Safe Air Travel For Children
Safe Air Travel For Children
Stephanie Tombrello (Child Passenger Safety Educator & Executive Director, SafetyBeltSafe USA) gives expert video advice on: Is it safe to hold my baby in my arms while flying on an airplane?; Can my child use his car safety seat in an airplane?; Where is the safest place to seat my child on an airplane? and more...
Is it safe to hold my baby in my arms while flying on an airplane?
Safety seats and travel vests, and all the products to hold a child in a moving vehicle are predicated on the fact that they're attached to the frame of the vehicle. When your child is attached to your body, that is not something that is rigid and will take the force of a crash appropriately. What will happen is your body is going to bend in half, and you are going to crush the child if the child's attachment to you even holds. So snugglies, and front packs, and belly belts, and all the gadgets that parents are sold that are meant to be used when they're walking around outside are not to be used in a moving vehicle. The forces are very great. Many people don't understand that at 30 miles an hour, everything is going to move so that it is the equivalent of weighing 30 times what it weighs for real. So if you weigh 100 pounds, at 30 miles an hour you're a 3000 pound force. Your 10 pound baby is a 300 pound force. That's why even a muscle man can't hold a child in a low speed crash.
Can my child use his car safety seat in an airplane?
Your child can be transported in a safety seat on an airplane if the safety seat is labeled that it's been tested for use in an airplane. There are some locations in airplanes that are not appropriate for use with a safety seat, so be sure to tell the person from whom you're getting the ticket that you're taking a child aboard with a safety seat. Be sure that you talk with someone when you check in and ensure that at every stage everyone knows that you're taking a safety seat aboard for your child, to be sure that you are placed in the right row in the plane and in the right seating positions.
What are some tips to help me install my child safety seat on an airplane?
If you have purchased a ticket for your child, the flight attendant is not supposed to tell you that you can't use the safety seat, or that you must use the safety seat in a way that is incorrect for the product. A child who is rear-facing, and is of the right age to be rear-facing, particularly who is in an infant-only seat, cannot lie forward-facing just because the child's on an aeroplane. When you are travelling on an aeroplane with a safety seat, be sure you have the full instructions, that the sticker on your safety seat says it's certified for use on an aircraft, and also be sure that you show them how the safety seat is to be used so that they don't ask you to put it on the seat side-facing, to turn a seat that can only be rear-facing forward-facing, or to turn an infant (who must be rear-facing for a minimum of the first year to avoid spinal torque damage). Do not permit them to ask you to misuse your product. Another clue is to recline your aircraft seat while you're installing the safety seat with a belt and then put it upright. You'll usually find you get a better fit, and it's a lot easier to work on a safety seat.
Where is the safest place to seat my child on an airplane?
On airplanes, children cannot be seated in emergency exit rows, and in most planes the requirement is that the safety seat be placed next to the window so that it does not block movement of the other passengers. Sometimes if a family is occuping an entire row, then the parents are allowed to put the child safety seat in the center. But the idea is to put the child in a place where the safety seat is an advantage, not a disadvantage.
Will airlines provide child restraint systems for traveling children?
There is at least one airline that has it's own safety seats for children who are flying on that airline. Many times airlines will try to offer baby bassinets or belly belts, particularly airlines that travel outside the United States. Belly belts are completely illegal in the United States, and these bassinets do not have any system for restraining the child. If you can't hold your child in a car that's going 20 miles an hour, how are you going to hold your child in a vehicle that's going at least 500 miles an hour?
When can my child fly safely without using a restraint system?
For most children they can use the lap belt. certainly when they're out of a seat with a harness and they're going to be held in place and they're by that time pretty much big enough and old enough so that they can be kind of kept with the lap belt only. As long as your child fits in the child restraint we would recommend that you think strongly about taking it on the plane, not only for the protection of the child and the comfort of those around the child but also because you dont want the safety seat to get lost or damages while in baggage.
What safety seats cannot be used on an airplane?
Styles of seats that cannot be used on an airplane are booster seats and travel vests. The reason for that is that on most airplanes, except for some private jets, there are no shoulder lap belts and booster seats can only be used with a shoulder lap belt. The reason for this is that when you raise somebody up and you don't hold back the upper body the child's head goes farther forward than if you're lower on the seat. So if you only going to be held back at the hips you wanna be flat on the vehicle seat, not raised up. Travel vests are not designed, on the hold, to be used just for the lap belt and that's the reason they can't be used. When tests were done it was shown that the child moved, not only forward but begin to submarine under the system because it wasn't a rigid shell to contain the seat on the airplane seat.
Should my child's booster seat be checked-in or carried-on an airplane?
Because of the experiences of parents who have lost their safety seats while they put them in baggage, we recommend that even when you're using a travel harness or booster seat, which are not permitted to be used because the airline only has lap belts and does not have tether attachment points, we recommend that you bring this product into the cabin with you in a carry-on, so that you have it at the other end. I personally, years and years ago, had the experience of shipping my car seat from one coast to the other while my over two year old was busy sitting in a lap belt on the plane. When I arrived at the other end at 11 o'clock at night on a snowy December night, the only piece of luggage that did not get off the plane was the child restraint.