If you decide not to use a car seat on a plane, you’ll need to check your child’s car seat at the airport. Checking seems more straightforward than taking one on the airplane, but there are some things you should consider first.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the process and decide if it’s the right decision for your child.
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The Risks of Checking a Car Seat
You should know that the FAA recommends parents purchase a seat for their child and restrain them in an approved car seat. However, for a myriad of reasons, some parents don’t follow that recommendation. Before you make your final decision, consider these facts.
You Won’t Have A Way to Restrain Your Baby
Airplane seatbelts work for yourself or kids above 40lbs (give or take), but they don’t do the job for infants and toddlers.
While air travel is still considered safer than traveling in your vehicle, we know that turbulence is common. Attendants need to secure all objects so that they don’t launch into the air. While you might think that you could hold your child, your child is vulnerable to falls and could be injured during turbulence.
Car Seats Can Be Damaged
Remember, car seats are a single-use item, meaning that after a single incident, they must be replaced, or your child might not be protected during a second incident. Baggage handlers don’t take much care with car seats, considering the vast number of baggage they see each day.
Some parents try to gate check their car seats instead, which can help slightly, but the damage is still possibly on the horizon.
It Might Not End Up at Your Final Stop
We’ve all heard horror stories (or experienced them ourselves) of people’s luggage being lost on the way to their destination. Unfortunately, that can happen to your car seat during a layover.
Sometimes, an airline might have an additional one to give you, but there is no guarantee.
How to Check a Car Seat at the Airport
Sometimes, checking the car seat is your best or only option. Here’s what you need to do if that’s the route you decide to pick!
Check at the Ticket Counter
The first option you have is to check it at the ticket counter, a place where you check the luggage if you don’t use the curbside option. The benefit of this is that you’re hands-free as you go through the airport.
The problem with using the ticket counter is it leads to a high chance of being damaged. However, it is nice to pick up the car seat at the baggage claim area when your flight is over.
Gate Checking Is Better
Yes, it’s not as easy as checking at the curbside station, but it reduces how much time the staff handles your car seat. So, it reduces the risk of any damage taking place.
In some moments, if you gate check a car seat, the staff might offer you an empty seat to put it. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s not as rare as you think.
To gate check, you need to carry the car seat throughout the airport to your gate where you board the plane. When you get off the plane after it’s over, you’ll pick it up in the same area.
Protect The Car Seat
The seat needs to be packed well. Some parents find that using a big cardboard box is best, especially corrugated boxes that absorb energy. Another option is a car seat travel bag, but that only ensures your car seat is clean, not undamaged.
Bring a Cheaper Seat
I highly recommend that you buy a cheaper seat to bring with you. While you might love your expensive Foonf or other pricey picks in your vehicle, you don’t need that when traveling. Grab a cheap seat, and you’ll be less devastated if the airline causes any damage to it.
If you want to check a car seat at the airport, you can either check it curbside, at the ticket counter or the gate. While it’s not the first recommended choice, parents do so all the time without any incidents or problems. Don’t be stressed!