There are lots of blogs and advice guides out there giving fantastic hints and tips for parents travelling or flying with young children. Many of them mention to take a child car seat, but it isn’t always as easy and straightforward as that.
What do you need to know to help you decide if you are going to take a car seat with you for the plane? That is what we are going to explore in this 'Flying with young children' blog.
For a long time while in planes young children have travelled on their parents lap and babies in bassinets. Yet more and more parents are concerned and want their child in a proper restraint. Using a car seat on the plane gives you a safe place to secure your baby should you hit turbulence.
Car seats also give little ones a properly secured place for take off and landing - the most dangerous parts of the flight. They can also protect the child in an emergency landing, as this story shows:
Some airlines will allow you to take a seat on board without having booked the child their own seat - yet this is not guaranteed to keep the family together and there may not be any spare seats left when it comes to boarding. The airline may also refuse even if there is space. It is advisable to start off with paying for the plane seat for the child.
There are some UK child seats that are TUV approved for use on aircraft. Having a TUV approved seat does not guarantee that you will be allowed to use it - the decision resides with the airline. It also does not mean that you can’t use a different seat that is not TUV approved. If the seat is not TUV approved you must remember that airplanes only have lap belts and the child restraint must be certified to be fitted with a lap belt.
When you confirm with the airline that you can take your own child seat on the plane, also confirm with them if the make and model of your seat is allowed, and what child seats they accept, you need to ensure this whether your seat is approved or not. You don’t want to get to check-in to be told that you cannot take your seat on board. If you can, get confirmation from the airline that you can use the child seat in writing and take this with you to show the airline staff if needed. If the child seat that your child normally uses is not approved or allowed then you will need to buy a new one.
It is also worth checking to see if your airline supplies child seats. Virgin Atlantic states that it can supply child restraints on international flights, so long as they are pre-booked.
All child car seats within the European Union (EU) are tested to ECE R44.04 or R129 i-Size. Child seats carrying the ECE approval R44.03, R44.04 or R129 (i-Size) may be used within the European Union.
If you wish to use your child car seat when you reach your destination, it is worth noting that an EU approved child restraint cannot normally be used in countries outside of the EU. This is because different countries have different laws and testing that European Union seats may not meet. The same is true for any seat outside of the EU that is brought over to Europe.
As an example, a parent flying to the USA may be allowed to use their child restraint on the aircraft, but once they land, their seat cannot then be used in a car or taxi.
If you are from the UK and flying to a destination within the EU, then you can use your UK car seat when you are on holiday.
If you are unsure check with your holiday provider, the local road safety department or the British embassy in that country.
If you hire a car when you get to your destination many hire companies will also hire out child car seats at an additional cost. If you decide to do this ensure that you are completely happy with the child car seat’s quality and that you have fitted it correctly.
If you are not happy with the seat you can also choose to purchase one whilst on holiday. This could potentially work out cost effective if you were using the hire car for the whole duration of the holiday.
Even if you are not hiring a car, some countries require children to travel in a suitable child restraint in taxis. Some taxi firms will have specific vehicles with restraints fitted, however it is wise to check with the taxi firm or transport company you will be using to reach your hotel.
Travelling by coach transfer also needs to be confirmed, firstly to see if you need a child restraint, and also if your child restraint can be used, should you want to use it - even if you don’t have to.
As always, when you are fitting the car seat in the car or on the coach, make sure that it is a compatible fit and correctly fitted.
As of the 21st May 2014, below are the TUV airline approved child car seats.
This list may be updated and if you are in any doubt, phone the manufacturer of your child car seat.