Airplane Travel and Children

Turbulence is the leading cause of injuries to passengers aboard airplanes.  Although child safety seats are not required on airplanes, they can be extremely effective in reducing injuries due to air turbulence.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends that child passengers travel in appropriate child restraints based on their weight and size duirng ground movement, take off, landing and when the seat belt sign is on.  The following guidelines can help families protect their children:

  • Choose a child safety seat that has a label stating it is approved for use on aircraft

  • Child safety seats with a width of 16” or less will fit best on airline seats

  • Child safety seats are installed with the airline seat's lap belts

  • Child safety seats should be installed in window seats

  • Tethers cannot be anchored on an aircraft

  • Children over 40 pounds should use the aircraft seat belts

  • Infant only, convertible child safety seats, and forward-facing seats with harnesses can be used on an aircraft

  • Booster seats or vests are NOT allowed, even if certification labels are present

  • To guarantee child passengers can use their child safety seats on the aircraft, they must have their own seating assignments

  • Ask your airline for a discounted fare

  • Reserve adjoining seats

  • If you need help making a connecting flight, make arrangements for your airline to help

  • Always read and follow child safety seat manufacturer instructions

By using your own child safety seat on an airplane, your child will ride safer during the flight and have access to his or her own child safety seat upon arrival at your destination. 

There is one harness-type restraint that is FAA approved for airline use only.  The CARES restraint is designed for children 22-44 pounds.Product information can be found at http://kidsflysafe.com.

For more information about flying with children, visit the FAA website at www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/crs/.