The Best Car Seats Used for Bus and Airplane Travel

Traveling with your family can be a fun and exciting adventure, especially when you are taking your younger kids. You'll be making lots of new memories with pictures and videos to be able to look back on and commemorate. However, traveling with younger children can also be very stressful. You have to take into consideration the things you need to pack and make sure their needs are still being met while traveling.  

Along with planning out your list of things to bring with you for your baby, you should also think about your travel arrangements. Since your baby is required by law to travel in a car seat, preparing your travel arrangements ahead of time is essential.

Two of the most popular travel methods are traveling by plane and bus. If you have children under two, there are no rules stating they have to ride in a car seat on a bus or a plane. This can be really confusing and concerning to parents because car seats are always known to be the safest way and required when traveling in a vehicle. Let's look at the two travel methods independently.  

Buses

Buses can be a tricky way to travel with a child under two. Most city buses and school buses don't have seat belts or a restraint system in them, making it impossible for your child to travel in a car seat. If there is no way to attach the car seat to the bus seat, the car seat becomes an unsafe option for your baby.

However, if you are traveling on a long distance bus system like Greyhound, you will be able to bring your car seat with you because the bus seats will have seat belts, as they primarily travel at high speeds on highways. It is a good idea to prepare ahead of time by calling the bus system and checking whether or not you will be able to bring your child's car seat with you on the bus for them to ride in.  

Airplanes

Even though it is not required for your child to sit in a car seat on a plane, the FAA states they highly recommend children two and under ride in a child safety restraint system. You should check ahead of time with your airline for their specific regulations on traveling using a car seat.

On their website, the FAA lists a few tips for parents traveling with younger children who should ride in a car seat. These include:

  • The seat you bring should be around 16” in width to make sure it fits in the airline seat.
  • The seat also should be approved for vehicle AND aircraft use (Stated in the manual or on a sticker on the side of the seat).
  • The seat must be installed in a forward-facing aircraft seat and be faced in the direction according to the manufacturer's instructions with the height and weight requirements.  

As long as you prepare ahead of time for your traveling accommodations, it will make traveling with your younger child much less daunting. Below are four of the highest reviewed car seats that are best to use while traveling by bus or plane.

Car Seat Recommendations

The Top Pick: Diono Radian RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat- 4.4 Star Rating

The Diono Radian seat is made with a full steel frame, providing your child with enhanced safety from birth until they are big enough for a booster. The cover is machine washable, making it easy to clean; and is padded for comfort and safety. This seat also provides extended rear-facing capacity for your child to ride in the safest position possible as they grow.

Pros

  • Has perfect dimensions with a width of 16”
  • Rear and forward facing for children from 5-120 pounds
  • Good for long-time use as your child grows to different stages
  • Padded for comfort and safety

Cons

  • Expensive
  • A little heavier
  • Can be difficult to install

The Second Pick- Combi Compact Convertible Car Seat- 4.3 Star Rating

The Combi Compact seat is lightweight and compact, making it perfect for flights and bus rides. It also accommodates three car seats across the rear seating of most vehicles if you have other children riding in car seats. This seat is fully padded for comfort and safety. It also accommodates smaller babies, starting at the 3-pound weight recommendation.

Pros

  • Has perfect dimensions with a width of 16”
  • Rear and forward facing for children from 3-40 pounds
  • Lightweight and compact for easy travel
  • Padded for comfort and safety

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Cannot be used for long-term use like the Diono Radian seat
  • Can be difficult to install

The Third Pick- Graco My Ride 65 Convertible Car Seat- 4.3 Star Rating

The Graco My Ride seat is safety tested and exceeds all applicable safety standards. This seat also keeps your child rear facing up to 40 pounds, which is longer than most other car seats in the US. It is a very durable seat that is easy to clean and install.

Pros

  • Rear and forward facing for children from 5-65 pounds.
  • Padded for safety and comfort
  • Lightweight for easy travel
  • Very good ratings

Cons

  • The width is 17” going a little over the recommendations of airline seats.
  • Cannot be used for long-term like the Diono Radian seat.

The Fourth Pick- Cosco Mighty Fit 65 DX Convertible Car Seat- 4.1 Star Rating

The Cosco Mighty Fit seat is a very cost-efficient option for a convertible car seat. This seat is compact enough to sit side by side, which is great for growing families. The fabric is soft and machine washable. The seat is easy to install and is small enough to leave more room for other passengers.

Pros

  • Cheaper option
  • Rear and forward facing for children from 5-65 pounds
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • The width is 17” going a little over the recommendations of airline seats
  • Not as padded for comfort
  • Cannot be used for long-term like the Diono Radian seat

These car seats are all approved for vehicle and aircraft use and are safety tested, regulated, and exceed the US safety standards of FMVSS 213. When shopping for a car seat to fit your travel accommodations, there are some factors you should keep in mind.

Dimensions

The FAA recommends using a car seat that is within 16" to ensure the seat will fit in the airline seat. Some airline seats are wider than others, so it is a good idea to make sure your seat will fit by contacting the airline you are planning to travel with. They will also be able to provide you with all the rules and regulations they have on traveling with a car seat, saving you the stress and time before you get to the airport. Slim seats are also recommended when traveling on long-distance buses, saving room for both your child and other passengers. It will also help with the ease of installation since seat belts on buses tend to be shorter.  

Safety

Safety should always be your main priority when purchasing a car seat for your child. Make sure to check that the seat passes the US safety standards. Children under two should ride in rear-facing car seats on buses and airplanes, and follow the manufacturer's instructions for the specific car seat you buy.  

Short or Long-term Use

Long-term car seats, like the Diono Radian above, have the ability to grow with your child as it can transform from a regular car seat to a booster seat. However, these long-term seats can be quite expensive upfront. There are less expensive options for convertible car seats, like the Graco or the Cosco seat listed above. Both options are great for use through your child's toddler years, but they will not turn into booster seats when your child outgrows them.  

In Conclusion:

Traveling with younger children does not have to be as stressful. As long as you plan ahead and be as prepared as you can, you and your family will be on your way to making great memories and enjoying your trip. For more information on aircraft traveling, go to www.FAA.gov and for more information on traveling by bus, go to www.travel.gov.

Hope you enjoyed reading this important article brought to you by CarSeatsMom.





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