Which seats on plane: 1 yo and 3.5 yo

cwesis

New member
DH and I are flying with our 3.5 yo DD1 (approx 40", 32 lbs) and 1 yo (turns 1 tomorrow!) DD2 (approx 30.5", 19.5 lbs) from Charlotte to Colorado on United (one standard flight, one short puddle jumper flight) in two weeks. DD2 does not have a ticket, unfortunately, but I am willing to carry her car seat and hope they have a seat (we'll be traveling on a Tuesday). Here are our options for car seats:

DD1's FR85
Boulevard70
Boulevard Classic
Diplomat Classic (I'm not sure, but the knob adjustment might be broken)
DD2's Graco MR65
DD2's Graco Snugride22 (however, her head is right now at 1" below the shell, if I am understanding what is meant by that- not the absolute top, but where the top forms a sort of ridge under the padding? She's short torso'ed despite being very tall)

I have a few questions. Last time I flew with DD1 and the Diplomat, I remember it being difficult to install with a belt FF bc the buckle fell at an inconvenient spot for tightening, and I ended up having to remove the seat cushion of the plane's seat to get it off. I think using a belt extender helped a little bit the next flight, but it was still a bit of an issue. Any tips for this? Is one of our car seats better for traveling than another for this issue?

If I don't bring DD1's Snugride and thus use a convertible, will it install RF in the ridiculously small space they give on planes now? I haven't traveled United in a long time, but US Airways has some flights where I couldn't install the SR in a standard (non-puddle-jumper) flight except at the bulkhead. Any tips for RF installation of a convertible? I'd hate to FF DD2 even if she is 20 lbs by August. She's so little and has a long, thin neck.

If I am not able to get DD2 a seat, is there any safety advantage to wearing her in a carrier (Ergo) vs. holding her in my lap? I would prefer to wear her because she is more comfortable and likely to sleep, but the last time I flew, they told me I had to hold her rather than wear her.

What about the puddle jumper flight? I kinda doubt I'll get a seat for DD2 on that flight because it is so small, but you never know. The planes are so small, how well do car seats fit on those anyway?

I think I had more questions but I can't think of them right now. :p Thank you all for being such a good resource for questions like these.

Adele
 

rachelandtyke

Well-known member
I"ve installed the Blvd Classic both ff and rf on planes with no issues. You definitely want the seat belt extender for ff.

Is there any shell above her head in the Snugride 22? I am thinking the ridge is the top of the shell, in which case she has outgrown it. The cover doesn't count when checking for if a seat is outgrown or not.

She is safer ff (but you've got seats that should fit rf) than in your lap. It is not safe for her to be in a carrier during take off and landing (you could crush her if there is an emergency abortion at take off or an emergency landing - she'd be your airbag), but she could ride in it for the cruising portion of the flight.

Are you renting a car or is someone picking you up? Do you have a plan if they don't let you have the seat on the plane (it seems less and less common these days)? In one respect, it would be better for you to plan on her being a lap baby and (if someone is picking you up), have them pick up a cheap scenera for her to use at the destination so you don't risk the seat being lost or damaged in transit (even gate checked seats aren't safe).
 

Brigala

Well-known member
I don't have answers to all your questions as I haven't flown with a lot of seats, but I do have a few ideas.
If I don't bring DD1's Snugride and thus use a convertible, will it install RF in the ridiculously small space they give on planes now? I haven't traveled United in a long time, but US Airways has some flights where I couldn't install the SR in a standard (non-puddle-jumper) flight except at the bulkhead. Any tips for RF installation of a convertible? I'd hate to FF DD2 even if she is 20 lbs by August. She's so little and has a long, thin neck.
If your daughter hasn't grown any more by the time you leave, I would personally feel pretty safe taking her in the infant seat. It sounds like she still fits in it. But you're cutting it close if she takes a growth spurt. The only car seat I've ever flown with was an infant seat, and I found it to be very easy on the plane. Without the base, the lap belt buckles right over the baby's lap so you won't have to deal with belt path incompatibilities. You will, however, have to monitor your baby and keep her from unbuckling the seat... that was a constant source of amusement for my daughter on the flight to and from Hawaii. :rolleyes:

It would be acceptable for you to put her forward facing on the plane if you can't get her convertible to rear-face. You can (and should) still use the seat rear-facing in the car when you get to your destination. Airplanes are much safer than cars in general. In the event of a survivable crash, there is a lot more ride-down in a plane than in a car. Laws of physics still apply, and yes she would still be safer rear-facing, but the application of the physics are different in a plane when compared to a car. It's a lot more like being on a bus or a train, only moreso... it takes a lot longer to stop a plane than a car. Remember, the FAA still feels lap belts only are safe on planes (for older children and adults) but they're NOT considered safe by NHTSA in cars. You just don't need as much restraint in a plane as you do in a car. But the main thing you want the car seat for is in the event of turbulence anyway. For turbulence, the safety difference between forward facing and rear facing isn't that big of a deal. The main point is to keep your baby in the seat and not flying around the cabin or knocking her head on the ceiling. A forward-facing convertible will do that job just fine.

If I am not able to get DD2 a seat, is there any safety advantage to wearing her in a carrier (Ergo) vs. holding her in my lap? I would prefer to wear her because she is more comfortable and likely to sleep, but the last time I flew, they told me I had to hold her rather than wear her.
The FAA requires you to hold a lap infant on your lap, NOT wear her, during takeoff and landing (and perhaps when the fasten seatbelt light is lit, but I'm not sure about that). I took a simple sling on the plane to assist in keeping the baby undistracted while we were nursing. One of our inter-island flights was full and I had to hold her the entire time (we didn't buy seats for her either, but she was able to use her car seat on most of the trip anyway). While we were in the air, I put her in the sling to nurse, and she fell asleep. Nobody bugged me about taking her out of the sling during landing, and I was able to get off the plane with her still dozing.

The FAA says wearing a baby is less safe than holding the baby. But in Europe they actually have wearable restraints that they say are safer than holding the child without a restraint. So basically there is no consensus on that answer. If the flight attendants are doing their job correctly, you won't be allowed to wear the baby during take off or landing, and it's up to you whether you wear the baby while you're at cruising altitude.

What about the puddle jumper flight? I kinda doubt I'll get a seat for DD2 on that flight because it is so small, but you never know. The planes are so small, how well do car seats fit on those anyway?
An infant seat should fit just fine. A smaller convertible should also fit, at least if it's installed forward facing. You will probably have to keep the arm rests up, though.

I hope some other people have more answers for some of your other questions. :)
 

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