Can You Bring a Car Seat on a Plane? Unpacking Travel Tips and FAA Guidelines

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Can You Bring a Car Seat on a Plane? Unpacking Travel Tips and FAA GuidelinesThe long-awaited vacation is around the corner. As you meticulously plan every detail, a pivotal question pops up—can you bring a car seat on a plane? The uncertainty surrounding this question can leave even the most seasoned travelers perplexed.

Imagine finally settling into your cabin, only to realize that the tiny human entrusted to your care is not as settled. He’s wriggling on your lap, uncomfortable, and the in-flight peace you dreamt of suddenly seems like a far-fetched idea. But what if there was a solution?


  1. According to the FAA, children under two can fly for free on a parent’s lap, but it’s safer for them to have their own seat with an FAA-approved car seat.
  2. A statement by the NTSB Chairman strongly recommends using car seats for children on planes.
  3. 96% of parents in an FAA survey found using a car seat on a plane beneficial for their child’s safety and security.

Also check out: Airplane window or aisle debate

Airborne Safety: Child Edition

FAA guidelines underline that children under the age of two can fly for free, snugly secured on their parent’s lap. However, they recommend purchasing an extra seat for your little one and strapping them into an FAA-approved car seat for the best safety. (Source: FAA)

This recommendation has weight. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah Hersman echoed this sentiment, saying, “The safest place for a child on an airplane is in a car seat, not on a parent’s lap.”

Parents Give a Thumbs-Up!

A whopping 96% of parents in an FAA survey found that bringing a car seat on a plane not only kept their children safe and secure but also helped maintain tranquility during the flight. (Source: FAA Survey) Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Navigating the World of Car Seats on Planes

Bringing a car seat on a plane is not just about lugging it through security checks and cabin aisles. There are important factors to consider such as the size, installation, and the airline’s specific guidelines.

So, ensure your car seat is FAA-approved. Most American car seats are, but it never hurts to double-check. You can find this information in your car seat manual or by searching the model number online.

Kevin’s Insider Tip: Avoid the Crowd!

Car seats can make navigating through crowded airport terminals challenging. To avoid this, Kevin Erickson suggests scheduling flights during off-peak hours. This way, you’ll face less crowd, making your journey more comfortable.

Travel with Kiddos: A Joyride or a Juggle?Travel with Kiddos: A Joyride or a Juggle?

Traveling with children can feel like juggling, but with the right gear and strategies, it can become a joyride. The journey starts with packing, and if there’s a toddler involved, a car seat tops the list. But how feasible is it to bring a car seat on a plane?

FAA guidelines and a hefty majority of parents seem to agree on this: not only is it feasible, but it also enhances the child’s safety. Besides, a familiar car seat could be the difference between a peaceful trip and an in-flight meltdown.

Car Seat Vs. In-flight Infant Restraint Systems

Some airlines do provide in-flight infant restraint systems. While these devices meet the regulatory safety standards, Kevin Erickson states that they may not offer the same level of protection or comfort as a familiar car seat.

A car seat is designed for your child’s size, providing comfort and superior protection against turbulence. Most importantly, your child is familiar with it, reducing potential stress or discomfort.

The Sweet Spot for Successful Travel: Planning

So, you’ve decided to take a car seat on your next flight. Great! But your homework doesn’t end here. Planning is key when navigating airports and flights with a car seat.

Check in advance with your airline about their specific policies on car seats. Additionally, consider your travel times. Off-peak hours, as Kevin suggests, may be ideal for families traveling with car seats. They offer lesser crowds and a smoother boarding process.


1. Are all car seats FAA-approved?

Not all car seats are FAA-approved. It’s crucial to check your car seat’s manual or look it up online using the model number.

2. Can I check in the car seat instead of carrying it onto the plane?

Yes, most airlines allow you to check in your car seat. However, it’s safer to use it in the cabin as checked-in luggage can sometimes get damaged or lost.

3. What if my car seat doesn’t fit in the airplane seat?

In such a case, you may need to check in the car seat and use an airline-provided restraint during the flight.

4. Do I need to buy an extra ticket for using a car seat?

Yes, if you plan to use a car seat, you’ll need to purchase a separate seat for your child.

5. Are there alternatives to car seats for in-flight child safety?

Yes, alternatives include the CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System) harness, which is approved by the FAA for use during flights for children weighing 22-44 lbs.

6. How can I ensure the car seat is installed correctly on the plane?

Car seats should be installed on planes the same way they are in cars. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to ask a flight attendant.

7. Do airlines offer discounts for the purchase of an extra seat for a child?

Some airlines do offer discounts for children under two. It’s best to check with your specific airline.

8. How should I pack my car seat for travel?

You can use padded car seat travel bags available in the market. They not only protect your car seat from damage but also allow for easier transportation through the airport.

9. Are there specific airline seats better for installing a car seat?

Window seats are often recommended for installing car seats as they do not block the exit for other passengers.

10. Can I use a booster seat on a plane?

Booster seats are not approved for use during takeoff, landing, and turbulence as they require a shoulder belt, which airplane seats do not have.

Conclusion: Making Skies Friendly for Tiny Passengers

Whether you can bring a car seat on a plane is no longer the question. The question is, how can you make your journey smoother with it? The answer lies in proper planning, adherence to FAA guidelines, and tips from experienced travelers like Kevin Erickson.

Remember, the goal isn’t just about getting from Point A to Point B. It’s about ensuring your child’s comfort and safety while doing so.

Can you bring a car seat on a plane? Definitely! And, it’s strongly recommended for the safety and comfort of your child. Just remember to follow the guidelines provided by the FAA and your airline.

You should also check out: Can I take a folding chair on a plane?


  1. Federal Aviation Administration. (2022). “Child Safety on Airplanes.” 
  2. National Transportation Safety Board. (2022). “Child Safety Recommendations.”
  3. CARES. (2022). “Child Aviation Restraint System.”

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