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#1 of 21 Old 05-14-2012, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've read a lot from people on here latley talking about how unsafe it is to check a car seat at the airport. I get why it can be a concern but I am wondering what the alternitive is?

On our current trip we brought our seat to the gate hoping to get a seat for DS so he could sit in it but that was not possible so we had to check it at the gate, it was then forwarded to our final destination. As it turns out none of our baggage arrived on time including our car seat (which was another issue in it self, at airport with no seat!) so in reality it was in the hands of the airport staff for almost 24 hours before getting back to us. When we got it we checked it closly and it all looks fine but there is really no way of knowing what happened.

I could not bring a seat and borrow one from family here but I have seen them duck tape broken seats so thats not gonna happen!

So what do you do?

 

I do realise we could/ shoud buy a seat for ds but it was not possible on this trip

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#2 of 21 Old 05-14-2012, 05:02 AM
 
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Last time we flew we gate checked the seat. We were flying non-stop so that minimized how long it was being handled by baggage carriers.

IMO its one of those things you have to do, sometimes. I've wondered the same thing when I've read people say they would never use a seat had been checked, so I look forward to seeing the other responses!
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#3 of 21 Old 05-14-2012, 05:04 AM
 
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I've been able to insist it be brought up to the gate at our final destination, but I only had carry on luggage. Not sure if They would have otherwise

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#4 of 21 Old 05-15-2012, 11:34 AM
 
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Perhaps you should have made it clear that you wanted the seat returned to the jetway before your connection. I assume that your connection was full too. Were you flying a N.American based company? Those are usually good about returning gate-checked items on the jetway. Foreign companies, not so much.

 

The ideal is to purchase a seat for the child. This is actually the only way to fly safely. Lap babies are only allowed because there are very few air accidents on commercial planes but they have no protection if anything goes wrong. 

 

Car seat techs sometimes even recommend not bringing the car seat at all for a lap baby, unless you need it at your destination.

 

Gate checking is no guarantee as you found out the hard way but it's still better than luggage checking them. Yes, some car techs recommend trashing the seat. There is no way of really knowing if it's been damaged but there's no law saying you can't use it.  

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#5 of 21 Old 05-21-2012, 05:33 PM
 
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I frequently hear, "It wasn't possible this trip."  

Tha answer then is, "Then you need to stay home."   The only reason you think it not being possible is a viable excuse is that it's still legal.   If the law were different, and it will eventually be, you wouldn't even think of saying that, because it sounds as ridiculous as saying, "I  know we have 7 people in our family but we bought a five-seater car. A 7 seater car wasn't possible right now.  The two youngest children will just ride in our laps."  

Bottom line:  Buy your child a dedicated airline seat and use the restraint on board, or don't go.  Not only are you endangering your own child, you're endangering everyone around you because of an unsecured projectile (yes, your kid)


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#6 of 21 Old 05-21-2012, 05:54 PM
 
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The reason it's legal is flying as a lap child is still statistically safer than driving in a car with a car seat.
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#7 of 21 Old 05-21-2012, 08:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Maedze View Post

I frequently hear, "It wasn't possible this trip."  

Tha answer then is, "Then you need to stay home."   The only reason you think it not being possible is a viable excuse is that it's still legal.   If the law were different, and it will eventually be, you wouldn't even think of saying that, because it sounds as ridiculous as saying, "I  know we have 7 people in our family but we bought a five-seater car. A 7 seater car wasn't possible right now.  The two youngest children will just ride in our laps."  

Bottom line:  Buy your child a dedicated airline seat and use the restraint on board, or don't go.  Not only are you endangering your own child, you're endangering everyone around you because of an unsecured projectile (yes, your kid)

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rrrrrachel View Post

The reason it's legal is flying as a lap child is still statistically safer than driving in a car with a car seat.

 

Yeah.... gotta go with Rrrrrachel here.  I have flown with a lap child once.  The other choice was driving.  I did my research and from what I found we were safer to fly with a lap baby than to drive.  I would make the same choice again with the stats I've read.  If there is something that shows that driving is the safer choice, I would reconsider.  

 

No one says that a road trip is an unacceptable risk- that you should fly or not go.  Why is this different?

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#8 of 21 Old 05-22-2012, 06:02 AM
 
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The problem is that both sides are valid. There are very few accidents in commercial aviation. Taking a lap baby is a risk, but a very small one. The chances of a car seat being broken or lost because it was checked in as luggage is a greater risk than anything going wrong on the flight itself and road travel is the biggest threat to our children growing up in industrialized countries. Putting your child in a compromised car seat OR arriving at your destination and driving with your child completely unrestrained is a real gamble, not to mention that the latter is illegal in most places, unless it's a taxi.

 

I've done lap babies a few times. Outside of N.America, there are airlines that wont allow car seats, some don't even allow you to buy a ticket for a baby under 6 months old. Or they get into whether your car seat will be allowed or not, depending on what country it's from.

 

Flying with a baby in a car seat is really the only way to fly safely with a baby.  

 

The OP was lucky that the bags and car seat were returned in 24 hours. We had to wait 4 days for our bags to be returned but my dd had a seat and her car seat on the plane so she was safe for the 2 1/2 hour drive home. Unhappy about her toys... but safe in the car! 

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#9 of 21 Old 05-22-2012, 06:24 AM
 
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I don't like to be an alarmist but here is a picture (from a FA) of the result of what happened when an unrestrained adult was bounced in bad turbulance -

 

http://upupandagay.com/2012/04/15/turbulence-trouble-exclusive-photos/


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#10 of 21 Old 05-22-2012, 06:29 AM
 
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I understand physics and I understand that the risks involved are real and extreme. An incident that would otherwise be very survivable would almost certainly be deadly for a lap child. I don't intend to fly with my child as a lap child for that reason. However, when you out the risk in perspective (which means looking at how likely it is for something to happen, not looking at how bad it would be if something did happen) I don't think it's cause for shaming or scolding other mothers who make a different decision than I do. It's easy to talk in absolutes when you're not the one in the situation having to make the choice.
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#11 of 21 Old 05-22-2012, 10:54 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Maedze View Post

Tha answer then is, "Then you need to stay home."   The only reason you think it not being possible is a viable excuse is that it's still legal.   If the law were different, and it will eventually be, you wouldn't even think of saying that, because it sounds as ridiculous as saying, "I  know we have 7 people in our family but we bought a five-seater car. A 7 seater car wasn't possible right now.  The two youngest children will just ride in our laps."  

 

Really, stay home? That seems extreme to me. The only excuse isn't that it's legal. It's legal and statistically safe for a baby to ride on its parent's lap. It's safer than being in a car in a carseat. We'd probably all be safer if we just stayed home and didn't go anywhere. Wait, there's the risk of burning to death in your home. Better sit on the couch all day armed with fire extinguishers.

 

The actual odds of your unrestrained baby being injured in a car crash are extremely high, which is why car seats are mandatory. The odds of your unrestrained baby being injured in a plane crash are extremely low. Highly unlikely. The odds of a slow-speed plane crash where a baby having their own seat prevents injury? Even more unlikely.

U.S. Airways flight 1549 that landed in the Hudson River? There was a 9 month-old lap baby on-board who was perfectly fine.

As for turbulence, there's always someone who swears they knew someone who knew someone who knew a flight attendant who saw a child hurt by turbulence or loss of cabin pressure. Does anyone have any actual statistics for how many lap babies are injured or killed a year?

 

I do agree that theoretically the child is safest in it's own seat. However, how much more statistically safe is the child still remains to be proven.

 

With regard to the OP's question about what to do with car seats on plane. I'd say the safest place for your car seat is in the plane with the child in it. But if you're not buying a seat for the child, then gate check the car seat. (Or if you still have the box for the car seat, you could put it in that and then check it with your luggage). I'm planning on taking a trip soon, and my 3 year old will have his car seat on the plane. (Because I want his car seat to stay safe). My 1 year old lap baby will have his car seat gate checked. When I get back from vacation, that seat will now be my back up seat. I don't want to risk him driving everywhere in that car seat just in case something happened to it. Plus I need to get a new one for him soon, since he'll be exceeding the rearfacing weight limit soon.

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#12 of 21 Old 05-22-2012, 11:08 AM
 
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I would fly with a lap baby over driving with a baby in a properly installed car seat any time.  It's safer. 

 

Yes, ideally in a car seat is safest, but when it came down to driving 3000 miles with my kids in the car or flying with one of them as a lap baby, the latter was the safest choice.


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#13 of 21 Old 05-22-2012, 03:56 PM
 
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It is not 'safe' for a baby to ride on its parent's lap, just because it's safer, say, than throwing  a baby into a pit of live, hungry tigers.  That is a false comparison. 

 

Furthermore, bring a lap baby on board is selfish because you end up endangering everyone else as well.  They make you stow your 5 lb purse so it doesn't become a projectile and injure someone.  A 25 kid can do a lot more damage.  

 

The ONLY reason is that it's still legal is that 40 years, someone theorized that people wouldn't take a trip if they were 'forced' to buy a seat, so the airlines would lose money.   Firstly, that proved not to be true at all.   Secondly, the FAA itself, as well as every other safety and traffic organization also say, NEVER BRING A LAP BABY.  Only use a child restraint.  

"Legal" is not a synonym for "Safe" and that doesn't even touch on the selfish aspect of it. 


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#14 of 21 Old 05-23-2012, 09:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Maedze View Post

It is not 'safe' for a baby to ride on its parent's lap, just because it's safer, say, than throwing  a baby into a pit of live, hungry tigers.  That is a false comparison. 

 

Furthermore, bring a lap baby on board is selfish because you end up endangering everyone else as well.  They make you stow your 5 lb purse so it doesn't become a projectile and injure someone.  A 25 kid can do a lot more damage.  

 

The ONLY reason is that it's still legal is that 40 years, someone theorized that people wouldn't take a trip if they were 'forced' to buy a seat, so the airlines would lose money.   Firstly, that proved not to be true at all.   Secondly, the FAA itself, as well as every other safety and traffic organization also say, NEVER BRING A LAP BABY.  Only use a child restraint.  

"Legal" is not a synonym for "Safe" and that doesn't even touch on the selfish aspect of it. 

Okay... I'm not talking tigers.  I am talking a real actual comparison with the other viable option- driving.  

 

I suppose it could be argued that it is less selfish to drive than to have a lap child on an airplane.  Duly noted.  

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#15 of 21 Old 05-24-2012, 09:32 AM
 
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It's selfish to drive then, because I'm more likely to get in a car accident and hurt someone else on the road than I am bringing a lap baby on the plane. Flying is far safer than driving.

 

Also, I'm sure if you took a survey, the other passengers would much prefer I bring a lap baby on board whom I can easily nurse and comfort than a screaming baby in a car seat.

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#16 of 21 Old 05-24-2012, 09:43 AM
 
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What about taking the car seat on the plane? A lot of modern seats are safe for air travel as well, so get the baby a seat, put him in the car seat that works on the plane and in the car, then there's no question about what happened to the car seat en route and no possibility of car seat not arriving, then being stuck at airport with no safe way to get to the store and buy a new one.

 

When my son was almost 2, he and I flew halfway across the country this way. I don't feel comfortable risking him sitting on my lap in a plane (even if it's not as much of a risk as driving), and I needed it for trips once I reached my destination anyway. It was not convenient to lug around a toddler, his seat, and our luggage at all the airports by myself (we also had a layover), but there isn't much that isn't convenient when small children are involved!


Rachel, massage therapist and single mom :to Keanu 7/29/04 and Juniper 11/18/11!  Lovingfemalesling.GIFcd.gifnamaste.giflactivist.gifgd.giffambedsingle1.gif

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#17 of 21 Old 05-25-2012, 07:33 AM
 
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What about taking the car seat on the plane? A lot of modern seats are safe for air travel as well, so get the baby a seat, put him in the car seat that works on the plane and in the car, then there's no question about what happened to the car seat en route and no possibility of car seat not arriving, then being stuck at airport with no safe way to get to the store and buy a new one.

 

 

Of course that's ideal, but it is often financially prohibitive.  Plane fares are going up, and quickly!  These days an extra seat could easily be $400 or more. 

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#18 of 21 Old 05-25-2012, 08:46 AM
 
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Of course that's ideal, but it is often financially prohibitive.  Plane fares are going up, and quickly!  These days an extra seat could easily be $400 or more. 

Or in my case, an extra $2000ish when I took my baby half way round the world to meet my dying father. Thats why I kind of roll my eyes when people say 'just drive' or 'don't go if you can't buy your baby a seat'. Stastically the risk to my kids and other passengers is minuscule and I'm sure I take bigger risks every day when I take my kids in the car, swimming, cross the road, let them climb trees, etc.

Having said that, I tried my best to bring the seat on the plane ( succeeded 2 out of 4 flights), and the other 2 I wrapped it in bubble wrap and fragile stickers and gate checked.
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#19 of 21 Old 05-26-2012, 06:35 AM
 
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We fly between Europe and California once or twice a year. Yes, the "extra" seat was expensive. You don't need to lecture me on that! But my sanity has a price too and flying alone with three children, the only way to handle them is to have them in their own seats, especially when the youngest was at a crawling and then walking stage. So there's also a comfort factor going on here too! 

 

Also, the cost is a questionable point. You're going to have to pay once the baby is two years old regardless! 

 

Someone mentioned using the original box to check a seat as luggage. I don't recommend this IF the child is with you. This is an option for say, a pregnant woman or someone bringing a car seat to someone else at their destination. The difference? If the box is lost, it's not a big deal if the seat isn't there at the same time for those people. If the child is with you (lap baby or taken away for other reasons), this could be tricky. 

 

Also, at least one airline has on its site that the box must be factory sealed, to benefit from the insurance. 

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#20 of 21 Old 06-22-2012, 12:47 PM
 
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It's a moot point really after all those posts. That being said, bringing a car seat and having the kids stay in there is a scenario that works at a certain age. E.g. DS recently did great in his Radian during a transatlantic flight (3.5 years). DD, a lap baby, and yes, selfish me wasn't able to afford another $1400 ticket, did good in my arms, but would be furious for a full 10 hours if restrained in a car seat right next to me. SUre safe, but in my experience, kids between I just started walking and 24 months don't understand the need for restraint. No bribes will work when there is no level of reasoning there just yet. My SIL traveled just from SFO to Hawaii with her daughters around that age and they kicked and screamed the entire flight. I put my travel dates so that we won't fly again to Europe until DD is around 2.5 years old - she'll do great in her car seat then. 

 

Also, it is impossible to not get out of your seat during a 10-13 hour flight. You will have to pee eventually and the kids need to pee too or you need to change a diaper. But a turbulence could happen anytime. So in that logic - stay in your seat with your seatbelt buckled and pee your pants. Better safe than sorry ;)  --- I understand the risks. Flying statistically is much safer than riding a car. And evil selfish mom I am - I take them to preschool/to the market/ lessons every day in their rf-ing seats and statistically, that's a very bad thing. 

 

Last but not least, OP, I have checked car seats. I didn't know about the risks at first. I never had issues and examined my seats closely. During my last flight, I brought a Scenera and left it at my parents' house for the future (cause I also have CARES harnesses). I checked it. Lufthansa handcarried it to the plane and back to the baggage claim. They were very cautious with it. A Scenera can easily be looked over for cracks due to its simplicity. But I will never again be faced with this dilemma - DD will be 2 soon. THough I seriously HATE lugging car seats around the airport. But I have learned now to ask for help - airlines provide it and let you store the seats at the gate prior to boarding so you can roam around with your kidlets. Lufthansa didn't even "allow" me to carry, the guys insisted they will carry the thing through immigration/customs for me and safely put it down on a luggage cart!

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#21 of 21 Old 06-23-2012, 03:10 PM
 
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I fly Lufthansa a lot and I can't say that I've seen any of that. Also, if you checked them as luggage, you have no idea how they were treated once out of your sight.  

 

I was totally allowed to bring my car seats on board myself with Lufthansa. I used to work at Frankfurt Airport and parents did it all the time! The LH personal never touched them.

 

Also, you don't know if your car seats were really safe. There's no way of telling by just looking at it. No, the Scenera either. If you're in a crash, your car seats are replaced, even if they don't have obvious damage. Same goes for checking them as luggage. Don't kid yourself that it was impossible due to "simplicity" or some other excuse like that. The only way to truly know is if you get into an accident later on... so don't be so sure! 

 

Also, obviously no one said that a baby has to stay in a car seat for the entire flight. That's silly and not a valid "excuse" to fly with a lap baby. When we go to America, it takes 11 1/2 hours. We're up, walking around, etc. But when they drop off, which they have to in that period of time, they were safely strapped into their car seats. Then I could get some sleep too! But when they were awake, they were in my arms. The most dangerous portions of the flight are take-off and landing. There's no way you can hold your child. There's just too much G-force. 

 

Getting car seats through airports wasn't a big deal for us but I was very organized. I also left car seats at my parents for visits so I only had to bring one at a time.

 

If you want to save money by flying with a lap baby, that's your choice but please don't promote checking car seats as luggage. This is not safe and someone following this poor advice might arrive at the airport and be forced to drive with an unrestrained child. Driving, as you pointed out, is much more dangerous than flying. Also recounting that somehow certain airlines are all careful with car seats is not valid either. I've never seen that and I've been flying out of Germany for ages. 

 

Lufthunsa once lost three of my four suitcases but the car seat was with us so my dd was safe on the 2 hour drive home. We got them back 4 days later. 

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