Why would you rear face on a plane?

Jazlynn's Mommy

New member
I'm just curious as to why people put their children rear facing on a plane. Is it really safer than forward facing? I would think that if the plane was going to crash, rear facing isn't really going to matter. I've been wondering this for some time now. I didn't even think kids needs to be in car seats on a plane.
 

LISmama810

Admin - CPS Technician
In a crash it won't matter. In a rough landing or aborted takeoff, the direction of travel is the same as in a car, and could make a difference.

ETA: In a "falling out of mid-air crash" it won't matter. Runway collision, landing without landing gear, overshooting a runway, etc, it could.

Plus it keeps kids from kicking the seat in front of them. :p
 

wendytthomas

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
That depends, how old is the child? I wouldn't freak about it as much for a child over 18 months or so, not like I would in the car, but a nine month old, absolutely. A child in a big Britax, yes, to the limits (easier to install and uninstall that way).

A six mile vertical drop and a sudden stop usually falls in the unsurvivable category, no matter what you're restrained with. However, a 150 mph runway emergency is just like a car crash, just at five times the crash test speeds. You better believe I wouldn't hold my baby on my lap at 150 mph going down the road. And you better believe she'll be rear facing for a good long while.

Wendy
 

Maedze

New member
Plane crashes are completely survivable, and crash forces are the same. Most crashes occur on the runway. Rear facing is safer for the same reason it's safer in a car...the shell of the seat absorbs the brunt of the energy of the crash, the spine is kept in line and the head and neck are not whipped violently forward.

For a two plus year old it is perhaps not as pressing an issue because flights are overall very safe, but you shouldn't ever misuse a child restraint and put a baby under the minimum age and weight requirement for forward facing in the forward facing position.
 

littleangelfire

New member
I'm just curious as to why people put their children rear facing on a plane. Is it really safer than forward facing? I would think that if the plane was going to crash, rear facing isn't really going to matter. I've been wondering this for some time now. I didn't even think kids needs to be in car seats on a plane.
Its really not the crash you're protecting from - there's not much protection for anybody from that. Luckily, that's hugely rare. What you are protecting from ISN'T all that rare: turbulence. takeoff issues, landing issues. And then the other issues: if a baby falls asleep on a plane in a forward facing seat, they're going to have a lolling head which could cut off their airway or at the very least be uncomfortable.

If you think babies/toddlers don't need their own seat and car seat on the plane consider how flight attendants refer to lap babies: MISSILES. B/c that's what happens when turbulence happens. They'll give headcount as 168 pax , 3 missiles, referring to passengers and lap babies. Here's a good ilnk:
http://flyingwithchildren.blogspot.com/
 

y_p_w

New member
Plane crashes are completely survivable, and crash forces are the same. Most crashes occur on the runway. Rear facing is safer for the same reason it's safer in a car...the shell of the seat absorbs the brunt of the energy of the crash, the spine is kept in line and the head and neck are not whipped violently forward.

For a two plus year old it is perhaps not as pressing an issue because flights are overall very safe, but you shouldn't ever misuse a child restraint and put a baby under the minimum age and weight requirement for forward facing in the forward facing position.
Rear facing is actually safer for adults, provided the seat is high enough to protect the head. The basic problem is that sometimes seats aren't high enough and for some people it can exacerbate motion sickness. I sometimes ride local public transportation, which includes train cars that go in both directions such that in either direction they have side facing seats and an equal number of front/rear facing seats. They also have some seat groupings that directly face each other. I'm not sure in those cases that rear facing is that much better or worse since the seats are pretty low and any adult over 5'10" is going to have the neck above the top of the seat.

I've actually flown on a few planes that had rear-facing seats - notably Southwest. I rather liked facing backwards and they were grouped with forward facing seats such that there was extra legroom if you could avoid bumping into other passengers' legs. I'm curious how that might work out if I had to take a car seat on a plane. I just got a 35 lb rear-facing seat, and I'm not sure how that would work out if I had to place it in a plane seat that was already rear-facing.
 

Maedze

New member
Rear facing is actually safer for adults, provided the seat is high enough to protect the head. The basic problem is that sometimes seats aren't high enough and for some people it can exacerbate motion sickness. I sometimes ride local public transportation, which includes train cars that go in both directions such that in either direction they have side facing seats and an equal number of front/rear facing seats. They also have some seat groupings that directly face each other. I'm not sure in those cases that rear facing is that much better or worse since the seats are pretty low and any adult over 5'10" is going to have the neck above the top of the seat.

I've actually flown on a few planes that had rear-facing seats - notably Southwest. I rather liked facing backwards and they were grouped with forward facing seats such that there was extra legroom if you could avoid bumping into other passengers' legs. I'm curious how that might work out if I had to take a car seat on a plane. I just got a 35 lb rear-facing seat, and I'm not sure how that would work out if I had to place it in a plane seat that was already rear-facing.
Child restraints must be placed on a forward facing seat, so if you have a child restraint, you would not be able to sit in a rear facing seat.
 

vonfirmath

New member
Other benefits of rear-facing on the plane:

1. Preventing the child from kicking the seat in front of them

2. Keeping toys contained within the child's lap instead of ending up on the floor

3. Not having to change the straps around to make it FFing for the plane, then change again to make it RFing for cars.
 

Jazlynn's Mommy

New member
Thanks everyone! I have never taken my DD on a plane, i haven't been on one since i was 7 lol. So i don't remember all the other things that could happen, besides a crash. Thanks for explaining. I'm sure i would have taken a car seat for my DD, had we ever flown, but at least now i know why it's safer!
 

yetanotherjen

CPST Instructor
Another thing I have though of is that it would be easier for a child to fall asleep in a nice reclined position of a rear facing car seat rather than sitting upright while forward facing (though if they are tired kids seem to fall asleep anywhere!) I want a cco for that reason, but we are not going anywhere :(
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
The other thing is that I just plain don't allow my kids to ride FF even in emergency situations until they are 2. So until 2, they are RF on the plane. After 2, RF if they still fit easily, if it's a problem on the plane I don't stress FF (because while there would still be the benefit if we had a hard stop-- it's so unlikely that I choose not to stress over it after age 2.)
 

Smillow

New member
I flew with my DS when he was 10 months old (and close to 25#) in his snugride32 - I was actually able to nurse him during the flight by leaning forward & to the side (I have a long torso). Wouldn't have been able to do that forward facing!
 

hipmaman

Moderator - CPST Instructor
You've gotten the reasons listed and I whole heartedly agree with every single one of them. But really, this annoyed me greatly last week when we were flying btween Toronto and Kauai on 6 flights.

Head slump!


I knew a sling would be good for multiple purposes :) Don't worry it was not tight to choke her. Odd camera angle but the sling held her head up while ff
 

ketchupqueen

CPST and ketchup snob
Staff member
I flew with my DS when he was 10 months old (and close to 25#) in his snugride32 - I was actually able to nurse him during the flight by leaning forward & to the side (I have a long torso). Wouldn't have been able to do that forward facing!
I was able to do that with my 1 1/2 year old in a Complete Air. :whistle: The safest thing I could do? Probably not. But in case of sudden unexpected turbulence we were both buckled in, and then she fell asleep. ;)
 

leighi123

New member
I RF when possible, to keep me from having to remind ds not to kick the seat in fromt of him (and have to say it 300 times). Also, he sleeps better.

If we fly n economy plus, he rides RF, if we fly in the way back, he usually hs to sit FF b/c its too upright RF.

From a safety standpoint, well... I'm sure some of you know how I feel about the need for restraints (of any kind) on planes.
 

Athena

New member
A child in a big Britax, yes, to the limits (easier to install and uninstall that way).
Not sure if anyone is still using this thread, but I was reading back to get more ideas and noticed this. I was planning to FF DD2 in our MA on the plane because I thought that would be easier. Is RF it really easier? What about the passenger ahead who cannot recline their seat? How mad do they get?
 

TechnoGranola

Forum Ambassador
What about the passenger ahead who cannot recline their seat? How mad do they get?
DD FFed on the plane and I actually had to ask the passenger in front to let me know if he was planning on reclining his seat since DD's legs had the potential to be crushed by his seat, due to how she was sitting higher up and further forward than a person sitting directly in the seat. The guy grumbled when I asked, then reclined his seat later without letting me know and we got lucky as DD had her legs crossed in her seat, but I jumped nonetheless as I had visions of her foot getting twisted or broken. He saw me jump and lean towards her (he was looking to his left so could look between the seats) and he put his seat back up and didn't recline for the rest of the trip.

So, my point is, they might not be able to recline if the child is FF either.
 
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wendytthomas

Admin - CPST Instructor
Staff member
Not sure if anyone is still using this thread, but I was reading back to get more ideas and noticed this. I was planning to FF DD2 in our MA on the plane because I thought that would be easier. Is RF it really easier? What about the passenger ahead who cannot recline their seat? How mad do they get?
Rear facing really is easier. Forward facing you need a seatbelt extender so the buckle doesn't get caught behind the seat. Myself and many others have had pilots or maintenance crews on the plane trying to get the seat uninstalled at the other end. Rear facing you just pop the buckle through the belt path holes on the cover and buckle it up right behind the crotch strap.

As for the person who can't recline, they wouldn't be able to recline with the last row in the cabin, or in front of an exit row. A ticket does not guarantee them a reclining seat.

Wendy
 

vonfirmath

New member
Not sure if anyone is still using this thread, but I was reading back to get more ideas and noticed this. I was planning to FF DD2 in our MA on the plane because I thought that would be easier. Is RF it really easier? What about the passenger ahead who cannot recline their seat? How mad do they get?
They get madder when the FFing child behind them kicks the seat nearly the entire flight (despite his mom trying to stop him) than for the mild inconvenience of being able to recline the seat.
 

Athena

New member
Thanks all 3 of you for your responses. This has convinced me rear facing is the way to go!

My only reservation is will she and the seat fit? Has anyone had any trouble fitting a MA rear facing in an economy seat of a jet on a domestic US flight? Or fitting a tall 2 yo RF who will likely be about 35 or 35.5" tall? Although she's fine in the car, it seems like the backseat of the car has more of an angle to it allowing her more leg room.

ETA - And I just remembered they might give me a hard time about RF the seat, based on what I've read. So I should bring something proving I have the right to do so, right? And politely explain that it actually installs better that way?
 

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