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Check or rent carseat when traveling?

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
DH and I are taking a 3 hour plane ride to Chicago in two weeks. We cannot afford a third seat, it is not an option at this time. I know that there are strong supporters of baby having their own seat on these boards, but in my case, I don't know that it would work anyway because DD SCREAMS every second she spends in a carseat in the car, and I have no reason to think it will be different on a plane. She's only happy in arms and I can't imagine strapping her to the seat during takeoff, landing, or any other time.

My question is whether it makes sense to bring our carseat on the plane to use in the rental car. I'm concerned that the carseat will get banged up if it gets gate checked, and also that it is SUCH a pain to cart around. DD is 7 months, and we use a convertible seat rather than a bucket. I spoke to the rental agency and they assured me that the seats they rent are up to code, and not expired etc. I am leaning towards just using the sling and mei tai at the airport/on the plane, and renting the carseat when we arrive. Anyone have any experience with this?
post #2 of 42
I would not rent a car seat. I did it once, and will never do it again. Although it may not be expired, at the very least, it might not be a good fit for your LO. It will probably be very dirty. And it probably will not come with an owner's manual, so making sure it is properly installed in a car you are unfamiliar with is going to be tricky.

I would bring my own car seat and ask to have it gate checked at the time of boarding. You have less risk of your seat getting damaged as opposed to checking it with your luggage. If you don't have a bag specifically made for transporting a car seat, ask for a large plastic bag from the airline employees when you check in. This will at least keep your seat from getting dirty, but obviously won't protect it from being tossed around.
post #3 of 42
I agree with the PP. Take your own seat and check it with your bags. I have done this many times and they've never gotten wrecked. The airline will wrap it in plastic for you and they don't just throw it in with the regular luggage, it goes with the extra stuff, like skis. I have rented seats and before and they were borderline legal to completely illegal and NOT SAFE!
post #4 of 42
We've done both-brought ours along & rented. We bought a very expensive ($50) travel bag with backpack straps to protect our car seat for checking it...it did protect the seat & there were no issues with it but it was a pain having something else to haul around.

We had 2 great car seat car rental experiences so far. Both at Ft Lauderdale Airport car rental companies. Both times the seats were brand new, with instructions tucked into straps. They were major name seats.
post #5 of 42
I had a good experience with a rental car and car seat. It appeared that the car seat was professonally cleaned and bagged/sealed for the next customer. The instructions were with it. The car seat was minimal though, I didn't recognize it, but of course it met all car seat standards (they would have to).

Personally, Im inclined to travel light, so as long as the car rental place guaranteed a seat being available, I would go with that.
post #6 of 42
I would either rent (what we've done in the past) or if you want to bring your own- you can get a trolly specially designed for it and have the crew put it in the hold when you get to the gate (same thing they do with strollers)- depending on the airline, there might not be a charge.
post #7 of 42
IME: Car rental places are rarely trained and aware of the dangers of a expired/damaged carseat, but the baby gear rental places are. We chose to go this route after hauling two britax boulevards across the country once, and had carseats waiting for us at the Enterprise counter when we landed. We found the baby gear company through this site: http://www.thenewparentsguide.com/ba...nt-rentals.htm
post #8 of 42
I regularly fly with a lap baby, but would never rent a carseat. Too many horror stories! I put DD's carseat on a luggage cart, and she rides in it like a stroller or I wear her and stick my carryon in the seat. Then at the gate I'd ask if there's an extra seat she can have. If there is, I bring the seat on and install it. If not, gate-check it.

I doubt the rental car place knows anything about carseats, and I've heard way too many horror stories... An unexpired seat that's been mistreated (and how would the rental car compaany know how the last person treated it?) is still unsafe.
post #9 of 42
We have rented carseats at a car rental place twice with no problems at all, in fact, they were extremely clean and looked nearly new.
I would feel better with that than with using your seat that may have been banged up when checked.
I know a couple of other people who have rented the carseats the same way and they were fine also.
post #10 of 42
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! I called the rental place today to talk to them about it, and after discussing it with them, I would be surprised if the carseats they rent are in bad shape. It's a major airport and a major car rental company, but I will look into the baby gear rental also. Thank you!
post #11 of 42
We also had a good experience renting a car seat at the rental car place. We called ahead to the rental car place and they told us that they have Cosco senera (SP?). It didn't look brand new but it looked and worked fine - looked maybe couple years old. We didn't want to travel with our convertible and will rent again next time we travel this Xmas season. It maybe worth trying to call around to rental car places to get a feel first though.
post #12 of 42
We thankfully do not need to take our convertible seat on Weds when we fly to KS (MIL has a seat there), but we have taken the bucket seat in the past. We checked it once with bags, had no problem. But the next time, our bags arrived but the seat did not, until the next day (ie you're stuck). However, the baggage service with the airline had a loaner for us which we were fine using for one day to get to MIL's house from the airport. That was enough of a hassle though. So, from then on, we have gate checked it and dealt with the hassle of carting it around in order to ensure its arrival. Hasn't been banged up, and we were given a nylon zip case to carry it and protect from dirt.

I too know that many support getting babe his own seat, but it's out of the question for us financially.
post #13 of 42
Another option is to have a different carseat for travel. I bought a Cosco Scenera for my DH's car (rarely used) and for flights. It came with it's own plastic bag, is very very light (night and day compared to my Marathon) and was only $30'ish. So, if it is lost or too beaten up I wouldn't be too sad. It is also light enough that it isn't a bother to fly with. I check it at the curb so I don't have to lug it around the airport.
post #14 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by tea_time View Post
Another option is to have a different carseat for travel. I bought a Cosco Scenera for my DH's car (rarely used) and for flights. It came with it's own plastic bag, is very very light (night and day compared to my Marathon) and was only $30'ish. So, if it is lost or too beaten up I wouldn't be too sad. It is also light enough that it isn't a bother to fly with. I check it at the curb so I don't have to lug it around the airport.
This is exactly what we do. We have a spare scenera for travel. It is also great for the odd carpool situation.
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tea_time View Post
Another option is to have a different carseat for travel. I bought a Cosco Scenera for my DH's car (rarely used) and for flights. It came with it's own plastic bag, is very very light (night and day compared to my Marathon) and was only $30'ish. So, if it is lost or too beaten up I wouldn't be too sad. It is also light enough that it isn't a bother to fly with. I check it at the curb so I don't have to lug it around the airport.
This is actually what I've been considering - buying a light one new or even a slightly older one off craigslist for cheap (after doing my research to ensure it's never been in an accident and has not expired) and using that seat just for travel. I just can't decide whether it's worth it for the hassle of lugging it around. I would likely get a rolling base thing for it to bring through the airport, and it would also be there just in case there is an extra seat on the plane that we could use. That's probably the best bet.
post #16 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stTimeMama4/4/10 View Post
This is actually what I've been considering - buying a light one new or even a slightly older one off craigslist for cheap (after doing my research to ensure it's never been in an accident and has not expired) and using that seat just for travel. I just can't decide whether it's worth it for the hassle of lugging it around. I would likely get a rolling base thing for it to bring through the airport, and it would also be there just in case there is an extra seat on the plane that we could use. That's probably the best bet.

Do you trust random people on craigslist with your child's life? Random strangers? No? Then dont rent a carseat or buy one off craigslist. It is impossible to "do research" to prove a seat has never been in an accident, never checked into the belly of a plane, never had the straps cleaned with anything but a damp cloth, never dropped, etc. These things you would have to take someone's word on. Rental seat straps are often cleaned with bleach so even if the seat looks perfect, it might be unsafe. Sorry but for me, its no where near worth the risk.

Here is the used carseat checklist, which applies to any seat you might buy/borrow/put your child in:
http://www.cpsafety.com/articles/usedseat.aspx
This list does not include:
has the seat ever been checked as baggage on a plane? (if yes, its not safe)
have the straps ever been washed with anything more than a damp cloth (if yes replace the straps or dont use)


As suggested in your other thread, I would buy a Scnera, which is under $50. Also buy a wheeled cart (walmart they are under $15) to carry it on - you can also strap the baby into it so you dont have to bring a stroller/carrier. You can also just strap the seat right onto a wheely suitcase, but your child probably wont be able to ride in it as easily.

Yes its a pain to carry a seat around the airport, but its not THAT big of a deal, esp if you are flying with 2 adults and only one kid! I do it on my own all the time.

If you arent going to buy a seat on the plane for your child, then you can gate check it (I put the seat in a large duffle bag and marked it all over with "child safety device, do not drop/crush, fragile"), and when you gate check it, ask them to carry it down to the ground, not put it down the slide (if there is one)
You can also sometimes get seated next to an empty seat and get lucky and have a spot to install it. This works best when you fly during off-peak times, and fly with 2 adults booking an aisle and a window seat. The middle will usually be booked last, and if you get on the plane and "take up a lot of space" people usually wont want to sit there anyway and will take another empty seat (people dont want to sit by kids!)

So yeah, buy a NEW seat for travel, gate check or use it on the plane, wheely cart to transport it, and use it at your destination. I think that covers it.
post #17 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mom2M View Post
We have rented carseats at a car rental place twice with no problems at all, in fact, they were extremely clean and looked nearly new.
I would feel better with that than with using your seat that may have been banged up when checked.
I know a couple of other people who have rented the carseats the same way and they were fine also.
But they clean straps with bleach to sanitize. So they look great, but are dangerous. If you gate check inside a bag, marked correctly, your seat wont get banged up. You should of course not check it as baggage!

The risk is greater than the hassle involved in carrying the seat around the airport.
post #18 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamieCole View Post
I would not rent a car seat. I did it once, and will never do it again.
ONCE and NEVER, NEVER again. It was moldy and had sat out in this shed under a leak. No one knew the difference between and infant seat and a toddler seat.
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheGirls View Post
I regularly fly with a lap baby, but would never rent a carseat. Too many horror stories! I put DD's carseat on a luggage cart, and she rides in it like a stroller or I wear her and stick my carryon in the seat. Then at the gate I'd ask if there's an extra seat she can have. If there is, I bring the seat on and install it. If not, gate-check it.
DH did this a couple weeks ago when he and DD2 flew home to his grandma's funeral. On the flight out, there weren't extra seats, so they gate checked it. On the way back, there was a seat available, so she got a (complimentary) seat. (she'll probably be 2 the next time we fly
post #20 of 42
I bought the Cosco Scenera for travel too. It's lightweight and comes in its own plastic bag. I can carry it with one hand and still push dd's stroller. When we're not traveling, I keep it in DH's car so we don't have to move her Britax. I love it. An added bonus is that Wal Mart and Target have recently lowered the price again to around $38.
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