Air travel Q's (gate check carseat on American)? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 08-22-2011, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello.  We are planning a surprise trip to see my inlaws in 2 weeks...and here is our conundrum.  they have spare carseats at their home, BUT since we are flying in for a big family surprise, we can't use them. We will have to lug our two Graco Nautilus' with us - I simply don't want to, and can't afford to, buy new lighter travel seats AGAIN !  

 

We always have flown southwest, but it looks like the first leg of this flight will be American Airlines.  We are purchasing tickets for both kids, too old for lap seats.  Can you check carseat at the gate for AMerican without being charged?  Also, anyone have experience putting a Nautilus in a seat on an AA flight ?  In case we decide to go that route ? 

 

Thanks for your help !  

 

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#2 of 50 Old 08-22-2011, 12:49 PM
 
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you can check at the ticket counter or gate for no charge for either,, the only American restriction is on large or non folding strollers, (like big doubles or jogging types that weight over 20 pounds those must be checked at the ticket counter but still are free. 


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#3 of 50 Old 08-22-2011, 02:10 PM
 
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I strongly recommend against checking your seats.  You are risking damage that will compromise their ability to protect your children in a crash (damage you may not even notice when they're returned to you) or loss.

 

If your children are using them in harnessed mode, the safest thing to do is to use them on the plane. 


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#4 of 50 Old 08-22-2011, 06:17 PM
 
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what kind of damage do you think could happen to  them?  i just traveled across country and gate checked 2 seats on each leg. bagged them in thick clear bag the airline provided and felt they were pretty safe. 

 

 


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#5 of 50 Old 08-22-2011, 07:19 PM
 
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Unfortunately, they were not safe.  Car seats tend to be handled very poorly as luggage, gate checked or otherwise.   They can be thrown, jumped on, tossed onto the tarmac.  I have personally examined seats that were damaged when gate checked.   

 

The 'bag' does not provide protection against structural damage.  I would never use a seat for my own children that had been checked on an aircraft, and I would advise anyone who has one to discontinue use and replace it with a new seat.   


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#6 of 50 Old 08-22-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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well the plastic bag does show wear and tear and if it were dropped on the tarmac or jumped on , it would have scuffed or outright ripped the bag, so i feel pretty safe that that did not happen. these are not fragile items for the most part, if they could be hurt by simply dropping them on concrete from a reasonable height of being held we would have a huge issue on our collective hands from just the day to day handling of them by their owners. and warning labels so loud as to be crazy.

 

i do think that gate check is slightly more safe, since it never goes on the vehicles and gets tossed around a few less times per flight. i will continue to fly with mine rather than use a rented or borrowed one , now in that case you really dont know how it has been cared for!


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#7 of 50 Old 08-23-2011, 09:34 AM
 
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I agree with PP.  Checking a carseat is a bad bad bad idea.  if you were willing to lug the things all the way to the gate, why not go the extra 20 feet and just use it on the plane?  shrug.gif

 

Traveling with little kiddos is tough business.  I almost did it while both my boys are still in carseats and would have actually really needed them on the plane.  But I was to chicken. 

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#8 of 50 Old 08-23-2011, 10:11 AM
 
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The only issue I've ever had with checking seats at gate with aa, is that they really wanted it to go with the regular luggage, so the seat would have to make it's way through the baggage process. The only reason I was able to pick it back up at the gate at the end of my flight is that I was only traveling with carry-ons.

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#9 of 50 Old 08-23-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Charlie's~Angel~ View Post

I agree with PP.  Checking a carseat is a bad bad bad idea.  if you were willing to lug the things all the way to the gate, why not go the extra 20 feet and just use it on the plane?  shrug.gif


because depending on the age of your kids they may not have their own seat! but in my case i was traveling with 2 six month old twins and needed the car seats and a snap and go to get them to the gate, but clearly could not take said items on board with me.

 

i still dont see what kind of damage you both are referring to that is going to make my seat less crash worthy. specially if i make a point of wrapping it up so they cant grab the thing by any straps


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#10 of 50 Old 08-24-2011, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for everyone's opinions.  Any experience putting a Nautilus on an airplane seat...specifically.  It just seems like such  wide seat (compared to the cosco scenario we used to use while traveling).  

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#11 of 50 Old 08-24-2011, 03:46 PM
 
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i still dont see what kind of damage you both are referring to that is going to make my seat less crash worthy. specially if i make a point of wrapping it up so they cant grab the thing by any straps

 

A host of things could have gone wrong. They could be thrown down one of those chutes some airports use for gate-checked items (basically throwing them to the ground), they could have been crushed under luggage or fallen off a truck on their way to the plane (if they were checked at the counter). Just go on YouTube and there are tons of mishandled luggage videos...

 

The fact is that a car seat is meant to protect your child in ONE crash. After that, your car seat is supposed to be replaced and paid for by your insurance even if there is no obvious damage. The force of being crushed or tossed could easily be the same impact as a moderate crash. This is also the reasoning behind why car seats expire. You can't just look at them and determine how safe they are. 

 

This is, aside from the whole question of having the car seat when you arrive. If you check a car seat as luggage, it could easily be "misrouted" and might take days to get back to you, in whatever shape. The airlines will NOT compensate for what they consider to be a "delicate item" (AA's website says this outright). 

 

With two adults and only two car seats, bringing them on board shouldn't be a big deal. Buy those metal luggage carts and make sure they're bungeed on them well. I even used this instead of a stroller. Please don't waste money on one of those GogoTravelmate thingies. It's basically an overpriced luggage cart and I've heard reports of them breaking in airports. They only have a plastic base. Get one with a metal base. Stow it on the floor during the flight (not in the overhead bin). Did this on many Europe to California flights and it went great. 

 

P.S. Can you think of a good way to "sneak" one or both seats out from your unsuspecting in-laws? Perhaps a relative or friend living near them can ask to borrow the seats for visitors with children (which is true-they just don't know the "visitors" are YOU). Borrowing just one seat might look less suspicious and then you only have one on the flight. Make sure the seats get to whomever is picking you up at the airport. Just an idea ;) 

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#12 of 50 Old 08-24-2011, 07:15 PM
 
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ok sorry for encouraging this thread to get sidetracked, i would like to drop it and go back to the original posters questions.

 

i would guess that you can call the airline and ask how wide the seats on that particular airline are and as long as you have the width it seem like it would be straight forward. I'm not sure if www.seatgugu.com states widths on all seats, but they do for a lot of them, if you haven't checked out that website it is a wealth of amazing info, i always have it open when picking my seats!


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#13 of 50 Old 08-25-2011, 02:59 AM
 
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It's still important to get through to parents that checking car seats as luggage is NOT a good idea. Hope you're straightened out on that! 

 

Just a warning, the information on Seatguru is not always correct so double check directly with the airlines' site. 

 

Also, if the width of the car seat exceeds the width of the airplane seat, don't panic. There's a lot of wiggle room. First of all, you the parent, wont mind if a little of it spills over into your seat. You can raise the armrests if necessary. Car seats are wide in different places so chances are, you can still get the seat installed and wont be uncomfortable. 

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#14 of 50 Old 08-25-2011, 09:18 PM
 
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I have brought the nautilus on a plane (I believe Jetblue and United) and it was fine.


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#15 of 50 Old 08-25-2011, 10:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maedze View Post

Unfortunately, they were not safe.  Car seats tend to be handled very poorly as luggage, gate checked or otherwise.   They can be thrown, jumped on, tossed onto the tarmac.  I have personally examined seats that were damaged when gate checked.   

 

The 'bag' does not provide protection against structural damage.  I would never use a seat for my own children that had been checked on an aircraft, and I would advise anyone who has one to discontinue use and replace it with a new seat.   


you can not possible know this.    OP - it is fine to check your seats.  I have personally examined seats that were fine after being gate checked.  I have NEVER seen a baggage handler jump on seats. 

 

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#16 of 50 Old 08-25-2011, 10:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by ~Adorkable~ View Post

well the plastic bag does show wear and tear and if it were dropped on the tarmac or jumped on , it would have scuffed or outright ripped the bag, so i feel pretty safe that that did not happen. these are not fragile items for the most part, if they could be hurt by simply dropping them on concrete from a reasonable height of being held we would have a huge issue on our collective hands from just the day to day handling of them by their owners. and warning labels so loud as to be crazy.

 

i do think that gate check is slightly more safe, since it never goes on the vehicles and gets tossed around a few less times per flight. i will continue to fly with mine rather than use a rented or borrowed one , now in that case you really dont know how it has been cared for!



People check wheelchairs and other things just as important (if not more) as car seats.  Checking at the gate is perfectly safe.  Checking with luggage is probably fine, too, but if you check at the gate you get it faster upon arrival :)

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#17 of 50 Old 08-26-2011, 03:03 AM
 
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I worked for the airlines for 13 years and I'll assure you that wheelchairs are NOT handled as car seats and other luggage is. There are laws which protect people with handicaps and their wheelchairs, by law have to be on the jetway, in good shape. The airlines get into a lot of trouble if they don't follow the law. Car seats have NO such protections. Most are just treated as luggage. The chutes that some airports use for gate-checked items are NOT used for wheelchairs, which are hand-carried down for these reasons. If the airline is not required to hand carry other items, they wont.

 

Sports equipment often has an extra fee and are handled differently just because of the shape and size, which prevent these items from being handled with the rest of the luggage. Again, car seats have no such limitations. They can just be thrown down chutes and thrown on trucks like any other bags. 

 

The other obvious point which you are ignoring is what do you do if your luggage doesn't arrive when you do? How are you supposed to leave the airport? What are you supposed to use for your child? Anyone who has ever lost luggage will tell you that it can take days to get things back, if at all (usually yes but often in bad shape since it was probably sent to the wrong city). 

 

Gate-checking is a lesser evil, for parents who don't have any other option (not allowed to use the seat on board, lap baby, etc.) Gate checked things are also forgotten, no time to load, or whatever. There's less chance of something going wrong but once it's out of your sight, anything can happen. Baggage handlers are working under tight schedules. The pressure is for them to load the plane on time. There is a reason why the airlines will NOT compensate for damaged car seats! 

 

The OP might want to look into a Ride Safer Travel Vest, if they think they can get use with it for the future. It can't be used on the flight but would mean just one car seat to take.

 

The argument "I checked my car seat and it was fine" is not valid. There is no way to really know unless you're in a crash. Car seats are not indestructible and I know what checking luggage has done to enough of my suitcases! (I've flown over 40 airlines in 50 countries). I don't need my car seat going through the same abuse. I've watched baggage handlers at the airport. It's not pretty. Checking car seats is not a smart thing to do. 

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you can not possible know this.    OP - it is fine to check your seats.  I have personally examined seats that were fine after being gate checked.  I have NEVER seen a baggage handler jump on seats. 

 


Ah, yes, Swede is back to make antagonistic, ignorant statements that could endanger children. I have observed that you frequently make 'opinion' statements on this forum that are contrary to all established fact.

I 'know' it because car seats are my job. I would not presume to tell you what you know in your field of work. Please refrain from allowing your need to pick a fight endanger children.


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#19 of 50 Old 08-26-2011, 06:45 AM
 
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Quote:
you can not possible know this.    OP - it is fine to check your seats.  I have personally examined seats that were fine after being gate checked.  I have NEVER seen a baggage handler jump on seats.  

 

How about tossing the gate checked car seat down the ramp so it goes splat on the ground? Is that cool?? There is another clip where they treat her strollers with the same respect as well. That took me two seconds of Googling. I would NEVER trust a baggage carrier with a car seat.

 

 

http://wn.com/southwest_baggage_handlers

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Ah, yes, Swede is back to make antagonistic, ignorant statements that could endanger children. I have observed that you frequently make 'opinion' statements on this forum that are contrary to all established fact.

I 'know' it because car seats are my job. I would not presume to tell you what you know in your field of work. Please refrain from allowing your need to pick a fight endanger children.
 

 

Not trying to make is antagonistic.  You are the one who acts condescending towards everyone and speaks in absolutes.  You can not know what goes on with every car seat.    MOST carseats are fine when they are gate -checked.  So many of you recommendations are over-the-top and unneccessary.  Why don't you just tell people not to drvie, period.  BEcause that is actually where the danger lies. 

 

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#21 of 50 Old 08-26-2011, 07:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oaktreemama View Post

 

 

How about tossing the gate checked car seat down the ramp so it goes splat on the ground? Is that cool?? There is another clip where they treat her strollers with the same respect as well. That took me two seconds of Googling. I would NEVER trust a baggage carrier with a car seat.

 

 

http://wn.com/southwest_baggage_handlers



/This is what is called an antecdote.

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#22 of 50 Old 08-26-2011, 08:07 AM
 
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I flew AA a week ago and checked my seat. You can take the cover off to see if the styrofoam is still all in tact. Personally, there is no way my seat would have fit on the AA connector flight we took (tiny plane). I didnt book the flight, my parents did, Id never choose to fly on those tiny planes. When AA takes your carseat at the gate, a lot of times they go ahead and put it with the regular baggage under the plane and you dont get it back until your final destination. At any rate, I think the carseat is fine. I examined it thoroughly and the bag was not damaged in any way.

As for your carseat, do you know which size plane you will be flying on? Is it nonstop or will you be connected?

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Quote:

This is what is called an antecdote 

 

Huh. We call those videos where I am from.

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#24 of 50 Old 08-26-2011, 09:24 AM
 
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Huh. We call those videos where I am from.

 

I was referring to the content of the video :)  Have a great day!


 

 

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#25 of 50 Old 08-26-2011, 12:40 PM
 
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folks, we are not helping anyone by bickering. A "I'm right, how dare you think you are or tell me otherwise" approach is not going to get any one anywhere ever. i mean really have you ever seen that work on MDC?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
 Hope you're straightened out on that! 

we are not here to be "straightened out", at least i'm not. I' here to learn and share
 

 



Quote:
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Ah, yes, Swede is back to make antagonistic, ignorant statements that could endanger children.
 


maybe there was a way to say this without also doing the very thing you were complaining about. antagonistic rebuttals are about as useful as antagonistic statements.

 

 

 

now the original poster has probably long been scared off, maybe off MDC all together, i hope not. Sorry for your thread going so sideways, as you an see we all care about our children's safety a LOT.

 


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#26 of 50 Old 08-27-2011, 04:39 AM
 
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My DP worked for several years as a baggage handler at SeaTac in high school.   She agrees that if you check your carseat, you should assume it has been dropped from a height, jumped on, buried under a few hundred pounds of suitcases, and probably a bunch of other stuff.  I read her this post in particular:

Quote:
you can not possible know this.    OP - it is fine to check your seats.  I have personally examined seats that were fine after being gate checked.  I have NEVER seen a baggage handler jump on seats. 

 

 

She laughed and said "of course she's never seen a baggage handler jump on seats.  They only do that INSIDE the plane.  Why would you jump on luggage while it's on the cart?"   I know that just watching out the windows before takeoff I've seen many pieces of luggage fall of the top of those little carts (maybe 6-8ft up) and just get flung back up again.  Sometimes a few times if the handler's flinging skills aren't so hot.  I'm 100% sure they'd do that with a carseat if it were on top. And carseats are treated exactly the same as any other luggage, NOT like medical devices like wheelchairs. 

 

Needless to say, we don't check seats.  We do fly with lap babies sometimes, I feel that the risks there are acceptable, but only when we have seats on the other side.  I have gate checked a seat before (and DP feels this is much safer since the seat is not handled nearly so much) but I prefer to avoid that when possible. 


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#27 of 50 Old 08-27-2011, 12:49 PM
 
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So, can someone just explain this to me? 

 

The way I see it, the force involved via being dropped, bounced on, tossed around by baggage handlers, etc is surely MUCH less significant than the force experienced in a car crash? Yes?

 

There is also the obvious difference of a child not actually being IN the seat while all these baggage handlers are trying to make my seat unsafe. Therefore, while the seat is being tossed around, it is not receiving stress to the restraints or the attachment points. 

 

Obviously a seat should be replaced after it has been involved in an accident, but I just do not see the scientific reason behind the recommendation that a seat be replaced after being dropped. Based on that reasoning, if I drop my seat in the driveway, it is junk and I should replace it. Really? I'm trusting my kid's life to something that poorly made? 

 

I'm seriously just asking. If my line of thinking is just ill-informed, I'd love for someone to present me the facts. I'm a huge carseat safety nut, but this just doesn't make sense to me. We don't have a lifestyle that involves flying right now, but if we fly in the future, I'd really like to make the best decision possible. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#28 of 50 Old 08-27-2011, 03:07 PM
 
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if I drop my seat in the driveway, it is junk and I should replace it. Really? I'm trusting my kid's life to something that poorly made?

 

Even if you have a monster-sized SUV and you drop it from there, we're only talking a few feet. 

 

When you fly, your luggage is sent through a conveyer belt and usually then on to a truck. Sometimes it's put into a luggage container, a sort of large, tin bin which is then loaded on to the aircraft. Otherwise, it's taken off the truck and put on a belt, taking it up to the cargo hold of the aircraft. There are YouTube videos of luggage, including car seats, being thrown from the truck and piled up to be sent into the aircraft. Things can also drop off the truck and that would mean it would have the same impact as an accident could. We're basically talking a lot of handling with heavy objects and lots of chances to drop off of something (the belt, the truck, while being loaded, etc.) 

 

Those aircraft are a lot higher than they look and it's concrete under them. 

 

Then there's the whole question about where it's placed. Will a bunch of other bags be loaded on top of your car seat? Then sit there for how many hours? 

 

Also, don't forget about if your car seat doesn't even make it on board. What will you do to transport your child in the car, without a car seat? It might take days to get your seat back. I once had only one of my four bags when I arrived but our car seat was with us so my dd was safe for the 2 hour drive home. Our bags came three days later. 

 

It's not that car seats are "poorly made", it's that they're only designed to withstand ONE accident. They're also not designed with the idea that they'll be tossed and crushed with normal use. 

 

I'm also unclear about why the baby being in it would make a difference. It's less the "attachment points" than the whole seat being at risk. The "L" shape would also make it more vulnerable than a squarish shaped object. I can tell you from experience, that I've had some pretty beaten up bags on arrival! 

 

The car seat is designed to keep your child attached during an accident. It's not meant to be crushed or thrown by itself.  

 

There is a reason why the airlines wont compensate for broken car seats! 

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#29 of 50 Old 09-11-2011, 08:42 AM
 
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I have a question here that doesn't seem to be answered in any of the discussion above - I definitely understand the risks of checking or gate checking a car seat. But if you have a lap baby and no way to have a carseat waiting on the other end of your trip, what are you supposed to do???

 

The first (and only) time we traveled with our DS on a plane, when he was 9 months old, we rented a carseat from the car rental place. We had such a horrible experience renting the seat that I vowed never to do it again. We specifically requested an infant seat, and when we got there, they didn't have any. They said all they had were booster seats, although eventually someone dug up a convertible seat, but we had no instructions for how to install it.

 

We have several plane trips coming up for this fall - two to visit grandparents and one for a wedding. I'm not going to ask the grandparents, who we travel to visit *maybe* once a year, to buy carseats for one-time use. (Besides which, my parents don't even have an appropriate car for a baby - all they have are pickup trucks.) For all these trips, we were planning to rent a car and buy a carseat to bring with us.

 

I've read a lot of people saying to never check a seat, but what no one says is what you *should* do instead to ensure that you have a carseat at your destination. Especially if you have a lap baby and there are no extra seats for your carseat on the plane. Any advice?

 

 


First time mom to Max, born 8.23.2010!
sunwise is offline  
#30 of 50 Old 09-11-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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I am curious too about how people have solved that. the only things I can think of are a. see if the grandparents can borrow a seat from somebody they know for a few days, and bring it to you at the airport to stick in your rental car, b. camp out with the baby at the airport while hubby takes the rental car to Babies R Us and buys a car seat, or c. order off the Internet/give the grandparents money to buy a seat and get them to bring it to you.

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