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Airplane Travel with Babies

Make every flight a safe and happy one!

You and your baby deserve the best protection! The Federal Aviation Administration recommends that all passengers fly buckled up at all times.

Before you fly...

Buy a ticket for your child under age 2 to guarantee a seat.
* Fly on airlines that offer discounts for young children.
* Check to make sure your child's car seat is one that is allowed on an aircraft.
* Ask for a window seat (NOT in an exit row) for the car seat.
* Know that FAA suggests that a child's car seat you plan to use should not be counted as carry-on baggage.
* Bring along diapers, wipes, snacks. Don't forget picture books and quiet toys for your child to play with.

If you choose not to purchase a ticket for your young child:
* You can increase the chance of having a free seat by flying at off-peak times. Check with the airline reservation agent.
* Always ask the airline ahead of time about the use of an empty seat for your child under age 2.

On the plane, use the car seat correctly!
* Follow manufacturer's instructions as closely as possible.
* Use the window seat for your child's car seat.
* Place the car seat facing rearward for a baby under age 1.
* Use a forward-facing car seat with a harness for a child over age 1 and under 40 pounds.
* Tighten the lap belt through the correct path on the car seat.
* Keep the harness buckled around your child.

Why use your child's car seat on an airplane?
* A child held in your arms can be torn from your grasp in a crash or rough air!
* "Clear air turbulence" (sudden loss of altitude) can happen with no warning. Car seats are tested to restrain a child in this type of incident.
* Your child is likely to behave better on the trip if riding in a familiar, comfortable car seat.
* You will enjoy the trip more without a restless baby in your lap.
* Your child's car seat will be available at your destination.
* You don't need to worry about loss of or damage to the seat in the cargo hold.

Which car seats can be used on planes?
FAA rules allow use of car seats that have a label stating that they are certified for use on aircraft.
- Infant car seats
- Convertible and forward-facing car seats with harness
- NO booster seats or child vests are allowed even if labeled for aircraft use.
- Car seats with a width of 16" or less will fit best into the seat.
- Car seats with tethers can be used although the tether cannot be anchored. Transport Canada also advises the use of forward-facing seats without their tethers on aircraft.
-Aircraft seat belts should be used by children over 40 pounds. These lap belts will usually fit better than those in a motor vehicle, because of the seat shape and placement of belts.

Remedies for common problems
* If two adults are traveling, one can board first and install the car seat. To reduce restlessness, the child or children can stay in the boarding area with the other parent/adult until the last call.
* If the car seat base is wide, raise the armrest to make more space.
* If it is hard to reach the lap belt buckle because it is behind the car seat, recline the aircraft seat back. This will give you room to reach the belt buckle. Raise the seat back after the belt is adjusted.
* Bring along a pacifier or bottle filed with water so your baby will have something to suck on during take-off and landing. This will help keep a baby's ears clear.
* If you have a tight connection to make, request help in advance. You may have trouble handling carry-on bags, baby, and car seat at once.
* A car seat with a stroller base is particularly convenient for aircraft use and getting baby to and from the gate.

Why can't boosters and vests be used on board?
* Aircraft seats are different from motor vehicle seats, so some products work differently and fit differently in them.
* Car safety vests and boosters seats with shields are NOT allowed, even though they may have labels saying they are certified for aircraft use. This is because crash tests have shown that these seats may not protect a child in an aircraft seat. Vests allow too much movement. Some aircraft have seats that are made to fold forward. In a crash, such a seat could crush a child in a shield booster.
* A belt-positioning booster seat that uses a lap and shoulder belt in a car cannot be used, as there is no shoulder belt for upper-body restraint. If the seat has an internal harness and your child weighs less than 40 pounds, you can use it that way on aircraft. For a heavier child, use the lap belt.

How to escape with a small child in an emergency
Aircraft passenger information cards do not usually include tips on evacuating with a baby or young child. Participants in FAA evacuation tests with child dummies offer these suggestions to make evacuation safer and easier for parents with children.
1) Evacuating with a child through a window exit is harder than through a doorway. Before climbing out onto the wing, you might want to hand your child out to another person.
2) Hold your child vertically in front of you, with arms tucked in.
3) Jump into the emergency slide rather than sitting and sliding.

Tips by Safe Ride News:
800/422-4121 or www.saferidenews.com

Resources

Federal Aviation Administration:
800/FAA-SURE or www.faa.gov

SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A.:
800/745-7233 or www.carseat.org

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