If you're in a dilemma about whether to travel or not to travel by plane with your kids, let me tell you - you should!
If you're concerned about airport control, car seats, and grumpy toddlers, there's a solution - the ultimate CARES harness!
I know - it sounds impossible, yet you will find it the best child restraint safety system for airplane travel.
But, how does it work, and what are the benefits? Hmm, this family travel blog will tell you!
Table of Contents
- So, Should You or Shouldn't You?
- Is the CARES harness safe?
- What age does CARES harness?
- Do you need a CARES harness?
- Should I fly with a car seat or a CARES harness?
- How does the CARES harness work?
- Can CARES harness be used in a car?
- Does Delta provide a CARES harness?
- Can I use a CARES harness in First Class?
- Where to buy the CARES harness?
- Can I rent a CARES harness?
- How do you install a CARES harness on a plane?
- Final Thoughts
The CARES airplane safety harness is a revolutionary harness with a shoulder harness system and a chest clip to ensure better child safety during airplane travel, suitable for toddlers between 22 and 44 pounds.
1. For Traveling: 4.5/5
- FAA approved, but some international airlines don't allow it.
2. Easy to Install: 4.5/5
- You might have difficulties for the first time.
3. Durable: 5/5
- The content will last for an extended period.
4. Safety: 5/5
- Works as a car seat harness, keeping your kids secure in the seat on the plane.
Overall, I find the CARES harness review pretty useful since I travel a lot, and the device is portable, lightweight, and compact for folding and storing options.
It also offers excellent safety and security for the flying kids and keeps them well restrained.
However, although it can be pretty helpful on the planes, it still lacks the lap belt, so make sure you have an alternative - your car seat or some sort of support if your flying children are minor.
You can purchase it via affiliate links on Amazon (around $70) and see the benefits it offers.
So, Should You or Shouldn't You?
1. What Is a Cares Child Restraint Safety Harness?
The CARES by Kids Fly Safe safety harness is the only one officially FAA-approved child restraint safety system, a car seat alternative for a flying family with small children, suitable for either a short or a long flight.
Actually, it's an additional set of harness straps from the Kids Fly Safe that attach to the airplane seat belt, ensuring the kids fly safely.
This way, the CARES harness converts the plane's lap belt into a 4-point harness system, securing the toddler against the airplane seat belt.
Of course, you could find various other harness systems for small children; yet, they're more focused on comfort than safety features.
Therefore, you must remove your toddler during the turbulence period.
2. Size & Weight
The CARES harness weighs only one pound, and it folds compactly into a six-inch stuff sack for maximum convenience and portability. The precise dimensions are 9 x 2 x 6 inches.
Thus, its compact fold won't occupy too much space, and you will find it pretty helpful when at the airport.
At least I do since I travel a lot with my family and two children.
3. Who Are the Users?
According to the FAA, all children under 40 pounds must be safe in a child restraint system to be safe on the airplane.
Thus, the children must use either FAA-approved car seats or the CARES safety harness.
Therefore, all children who:
- are under 40 inches
- weigh between 22 & 44 pounds
- can sit on their own
can use the certified CARESS safety harness.
In reality, it looks like this - if you have a 2-year old child or a 3-year old child, it will fit your children perfectly well!
For example, my daughter is two years old, so I use CARES to buckle her properly whenever we travel across the ocean.
I remember when we traveled to Switzerland, and both my son and daughter used the CARES safety harness.
God, it was excellent! They were safe and stable, so we could even take a nap!
In addition, there are some exceptions to the rules.
Namely, if your children exceed the size and weight required by the FAA, you can require a bigger size and straps for your little ones.
However, only the FAA can approve this. Thus, you may obtain more significant CARES for older children and even some adults, based on their needs and demands.
However, you know that the CARES safety harness has both pros and cons, so the 4-point harness does not adjust the fit of the lap belt; the smaller kids may slide under the airplane seatbelt system.
When this happened to my two-year-old daughter when we used the safety harness for the first time, I placed a non-slipping material over the airplane seat to prevent slipping.
The fabric also lifted her a little, so she was stable and secure for the whole flight.
So, even though it offers excellent safety features, the CARES airplane safety harness still has a lot of room for improvement.
But, it seems that we'll have to wait for a while.
4. When Should You Use CARES?
As the FAA experts state, the CARES child safety device is approved for all flying phases - from taxiing to take-off to landing.
However, you should not use the CARES while in your motor vehicle. The system is designed only for planes.
5. Where Should You Place CARES?
Hmm, from my experience, I can tell you that I find it most straightforward to install the CARES safety harness either on aisle or center plane seats.
The design is so specific; therefore, the safety device won't block the passage for others.
However, you can see it's unlike the car seats, as you can install car seats only in center-position seats of jumbo jets with two aisles or in window seats.
Therefore, you don't need to bother too much about the installation part.
6. CARES vs. Car Seat: What's a Better Option?
If you're a busy family, always in a hurry, with a cumbersome load of things in your hands, I suggest you bring the CARES safety harness on the plane.
This is also vital for parents who have restless children (as I do); therefore, the kids may kick the seat.
So, to avoid the complications, CARES is a better solution (don't ask how I know).
However, if you still want maximum security and stability for your flying kids, you may bring your own car seat when traveling with specific airlines.
It's better to get your car seat on the board rather than simply check it.
This is crucial for all parents with smaller children so that the kids can have a proper fit and better stability.
So, if you have a newborn or a toddler between 24 and 48 months old, you should use a proper FAA-approved rear-facing car seat, according to the CDC.
But, you can also use a forward-facing car seat when your children overgrow the rear-facing one or are at least 12 or 24-month-old kids, as the NHTSA claims.
This is just in case you forgot some of the info.
Your own car seat is also a better option if you have an overnight flight and your kids need to sleep.
So, you could recline your car seat (at least to some extent) for your sleepy little one and avoid reclining the airplane seat.
But, in some cases, the airplane seat has zero reclining options, so the CARES cannot really lean back, so the children cannot sleep properly, and then you have a huge problem.
When he was a toddler, my son used to sleep a lot; therefore, I thought it would be great if he could sleep on the plane as well.
However, the plane seat could not recline, so I was in an awkward position because my son became grumpy, and a passenger behind us complained a lot.
But, somehow, I managed to calm him down, and he fell asleep.
So, I used to carry our car seat on the light after that incident, as my son was more comfortable in his car seat, enjoying the flight, sitting in the seat like a big boy.
7. Installation Process
The setup process might be a little bit difficult for all parents who use the CARES harness for the first time.
However, it becomes a piece of cake once you practice a few times.
You need to stick to the following steps to complete the safety procedure fully:
- It would be best to lower the tray table on the seat back where you want to use the CARES harness. But, if someone is sitting at the back, you might want to explain to them what you're doing with the tray table.
- The next step is to slip the red cinch strap around the seat back and let the black straps hang down, with buckles facing outwardly.
- Then, you have to slide the strap just above your kiddo's shoulder or down to where it is already at. You might also move it up higher if it's necessary if the airplane seat shape requires so.
- Next off, you have to attach the airplane seat belt through the loops at the lower ends of the CARES's two black straps. Then, adjust the length of the straps according to your toddler's needs.
- Firstly fasten, then tighten the airplane seatbelt around your toddler. Of course, don't forget to raise the tray table back to its place once you're done with the installation process.
As you might notice, it's not difficult to correctly install the CARES travel harness. But, it does require much patience and many details.
But, once you try a few times, you'll need only a few minutes to finish.
Of course, the exact shape of the airplane seat, the airplane seatbelt, the seat back, or the even upholstery might cause some installation issues, and the struggles differ on every flight you take with your kids.
For instance, when we were flying with our kids to Italy, we first had an issue with the tray table behind the seat.
Then, on another flight, the seat had curved sides forward to the back; therefore, we had to install the main strap higher, just at or above the kid's shoulder, just as the instructions recommend.
But, the seat's shape also caused trouble since the straps were lower and close to our child's shoulder.
So, the red CARES Kids Fly Safe strap was constantly sliding down. Yet, the trick did its part since we lifted it higher, and our 2-year-old kid was satisfied. Yay!
Oh yes, just as a reminder - leather (faux leather as well) is also slippery, so you have to find a solution to adjust and tighten the seat belt straps and CARES straps properly to ensure your kids fly safely.
But, if you still want to avoid potential problems when setting up the CARES safety harness, you may bring your car seats.
However, for all brave parents, here is the video of the step-by-step installation process.
8. FAA-Approved, However...
As you might check at the official Federal Aviation Administration website, all airlines based in the United States must permit the use of the CARES harness if your kid is within the size and weight requirements, and you obtained a ticket for them.
In addition, if you applied for the unique needs for height and weight, if your child is a bigger one, then the airline also must approve its use on the flight.
But, the FAA pays special attention to all these requirements, and you must be careful when completing the forms; otherwise, the airline will not accept the harness.
However, no one can guarantee you that your harness system will be accepted outside the USA.
Moreover, some airlines do not allow the use of CARES, although you have all approvals and fit all requirements.
Hence, below you can find some of the Air Authorities that approve this system. Some of them include:
- Canada (TC)
- UK (CAA)
- France (DGAC)
- Australia (CASA)
- New Zealand (CAA)
- Oman (DGCAM)
- United Arab Emirates (GCAA)
- Japan (JCAB)
- Singapore (CAAS)
- Switzerland (SWISS)
- Netherlands (KLM)
However, the famous German airline - Lufthansa does not permit CARES for safety reasons.
So, you will have to bring your own car seat or place your child on your lap during the flight. However, they will get you a safety seat belt before taking off.
So, when you plan a flight with a non-US company with your toddler, make sure you double-check the rules and regulations regarding traveling with a kid and whether the airline allows the CARES system.
It would be best if you screenshot the laws to show to the flight attendants.
Although the airline might enable it, flight attendants may not have seen the rules.
So, they may tell you that you cannot bring the harness on the plane, although you can, so show them.
9. CARES Harness Review: Personal Experience
Honestly speaking, I hadn't had any issues with the safety device so far, except for that time when I had to place the non-slipping support beneath my daughter to prevent her from slipping off the seat.
However, various customers have different opinions, so below you can find multiple comments regarding the CARES device:
SkyCupcake on Reddit: "As both a flight attendant and a parent, I cannot recommend CARES enough. I've used it both domestically and internationally, and I love it. Maybe a small bag of candy in case you get a grumpy Gus behind you but, I have never had anyone have a problem with CARES."
Girlviolinist on Amazon: "So I bought this because I thought it would be easier to use for my large two-year-old than carrying her bulky convertible car seat on the plane. We used it on a recent 5-hour domestic flight. It is definitely easy to put this on the seat and to use it; however, it has a MAJOR FLAW that clearly the designers didn't think about. It does not have any kind of strap down between the child's legs. So, typical toddlers who throw temper tantrums do so by throwing their arms up in the air, kicking and screaming, and sliding down in a seat/wiggling downwards."
Is the CARES harness safe?
Yes, it is safe and secure for your kids.
It works well with the plane seatbelt systems; therefore, you can connect all parts and make your children stable and upright, as they would be in their car seats.
However, it might be unstable for skinny toddlers, so you'll need some kind of support for them during the flight. This helps them to sit correctly.
What age does CARES harness?
The CARES harness is suitable for children between 1-4.
The FAA rules state that this harness can safely be used to restrain children in the forward-facing position weighing between 22-44 pounds.
The CARES harness is also suitable for children under 40’’ and can sit independently. Although it’s technically safe for one-year-olds, the CARES harness is mainly used on older toddlers.
However, if your child’s weight and height allow for the harness, you can proceed with use.
Do you need a CARES harness?
If you plan on traveling on a plane with a toddler, you need an FAA-approved car seat or a CARES harness.
The CARES harness is adequate for all children weighing between 22-44 pounds and is under 40’’ tall. The harness is FAA-approved to keep your little one adequately secured and safe.
This is the first Aviation Child Safety Device approved by the FAA as a safe alternative for a car seat.
Should I fly with a car seat or a CARES harness?
When traveling with a toddler, you can opt for an FAA-approved car seat or use the CARES harness.
Both are good options, and it’s more of a personal preference of what you will use.
For example, some parents feel safer with their kiddo in a car seat, while others want a lightweight harness alternative.
The CARES harness is an excellent option if you wish to save on luggage space and cost.
It’s lightweight and easy to pack, plus the installation won’t give you a headache! It’s installed easily on all airplane seats.
How does the CARES harness work?
It would be best if you guided the straps over the child's shoulders, then threaded the seat belt through the harness, and finally, closed the clasp across their chest.
You will need approximately two minutes for the installation process.
Can CARES harness be used in a car?
No, you cannot use the CARES in the car. The harness is designed and approved only for airplane uses.
Does Delta provide a CARES harness?
No, none of the airlines will provide you CARES Delta included.
However, Delta will approve the use of CARES since it meets and exceeds their safety regulations protocol.
Can I use a CARES harness in First Class?
Yes, you can use the CARES harness in the first class.
This FAA-approved harness is safe for Economy, Business, and First Class.
The CARES harness comes with a red loop that is easily installed on all types of airplane seats. However, it should not be used with those that have an airbag.
All you will need to do is ask the passenger behind to lift their tray table while installing the red loop. After that, the tray is back in its starter position while covering the red loop.
Where to buy the CARES harness?
You can get the CARES harness on Amazon for a great deal! Other sellers and sites also offer this fantastic FAA-approved car seat alternative.
Not only is it safe, but it’s also a great travel buddy as it weighs only one pound and easily fits in a 6’’ sack!
Can I rent a CARES harness?
Yes, you can rent a CARES harness. Regardless of where you live, you can rent this FAA-friendly harness for your trip!
It will arrive in its original packaging, with an instruction DVD, a safety pouch, and a brochure.
However, as some may wonder about the safety of a used harness, it’s best to purchase your own CARES harness for the trip.
In this way, you ensure no one has previously used it, and the safety of the harness is not compromised.
How do you install a CARES harness on a plane?
The CARES harness is easily installed on the plane!
For starters, the child needs to be on the airplane seat before installing the harness—lower the tray table behind the child’s seat.
Then, put the red loop over the seat’s back and adjust the appropriate height.
Tighten the straps by pulling the loop strap through the adjuster. Return the tray table. It should be covering the red loop.
Place the shoulder strap over the child’s shoulders and thread it through the lap seat belt.
Fasten the harness tightly, and your kiddo is ready for take-off!
Well, this is it, parents.
You could see the complete CARES harness review, its crucial points, and why you should or should not use it when flying.
Since this is the only verified alternative to car seats by the Federal Aviation Administration, many parents use it since they don't have to bring cumbersome seats all the time (including me). 🙂
So, if you also find it practical, then this is a perfect solution for you!