When can a child sit in a plane without a carseat?

U

Unregistered

Guest
Hi,

We are taking a trip in 2 weeks to my MILs. We have a 2 hour flight to her house and to make life easier, we are planning on her picking up a carseat for DS#1 and having it installed. DS#1 is 2 1/2 yrs old 38 lbs and 38 in tall- I have been thinking of buying a CARES harness for him.

We probablly won't make it down to MILs again for a year so he will outgrow it before the next use, but DS#2 is 20 lbs (maybe 22 in) so he could use it for our next few trips. My question then would be would we need to take a carseat for DS # 1 or would it be safe for him to travel with just a lap belt?

I am trying to decide what carseat to have MIL pick up. I am leaning towards a Cosco Scenera even though it will only fit DS#1 this trip. Then DS#2 might be able to RF in it next trip.

Thank you for your help!
 

jeno

Senior Community Member
We allowed my son to ride in the lapbelt alone for the first time at Thanksgiving. He was 3.5yrs old, 42lbs, 42". I made that decision knowing that he understood that he would be req'd to remain buckled for the entire trip. It was also a short one like yours. About 1hr 45 mins from boarding to deboarding time.

We have flown a lot so this was a big deal for him to not be in the carseat. He handled it really well and I would do it again. We used the RSTV at our destination.
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
I just reread what I wrote and wanted to clarify. I will have DS#1 in Cares or a carseat for this trip. I was just wondering if once he turns 3 and is above 40 lbs (I have a big boy) what I will need to do. It makes no sense to have MIL get a FF seat if we will need to bring a seat for DS#1 on our next trip. That is why I am buying everything with DS#2 in mind- if that makes sense.
 

mish

New member
For me, they would be old enough once they are no longer harnessed in a car seat. My youngest is 6, but still harnessed. I would probably let him ride without a car seat.
 

rachelandtyke

Well-known member
I have been letting my DD ride in just the seatbelt on the planes lately (I have extra seats at my parents' house). I started letting her when she was about 4, 33 lbs and 39 inches. I think one thing to consider is maturity. My DD is good about sitting relatively still while on the plane and not messing with her belt. If she were constantly changing position so the belt fit differently or messing around with it, I would probably reconsider.
 

murphydog77

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
It depends on what restraint you have at your destination, really. Both my kids were OK in airplane seat belts at around 40 lbs., but they were wildly different ages when they hit that weight. My ds was about 3.5 and used a booster seat at the destination (it was a quick one day trip to visit a dr.). My dd was about 5.5 and used the Go Hybrid booster as a harnessed seat at our destination.

For a 3.5 yr old, I'd look for a harnessed option at the destination to use-like a Go or a RideSafer Travel Vest--if you don't want to lug a seat through the airport for him.
 
U

Unregistered

Guest
Thank you so much!!!

This makes me feel so much better. Part of my panic is DS#1 only has an inch to go on the Scenera I tested and I may have to buy a different seat. Since MILs car is narrow, I am trying to buy a narrow cheap seat- but it is good to know that in the future I may be able to have both boys seats on the other end. I was thinking we would be taking a FFing seat with us when he outgrew the CARES.

Thanks again!!!
 

lovemyfamily

New member
Being that I am a former flight attendant and saw lots of videos etc. during my training, I felt comfortable with my boys riding in the airplane seatbelt only once they turned 4. I felt at that point they were mature enough to sit properly and understand that they were to stay in their belt, unless they had to use the bathroom, the ENTIRE flight. Good luck on your decision.
 

Mommy2Marcus

New member
Re: Thank you so much!!!

This makes me feel so much better. Part of my panic is DS#1 only has an inch to go on the Scenera I tested and I may have to buy a different seat. Since MILs car is narrow, I am trying to buy a narrow cheap seat- but it is good to know that in the future I may be able to have both boys seats on the other end. I was thinking we would be taking a FFing seat with us when he outgrew the CARES.

Thanks again!!!
I would look into the Meastro. It has tall top slots, 50lb harness weight limit, is pretty narrow & lightweight. It runs about $80. It is also said to be pretty easy to install. It will last you alot longer than a Scenera would at his age.
 

thepeach80

Senior Community Member
Re: Thank you so much!!!

Evan flew this last time w/ no seat, he's almost 5.5yo and 39#. Our last plane had crazy long seatbelts though and his seatbelt was almost tightened as tight as it would go. There were 2 sets of twins on board (same family!) who were 2.5 and 3.5yo and tiny and I'm wondering how they were secured tightly w/out seats.
 

Athena

New member
I'm confused. This will be my first time flying with kids so I am just learning about this, but I just assumed DD1 (will be just 4 yo) would have to be in a car seat on the plane (to be safely secured). Is that not true? I don't understand how a lap belt is safe at that age. I'm very interested to learn more.

Of course in our case, we need a seat at the other end of the trip. I have been offered a borrowed seat, but then I'd have to ask all sorts of questions about the seat and I do not feel comfortable.
 

aeormsby

New member
I'm confused. This will be my first time flying with kids so I am just learning about this, but I just assumed DD1 (will be just 4 yo) would have to be in a car seat on the plane (to be safely secured). Is that not true? I don't understand how a lap belt is safe at that age. I'm very interested to learn more.

Of course in our case, we need a seat at the other end of the trip. I have been offered a borrowed seat, but then I'd have to ask all sorts of questions about the seat and I do not feel comfortable.
Basically plane safety is different from car safety so the lap belt is holding you in for turbulance, not a head on accident. So it's generally acceptable at a younger age. I would think a child is still safER in a carseat (and more comfortable), especially if you need one at your destination anyway. I would definitely deal with taking a seat if I was unsure about a loaner at the other end. And my DD is still using a Cares harness at age 4 and will for a while still as she's small and DS still fits in the Uptown.
 

Athena

New member
Basically plane safety is different from car safety so the lap belt is holding you in for turbulance, not a head on accident.
I had thought they were also for things like runway accidents, in which there are survivors. But that makes sense that it is a different situation with different types of forces. Thanks for the info.
 

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