Flying with a car seat can turn into a real nightmare when you bring a bulky, massive convertible car seat.
But, it's the FAA-approved model; what can you do, right? Well, you can do a lot!
What is more, some of the models I found come with a carrying bag, so you don't even have to struggle with the transport. And the best thing is the affordable price that will keep you on the budget.
But, now you're suspicious: "Are these seats really safe for my child?"
As a parent myself, I checked all the seats to make sure they meet or exceed Federal Safety Standards, and composed the list of 13 best car seat for airplane travel below.
Check them out!
Table of Contents
- Best Car Seat for Airplane Travel on the Market: My Top 13 Choices
- #1. Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base - Best Safety Benefits
- #2. Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant - The Best Infant Car Seat for Airplane Travel
- #3. Graco SnugRide SnugLock 35 LX Infant Car Seat - Best Protection
- #4. Graco Admiral 65 Convertible Car Seat - Best ProtectPlus Design
- #5. Britax Marathon ClickTight Convertible Car Seat - Best Reinforced Construction
- #6. Cosco Finale DX 2-In-1 Booster Car Seat - Most Flexible and Lightweight
- #7. Tribute LX Convertible Car Seat - The Best Compact Car Seat
- #8. Safety 1st Continuum 3-in-1 - The Best 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat for Flying
- #9. Safety 1st Jive 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Most Durable
- #10. Cosco Onlook 2-in-1 Convertible Car Seat - Cost-Efficient and Reliable
- #11. Evenflo Sonus 65 Convertible Car Seat - Most Versatile and Adjustable
- #12. WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat and Travel Bag - The Ultimate Travel Car Seat
- #13. Child Airplane Travel Harness - The Best Harness for Traveling
- Car Seats for Airplane Travel: A Buyer's Guide
- The Must-Haves
- Additional Information
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Can you bring a travel car seat on a plane?
- What car seats are airline approved?
- Can you install a car seat in a plane seat?
- What is the best seat for my baby on a plane?
- Do airlines charge for car seats?
- How do I pack my car seat for a flight?
- Are Graco car seats FAA approved?
- Is it safe for a three-month-old to fly?
- Final Thoughts
Don't hurry into my reviews; firstly, glance at this overview to see how the customers rated the top 3 recommendations I found, their current prices on the market, and what makes them so special!
Best Car Seat for Airplane Travel on the Market: My Top 13 Choices
The Doona infant car seat is the best option you could search for in the market!
The infant car seat quickly transforms into a stroller in seconds, offering the best possible travel system.
Thus, families on the go can find it valuable and helpful, primarily if you use a plane as a means of transport. In addition, the seat is FAA approved.
Moreover, your baby will have the ultimate safety & security benefits inside the car seat.
As you will see, the car seat provides a 5-point harness safety system for more security and protection for your baby and an adjustable handlebar.
Now, the handlebar is exceptionally vital since it works as an anti-rebound bar in the case of a car crash, keeping your baby stable and secure.
Therefore, it will prevent the seat from moving around and even tip over, holding your baby fixed, safe, and sound while inside the seat.
Besides, the seat also has three layers of side-impact protection; therefore, it only increases the safety of your little one, keeping them stable and intact in the case of an accident.
Due to the baby-safe and breathable textiles, the content is removable and washable, but it only increases your baby's support. So, the canopy and the shoulder pads work well with the infant insert and head support.
As a result, your baby will be relaxed, cozy and soft, calm and comfortable.
Of course, the package doesn't only contain the car seat but also the Doona bamboo infant insert, base, vehicle seat protector, and head support.
Therefore, you can apply all of the items and create the best traveling experience for you and your baby.
And, since the car seat weighs only 16.55 pounds, the car seat is compact and lightweight for all travel types.
I honestly doubt there is a better infant car seat than Chicco KeyFit 30. It is incredibly well designed, taking up very little space and providing your child all the comfort it needs.
Above all, this car seat is also fantastic for airplane travel because it does not weigh too much and features an ultra-compact design.
The fact that this is the bestseller infant car seat in America speaks for itself (along with its newer version, the Chicco KeyFit 35, became Amazon's Choice). It is built to accommodate infants from four to thirty pounds in weight and up to thirty inches in height.
I always admired the advanced design of Chicco KeyFit 30.
It has a spring-loaded leveling foot, ReclineSure leveling system, and the bubble level indicators. With all these handy additions, you can always be sure you installed the seat correctly, and your baby is comfortably positioned.
Additionally, the SuperCinch LATCH tightener helps you install the seat tightly along with the one-pull harness tightener.
The seat, of course, features a 5-point harness system that adjusts easily. Plus, the carry handle features an ergonomic design and two positions, so you can carry the seta conveniently.
Compared to the other offers I found, I have to admit this seat is a bit heavier, 17 pounds. But it features an ultra-compact design and thus fits into the airplane seat easily.
The seat meets federal safety standards and is FAA-approved. Plus, it is compatible with Chicco strollers, so you can use it as a car seat, stroller, and airplane seat. It truly pays off!
However, I cannot but mention that once your child overgrows it, you'll need to buy a new seat, which can be costly, so plan your finances upfront with this one.
Why should you go for the Graco infant car seat?
Well, the SnugRide SnugLock seat is unique since it offers an effortless, one-hand operation and maneuverability. Therefore, you can manage it with one hand while the other one remains free. So, the infant car seat will be flexible.
In addition, the infant car seat offers the best protection and comfort for your little one. How so?
As you will find, the Graco seat offers a Silent Shade canopy, quickly and thoroughly extendable, to provide a complete cover from all weather conditions, keeping the baby relaxed and cool.
This is crucial if you have a sleepy baby who needs more privacy, especially if you're somewhere urban and noisy. So, your baby can remain calm and undisturbed.
Furthermore, the Graco infant car seat includes an effortless and quick setup process. As you might observe, the car seat contains LATCH attachment points for the proper InRight installation.
So, when you attach everything correctly, the car seat is ready for more robust use, and it will be stable and secure for car travel or every other travel type.
However, the car seat also contains an easy-to-read level indicator and other labels that help you with the installation process, so you don't have to guess the word, and it will ease the progress.
Of course, the car seat is FAA approved and verified in numerous countries; therefore, you can travel across the ocean freely.
With the four-position base, the car seat easily adjusts to your needs and lets you customize it and find the best fit for your motor vehicle.
Still, the infant car seat is also crash-tested and engineered to be durable and sturdy for all unpredictable situations. So, it meets and exceeds all FMVSS and regulations.
Another Graco car seat shows maximum benefits regarding your kiddo's safety and security.
So, it will fit all rear-facing children between 4 and 35 pounds and forward-facing kiddos between 22 and 65 pounds.
Also, you will love the FAA-approved car seat since it has an easily adjustable headrest and harness system.
You can manage them with a simple motion, and the safety parts will keep your little one's optimal body posture and offer great support for their head, neck, and torso.
Of course, the 5-point harness is a non-rethreading type; therefore, you don't have to install and reinstall it all the time to get your baby in or out of the car seat.
However, your kiddo will be safe and stable in the car seat since the model is Protect Plus Engineered.
Therefore, the combination of numerous rigorous crash tests and side-impact protection will help your child remain intact and secure in all crash types - front, side, rollover, rear, and other.
In addition, your kiddo will be protected and secure inside the car's interior.
As the car seat meets and exceeds various tests based on the New Car Assessment Program and for extreme interior temperatures, their conditions. Therefore, you don't have to worry about any possible issue - the seat will regulate it all for you.
The Graco car seat offers an eight-position headrest, flexible and easily adjustable for a one-hand motion for more comfort and softness. So, it will quickly adapt to your child's needs and grow with them.
So, they will have enough room for a pressure-free and relaxed atmosphere.
Due to the LATCH attachment points, the Graco car seat provides effortless installation in the rear-facing mode, and you will also find an easy-to-read level indicator to install the seat correctly.
The Britax convertible car seat is a fantastic model for your kids since it offers an effortless installation process.
First, you have to follow the seat belt guide loops and attach the points within them. But, once you connect everything, you should hear the click sound, indicating that your installation is proper and complete.
Furthermore, you will love the car seat since it offers a non-rethreading 5-point harness system.
As you will find, the harness has 14 different positions and two buckle positions for a soft and comfortable fit as your little one grows. So, you don't have to install and reinstall the harness or remove it when placing your kid in or out of the seat.
Additionally, little ones can fully recline and relax for more comfort.
Namely, the car seat includes seven different recline positions, ensuring maximum comfort, and the best installation angle in the back seat of your vehicle.
However, the most substantial benefit is that the seat is surrounded by safety.
You'll see, the seat has an energy-absorbing base, steel frame, and a layer of side-impact protection. So, your kid remains intact and stable during the crash. In addition, it will surround your kid's torso, neck, and head for more support.
Thanks to the SafeCell technology, it will crimple to absorb more energy and forces.
But, the seat also has a V-shaped tether that helps reduce and slow movements during the collision. So, the car seat won't be unstable, resulting in severe injuries and breaking.
And, thanks to the steel-reinforced frame and construction, the content will reinforce the seat structure, keeping it secure and stable for an extended period.
Finally, the seat offers a removable cover for effortless cleaning and maintenance. It'sIt's machine washable, saving your energy and time.
The following two-in-one Cosco booster is unique due to its design.
The seat has a 5-point harness easily converting to the belt-positioning booster car seat, following your growth and adjusting to their needs. Besides, the booster is IIHS's best bet for usage in booster mode.
In addition, the two-in-one design allows you to place your kiddos between 30 and 65 pounds in the forward-facing harness mode and kids between 40 and 100 pounds in the belt-positioning booster mode.
So, the seat will grow with your little ones, offering more comfort and space for pressure-free movements and a more relaxed atmosphere.
Also, the seat will be an excellent model for car travel, carpooling, and growing, as it's a highly lightweight model, so it's effortless to move it between more vehicles. Moreover, the seat will fit three across in the back seat of most vehicles.
So, you will find it flexible and versatile for more robust use, and it will be straightforward to install and adjust to your needs and the back seat of your motor vehicle.
To properly clean and maintain it, you can remove the car seat cover and place it inside the washing machine, later in the dryer, for an effortless cleaning and maintenance process. So, it saves your time and energy.
Besides, the cup holder is also removable and dishwasher safe, and easily reachable so that you can clean it with the damp cloth and soap.
The booster meets and exceeds all ASTM, FMVSS, JPMA, and other safety standards, offering a one-year warranty period and ensuring your kid's safety.
But, if you still have specific issues with car seat usage, you can always refer to the instruction manual that comes with the car seat package.
When it comes to airplanes' car seats, the most significant things to care for are the weight and portability.
Going through the plane aisle can turn into a nightmare, especially if you don't arrange an early check-in. That's when you realize how precious compact car sats are. This model from Evenflo is exactly one of that kind, lightweight, simple, and portable.
Evenflo Tribute LX is a classic convertible car seat with two modes, a rear-facing and a forward-facing.
The rear-facing mode can be used if your kids weigh between five and 40 pounds, while the forward-facing is for kids between twenty-two and 40 pounds in weight.
This convertible car seat weighs barely twelve pounds, which, as I mentioned, means everything when you're supposed to carry all the baggage and your kids to the airport and through the airplane aisle.
Evenflo Tribute LX incorporates a five-point harness with four different shoulder strap positions that can be adjusted from the front. It has a removable cup holder, so you can take it off to create more space and fit the seat correctly in the airplane seat.
Now, Evenflo is a reliable manufacturer, being on the market for more than 100 years; hence, despite the low price, their car seats are honestly safe.
I find it essential to note that this model exceeds all the federal safety standards and includes the essential side impact protection. It keeps your child intact in the case of an accident or sudden plane turbulence that can create a side impact on the seat.
Finally, since the seat is pretty affordable, for around $100, you can get the seat and also buy a travel bag and travel strap to attach the seat to your suitcase and transport it to the airport effortlessly.
The next car seat I selected is this three-in-one convertible from Safety 1st, pretty functional and a bit pricey when compared to the previous offers on my list, yet truly lightweight for a 3-in-1, so you can buy it for everyday use and still use it when flying.
The seat includes three modes, rear-facing, front-facing, and belt-positioning booster seats.
The rear-facing mode is recommended for children between five and 40 pounds, front-facing for children between twenty-two and fifty pounds, and booster seat supports kids weighing between forty and eighty pounds.
When compared to the other convertible car seats, I reviewed thus far, this seat is a bit upgraded.
It has three recline positions, harness holders for easy in and out, side-impact protection, and a Quick Fit system. Quick Fit system allows you to adjust the harness and the headrest in one motion only.
This car seat is an excellent infant car seat because it includes the removable infant pillows to enable a snug fit and comfortable ride.
What is more, you can take off the seat pads and wash them in a machine to keep everything clean. Also, the cup holders are removable as well, so you can take them off when flying to fit the seat more easily.
Finally, the seat itself weighs fourteen pounds, so it is not the lightest option, but also not too heavy. And it is, of course, FAA-approved, so you can use it on aircraft legally.
I love this model because it is pretty well-built and can be used safely every day, and at the same time, it doesn't weigh too much, so it can as well be used for traveling.
Next off, the Safety 1st convertible car seat is an ideal model for you and your kiddo since the car seat has a double-working design and system technology.
The car seat will serve as a rear-facing car seat for kids between 5 and 40 pounds and as a forward-facing seat for children between 22 and 65 pounds.
Moreover, the FAA-approved car seat is also unique due to the removable head and body pillows.
Namely, the seat has the infant insert, providing different head and body support. So, as your kid grows, you can remove the cushions and give the comfortable and relaxing ride the pads offer.
For more security and stability, the convertible car seat provides a 5-point harness safety system. The system is particular since it offers effortless up-front adjustment.
Therefore, you will find three buckle positions and five height positions to fit and easily adjust to your growing child properly.
In addition, the car seat contains potent side-impact protection, so it will keep your little ones stable, secure, and safe while inside the car seat. So, even if you have a car crash, your kid remains intact and untouchable with no harm at all.
You will also love it, as the model offers straightforward and quick cleaning and maintenance. You just have to remove the cover, place it in the machine and dry it safely.
The same goes for the removable cup holders - they're dishwasher safe and easy to clean with the damp cloth when your baby makes a mess.
And, although the car seat has the FAA approval, you still have to check with the airline whether the dimensions and weight meet and exceed their rules and regulations before you head to the airport to avoid complications.
Here, I selected another awesome car seat model from Cosco, very functional and not at all expensive - Cosco Apt 50 Convertible.
When compared to Scenera Next, Apt 50 is negligently heavier, but it allows longer use since it accommodates children up to fifty pounds in weight, while Scenera can support kids up to 40 pounds heavy.
Cosco Apt 50 is a convertible car seat that can be used in a rear-facing mode and front-facing mode.
When used rear-facing, it can support kids from five to 40 pounds, while the front-facing position can be used for kids up to fifty pounds in weight.
I would recommend this car seat for plane use because it weighs barely eleven pounds and features a pretty compact design.
With that in mind, you definitely don't have to worry about transport to the airport too much, and people won't hate you for blocking the plane aisle. Everything runs smoothly.
Now, the seat features a five-point harness with three buckle positions and six heights. What is more, it incorporates the side impact protection, so your kid is super-safe in cases of turbulence or, God forbid, an accident.
Just like the Scenera model, Apt 50 also has removable pads that can be washed in a washing machine and dryer in a dryer. Therefore, keeping your baby equipment has never been easier.
Finally, you get a solid convertible seat for less than sixty dollars that meets federal safety standards and is approved for aircraft use and a 1-year warranty.
Given that Cosco is a reliable manufacturer, being on the market for more than seventy years, this sounds like an excellent offer to me.
The following car seat will astonish you thanks to its 2-in-1 design.
The Evenflo car seat supports kids from 5 to 40 pounds in the rear-facing mode, and bigger kiddos form 22 to 50 pounds, extending their lifespan and delivering more robust use of the seat.
So, you will find it valuable for an extended period.
Additionally, the car seat meets and exceeds all rigorous Evenflo tests and safety standards and regulations, so it guarantees the best safety and security benefits for your kids.
However, the seat is also perfect as it meets and exceeds all FMVSS and ASTM regulations and safety standards; therefore, you can use it for a prolonged time.
When you add the side-impact protection with the rollover tests and energy-absorbing foam, and other materials that will keep your baby intact, the seat delivers safety and never compromises with it. So, your kiddo will remain untouchable in the accident.
As you will also see, the car seat offers breathable content, full of airflow and circulation so that the kids will be pressure and sweat-free.
The cover also has a temperature-regulated, cooling effect for a more comfortable travel experience, regardless of the climate or season.
Of course, the car seat is FAA regulated and approved so that you can travel around the world with it. But, we recommend you still check whether you can use it on the plane as they have their rules.
Regarding the harness, the 5-point one has an up-front adjustment for easy access, with five positions of the shoulder strap for a proper fit and more comfort for your growing kids.
Also, you will find the head pillow for extra support and comfort and removable pads for the machine washing process. And, the two cup holders are effortless to clean too.
Slowly we've come to one extraordinary piece of baby equipment, WAYB Pico Travel Car Seat, a specifically adapted front-facing car seat for traveling.
Name anything you'd want from a travel car seat; this model has it! It's lightweight, foldable, compact, federally-approved, and comes with a carry bag.
Pico travel seat includes a five-point harness and convenient LATCH system that allows easy installation with a seat belt or a plane belt.
The seat is exceptionally lightweight, it weighs only eight pounds, and despite such a light construction, it meets the federal safety standards.
The secret behind its design hides in the AeroWing aerospace-grade aluminum frame and AstroKnit mesh fabric that allows breathability.
The best part is that this travel car seat is foldable and comes with a carrying sack that you can wear as a backpack or connect to your luggage. I find this genius!
When I was flying with a car seat, my biggest problem was the transport, so when the seat folds flat, it really means the world.
Unlike other models on my list, this WAYB Pico car seat is only front-facing, and it is allowed for kids at least two years of age and between twenty-two and fifty pounds in weight.
Importantly, it is FAA-approved for aircraft use, and it meets all the safety standards listed in FMVSS 213.
I would most definitely buy this seat for traveling, yet I don't find it very reliable for everyday use since it reminds me more of a booster seat than an ultra-safe child restraint system.
But given that it passed safety tests, it should be given a chance.
If you have done your research, as I have, you're probably not even considering a harness of any kind for the travel restraint of your child. And, that's reasonable.
Federally-approved car seats are the safest restraint systems for children on the market, and they should always be your first choice.
However, there is one travel harness, FAA-approved for airplanes, perfectly safe and pretty easy to use; it's the CARES Safety Restraint System.
But always make sure you're buying the original CARES system because it is the only harness approved, and the fake products are probably not safe.
This child restraint harness system was specially designed for airplane use and can be used for children at least one-year-old. The bottom weight limit is twenty-two pounds, while the maximum weight is forty-four pounds.
What I like about this restraint system is the portability.
The entire system weighs one pound and can be packed into a six-inch sack. I always hated dragging the car seat to the plane and pushing people down the aisle. With this harness, everything is effortless.
This harness is made in one size only, but it can be adjusted to fit almost every airplane seat and tightly attached to perfectly protect your child.
Supposedly, the system's installation takes less than a minute, and it can be used on all forward-facing plane seats. But, it must not be installed on side-facing seats or near the exit.
Another thing I like about this harness is the price.
Since you are allowed to use the restraint system in planes only, it would be unreasonable to pay a car seat price, so I think it's pretty affordable.
Car Seats for Airplane Travel: A Buyer's Guide
Finding the appropriate traveling car seat for your child is by no means an easy task.
Should you go with a convertible car seat or find an infant car seat? Is there a travel harness you can use? Can a seat belt fasten the travel car seat appropriately?
I guess these are only some of the dilemmas you are having at this moment.
I felt the same when I was buying the traveler car seat for the first time. But once you go through it, you become an expert!
So today, I am sharing my tips and tricks with you, so stay tuned!
To sum it all up, travel car seats should be lightweight (preferably around ten pounds); therefore, a convertible car seat is a way better option than an infant car seat.
They should be compact, so check for fit-three-across models. But, above all, travel car seats need to be federally approved.
Did you know that car seats are not obligatory on a plane? However, flying with an infant on a lap is not at all safe.
As inconvenient as it is, bringing a car seat on a plane is the safest way to accommodate your child while flying.
For more advice that will make flying with your infant less demanding, look at these articles:
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you bring a travel car seat on a plane?
YES, you sure can! All FAA-approved car seats can be brought and installed in a plane.
What car seats are airline approved?
All the car seats that have the FAA-approved sticker on them are approved for the use on aircraft.
Can you install a car seat in a plane seat?
YES, you can! Here is one useful video on how to install a car seat in a plane seat.
What is the best seat for my baby on a plane?
If you're traveling with a child and planning to use a car seat, it is best to avoid the seats near the exit rows.
In fact, many airlines forbid installing a car seat here, so it is best to ask the flight attendant for exact instructions.
Do airlines charge for car seats?
No, that is not possible. However, all US airlines will allow you to check your seat free of charge when traveling with your kid.
So, you can check it at the gate or the airport baggage counter.
How do I pack my car seat for a flight?
You can use a substantial plastic lawn bag and place the seat inside.
Also, for extra protection, you can apply a bubble wrap for extra padding and use it again when going back home.
Are Graco car seats FAA approved?
Yes, you will find numerous Graco models that are FAA approved, as they meet their regulations and safety standards.
So, look for the label that states the seat is convenient for air travel. Otherwise, you cannot use it for air traffic.
Is it safe for a three-month-old to fly?
It's best to consult your doctor to get approval.
Your baby may not be ready for such a trip, although old enough. Also, some babies might be younger but still developed and ready to fly.
But, the general rule is that between three and six months, their immune systems are fully developed so that they might fly.
That’s it, these were the car seats for airplanes I would honestly recommend.
I hope you found this text helpful because my genuine intention was to share all I know and ease your troubles with the traveller car seats.
I would like to note once again that all the FAA-approved car seats, except for a booster seat, can be used on aircraft.
Well, the best one, if you ask us, is the Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base, the best overall with maximum safety and security benefits, showing impeccable stability wherever you install it.
So, you won't regret it!
- Doona Car Seat - From car seat to stroller in seconds! One simple motion operation. Features a 5-point harness, adjustable handlebar (also acts as an anti-rebound bar inside the car) and 3 Layer Side...
- Washable Car Seat - The Doona car seat fabric is removable and washable. Features baby safe materials and breathable textiles, including bamboo and memory foam.
- Travel Safe Baby Essentials - This car seat and Latch base is FAA Aircraft Approved for travel. Combine with the Doona Travel Bag (sold separately) for a seamless travel experience.
- Included in the Box - Doona Infant Car Seat, Doona Bamboo Infant Insert, Doona Bamboo Head Support, Doona Vehicle Seat Protector, Doona Car Seat Base. 2-year manufacturer's warranty.
- Rear Facing Car Seat and Base - Suitable from 4 lbs. to 35 lbs., Max. 32in height, this is a rear facing car seat only. Car seat weighs 16.5 lbs., base weighs 10.3 lbs. Product Dimensions: Folded:...