I live in the Middle East and have traveled several times here and back to visit family in the States with my son. He is 21 months now and at the time of our flights he was 14, 19 and 20 months respectively. Each time I flew by myself, so had nobody to help lug around carseats. Not to mention we had three separate flights and layovers....all told our travel time is 26 hours just to get from one place to another.
Each time we've made the journey, I've just purchased an infant in lap ticket, but requested an infant seat. They have given me bulkhead seating all three times and that places me in the front row of coach with more leg room and a flip down shelf where they attach an infant seat/travel cot. It's actually more like a bouncy seat sort of thing and my son is not particularly fond of it. I would travel EVEN 26 HOURS without a car seat. I agree with some of the earlier comments....not to be doom and gloom, but seriously--is a plastic car seat going to save your child's life on an aircraft traveling 600 miles an hour if it crashes?
My perspective on car seats has changed a lot since I've lived here in the Middle East where car seats are not mandatory by law. People drive around all the time with their children standing in the seats, riding on parents' laps, etc. In the US we see that as extremely unsafe, but I remember doing it as a child as well and obviously I'm still alive and well. When did we get so fanatical about car seats? Especially since I've recently read that something like 80% of car seats are incorrectly installed!
Recently in my home state of Missouri they proposed legislation that children must ride in booster seats until the child is 8 years old or 80 pounds! This is insanity! I was 80 pounds when I was in junior high school!
FYI, my toddler STILL DOES ride in a car seat even though it is not required by law.....