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Flying with children: Will your car seat be allowed on the airplane?

Label showing this restraint is certified for use in aircraft

Look for this label BEFORE flying with your car seat.

Ahhh, as if flying with children–and flying with car seats–weren’t challenging enough.

Just recently, a flight attendant stopped my husband as we boarded a flight with the kids, saying skeptically, “Excuse me sir, but I’ll need to verify that car seat is approved for air travel.”

It was our Sit N Stroll (since discontinued).

I had to stop myself from laughing out loud. After all, more than any other car seat, this was created for air travelers and has been on the market for several years.

Nevertheless, it was a good reminder that we should always “be prepared for the car seat police” when flying with a child safety seat. Before you attempt taking any car seat onto an aircraft, make sure:

  • Your car seat is FAA-approved for air travel (remember that no car seats requiring tether for installation or belt-positioning boosters requiring a shoulder belt are approved for air travel).
  • You know exactly where it is printed on your car seat label (in RED LETTERING, as shown above) that proves it is certified for use in aircraft and will be able to point to it upon boarding.
  • You have a confirmed seat where you will install your child’s car seat (either a paid seat or a spare seat confirmed for your lap child’s use by the airline before boarding), in an appropriate seating position for a child safety seat (window or centermost seats in wide-body aircraft).

Remember: Some car seats that may later convert to belt-positioning boosters can only be used on aircraft as a car seat with the 5-point safety harness. It may be more difficult to find the FAA-approval on these car seats themselves, and sometimes it may only state how and when they are approved for use in aircraft in the manual – in which case you’ll want to be sure to have it with you!

Have you been stopped by the car seat police? How did you handle it? Were you able to keep your seat for the flight? If you have more questions about car seats on airplanes, I’ve included some of the most popular topics below or you can click here for the Air Travel Tips and Advice help index page.

Related posts and pages:

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, Author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby 

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