Originally Posted by dbsam
One reason I would rather have them on the plane, besides safety and the fact that my kids know they need to remain seated in the car seat, is that I would rather not check the seats and have them thrown around with the luggage. I've heard too many stories of car seats damaged by airlines.
We've had damage to our stroller (twice), but never to our car seats. Knock on wood. With a lot of flying under our belts, and two car seats, I am taking this as a good sign. I think they do try to be more cautious with car seats (I fly Jetblue when I can, largely because their seats are a little wider and they have more leg room than economy in other airlines, which means more comfort with kidos...also they tend to have pretty child friendly practices.)
A note for anyone wishing to gate check items: The airlines should give you very large, thick plastic bags to put around your car seats and strollers. This helps protect them. If you check the bags, they do it there at the check in counter. If you plan to gate check, they usually tell you to ask for one at the gate.
I have had TERRIBLE luck getting these bags at the gate, on all airlines. 85% of the time, they insist they don't have bags. So I've taken to asking for one at the check in counter. They WILL likely tell you that you have to wait and ask for one at the gate. They MAY tell you they don't have one at the check-in counter. However, push it firmly but politely because they WON'T likely have one at the gate, and they DO have them at the check in counter (they have to...how else would they cover car seats and strollers that are checked). The two times my stroller has been damaged, it has been because of not being covered in a bag. It is in the airlines interests to make sure you get your bag because if your items are damaged, you are going to come after them.
LolaK, thanks to the link for that buckle. That is awesome! It is so great that it is even approved for takeoff and landing. I hope folks planning to fly consider this as an alternative to the car seats. I would second Kirsten's car seat concerns.
And by the way, my son FLIPS out in car seats on planes. He enjoys flying, but the noise of the jets always freaks him out if he can't take the option to be held by us if needed.