A Guide to Selecting the Best Lightweight Convertible Car Seat for Air Travel
Taking a toddler on an airplane requires a lot of planning. You have to make sure you can get your child through the airport, and then keep them comfortable for the plane ride. A big decision you’ll have to make is how to seat your toddler. Will they ride on your lap, or sit in a car seat? Are they old enough to sit in their own seat? Many parents choose to place their child in a car seat for their child’s safety and comfort. Read more to learn about car seats on airplanes and how to select the right car seat for air travel.
Why Use a Car Seat for Air Travel?
- 1 Why Use a Car Seat for Air Travel?
- 2 Convertible Car Seats
- 3 What To Consider in a Car Seat for Air Travel
- 4 Recommended Convertible Car Seats for Airplane Travel
- 5 Conclusion
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not require any child to be in a car seat on an airplane. Children under two years old are not allowed to sit in a seat without a car seat, but they are permitted to sit on their parents’ laps during the flight. Children over two years old must have their own seat, but they are not required to have a car seat. The FAA recommends you secure any child under 40 pounds in their car seat. For children over 22 pounds, they alternately recommend using an approved five-point harness to restrain your child in the airplane seat. You can read more about these here.
While it may be tempting to forego a ticket for your child and seat them on your lap, there are multiple reasons why you may want to use your car seat. First, it is safer for a child to be in their car seat than in your lap. During takeoff and landing, all passengers must have their seatbelts fastened and all items must be stowed away. This provides safety in case there are sudden stops or problems – your child needs the same security. During turbulence or sudden stops, you may not be able to hold onto your child or protect them from gravitational forces. Your child’s car seat keeps them securely in their seat, not falling out of your arms or taking on any sudden impacts.
Second, children are often more comfortable traveling in their car seat. It gives them their own space and is a familiar spot to them. They are used to traveling in it in your car, so they already associate it with traveling.
Third, children strapped into their car seats won’t be able to get away from you. You don’t have to worry about your child trying to crawl around the aisles or wiggling free. This leaves you with your hands free.
Convertible Car Seats
Most toddlers sit in convertible car seats. These seats can be placed rear-facing or forward-facing, and hold children using a five-point harness. Convertible car seats usually hold rear-facing children up to at least 40 pounds and forward-facing children up to at least 65 pounds. Some of these seats include panels that give your child more leg room so they can comfortably sit rear-facing for longer. On an airplane, all car seats must sit facing forward, even if your child rear-faces in your vehicle.
What To Consider in a Car Seat for Air Travel
When shopping for a convertible car seat to take on an airplane, you should consider the following features.
Approval for Travel
Not all car seats are FAA approved. Your car seat must be FAA approved, though, for your child to sit in it on an airplane. So, you should check to see if your car seat has FAA approval.
Carrying It Around
The heavier your car seat is, the harder it will be for you to lug it through the airport and on and off the plane. That’s why it’s important to find a car seat that’s lightweight and easy to lift. Some car seats even fold flat, making them more convenient to walk around with.
Airplane seats are notoriously narrow. Therefore, you don’t want to bring a bulky car seat with you. In order to fit in the airplane seat, you should look for a car seat that’s no more than 18 inches wide.
The following list includes some of the best convertible car seats for airplane travel.
Recommended Convertible Car Seats for Airplane Travel
Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat
The Cosco Scenera NEXT is one of the most affordable FAA approved car seats on the market. The Scenera Next holds a rear-facing or forward-facing child up to 40 pounds. It is lightweight at 11 pounds and narrow at 17 inches wide. Its compact design is made to help you get through airport security quickly and easily. Most vehicles can fit three of these seats across their back seat.
This car seat’s harness features five heights and three buckle locations, so you can ensure your child has the best fit. The car seat pad is machine washable and easy to wipe down or clean so you don’t have to worry about your child making a mess in the seat. The Scenera NEXT also comes with a dishwasher-safe cup holder, perfect for storing your toddler’s drinks and snacks. This seat is popular among parents because of its low cost and ease of travel. With weight limits, though, this seat will likely have to be replaced by the time your child is preschool aged.
Combi Coccoro Convertible Car Seat
The Combi Coccoro convertible car seat is an affordable, compact car seat. This FAA approved seat accommodates rear-facing children up to 33 pounds and forward-facing children up to 40 pounds in a five-point harness. The Combi Coccoro is only 15.5 inches wide and is lightweight at 14.3 pounds. Its narrow design is created to fit three across in almost any vehicle, even compact cars. With the weight limits, this car seat is only suitable for younger children. It would likely need to be replaced by the time your child is preschool aged.
This seat offers four harness heights to give your child the right fit. It also has a color indicator to let you know if the harness is securely buckled. The seat is installed with easy-to-use push-button connectors. The lightweight and easy installation make it the perfect car seat to use for traveling or a carpool.
Diono Radian RXT All-In-One Convertible Car Seat
The Diono Radian RXT all-in-one seat provides several different seating modes in one car seat. This FAA approved car seat allows you to rear-face your child up to 45 pounds and forward-face them in a five-point harness up to 80 pounds. It also converts to a high-back booster that can hold a child up to 120 pounds. It is created with a full steel frame, making it one of the most durable car seats you can have.
At 15 inches wide, this car seat’s slender frame gives you the ability to easily place it in an airplane seat. Most vehicles can have three of them across in the back seat. The seat is also fairly light at 23 pounds. The Diono Radian RXT conveniently folds flat, making it easy to travel with or carry around. It also comes with a cup holder to keep drinks and snacks close by. With a 10-year lifespan, this seat may be the only one you’ll ever have to buy. Because of its features and steel frame, though, it is one of the more expensive car seat options on the market.
Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat
The Safety 1st Guide 65 is another one of the more affordable convertible car seat options. It can hold a rear-facing child up to 40 pounds and forward-facing child up to 65 pounds. This FAA approved car seat is only 18 inches wide and weighs 15 pounds. It is easy to carry around and bring on and off an airplane. Many vehicles can fit three of these car seats across the back seat.
The Guide 65 comes with a multi-adjustable headrest to fit your child as they grow. It also has plush padding and lumbar body pillows to keep your child comfortable. The cover is removable for machine wash, making it easy to keep it clean. This car seat comes with a removable cup holder for drinks and snacks. With 10 years of life, your toddler will likely get a lot of time in this car seat before you have to buy another one.
Most people buy car seats that work well in their vehicles and everyday life. But if you think you’ll be doing some traveling with your toddler, it is important to consider how easy it will be to fly with your car seat. While many car seats may work well for your day to day life, there are only some that are easy to carry around an airport and fit into a small airplane seat. If you want to avoid having to buy a car seat just to travel on an airplane, then you should consider the weight and size of the car seat you buy for your vehicle. This will ensure you are ready to go for your next trip.
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