Tips & Advice

Smooth Skies Ahead: A Guide to Flying with Children 

Child looking out airport window

With just a bit of preparation, flying with your children can be a journey filled with joy and memorable moments. Our expert, Sarah Tilton, is here to provide tips and guidance on car seats and traveling to help make your experience as smooth as possible and help ensure a safe and comfortable adventure for your family. From thoughtful planning to car seat installation on the plane, let's explore how to make air travel a little easier for you and your children.

Before You Fly: Securing Their Safety in the Skies

- For the Littlest Travelers (Up to 40 Pounds): The FAA advises the use of a harnessed car seat or child safety restraint system for the safest in-flight experience. Although lap seating is permitted for children under two, securing them in a car seat on an airplane seat is recommended for safety during all phases of flight.

- For Children Over 40 Pounds: Children in this weight bracket should occupy their own seats. If you’re planning to bring your child’s car seat with you to your destination, installing the car seat on the plane seat can help you ensure that it’s safe and ready upon arrival.

- Airline Policies and Car Seat Certification: Car seat policies can vary by airline. Contact your airline for specific requirements and fees for using car seats on the plane. For flights within the U.S., ensure that your car seat is dual-certified for both vehicle and aircraft use. Britax offers a range of harnessed travel car seats that meet these standards.

- A Perfect Fit: Aircraft seats can be narrower, so selecting a car seat that fits snugly is crucial. Britax offers several slim and portable car seat models designed with air travel in mind, helping you achieve a hassle-free installation.

Ticket Tips: Planning for Peace of Mind

- Flight Selection: When you’re planning on flying with children, try to find flights outside of peak hours. Airlines might offer discounts on children's tickets during these times.

- Seating Arrangements: Secure seat assignments at the time of booking to ensure that your family stays together. If online options are limited, a call to the airline can usually solve seating dilemmas.

- Car Seat Placement: When flying with a car seat, try to book a window seat for a straightforward car seat installation that won't disrupt the movement of fellow passengers.

Pre-Flight Preparations: Setting the Stage

- Car Seat and Stroller Readiness: Familiarize yourself with FAA-approved car seats and consider a travel system that pairs your car seat with a stroller for seamless transitions. If you’re planning to use a convertible or all-in-one car seat in-flight, you may want to consider transporting it through the airport on the Britax Car Seat Travel Cart.

- Home Practice: If possible, practice installing your car seat in a tight, chair-like space to mimic airplane conditions. This can help ease installation stress on travel day.

- Dressing for Success: Choose outfits for your child that are free of metallic accessories to help simplify security checks. Explain the screening process to your child ahead of time to help ease any anxieties.

- Pack for Engagement: Bring along a selection of snacks, books, and toys to help keep your child content and entertained in the air.

Airport Navigation: A Smooth Takeoff

- Luggage and Security: Review carry-on guidelines, especially for essentials like breast milk or formula. Car seats will undergo security screening, so be prepared to momentarily remove your child from the seat.

- Gate Check and Early Boarding: Utilize gate check for your car seat if your child doesn't have their own seat, and consider protecting your car seat in the Britax Car Seat Travel Bag accessory. Many airlines offer early boarding for families, allowing extra time for car seat installation and settling in.

In-Flight Strategies: Ensuring Comfort and Safety

- Car Seat Installation: Airplane car seat installation might differ slightly from vehicle setup. Follow your car seat's instructions closely, mirroring its vehicle orientation.

- Managing Ear Pressure: Encourage swallowing through eating, drinking, or pacifier use to help alleviate ear pressure during ascent and descent.

- Comfort for Expecting Moms: Pregnant passengers can benefit from compression socks and leg stretches to prevent swelling during the flight.

If your child meets the criteria for car seat use on an airplane, you can provide them with an extra layer of protection by securing them in their car seat during the flight. And with our expert tips, flying with children can transform from a nerve-wracking task into an enjoyable part of your family's journey. By following airline and car seat manufacturer guidelines, you'll be set for a seamless and secure experience. Here's to safe and happy travels.

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