In the past 24 hours, I have had three friends ask me about car seats on airplanes. Do you bring them? Do you check them? Do you bring a bag? What bag do you use? After spending the last 10 years traveling with multiple toddlers monthly (I now have a newborn and three toddlers), I have a system that I prefer after trying multiple methods of traveling with baby gear. Here are my tips....
Typically, for same coast travel, I check my larger car seats in a JL Childress Ultimate Padded Car Seat Bag ($39.99) car seat bag at the CURB. These bags fly free and I can normally pack the car seat and other things in it as well, like an infant base, shoes or bags of diapers. My infant seat for my newborn is part of my travel system so I’ll stroller though security in that and check that at the gate in the JL Childress Car Seat bag ($13) available at Amazon. (I just stuff the red bag under the stroller until I get to the gate.) Be warned that airlines have lost my car seats, more from gate check oddly, but will give you loaners if that happens.
PARENTING PRO FLYING TIP:
If you haven’t purchased a ticket for kids under two years old, ALWAYS ask if your flight is full and if there is an empty seat. If there are open seats, you can put your infant carrier or car seat in the open seat and then choose to hold your child or put them in their seat. Also, I usually put my almost two year old in a seat of her own and strap her into the airplane seat belt with an ipad and some toys. If you have an overly active toddler, bring your car seat and strap him or her in. For longer flights, I always try to put the car seat in an open seat so that I can have options. You can generally call ahead to see how many open seats are available. Many times there are 50+ seats available where you can plan in advance to bring the seat on board. Other times, I just quickly check at the curbside check in.
For more tips on flying with children, including my favorite airlines for kids, read "Surviving Air Travel with Children."
For more flying tips, read my post Surviving Air Travel with Children.