renting a car seat at airport car rentals - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 09-21-2009, 10:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Has anyone done this? What has been your experience?

If I can find a car rental that has safe good seats I think i would much rather do that then bring my huge britax!
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#2 of 26 Old 09-21-2009, 10:32 PM
 
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I did this once about four years ago. I was traveling by myself from NJ to Texas with a 16-month-old, and did not have it in me to bring along the car seat.

The seat itself was nothing special at all - I don't even know what brand it was - but it was new-ish and in good working order. You might want to call ahead wherever you plan to rent to see if they can tell you what type of seats they have, but I don't know if you'll get that information -- when I rented they were only able to distinguish "infant seat", "forward facing seat", "booster".

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#3 of 26 Old 09-21-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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I would not be comfortable with it. You never know what seat you will get, it could be perfectly safe and clean, but it might be 10 years old, someone may have tossed the straps in the washer, it could have been in an accident.. you just don't know.
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#4 of 26 Old 09-21-2009, 11:29 PM
 
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I would not do it. I've heard too many horror stories... no installation instructions, unsafe seats, wrong type of seat for the size and age of the child, the seat doesn't properly fit the vehicle, etc. And mbhf is right. Because the seat has been rented it's history is more of an unknown.

Plus, every place I've seen charges by the day, and you can easily end up adding $50 to $100 on the cost of one week rental.

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#5 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 12:28 AM
 
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I wouldn't do it. I've read reports about how awful the carseats can be. You don't know if they've been in an accident and they could be expired or broken in some way. You don't know how well they'll fit your child. I'd just lug my own carseat along. That's what we do when we visit family several times a year.

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#6 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 12:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ChetMC View Post
I would not do it. I've heard too many horror stories... no installation instructions, unsafe seats, wrong type of seat for the size and age of the child, the seat doesn't properly fit the vehicle, etc. And mbhf is right. Because the seat has been rented it's history is more of an unknown.

Plus, every place I've seen charges by the day, and you can easily end up adding $50 to $100 on the cost of one week rental.
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I wouldn't do it. I've read reports about how awful the carseats can be. You don't know if they've been in an accident and they could be expired or broken in some way. You don't know how well they'll fit your child. I'd just lug my own carseat along. That's what we do when we visit family several times a year.
Agreed! You just don't know anything about the condition of the seats. They could've been in an accident for all you know. Also, in my experience, they are nasty and filthy.

I know hauling your Britax will be a pain, but if you have a small rolling luggage cart or a back pack carseat carrier, it's really not bad at all. I've done it by myself, traveling with my 2yo, 38 weeks pregnant.
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#7 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 12:57 AM
 
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We rented a car seat once and would never do it again. I was travelling alone with DD half way around the world and thought it would be easier without lugging the carseat. When we arrived at the rental place (a national chain), I looked at the car seats and almost cried. The car seats were, well, gross - they left them all stacked outside for goodness knows how long . I found the "best" looking one and used it until I could get an alternative.

Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymorebanana.gif

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#8 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 01:12 AM
 
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Please dont rent a carseat - they are scary!

Besides, on the plane your little one should be riding in their carseat anyway, its much safer.

If they are going to be a 'lap child' then gate check your carseat (do NOT put it in the belly of the plane!), you can get one of those rolling cart things to carry it through the airport.

I've traveled with my ds, his carseat, a rolling suitcase (which I did not check in), and a carry on bag - and I did just fine - I put ds in the carrier, put my smaller bag on top of the big one, and carried the carseat under my arm (my truefit which is big/heavy too!)
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#9 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 02:57 AM
 
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Get a GoGoKidz and attach it to your Britax. Now, it's a stroller .

And yes, DON'T rent a seat. Some friends of mine tried that, here in California where rental car companies are required BY LAW to provide you with a seat if you request it. They reserved one, they got to the rental company, and there wasn't one available that fit their child. He was under a year and about 25 lbs. (dad is 6'7" and the boy shows every indication of taking after him strongly). They had an infant bucket and a booster. So, mom and baby sat at the rental place while dad drove the car to a BRU or Target or somesuch and bought a brand-new seat.
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#10 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 03:16 AM
 
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If you use a small metal luggage cart with an extra bungee cord, it works just as well as the expensive "GogoKidz" contraption. Your child can ride in it so you don't need to bother with the stroller.

As a clueless FTM, the rental car showed up at the hotel with this pathetic baby bucket seat, way too small for my son. Never again!

In the small print, they don't guarantee that you'll even get a seat. You can show up at the counter to bad news.

Definitely bring your own car seat. You know how to install it and you know your child is comfortable and safe in it!
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#11 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 05:22 AM
 
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We had a relatively good experience hiring carseats for our six month old baby and 4 year old daughter when we travelled back to England. We got a Britax Cosytot and a Britax Evolva 123 which were both clean and that years model. However it totalled almost the cost of the carhire itself for both seats. They weren't fitted in the car though and had no instructions except the ones printed on.
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#12 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 05:33 AM
 
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I've done it twice and will never do it again. The first seat was adequate (after haggling with the company who wanted us to use a bucket seat for our big 13 month old).

The second seat was terrifying. Gross, dirty, twisted straps-- luckily it was only a one-time use situation or else I don't know what I would have done.

Another option is to look for a cheaper, lighter-weight seat for travel only.
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#13 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 11:12 AM
 
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As everyone else said, absolutely not. By and large, even in companies that have been exposed by the media for doing this, the seats tend to be old (expired), broken, recalled, damaged, and filthy.

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#14 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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We rented a carseat once, and promise to ourselves, NEVER,NEVER, do it again. You never know what you get. We rather carry our huge britaxs. We have to two kids in car seats. One is a Marathon and one Regent, if we going to flight we definitely going with the car seat rather than luggage with stuff.

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#15 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 02:44 PM
 
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Once and NEVER again! They were stored in a shed that leaked and were moldy. I took the least worst seat. Small regional airport.

I would find out if you could borrow one from someone. Even if wherever you are staying has no seats maybe they know someone who does. We've all got these seats sitting around in our basement.

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#16 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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I travel every month, with two children, by myself. And I bring my own carseats. I don't bring my britax's, they're too heavy, but I did research and found some lighter seats that IMO are just as safe. I have a carry bag for them and I check it as a 'baby item' which is free.

It's really not worth the risk, IMO, of getting there and finding out you have a problem. It's easier for me to just deal with the lugging (my carry bag fits over the handle of my rolling suitcase and I can deal with all my baggage and my two year old) than risk not having a seat.

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#17 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 03:11 PM
 
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I'll join the crowd and say "no way!" to renting a car seat from a rental car company.

On the other hand, there are baby equipment rental companies in many locations and if you feel you really can't bring your own seat, look into what is available in the area you are going to. I used to be a contractor for one in SW Florida and we had gorgeous, 100% clean, nearly brand new car seats (not the cheapest we could buy, but about medium) and the owner allowed us to buy new seats practically whenever we felt the need. I always felt it was a very good deal. But then again, depending on how long you are going to be there, purchasing a safe but less expensive seat just for the trip might be just as economical.

Depending on the age of your child, I would recommend bringing the Britax on the plane. I always loved my children to be comfy for naps on planes and safely buckled in in their seats (in case of turbulence). For children who are stressed by the idea of being on a plane, I feel that the comfort of having their own seat there might help a teeny bit.

eta: btw, once I was bringing a couple of rental car seats to a car rental agency for customers who were flying in, and I saw the incredibly crappy seats that the rental agency had, stacked in their garden shed out back. They were absolutely horrendous. Should have been thrown out. It was criminal, I felt.
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#18 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 04:57 PM
 
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I am traveling with my 18 month on in October, I'm renting a car at our destination but I am definitely NOT renting a car seat from them too. I've heard too many horror stories and I just don't feel it's safe.

Best thing is to bring your seat with you, if you don't want to lug the heavier Britax maybe look into a lighter seat? I don't know that age or size of your child but you could buy a Cosco Scenera which are on sale for $45 at Walmart right now and come with their own travel bags. They only weigh 10-11 pounds so they are not as heavy and if something happens to it on your travels then you aren't out alot of money.
Also, if you are planning on checking your seat take it to the gate with you if possible and check it at the gate. Sometimes they will store it onboard for you like a stroller and if not then it doesn't have to travel as far to get to the plane and less of a chance something will happen to it. If you are planning on having a lap child and you take the seat to the gate and there is an empty seat then you'll be able to use the seat on the plane.
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#19 of 26 Old 09-22-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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I am certainly in the minority here, but we did it - our huge britax wouldn't fit in the car-seat bag we tried to buy for it, we didn't really want to schlep it through the airport, and we are stingy and kept DS as a lap child so we wouldn't have had the carseat on the very full flights with us anyway (and even gate-checking it seems like it's still going out of your sight for awhile, and god knows what happens to it in the aircraft hold)...

I can report that we had a GOOD experience. Travelled in June '09 and got a carseat with a manufacture date of March 31, 2009, so practically brand new, very clean, not scratched up or suspicious looking at all. It had basic install instructions on the side of it, and if you want more instructions, you can either take a laptop and google to find them at the airport (they all have wi-fi at this point) or ask the car rental co. ahead of time what model carseat it is and print instructions ahead of time. They stored their seats inside their offices - I watched them bring it from the back room to me. It might depend on where you are going and what company you are renting from. See what reviews online are like, call the office where you'd get the seat and see how new their seats are...

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#20 of 26 Old 09-23-2009, 03:30 PM
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I'm not really overly protective, but I wouldn't do it.

While I'm sure they would replace it after an accident, you'd have to assume that everyone had reported every fender bender. In a rental, that would surprise me.
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#21 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 11:36 AM
 
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Done it twice, both times (two seats each) we were horrified by the state of the car seats. Once we got what seemed to be a totally brand new unused infant bucket seat... But it was a 3pt harness and had no base, so it moved around at will in the car. The print on it, and the fact that it was a 3 pt harness, made me think it was at least 5 if not 10 years old...
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#22 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 01:12 PM
 
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I'm flying with my 9 mo old and renting a car at the other end today, which I've done before, and I've got 1 word for you: Snap-N-Go! (or is that 3 words? ). I find the snap-n-go combined with the fact that you can check it and the car seat at the airport gate to be the best combo, and yes once you get to the other end you know you have your own reliable carseat to use.
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#23 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 05:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by gretelmom View Post
Done it twice, both times (two seats each) we were horrified by the state of the car seats. Once we got what seemed to be a totally brand new unused infant bucket seat... But it was a 3pt harness and had no base, so it moved around at will in the car. The print on it, and the fact that it was a 3 pt harness, made me think it was at least 5 if not 10 years old...
Maybe, but they still make and sell 3 point harness seats.

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#24 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 05:40 PM
 
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It can cost $50-$75 to rent a car seat. For that price and given the uncertainty of the background and condition, nope, I wouldn't do it. I'd rather spend the money on buying a new one and donating it when I was done. But really, even if you have a lap baby, you can GATE CHECK your car seat. That's what we've done. It's a bit of a pain to lug the thing around, but at least it's mine and I know where it's been.

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#25 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 06:33 PM
 
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Maybe, but they still make and sell 3 point harness seats.
And baseless ones.

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#26 of 26 Old 09-24-2009, 10:59 PM
 
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We've had two bad experiences with car seats from car rental companies. Now we bring our own seats. Once the straps were not connected properly behind the seat, it was already installed, we didn't notice it until we drove from airport to my parents' house. The car rental company then brought us a seat and it was so old, I couldn't believe it.
Second time we rented seats. They did not have them ready, had to go get them, so they were not installed, had no instructions and one of the covers was filthy. We tried not to think about what liquid was all over that seat. The company didn't have another one to give us. In fact, that experience was so horrible, the employees so indifferent to our questions about safety, not to mention hygiene, that we have not rented cars from that company since and we never will.
Bring your own. You know how to install it, you know where it's been, get a leaner model if you have the big Britax or get the cart for it. It's totally worth it!
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