Slings on airplanes - Mothering Forums
Babywearing > Slings on airplanes
jessicaSAR's Avatar jessicaSAR 12:12 AM 03-30-2004
As I am making airline reservations for our summer vacation I am wondering if anyone knows what the rules are regarding the use of slings in flight?

While flying over the Christmas holidays dd was sleeping in the sling (only 5 weeks old at the time) and on one of the flights I was asked (well not really asked, told) to remove her from the sling and hold her on my lap. When I questioned the flight attendant, thinking that wouldn't it be safer to have her secured in a sling than merely sleeping on my lap, she told me I couldn't use it because it was not an FAA approved harness. This only happened on one of the four flights we took so it is obviously a rule that is only selectively enforced. Anyway, we were flying Delta, but I am not sure if the rules vary or if this really is an FAA thing?

thistle's Avatar thistle 12:55 AM 03-30-2004
I just flew a couple of days a go and had looked at the guidelines. It IS an FAA reg that you aren't supposed to have anything that attaches the child to the adult, but I don't think it is enforced much. I was on Southwest and they didnt seem to care. It is a relatively new reg, so maybe the attendant was fresh out of school and familiar with the new reg.

Kristine233's Avatar Kristine233 01:28 AM 03-30-2004
Very vague

From Southwest website:
Are infant carriers permitted?
Most infant carriers are designed simply to provide convenience in carrying babies. With the exception of a few recently manufactured automobile safety seats that convert to carriers, they do not provide sufficient protection to qualify as CRDs. While you may carry your baby on and off the aircraft in an infant carrier (provided it does not exceed the size limitations for carryon items), it must be properly stowed either underneath a seat or in an overhead bin for taxi, takeoff, and landing.
This I think is referring to ANY kind of infant carrier which would include slings. Its says stowed for taxi, takeoff and landing... I would assume it is ok for in-flight but it is pretty vague!

Here is something from Airline , BTW this is NOT a FAA rule or supported by them, its the opinion of Airline's editor and some reasons he gives for the FAA strcit guildines regaurding Carriers/backpacks/slings...
Letters to the Editor
Subject: Infant carriers
From: Deborah Spiegel [email protected]

"The best advice I can give, for a child under 2, is to obtain the kind of device I have seen on both mothers and fathers in shopping centers. It looks something like a reverse back pack. The baby is installed in it and it is then worn on the front of the parent so that the baby is hugging the chest of the parent." Lap Children


I just got home from our Thanksgiving trip. I had my 3-month-old son in his Baby Bjorn carrier. The US Airways flight attendant told me that I could not keep him in that for safety reasons and that I had to hold him on my lap. She even showed me a book that had that information.

I disagreed with her and kept him in the pack attached to me. God forbid there was an emergency, I wanted him to be connected to me. Just thought I'd let you know.

Deborah Spiegel

This is an excellent letter because it illustrates the nanny-state mentality of some FAA bureaucrats. The reason they want you to hold the baby on your lap, without restraint, is because they are fearful that some parents will try to attach the infant pack to the seat belt instead of to the parent, or worse, to wrap the seat belt around both parent and infant -- which would lead to severe injury to the baby, in the event of rapid deceleration. Those of us with common sense find it hard to understand why the FAA regulation cannot simply require that the F/As check for those kinds of situations, without requiring the parent to remove the infant from a front pack carrier that is strapped to the parent (not to the seat belt).

My advice is to do just what you did: ignore their request and put your baby and common sense, ahead of the idiotic rules of the FAA.

But please, do so courteously. It isn't the Flight Attendants' fault. They are required to advise you of that irrational regulation. [See also Toddlers and the Rational Solution]

December, 1998

Robert J. Boser
Sorry I searched and searched and couldnt find any real good info on this subject.. I will keep looking and let you know if I do find anything!
Cutie Patootie's Avatar Cutie Patootie 01:38 AM 03-30-2004
We recently flew on Northwest and ds had just fallen asleep in the sling...the only place he would nap at the time...we boarded the plane, sat down in our seats, and the flight attendant quickly came up to us and told me I had to "remove the infant for take-off." My husband asked if it was okay to just pull it off my shoulder so that it wasn't attached. She said, "yes", but not very happily. Ds stayed asleep and wasn't disturbed at all.
It annoys me though, that they will make you hold your baby on your lap, where it is impossible to keep a hold on him if something happens.
Boobiemama's Avatar Boobiemama 02:57 AM 03-30-2004
I flew when my son was only a month old. They told me to take the sling off for take off.
: Never did learn why.

And man was that sling a lifesaver in the airport!!!
chellemarie's Avatar chellemarie 03:49 AM 03-30-2004
I used my sling to prop my arm and cushion ds's head while he nursed on take off. We didn't have to stow the sling.

I didn't get any comments on my sling, but I don't wear ds sitting down. I can't see why on earth you can't continue wearing baby. If baby is happy, why take him out? It's much easier to hold them when they are attached to you.

Perhaps airlines need to receive some letters requesting they refine their policies?
abigailvr's Avatar abigailvr 04:51 AM 03-30-2004
I think it's somethign to do with the possibility of the baby being crushed if your body is thrown forward so you bend in half. I don't see how that's worse than the baby being thrown from your arms, though. I have always kept DS in the car seat for take off and landing (we've flown three times in his 21 months).

I tend to use a pouch for airport and travel, just as an aside. I had DS in the KKAFP and they didn't make me take him off to go through security, because it's all cloth.
Monica's Avatar Monica 06:09 AM 03-30-2004
Northwest is a stickler for this regulation. Every time I fly with baby in the sling, I am told it is not FAA approved. Each time I do the -but-my-baby-will-wake-up-and-cry whine and the flight attendant has always suggested I just undo the rings, I even had one kind enough to come back when we were in flight and redo them for me!!! I lifesaver since it was just me, a 3 year old, and a newborn.

Just last week I flew on Continental with my now 20 month old baby in the sling and nobody said a thing. She slept snug against me for take off and half the flight.

ITA - it is a lifesaver in the airport. Also I recommend getting carry on (diaper bag) with wheels!! Also a lifesaver!!
kimberlylibby's Avatar kimberlylibby 11:11 AM 03-30-2004
Gosh, I'm happy with American Airlines now... I always end up flying them (have flown with dd no less than a dozen times) and have NEVER had to take her out of the sling! I would be so upset! I understand, but ugh!!!

She slings from the minute we walk in the airport till the minute we disembark

The only thing we ever did was switch sides so she could get the other boobie

Mizelenius's Avatar Mizelenius 11:13 AM 03-30-2004
I think there was a letter/article in Mothering about this . . .a mom got kicked off the plane for not removing the sling . . .

Anyway, not that you asked, but personally, we ALWAYS use a carseat on planes. Always. It costs more to buy a separate seat, but if we can't afford it, we don't go.
Piglet68's Avatar Piglet68 02:58 PM 03-30-2004
I was lucky that I was not told I had to remove DD from the sling, though I was aware that some did it. I flew Northwest, actually, and Continental.

I agree that something needs to be done about these ridiculous rules. It can't possibly be safer to hold a baby in your arms where you would never be able to hang on in the event of deceleration. They would be much safer in the sling.

I know some people are sticklers for carseats on planes but not me. Way too big a hassle for something that is so unlikely to happen. But that's just me!
chellemarie's Avatar chellemarie 03:20 PM 03-30-2004
Piglet, I'm in total agreement.

Are the airlines aware we're wearing our babies on board because we often wear our babies? They can't think we buy slings to protect our babies on flights, can they?
jessicaSAR's Avatar jessicaSAR 04:04 PM 03-30-2004
Plus, I think you would have complete support of all the childless travelers because babies in slings are typically happier babies, hence less crying!!!
Piglet68's Avatar Piglet68 05:09 PM 03-30-2004
So, how do we do this ladies? Do you think an emial to the FAA is going to get any attention whatsoever? Maybe one of those local news stories "on your side" type features could bring it up.

with the growing popularity of baby carriers this is bound to be an issue. I don't mind rules if they make sense, but this is just silly!!
Kristine233's Avatar Kristine233 05:24 PM 03-30-2004
Couldnt they make us read somethign stating thier reasons why they dont want slings on board and then if we still choose to use them sign a waiver? Obviously they are clueless... I'd rather have my baby potential squished by me and while i my arms then flailing helplessly across the plane bouncing off the ceiling and god knows what else. If the baby is gonna get hurt in a accident (y aall know I would rather NOT get hurt) I'd rather be right there and not have to go 'looking' for my baby... morbid thought I know but still.... KWIM?
danaalex's Avatar danaalex 03:03 AM 03-31-2004
we've flown with our dds many times and almost every time i have been asked to remove my sling or carrier for take off. i don't argue too much usually because if the girls are awake they don't mind just sitting on my lap.

the only issue i have is that you have to remove your carrier when going through the metal detectors and security points. that is a total PITA!!!! the one time i didn't do it i had a ring sling on and the metal in the ring set the machine off. well, holy heck broke loose. i had to go behind a screen and hand over my 6 week old infant because they couldn't wand me with her in my arms? then my toddler bum- rushed me because she was terrified that i had to go behind the screen, and they yelled, you can't touch her!!!! WTF?????????? i now had a scremming toddler and newborn, and my DH was PISSED to say the least!!!!!!! he was like, don't you have someone better to investigate than a new mom? uggh it was soo aggrivating. ever since then i have removed my sling prior to going through the metal detector just for sanity sake!!!!

we are flying in may, i'll have to see if they force me to take off the kozy or not. that doesn't have metal in it so, i am thinking of trying to get through security with someone on my back LOL
abigailvr's Avatar abigailvr 04:49 AM 03-31-2004
Dana, I had a similar experience when DS was 2 months old. They actually frisked him. I couldn't believe it. I didn't have a toddler with me to freak out, though.
DashsMama's Avatar DashsMama 06:15 AM 03-31-2004
I was asked to remove my sling during take-off and landing a couple years ago. I don't remember what airline. I took it off my shoulder to make the flight attendant happy and then waited until they were all strapped in themselves and put it back on.

On a return flight from France last March, they wouldn't let us bring our car seat on the plane for our 2 year old to sit in. He had his own seat but was way too small for the seatbelt. Basically they forced him to ride unrestrained during takeoff and landing. I was pissed!
jessicaSAR's Avatar jessicaSAR 10:32 AM 03-31-2004
My 5 week old was patted down at security as well. I think it was the cloth diapers - they thought we had something hidden in there:LOL
Kristine233's Avatar Kristine233 10:33 AM 03-31-2004
Originally posted by jessicaSAR
My 5 week old was patted down at security as well. I think it was the cloth diapers - they thought we had something hidden in there:LOL
Hehe .. thats when you ask them if they want to change the nice poopy diaper since they are takign so much interest in him.
chellemarie's Avatar chellemarie 02:04 PM 03-31-2004
I was told to remove my sling before going through security. I had to take off my shoes, too. :

I flew when my now 6yo dd was five months old. The airport and airline staff was much more accomodating and helpful then. They were also much nicer. The staff and crew were so rude the last time we flew, we complained and got a voucher. We won't be using the voucher because I won't be flying with that airline again if I can help it.

I understand security is tighter and they've had cutbacks. I'm still paying for a service. I wanted to complain while we were in transit, but felt I couldn't. I felt like a hostage of the freakin' airline.

It felt a lot like dealing with the Post Office. GRR!

That's my rant.