There are about 15 other women that I know who will be traveling around the world for the upcoming sailboat race that my husband is participating in- and we are starting to get all of our ducks in a line as we leave in a few months. During a discussion today, it came up that it is very hard to know which car seats are FAA approved, or approved for the airplane or will even fit on an airplane. I had just gone through this myself while I was researching my car seat- the Graco Platinum Car Go (see my review under travel gear). For this group of moms, we will probably flying more than we are in a car, so the needs for the car seat are a bit different.
Here are some facts that I have learned about car seats on the plane.
- The car seat has to either go by the window or in the middle of the middle seats- basically not in the way of anyone exiting the plane.
- The car seats do not say FAA approved on them but instead they say something like- THIS CAR SEAT IS APPROVED FOR AIRCRAFT TRAVEL
- Most car seats will fit if they have a general set up, by this I mean there are some great car seats out there that are portable and small but require a top tether- and this is not approved for Aircraft travel
- There is no list of car seats approved for airplanes out there. When you buy, you should look at the box or model or call the company to confirm that it is approved.
- The airlines (usually the flight attendants or pursor) WILL check to see if the car seat is approved for aircraft travel.
- My sticker was almost impossible to find. It was not on the sides with all of the other safety information but instead on the very bottom kind of tucked away. I am glad I looked because on the plane with the kid strapped in, that could have become interesting. (She wouldn't like to be upside down for five minutes I don't think)
- To my understanding, the seat cannot be wider than 16 inches (40.64 cm's) . This is where things may get interesting. I am sure there are seats out there that are approved but that are a little wider and an airlines may give you a hard time about this. I don't know the maximum length for an infant car seat (between the seat in front of you) but I took my Graco Snug Ride on and it fit but just by a hair. If it had been bigger the seat in front of us would not have been able to recline.
- Regardless of whether or not your car seat is "aircraft approved" , you should check with the individual airlines to find out if they have specific regulations- I have read that some don't let car seats on that are over a certain age or that have certain types of straps.