Home Air Travel Seven Easy Ways to Get Your Car Seat Through the Airport

Seven Easy Ways to Get Your Car Seat Through the Airport

by Shelly Rivoli
Published: Last Updated on
easy ways to get a car seat through the airport

Looking for an easy way to get your car seat through the airport on your next vacation? Whether you plan to use your child’s car seat on the airplane or not it’s far better to check the car seat at the gate than subject it to the rigors of the airport baggage system and 50 lb. suitcases traveling through it.

Remember, any car seat that’s been in even a low-speed accident should be replaced. And items checked at the gate are far more likely to meet you on the other end as well! 😉

Fortunately, getting that one extra (and often cumbersome) item through the airport may be easier than you think. Here are the seven best ways to get your child’s FAA-approved car seat through the airport.

And for more help, DO NOT MISS: How to Travel With a Car Seat (Without Losing Your Mind). But first! Pin this to your travel board for future reference and to help others.

Get your child's car seat through the airport and to your gate with ease. Helpful tips and gear for your next family vacation when traveling by airplane. #flying #carseat #familytravel
Pin “Seven easy ways to get your car seat through the airport” to your travel board for future reference. 😉

1. Use a travel system or stroller frame if possible

the Doona infant car seat with built-in folding travel system

If you’ll be traveling with an infant, there’s no easier way to get that car seat to your gate (and everywhere else you’ll travel) than to take advantage of the most streamlined of infant car seat travel systems around.

Both the Doona infant car seat (shown above) and the Evenflo Shyft DualRide come with built-in stroller wheels that fold out in seconds with no separate frame or stroller needed.

Infant car seats that ride on strollers as a “travel system” or on simple stroller frames are also fantastic for travel. If your child’s car seat is compatible with a regular travel stroller, you may have the advantage of a deeper reclining seat, more shade coverage, or more storage, depending on the model (see recommended infant car seats for travel here)

If you won’t be using your infant car seat seat on an airplane, just check the car seat and/or stroller frame at the gate (free with virtually all airlines). Ask for the necessary gate-check tag at the counter there and leave it on the jetway as you board your flight.

Better yet, if you are unexpectedly offered an empty seat for your baby (doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but it’s not entirely unheard of), you’ll have the car seat with you to use during your flight. Just remember, car seats generally must be placed in a window seat or center of center rows.

Flying with a convertible car seat or booster? Read on!

2. Use the handles of your travel stroller

If you have a travel stroller with two separate handles, you may be able to put the carrying handle of your infant car seat in the farthest back position and hang it over your stroller handle.

Or if you’re traveling with a convertible or toddler car seat, you may be able to lengthen the straps of your car seat and loop them over the handles with the car seat facing your stroller.

Just remember, if your travel stroller is very lightweight, you’ll NEED to remove the car seat before removing your child to avoid a tip over (the same goes for when you hang that heavy diaper bag or daypack on it). See my recommended strollers in the Best Lightweight Strollers for Travel.

However, if you want to check your car seat at the gate and don’t plan to use it on the airplane, you’ll want some sort of protection for it. My next recommendations can help with that, too.

3. Carry the car seat on your back

backpack carrying case for large car seats and boosters

You can try wearing the car seat over your shoulders by lengthening its harness straps. Though if your car seat isn’t a good fit for you, you may change your mind about this plan somewhere around Gate 47 (where I hit my limit).

A better solution is this padded car seat backpack carrier with ergonomic shoulder straps. You’ll also have the bonus of added storage space for loose jackets and other items you can zip in and check with the car seat at your gate.

Find out more about why I recommend THIS car seat carrier (the J.L. Childress Ultimate) and some others on my Best Car Seat Travel Bags and Carriers page.

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4. Use a protective car seat travel bag with wheels

car seat travel bag with wheels and backpack straps

Don’t want to be stuck carrying the car seat on your back the whole way through the airport? This versatile car seat travel bag gives you three ways to get your child and your car seat to the gate with ease:

  1. Roll your car seat zipped into this travel bag with four 360-degree spinner wheels.
  2. Wear it as a backpack with ergonomic shoulder straps and bonus chest and waist straps for extra support.
  3. Strap it to your large rolling carry-on suitcase with its tether (included) until you get to the check-in counter.

You can find out more about why I recommend THIS rolling car seat bag (and why you might choose it) on my Best Car Seat Travel Bags and Carriers page.

5. Use a rolling car seat cart or trolley

a car seat travel cart to help get through airports

Still wondering what to do with your child as you get your car seat through the airport? This sturdy travel cart let’s you secure your car seat or high back safety booster to its frame and wheel your kid right through the airport in their car seat.

Ahem, you will need to disconnect kid from car seat at security. 😉

It also folds compactly to fit in the overhead bin during your flight. Works with most convertible, forward-facing, and high-back safety boosters.

You can read more about why I recommend this Britax travel cart on my Best Car Seat Travel Bags and Carriers page.

6. Wheel your child, car seat, and carry-on suitcase in one

Luggage strap designed to attach car seat to rolling suitcase at the airport

Alternatively, you can use this specialty luggage strap that attaches your child’s FAA-approved car seat to your rolling carry-on bag. It enables you to roll your child strapped in her car seat through the airport along with one carry-on suitcase.

You can read more about why I recommend this car seat luggage strap and how it might help you on my Best Car Seat Travel Bags and Carriers Page.

7. Use a car seat alternative instead of a car seat

If you’d really like to travel light — but without compromising safety on the plane or on the road at your destination, consider this combination.

In motor vehicles, you can use the RideSafer travel vest instead of a traditional car seat for kids 3 years and older. You can read all about the RideSafer travel vest as a car seat alternative in my full review.

child with car seat alternative travel vest for taxis and cars
The RideSafer travel vest makes sightseeing by taxi a breeze.

For children 1 year and older weighing at least 25 lbs., you can use the CARES flight safety harness on the airplane instead of a car seat. This 4-point safety harness is FAA-approved for all phases of flying (including taxiing and landing). See more photos and details in my CARES flight safety harness review.

toddler flying with CARES child safety harness for airplanes
Our toddler using CARES on an airplane instead of a car seat.

If your child isn’t old/big enough to use the Ride Safer vest yet, but could use CARES on the airplane, you might consider renting a car seat at your destination. You can rent car seats from most car rental agencies, or from a baby gear rental agency (see directory of baby gear rentals here).

MORE HELP HERE: How to Travel With a Car Seat (Without Losing Your Mind)

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby guidebooks

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Get more tips for flying with babies and toddlers:

Want more help preparing to fly with a baby or toddler? You’ll find more than 80 pages of helpful advice on planning, preparing for, and perfecting air travel with children under 5 in the award-winning Travels with Baby: The Ultimate Guide for Planning Travel with Your Baby, Toddler, and Preschooler.

And be sure to stop by the Flying with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers Tips page.

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Shelly’s new book Hiking with Kids Southern California: 45 Great Hikes for Families includes hikes in Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Death Valley, Joshua Tree, and Channel Islands national parks as well as several state and city parks, natural preserves, and national forests.

More tips for flying with car seats:

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The Best Convertible / Toddler Car Seats for Travel

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American Airlines with a Baby or Toddler

Best Baby Travel Beds and Toddler Sleeping Solutions

Southwest Airlines with a Baby or Toddler

Travels with Baby guidebooks by Shelly Rivoli

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