Check or rent carseat when traveling? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#2 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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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.
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#3 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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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!

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#4 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 04:21 PM
 
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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.

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#5 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 05:02 PM
 
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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.

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#6 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 05:10 PM
 
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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.

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#7 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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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

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#8 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 05:43 PM
 
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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.

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#9 of 42 Old 11-01-2010, 11:22 PM
 
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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.

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#10 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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!

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#11 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 12:10 AM
 
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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.

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#12 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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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.

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#13 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 12:22 AM
 
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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.

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#14 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 12:31 AM
 
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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.

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#15 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

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#16 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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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.
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#17 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 05:24 PM
 
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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.
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#18 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 05:28 PM
 
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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.

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#19 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 06:25 PM
 
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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
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#20 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 06:51 PM
 
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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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#21 of 42 Old 11-02-2010, 07:14 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that I recently flew with my TrueFit on a trip to Florida with my almost 2 year old, and really didn't find it to be a hassle at all. And I was 6 months pregnant and without my husband.

I did have help getting to and from the gate, but it installed very easily and I didn't find it difficult at all.
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#22 of 42 Old 11-03-2010, 06:24 AM
 
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Great deal! Grab that!!

Please folks, never EVER check a car seat as luggage. Many parents think their seats are "fine" but the damage might not be obvious. They might be driving around with a seat that will NOT keep their baby secure in an accident. When you check a seat as luggage, you never know. Don't take the risk!

I fly alone with three children and take a car seat. It's really not a big deal if you're organized. Some parents even manage with more than one car seat so taking it to the gate is perfectly reasonable. Just don't check the seat as luggage!

Another issue about rental car seats, what happened to me, is that they simply didn't have one that fit my child. If you read the small print, they don't guarantee that they'll even have a seat. If they tell you wonderful things about their car seats, you might still get to the counter only to hear bad news.

The other issue is that they often charge more than a new seat would cost if you're renting more than 2 or 3 days. It's a total rip-off, aside from the issue of the condition of the seat itself.

If you're still determined to rent, talk to the exact office of the rental car company, NOT their national central reservations. Get the number of the rental location itself.

Even if the seat looks clean, it might be improperly cleaned, straps submurged, etc.
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#23 of 42 Old 11-04-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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Please folks, never EVER check a car seat as luggage. Many parents think their seats are "fine" but the damage might not be obvious. They might be driving around with a seat that will NOT keep their baby secure in an accident. When you check a seat as luggage, you never know. Don't take the risk!
Can I be honest? That sounds a little over the top to me. Do you have any links that reference what you're talking about? Studies or accidents that show a seat failed b/c of being damaged in a airplane despite not showing it? I'm all for safety but sometimes I think we're a little overboard around here. I keep thinking about the movie Babies and the Mongolian family that all hopped on the motorcycle together. I'm not saying that's safe (obviously) but it's such a difference from our (sometimes) overzealous safety culture and to me not checking a car seat is an example of that.

Semi-crunchy Momma to a 4 year old girl and a baby girl born in July of 2011.

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#24 of 42 Old 11-04-2010, 05:09 AM
 
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Can I be honest? That sounds a little over the top to me. Do you have any links that reference what you're talking about? Studies or accidents that show a seat failed b/c of being damaged in a airplane despite not showing it? I'm all for safety but sometimes I think we're a little overboard around here. I keep thinking about the movie Babies and the Mongolian family that all hopped on the motorcycle together. I'm not saying that's safe (obviously) but it's such a difference from our (sometimes) overzealous safety culture and to me not checking a car seat is an example of that.
All you have to do is go on YouTube to see how bags are treated. I worked for the airlines so I saw it myself.

You might think it's "overzealous" but please don't forget that a car seat is an important piece of safety equipment. Unlike a bouncy seat or a stroller, if it's damaged, it would mean your child is not protected while in the car. The biggest threat to our children is CAR travel in our industrialized society and many of us have our kids in the car every day.

Bags are sent through belts, often dropped on tarmacs, etc. A car seat is designed to withstand ONE accident, after that, you're supposed to replace it. The impact of being dropped on the tarmac while the truck is driving would easily be the equivalent.

Some airlines actually state on their websites that they wont compensate for broken car seats (AA, last I checked).

Also, it's not uncommon for bags to get lost and not arrive at their destination. Perhaps it's never happened to you but I've had bad news several times when I arrived. Unlike your suitcase, which if is not there for a day or two, means you don't have your toothbrush or favorite shirt, not having the car seat might mean the parents may not have any safe way of leaving the airport by car. While babies on laps are statistically safe because air travel is so safe, the real threat is on the road, when they arrive.

If I'm being "overboard", why don't YOU show US statitics proving the EVERY car seat gets to its destination and that they are NEVER damaged. This is not "overzealous". If you're not familiar with air travel, bags get lost and damaged a lot. People also tend to minimalize whatever has never happened to them or someone they know.

Taking the car seat to the gate is really not a big deal. If I can manage it at large international airports alone with three kids. Car seats can be expensive and it just doesn't make sense to do something senseless with an important piece of safety equipment when taking it to the gate is not that big of a deal (if you're organized! that's key!!)

Checking a car seat is something easy to avoid and an unnecessary risk.
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#25 of 42 Old 11-04-2010, 11:32 AM
 
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Bags are sent through belts, often dropped on tarmacs, etc. A car seat is designed to withstand ONE accident, after that, you're supposed to replace it. The impact of being dropped on the tarmac while the truck is driving would easily be the equivalent.
Honestly, I think most car seats are "dropped" by the time you buy them anyways. Ever seen what some are packaged in? A lot of the seats I have ordered online have come to me only in a cardboard box, no padding in the box. I'm sure that box was dropped somewhere. And I would think it probably would have been had I bought it in the store as well. Sceneras only come in a bag.

That being said, I wouldn't check my car seat as luggage without packing it in a box with padding. But I have and would again gate checked seats in a car seat bag with our coats as extra padding. Never had an issue. I've only ever had one bag damaged (regular check) and one stroller (wasn't in a bag) in all of my flights, and we fly 3+ times a year depending, usually connecting flights.

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#26 of 42 Old 11-05-2010, 01:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so I just ordered a Scenera - at $38 it's less than it would be to rent. Really can't go wrong there - it could literally be disposable. I am going to pick up a cart or perhaps the T strap for the airport though, what cart do people usually use? I saw a few made specifically for car seats, but they are close to $100, and I'll just carry it for that price. I looked on the Walmart website and didn't see anything that would work. Is it just a luggage cart like this? http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lewis-N.-C...-Cart/14282310

Thanks for the help all!

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#27 of 42 Old 11-05-2010, 01:44 AM
 
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Honestly, a scenera is so light you can carry it in one hand. I'd wait until you get the seat and see if you really think it needs to be wheeled.

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#28 of 42 Old 11-05-2010, 09:49 AM
 
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Are you taking a stroller? The time I traveled with a stroller, I just bunjeed the car seat into the seat of the stroller, through the FF belt path. I carried DS in an Ergo on my back. One bonus was that I could toss my carry-on into the car seat, leaving me virtually hands-free... I just had to push a lightweight stroller! I gate checked the stroller and took the car seat on the plane.

The Scenera is very light, it won't be hard to carry if you don't have a stroller or cart.

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#29 of 42 Old 11-05-2010, 07:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1stTimeMama4/4/10 View Post
Okay, so I just ordered a Scenera - at $38 it's less than it would be to rent. Really can't go wrong there - it could literally be disposable. I am going to pick up a cart or perhaps the T strap for the airport though, what cart do people usually use? I saw a few made specifically for car seats, but they are close to $100, and I'll just carry it for that price. I looked on the Walmart website and didn't see anything that would work. Is it just a luggage cart like this? http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lewis-N.-C...-Cart/14282310

Thanks for the help all!

i ended up ordering 2 & they came today. (walmart-39.99 each) we didn't open them yet but the boxes are soooo light!!! wow.

i did confirm with alamo that renting would have been $10/day each seat-so for our trip-$40 each plus tax. now we have light weight seats for airport/air travel & extra seats for random situations with the cousins etc.

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#30 of 42 Old 11-07-2010, 12:07 AM
 
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Just wanted to re-iterate the gate check instead of baggage check. There are several youtube videos and I am digging for the one where they show the baggage handler just throwing the car seats, some of them hitting pretty hard. What if it was a heavier seat and it broke the recline mechanism on a Britax? Or the headrest on a TrueFit? What if it hit the harness adjuster plate and it didn't keep the harness tight enough in a collision? I don't baggage check my guitars--which are replaceable--so I certainly wouldn't risk damage to something that can affect my children's lives, which are NOT replaceable


Have a wonderful flight!!! And yes, Sceneras are SUPER light weight!!

Sunny coolshine.gif: gun toting, retired breastfeeding, car seat loving, guitar playing, home birthing and schooling mama to Jakob (10.06), Mikah (07.08) and Korah (07.11). uc.jpg 

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