got lost).

I feel every passenger should have a seat. Period. If that means forward-facing a child on the plane, it's certainly better than nothing.
 

SuzaBanana

New member
I also agree with PPs that unless each human has a seat, we don't go. Now, that doesn't mean that we can't leave kids at home or make different arrangements. What it means is that if we can't all have a seat, we don't all go. End of story. The details on how you choose to split that up if cost is a deciding factor is between you & your family.

We traveled with DD1 as a lap baby at 9 months old AFTER I knew better because I couldn't convince my husband that she really needed her own seat. It was a 3 hour trip & we never had a lap baby since. It was a very smooth trip, but having a lap child is so obviously unsafe AND unpleasant - they are all over the place! I never had to try to "convince" him again, it was a given after that experience.

As far as I'm concerned when you have kids you budget accordingly to provide for them in various ways & this is no different.

While I'm not suggesting that any parent would necessarily value airfare costs over the safety of their child, is this the "correct" order (in descending order from "most safe" to "least safe")?

  1. Child under 2 flying in own RF car seat
  2. Child under 2 flying in rented/loaned RF car seat
  3. Child under 2 flying in own car seat but FF due to clearance or fitment issues in tight coach rows
  4. Child under 2 flying in rented/loaned car seat but FF due to clearance or fitment issues in tight coach rows
  5. Child under 2 flying in parent's Baby Bjorn or similar harness (except during take-off or landing)
  6. Child under 2 flying in lap (otherwise completely unrestrained)

As far as your list goes, I will say this:
I would never rent a seat - again I did this once (same lap-baby trip :rolleyes:) & it was horrifying! It smelled of vomit, clearly hadn't been cleaned in years & had been on FIRE - some of the plastic was melted & singed. Never, ever again.

RF vs FF for an under 2 - I'm of the opinion that I wouldn't FF any under 2 year old for any reason. I would make sure that the travel seat I have is fairly small & lightweight & if the passengers in front of me have an issue, I'll buy them a drink or something. Not going to put my kid at risk for someone else's comfort or convenience. :shrug-shoulders:

Baby Bjorn style carrier - do you mean while moving around the cabin or while seated? Moving around the cabin, sure. Seated, no way. You're basically making your baby a personal airbag that's strapped to you. Plus, my kiddos hated being in the Bjorn if I was seated, so that wasn't going to work for me anyway.

Unrestrained - again, this is not only making your child a human projectile, but in the event that you are able to keep the baby in your lap, it becomes an airbag.


I know the options aren't great. I think the airlines do a disservice by making lap babies an option in the first place because it somehow gives the impression that it's safe. It's just not. We travel a good amount with our kids - several trans-Atlantic flights, 2-3 North America flights per year & we just make it a priority to budget for our lifestyle choices :twocents:
 

BMWBig6

Member
Thanks for the replies and insightful feedback everyone.

For those wondering why my list referenced "child under 2" it's because it seems that age is the upper limit where airlines allow the "babe in arms" policy and require a passenger (who is 2 years old at time of flight) to purchase their own seat on the plane. I was only referencing airline policy, and not other rules related to when one should RF or FF a child (I know to follow height/weight limits anyway, and not use age guidelines which don't take into account the child's physical dimensions).

I know most people here try to continue RF as long as possible, so when I was prioritizing my list, I was assigning a higher safety value to RF vs. FF (again, only in the context of children under the age of 2 who would fall under the babe-in-arms policy), but added the FF scenarios in case a convertible seat wouldn't physically fit properly RF in coach, forcing a parent to FF a child that would otherwise still be RF in the car.
 

SuzaBanana

New member
I know most people here try to continue RF as long as possible, so when I was prioritizing my list, I was assigning a higher safety value to RF vs. FF (again, only in the context of children under the age of 2 who would fall under the babe-in-arms policy), but added the FF scenarios in case a convertible seat wouldn't physically fit properly RF in coach, forcing a parent to FF a child that would otherwise still be RF in the car.

I just want to clarify something about RF vs FF on flights. I actually think it's MORE important to RF on a flight because the take-off & landing (which are the scenarios in which you are most likely to be in a survivable airline crash) speeds are much higher. Ever wonder why flight attendants or military sit RF? This article might help a little with an explanation: http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/Need-to-Know-Aft-Facing-Seats.html?c=y&page=1

As for "fitting" a RF seat on a flight, most smaller convertibles will fit just fine RF in coach. As a passenger your seat purchase does not give you the "right" to recline your seat - there are seats that don't recline for various reasons & in this case having a RF seat behind you is one of them. If you find it to be an issue that you are uncomfortable with, you can always book the seat in front of the RF seat for the other adult in your party. Just another option to minimize issues.
 

BMWBig6

Member
The FAA has (or should have) no profit motive in allowing under-2's to ride free as lap babies, and they have long maintained that it is, actually, motivated by safety:

They maintain that if infants and toddlers were required to have paid-for seats, more people would drive; driving is much less safe and more likely to result in death.

http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?contentKey=1966

Very interesting link, thanks for sharing. Flying unrestrained is (statistically) safer than restrained in a car. Who would have thunk it.

Does anybody know which airlines are known for discounting child airfare (as referenced in the press release):

Airlines currently allow children under the age of two to fly free of charge as "lap children" and many airlines offer half-price tickets so parents can be guaranteed that their child can travel in a safety seat.
 

Cath3114

New member
I'm probably of the minority, but when we flew in December, I FFed my 16m on the plane without hesitation. I'm non-confrontational and wanted to avoid any problem. Not everybody is like that, and everybody makes their own decisions though. I also did not purchase a seat for her. I was flying from New Orleans to Dallas Love Field and back, and made sure to choose the evening flights with fewer passengers. The flights were nowhere near full so I had no problem using her seat. I also made nice with the gate attendants, who let me preboard since I was traveling alone with DD, a suitcase, and her seat. This was on Southwest, who does family boarding between groups A and B.
 
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newyorkDOC

New member
The discount depends on the flight. I know that delta/Alitalia/klm (and I'd presume the entire sky team) offer 25% on transatlantic, but when I flew within Europe, Alitalia wouldn't even allow me to purchase a full priced ticket for DD who was under 2 at the time. I flew back on a flight operated by KLM and when they heard Alitalia wouldn't sell me a ticket for DD they issued one for free.

American offered me a $5 discount on a $500 transatlantic flight for DD who was 3 at the time. I don't even know why they bother!

I cannot install a TWE RF on a plane bc it requires bracing (not possible in bulkhead on a 777 as the distance is too wide) AND use of the tethers which is not permitted on a plane. I just FF it even though DD was only 18m at the time (she still rides RF in the car at 3y3m).
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
There are circumstances I would take a lap baby. If my father was in critical condition and I had one last chance to see him before he died, and I could only afford one ticket or something and had a nursing baby? I'd go. I'd try to buy a seat but if there was no way, even with credit (we only have one cc with a low limit) I'd do it anyway. I would, however, make sure I had a seat waiting on the other end so I didn't have to check it (I've yet to be on a flight with an open seat for a car seat in the last three years. :( ) But the circumstances would have to be THAT severe. (It's a hypothetical, my dad is a five minute drive from us, lol. But I was naming a circumstance in which I'd do it.)
 

finn

New member
American offered me a $5 discount on a $500 transatlantic flight for DD who was 3 at the time. I don't even know why they bother!

I kind of laugh at this, not the discount but the price. A $500 transatlantic flight is so cheap. For us, traveling from here, the price difference between having dd as a lap baby (which cost $300) or having her in her own seat is $1400 (her own seat would cost $1700, which is the child fare). The adults fares are $2300, a childs fare is 75% of that. So yeah we have flown with lap babies & been given the super handy & uncomfortable belt to go around the baby, except on Canadian flights, where we had to put it on after take off & take it off before landing :confused:
 

newyorkDOC

New member
finn said:
I kind of laugh at this, not the discount but the price. A $500 transatlantic flight is so cheap. For us, traveling from here, the price difference between having dd as a lap baby (which cost $300) or having her in her own seat is $1400 (her own seat would cost $1700, which is the child fare). The adults fares are $2300, a childs fare is 75% of that. So yeah we have flown with lap babies & been given the super handy & uncomfortable belt to go around the baby, except on Canadian flights, where we had to put it on after take off & take it off before landing :confused:

Oh that price is by no means average. It was a super sale. Normally they're $1000-1500 per person. I still won't fly with a lap baby. In fact, I was supposed to go to my cousin's wedding (he is like a brother to me) next month with just DD but we're not going bc the airfares are back up and I need to buy 4 tickets for Christmas since DC2 will be joining us in September. The only time I've seen infant lap belts are on intra-EU flights. I'm pretty sure there have been studies that indicate abdominal injuries from their use.
 

noahsmom24

New member
I personally don't agree with flying with "lap babies" and a girl I work with is actually planning to take a trip to florida with her 9month old in her lap instead of paying the extra for another ticket.
I don't see a problem with paying for that extra seat, but I think maybe it should be discounted to -50%...However, I understand that child is taking a seat that could have been paid full for. But, come on airlines, let's think about the child's safety over the extra $$.
 

LISmama810

Admin - CPS Technician
In my experience, many airlines DO discount the full-fare price...except almost no one pays full fare. Like, I last time I flew with an infant, I could have gotten 50% the full fare, but that would have been more expensive than the "Internet price" or whatever. It's all a big game anyway.
 

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