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How important is it to have a 3 year old in a carseat on a plane?

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
Because it would be a whole lot easier if he just sat in the seat.
post #2 of 63
My 3 year old sat beautifully just in the seat when we flew about 1500 miles in January. He was old enough to understand that he had to sit still and behave, and he did not mess with the seat belt at all. He was great. I was travelling alone with him,2 carryons and my purse, with a layover, and a stroller and I didn't want to juggle a car seat as well, knowing he could be well behaved enough to sit nicely in the seat belt. My sister brought her extra car seat, so we were covered at our destination.
post #3 of 63
If he is under 40 lbs. I would not put him in the airline seatbelt only if at all possible. You might look into getting a CARES harness (http://www.kidsflysafe.com) which would be much easier to deal with than a car seat.
post #4 of 63
I had to fly with DD1 in just the lap belt because the flight attendant was arguing with me about the Nautilus being FAA approved (it is, she just couldn't read . It was awful because she kept falling asleep but was so uncomfy. She ended up laying half across my lap but was horribly uncomfy. On the next leg she was in her Nautilus and slept much better.

Safety wise, there's not much risk but comfortwise there's a big difference.
post #5 of 63
My ds has flown fine in the just lap belt since around 3 1/2. We put him in the window seet and he'll sleep fine leaning against the side of the plane with a pillow. He likes it much better because it's easier to use the tray! As long as your 3yo will sit and stay buckled, it should be fine. Especially if it's not a really long flight.
post #6 of 63
If you look at PURE SAFETY, there is no reason at all to have a child in a car seat on the plane. It doesn't matter if the child is 1 month old or 3 years old. All data, statistics, and real life experience show that flying with a child, without a car seat, is the safest thing you can ever do.

It's almost unheard of having a child injured during turbulence and likewise for children surviving accidents purely due to sitting in a seat belt. Very few kids globally sit in car seats on planes, despite this fact and 25 000+ flights daily only in US it's almost unheard of having kids (or adults) inured during turbulence. Adults who are injured almost exclusively have not followed directions and did not use a seat belt when they were supposed to. This is very clear while looking at stats from FAA.

The most important thing to focus on while flying with kids is to protect kids on the ground. The trip to and from the airport are thousands of times less safe than being on the plane.

It's a good idea to bring seats on the plane for some kids to sleep better, stay calmer, and most importantly so that your car seat makes it to your destination in good condition.
post #7 of 63
DD started flying without her carseat since she was about 2.5yo (on translatlantic and other international flights). At first we used the CARES harness, as another PP suggested, but it never really fit her well, so we finally gave it up when she turned 3. While we had a few arguments the first time she flew with just the seatbelt (did not want to wear it), once she knew I meant business she stopped fussing and soon started putting it on herself. With the car seat, it is impossible to use the tray, so there is no place for a child to color or do other activities.

As for sleeping, DD seems to have the knack for sleeping in almost any position. I try to make her as comfortable as possible with multiple pillows and blankets and she just curls up and sleeps.
post #8 of 63
My biggest concern is that she will drive you nuts. Kids who are accustomed to a harness tend to turn into little crazed monkies in a lap-belt only.
post #9 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
My biggest concern is that she will drive you nuts. Kids who are accustomed to a harness tend to turn into little crazed monkies in a lap-belt only.
Yep! Next time I fly with the kids I really think I will take all three seats, even though it will be a huge PITA, but if big sis gets to ride without a seat DD2 will pitch a humongous fit, and no way will she sit still for 5 hours in a lap belt
post #10 of 63
Thread Starter 

more questions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adventuredad View Post
If you look at PURE SAFETY, there is no reason at all to have a child in a car seat on the plane. It doesn't matter if the child is 1 month old or 3 years old. All data, statistics, and real life experience show that flying with a child, without a car seat, is the safest thing you can ever do.
Really?? Does everyone else agree with this? My kids will be 3 y/o and 9 mo. old when we fly, and I didn't want to have to deal with 2 carseats. Maybe I should just bring the carseat for the 3 y/o? It would save us $380 if I didn't get a seat for the baby, but I am concerned about turbulence.

Also, we'll need both carseats at our destination, so we'll have to check them if we don't take them on the plane. How much of a risk of damage do you think there is? Could the carseats be damaged enough to be a safety risk without it being noticeable?
post #11 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by liliaceae View Post
Really?? Does everyone else agree with this? My kids will be 3 y/o and 9 mo. old when we fly, and I didn't want to have to deal with 2 carseats. Maybe I should just bring the carseat for the 3 y/o? It would save us $380 if I didn't get a seat for the baby, but I am concerned about turbulence.

Also, we'll need both carseats at our destination, so we'll have to check them if we don't take them on the plane. How much of a risk of damage do you think there is? Could the carseats be damaged enough to be a safety risk without it being noticeable?
FWIW, I have no issue gate checking car seats in a protective bag. I wouldn't have a problem checking them in a well protected box, but will never go throught he trouble!

Statistically, there is an extremely small chance of ANYONE being injured or killed on a plane. It's one of the safest forms of travel. Safer than driving to your destination with your children properly restrained. So yes, there is a chance you'll get the one flight where something happens. But talking stats, of the top 25 major cacrriers your chance of being ina flight with one fatality on it is 1 in 8.47 million and your chance of dying in a flight is 1 in 13.57 million. Over 100 people die in auto accidents in the US every day. MUCH more likely you'd be killed on the way to the airport then on a plane, even without a seatbelt.
post #12 of 63
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DahliaRW View Post
FWIW, I have no issue gate checking car seats in a protective bag. I wouldn't have a problem checking them in a well protected box, but will never go throught he trouble!

Statistically, there is an extremely small chance of ANYONE being injured or killed on a plane. It's one of the safest forms of travel. Safer than driving to your destination with your children properly restrained. So yes, there is a chance you'll get the one flight where something happens. But talking stats, of the top 25 major cacrriers your chance of being ina flight with one fatality on it is 1 in 8.47 million and your chance of dying in a flight is 1 in 13.57 million. Over 100 people die in auto accidents in the US every day. MUCH more likely you'd be killed on the way to the airport then on a plane, even without a seatbelt.
So considering the US population is 300 million (right?), does that mean you have a 1 in 3 million chance of dying in a car every day?
post #13 of 63
I haven't found stats on per day. Most sites talk about the variables (how safe of a driver you are, what you drive, how often you drive, etc). One site said in a lifetime it's around 1 in 80,000 chance.
post #14 of 63
Quote:
Really?? Does everyone else agree with this?
No. My kid always flew in a car seat until he was four. I wouldn't hold my kid in my lap in a car while someone drove the length of a runway going from 0 to 200mph, I'm not going to do it in a plane.
post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by liliaceae View Post
Really?? Does everyone else agree with this? My kids will be 3 y/o and 9 mo. old when we fly, and I didn't want to have to deal with 2 carseats. Maybe I should just bring the carseat for the 3 y/o? It would save us $380 if I didn't get a seat for the baby, but I am concerned about turbulence.

Also, we'll need both carseats at our destination, so we'll have to check them if we don't take them on the plane. How much of a risk of damage do you think there is? Could the carseats be damaged enough to be a safety risk without it being noticeable?
It's not a question about opinion or what I personally believe. The safety statistics can be found on many websites, like FAA, and wherever you look it's obvious that flying with a child is the safest thing you will ever do.

Again, it's almost unheard of having a child without a car seat on a plane be injured by turbulence. It's also extremely unusual to have adults injured by turbulence. Almost all cases of injuries can be avoided if adults use seat belts when fasten seat belt light is on. . You can read more here and here.

Quote:
Turbulence in the skies over the United States has killed two passengers since 1980 and injured more than 316, plus at least 138 flight attendants, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
100+ people die each day in US in traffic to compare with something.

Quote:
Fifty-five turbulence related accidents were reported during the period 1982-1991, ranging from a maximum of 10 in 1986 to three in 1989. One fatality and 79 serious injuries were reported, ranging from 14 serious injuries in 1986tp four sserious injuries in 1983″ (US Federal Aviation Administration)


Keep in mind there are 25 000+ flights EACH DAY

Quote:
“Most of the injuries that occur because of turbulence are preventable if people wear their seat belts,” Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Alison Duquette said yesterday.


Traveling with car seats is not always easy, this how I do it.. I use special car seat bags, bubble wrap my seats and fill the car seat bags with clothing and diapers for extra protection. I has worked well on 50+ flights but it's of course safer to bring the seats on board. Problem is not all seats can be brought on board and not all airports allow gate checking of seats.
post #16 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by liliaceae View Post
Really?? Does everyone else agree with this? My kids will be 3 y/o and 9 mo. old when we fly, and I didn't want to have to deal with 2 carseats. Maybe I should just bring the carseat for the 3 y/o? It would save us $380 if I didn't get a seat for the baby, but I am concerned about turbulence.

Also, we'll need both carseats at our destination, so we'll have to check them if we don't take them on the plane. How much of a risk of damage do you think there is? Could the carseats be damaged enough to be a safety risk without it being noticeable?

Definitely not everyone agrees on this one. Part of the problem though is that children being injured on airplanes is so extraordinarily rare that there isnt any good data about how much statistical protection over a lap belt or even over just riding in a parents lap.

Personally, I feel that it is probably safer to have a baby in a carseat, but an accident is unlikely enough that I'm willing to take the risk. My daughter is 16 months old and has gone on 3.5 trips (we're on a trip right now) as a lap child. When she's needs her own seat, we may bring her carseat for her own comfort though.

I should note that I am generally a carseat safety fanatic, DD is RF in any car she rides in, and will continue to be RF in her primary car until at least 35 lbs. Hopefully 40-45. But the risk of riding in the car (#1 killer of children) is so much higher than the risk of riding in a plane that I feel car protection is more important.

I am concerned about damage to the carseat if it is checked though, and would try to put it in a padded box or something if you have to check it. We have a seperate carseat (Cosco Scenera) at our destination (DP's family) so we've never had to fly with the seat.
post #17 of 63
No, not everyone agree's with Adventure Dad, including the FAA, whose stance is that every child under 4 and 40 should be in an FAA approved child restraint. They don't mandate it for a number of reasons, but it is still their stance.
post #18 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maedze View Post
No, not everyone agree's with Adventure Dad, including the FAA, whose stance is that every child under 4 and 40 should be in an FAA approved child restraint. They don't mandate it for a number of reasons, but it is still their stance.
Well said. The NTSB certainly doesn't agree with him. They have been advocating that children be required to be restrained on airplanes for years. Since they are the ones that investigate airplane crashes, I tend to believe their side.
post #19 of 63
I actually just flew with my 3 kids. I'd gotten a seat for my youngest for the first time. Unfortunately I didn't know about the FAA sticker thing. We've had stickers pulled off that car seat over the years. It's never been a problem before either. We just used that same car seat back in December with no problems. Unfortunately this time the airlines refused to let me use it. I ended up holding him almost the entire time, which wasn't so bad, except I had planned for him to be in his own seat and had PAID for that seat. I personally was not comfortable with him sitting with just the lap belt, but I did let him try it. He kept undoing it or squirming out from it. You might not have that issue with your 3 year old. However, if you do intend to use your car seat, be sure to make sure you have the sticker on the seat. I had to carry ours from one plane to another in Chicago and couldn't even use it. They didn't tell me this when I checked in. I was told by a flight attendant when I tried to get on the first plane with it.
post #20 of 63
We have flown about every 2 months for the last 5 years with my now 5 yr old and 2.5 yr old. I always bring a carseat. Statistics aside, I have flown so many times in bad turbulence that I wanted my kids fully restrained if we hit that kind. I also figure that the chance of a runway accident happening are more likely than in the air, and better to be restrained. (no stats to back this up, just conversation with a flight attendant and pilot friend). The FA friend did say that she was on a flight where the plane had to be turned around back to the gate, because a toddler was having a screaming melt down and refused to stay buckled in for take off. Those buckles are so easy to get undone, that would also worry me in turbulence, if a 3 yr old just lifted without you seeing it.

There is a problem though with 2 carseats in one row - they would have to go window and middle, because an adult cannot be blocked in by a carseat, even if you are their mother! The only exception I've seen is the Radian, because the seat pan is so shallow, it doesn't stick off the airplane seat at all. It didn't work for me to not be able to easily reach the child at the window, so after my second child was born, I would put the baby at the window, me in middle and older child in CARES harness on aisle. (But when we fly with my husband, we sit two and two so my older son can be in his carseat. At 5, he is too big for the CARES and I told him he could just use the airplane belt. He actually prefers to be harnessed in, and doesn't care that he can't use his tray! He told me "those airplane seat belts are not sturdy enough.") When I could only carry one seat on, I gate checked the other.

I also wanted to add that our rules for the plane are the same as in a car: once the plane starts moving, you have to be buckled in your car seat until the plane stops moving at our destination. Our kids are really comfy in their familiar seats, so it hasn't been a problem. And I have avoided having to do pace up and down the aisles, or crowd the galley with my on-the-move toddler.
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