If you’ve booked a flight with your child, you may be thinking about taking their car seat to keep them safe and comfortable. Flying with your car seat also means that you’ll have it ready to use at your destination. We explain the rules about taking a car seat on a plane and share our top travelling tips to help your trip go smoothly.
Can I take my car seat on a plane?
Some airlines may have restrictions on the use of car seats, so always check with your airline first. If your airline does allow car seats, it must normally be an FAA or TÜV-approved seat, which means it is approved for use in an aircraft.
To find out if you have an airline-approved car seat, check to see if it is marked “For Use In Aircraft”.
Why take a baby car seat on a plane?
Your baby will feel more comfortable and calmer on the flight when strapped into his or her own familiar car seat. That can mean a more peaceful journey for you and your fellow passengers. It’s also the safest way for your baby to fly. In unexpected turbulence or emergencies, the car seat is a safer place than in your lap.
Bear in mind that if you decide to take your baby car seat on the plane you may have to pay for a seat for your child. Speak to your airline before you book and ask about discounted fares.
Flying with a car seat rules and tips
- Any approved child seat will have a maximum width of 44 cm (17”), so it will fit in most aeroplane seats. If in doubt, check with your airline first.
- Reserve adjoining seats. Bear in mind that some airlines request that child seats are only used in a window seat, so it will not block the escape path in an emergency.
- Remember, child seats are not allowed in an emergency exit row.
- If you do not buy a ticket for your child, ask if your airline will allow you to use an empty seat. If your airline’s policy allows this, avoid the busiest days and times to increase the chances of finding an empty seat next to you.
My flight provides bassinets for babies. Do I still need to take a car seat on the plane?
Speak to your airline to find out if they will provide a bassinet for your child. If this is available, you may not be allowed to bring your baby car seat on board and may need to check it as baggage.
Whilst a bassinet gives your baby somewhere flat to lie, it is not as safe as their car seat.
- The bassinet does not come with a harness so your child lies unrestrained.
- In turbulence, you will be required to remove your baby from the bassinet and hold him or her on your lap. This is not as safe a place as their car seat. It will also disturb them if they are sleeping.
- The bassinet has to be stowed for take-off and landing, so you will need to take your child out, disturbing them if they are asleep.
Checking in a car seat as baggage
Even if you don’t want to use your car seat on the flight itself, you may want to take your car seat on your trip. Most airlines will allow you to check a car seat into the hold for free in addition to your baggage allowance. This applies to toddler car seats and booster seats as well as baby car seats. Check with your airline first to be sure of the rules.
Will I need a car seat on holiday?
Child car seat laws and guidelines vary from country to country. In the United States, different states also have different rules. Remember, some countries have rules on using a car seat in a taxi as well as in a hired or private car. If you get it wrong, you could face fines that are sure to spoil the holiday mood. To be certain that the car seat you are using is legal, you should check the road safety rules for your destination.
If you’re hiring a car on holiday, you can book a car seat for your child at the same time. However, you may prefer to take your own car seat so you can be confident that it will offer the best level of safety for your child.
Find out more about car seat laws around the world.