You read our article on flying with children, realized that it's the best to fly with a car seat, and now it's time to figure out how the heck to transport a car seat to the airplane.
Honestly, you will need to seriously step up your creativity, space management and arm yourself with patience. Once you're stuck at the airport gate with your kids, luggage, and now a car seat on top of everything, oh boy, that will take time.
But hey, all parents are superheroes, right?
Don't worry, Clark Kent, I have your back. By the usual trial and mistake method, I figured out the most efficient car seat airport carrier. Additionally, to help the community, I composed a list of the 5 best ways to transport your car seat to the airplane.
So, make a cup of coffee and figure it all out!
Table of Contents
- Why Do I Need a Car Seat in the First Place?
- Can I Gate Check the Car Seat?
- How to Select the Best Car Seat Carrier?
- Budget-Friendly Options
- Less Cost-efficient but More Functional Solutions
- Top 3 Finest Recommendations
- The Verdict
- Final Thoughts
Read more —
Why Do I Need a Car Seat in the First Place?
If you aren't entirely familiar with the matter, like I wasn't at first, the official regulations don't make the use of car seats for toddlers mandatory on airplanes.
However, the recommendations of pediatricians and the Federal Aviation Administration are to use it anyway. It has been proven in many survivable plane crashes that kids held in lap were more prone to severe injuries or even fatal results.
This happens because, in the case of hazard, the parents can not provide a secure hold of the child. On the other side, the car seats will secure your kiddo in the case of turbulence, or god forbid, an accident, especially if they're rear faced. So, don't play with your child's safety. Bring it along!
Can I Gate Check the Car Seat?
If you’re not planning to use the car seat on the airplane, you can check it at the gate. Airlines mainly do not charge for the car seat checking.
However, the whole point of bringing a car seat to the airport is to use it in the airplane, so I highly recommend getting the seat with you and installing it properly on an airplane seat. If you choose to do this, your seat will be regularly inspected by airport security, either manually or through a scanner.
A pro tip is to call the airline and ask if you can pre-board. This literally saves lives when it comes to flying with car seats. You can avoid the hassle of the crowd and board more efficiently. Plus, the plane staff will have some extra time to fill you in on the safety details and help you install your car seat.
How to Select the Best Car Seat Carrier?
Choosing the right car seat carrier is by no means a straightforward task. There are countless things we have to consider; after all, we'll end up with this carrier for the entire time of our vacation.
Therefore, there are a few simple rules that I always think of when I'm flying with a car seat:
Now that we've gone through the things we need to think about before we opt for a particular car seat carrier, we will proceed to the most efficient ways of transporting a car seat to the airplane. Stay tuned!
If you feel reluctant to pay an extra buck for a car seat carrier, there are three budget-friendly options for you. Now, I’m not a scientist so forgive me if I’m stating the obvious.
- Don’t add too much weight to your luggage.
- You don’t have to think about storing after the flight.
- It won’t keep you at the gate for too long.
- You cannot buckle up your child in the seat.
- You have to carry all the weight.
1. Manually Carrying the Seat - A Smart Move, or a Nightmare?
Let's face it; we've all tried carrying the seat the first time we were flying with a child. The logic behind it is simple: You don't want to end up with more luggage than you can carry and worry about this stuff throughout your entire vacation.
This could work If you're traveling with a partner and a child. One person carries the child, the other luggage, and the car seat. What is more, this option is great because it does not create any additional expenditures; there is no need for an extra stroller or carrier; it seems perfect.
On the other hand, If you're traveling alone with your kid, this could turn into a nightmare.
First of all, you can not put your child in the seat and carry it safely while also maneuvering the luggage. No way! Even if you put your child in a Mei-Tai, trust me, it will be hard to function in a crowded airport. Therefore, single parents don't even bother!
If you decide to carry the seat manually, choose the lightweight model, adapted for traveling and convenient to carry.
- No additional expenditures
- No extra luggage to carry around on vacation
- You can effortlessly prepare it for the scanner
- You can not put your child in it
- Can be heavy to carry
- You can’t take care of your luggage and the seat at the same time
2. Why Should You Buy a Car Seat Backpack?
- TRUST THE ORIGINAL - Invented by J.L. Childress almost 20 years ago, the idea of a backpack to carry your car seat has brought ease and peace-of-mind to millions of traveling families around the...
- THICK PROTECTIVE PADDING - We use high-quality, dense foam padding to protect your child’s car seat and prevent damage to your seat’s safety features. Less expensive, inferior padding will not...
- DURABLE, WATER-RESISTANT MATERIAL - Heavy-duty polyester fabrics protect your car seat from damage and are specially-formulated to withstand scrapes and abrasion. Smooth exterior styling ensures that...
- ERGONOMIC BACKPACK STRAPS - Padded, harness-style backpack straps position the car seat higher on your back for maximum comfort and hands-free convenience
If you're determined not to bring a stroller for your car seat, the second-best option is the car seat bag or backpack.
You can find a decent backpack or a bag for around twenty dollars on Amazon, but make sure you choose the padded, ergonomic one, since otherwise, it may be very uncomfortable to carry the seat around on your back.
Avoid the cheap alternatives that probably will tear off, leaving you with nothing and forcing you to adapt to the situation at the last minute.
This is a great way to transport your car seat because it doesn’t occupy your hands, so you can focus on other tasks. Also, it does not significantly increase your luggage’s weight and helps you bring the car seat to the airport without any additional devices you will be stuck with.
On the other hand, you will need to carry the seat's entire weight on your back, and it can get inconvenient.
This J.L. Childress Ultimate Backpack is the best-rated model on Amazon. It is a bit costly but very efficient and high-quality. You can find one by yourself, there is not much science to it, just make sure it fits your car seat, has the ergonomic, padded design, and that's pretty much it.
If you need help with this, check out our article on the Best Car Seat Travel Bags.
- No additional luggage
- Not very expensive
- Easy to store
- You carry the seat on your back
- Not very accessible
3. What the Heck Is a Car Seat Belt?
Another super-efficient way to transport your car seat to the airplane is to attach it to your suitcase. If you haven't tried this before, you probably don't know that there are specially designed straps for this purpose exactly. That's right! You can find the car seat luggage straps on Amazon and effortlessly transform your regular wheeled suitcase into a car seat carrier.
The straps cost around 10 dollars and therefore are a more cost-saving option than the backpack. Plus, you won't be carrying the seat's weight on your back or in your hands.
The few things you should care about are the durability of your suitcase, the strength of its wheels, and your seat size. Nonetheless, you will still need to carry the seat in your hands once you check out the luggage, so think about it in advance.
- Easy to install
- No extra luggage
- You still need to carry the seat after you check out the luggage
Less Cost-efficient but More Functional Solutions
If finances are not on your worry-list, there are incredibly efficient devices for car seat transport to the airplane. They are specifically designed for your convenience and hassle-free airport maneuvering.
The two super-convenient car seat carriers are:
- You can buckle up your kid in the seat.
- You don’t have to carry all the weight.
- You can drive the cart down the airplane aisle.
- Foldable options fit the overhead bin.
- Can be bulky
1. What Is a Car Seat Travel Cart?
If you're searching for a specialized tool to transport your car seat to the airplane, a car seat travel cart is what you need. Now, this is a pricey option since these carts cost around fifty dollars, but if you can afford it, it will pay off.
You simply place your car seat on the platform, use the provided strap to secure it safely, and buckle up your kid in the car seat. This cart is not too heavy or bulky and, therefore, adds very little to your initial luggage.
Significantly, many carts can be rolled down the airplane isles, which is a huge difference because you will not have to carry all that weight and block the aisle for other passengers.
Finally, when you think about it, this cart serves as a replacement for both your stroller and a car seat carrier, plus it takes considerably less space than the alternatives since most of the carts designed for this purpose are foldable.
- Enables transport all the way to your airplane seat
- Does not take up to much space
- You can fit your kid in the car seat
- You won’t have to carry anything
- A bit costly
2. A Car Seat Roller/Stroller: Is It Worth the Hype?
This method is most frequently used among parents who travel with kids. But, there are two kinds of car seat rollers/strollers. A car seat travel roller is almost identical to a car seat travel cart. It has wheels, a platform, and a handle, but it’s slightly heavier than a travel cart.
On the other hand, a car seat travel stroller can refer to a car seat travel system, which is basically an infant car seat that you can attach to a "stroller base" and transform it into a stroller.
Both these options are great because you can buckle up your kid into a car seat and then attach it to the carrier and roll it down to the gate. The problem occurs here. Strollers are very heavyweight and usually not foldable. You can check it at the gate, but once you get out of the plane, you’re stuck with it again.
I prefer travel carts because they are more portable, and many of them can be folded up to a size that fits the airplane aisle and an overhead bin in the airplane so you can roll your kid to the seat safely.
- Easy to carry, that is push
- If you planned to bring your kid in a stroller anyway, no extra luggage
- No additional expenditures
- You’ll have to bring both your stroller and a car seat to vacation
- You will have to carry your kid
Top 3 Finest Recommendations
Of all the options mentioned above, I believe the most practical and effortless method is to use a car seat travel cart. Not just that it allows you to transport your car seat effortlessly, but you can also buckle up your child in the seat comfortably and hence eliminate the need for a stroller.
On the other hand, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly offer, the backpack is an excellent solution since it requires no extra luggage that may slow you down at the airport or after you get off the plane.
That's all about the transport and the best car seat airport carrier for the airplane, folks! I hope you liked this article, and most importantly, that it helped you plan the entire execution of the "fly with your kiddo" operation.
For another time, I want to remind you of the best car seat carrier I personally prefer, since it is the most practical option, does not add much to the weight of your luggage, and allows you to transport the seat with your child in it; It's the car seat travel cart. If you find it too costly, don't hesitate to choose some other option from our list.
I understand this seems like a lot of hustle for something you don't even have to bring to the airplane, but don't forget that your child's safety is the only thing that matters.
Don't be hesitant to try out some of these methods, and if you happen to discover some new genius way to transport a car seat, share it with the community.
We're all in this together!