Safe Air Travel with an Infant or Toddler


July 04, 2011

Airlines have rules when it comes to traveling with small children, and they all may be slightly different. Before traveling, it is best to check with the individual airline to see exactly what is allowed.

The rules regarding airline approved child safety seats for children and infants under the age of 2 can be very confusing. The hassles that parents have to go through just to ensure their children's safety can be very frustrating.

Airlines are not required to allow the use of certified seats even if you have one for your child. You may have to purchase a ticket for your child even if they under the age of two just to ensure that they have a seat on the plane! Some travelers make sure that they are traveling on low-occupancy flights just to ensure that they can get a row to themselves or sit next to an empty seat that they can use the seat for their infant if needed. The airlines are so unreliable in this area that unless you get a written confirmation from the airline stating that you can use your safety seat on the flight, you have no assurance that the airline will allow you to carry that seat on the plane once you get to the airport.

Current laws do not require that an infant sit in a car seat on an airplane. The federal government has had a policy in place for a long time now that allows an infant under the age of two years old to sit on a parent's lap during a flight. This can be uncomfortable for the parent and more importantly extremely unsafe for a small child. In the event of turbulence or during take off and landings, a child who is not restrained in any way risks can be seriously injured.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is recommending to airlines that they change their rules on child safety seat requirements. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) actually recommends the use of a car seat for an infant in flight. They also recommend that children should be in car seats and strapped in with airplane seat belts until the age of 4.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also thinks it is a bad idea for children under the age of two years old to sit on their parent's laps during flight. The organization is pushing the federal government to require airlines to change the current policy. They believe that restraints should be required for all infants and children who are less than 40" in height or who weigh less than 40 pounds. The new proposed policy provides that children under 20 pounds should be in rear-facing safety seats while those over one year of age and weighing 20 to 40 pounds should be in forward-facing seats.

Until there are clearly defined regulations by the federal government, however, the rules governing which safety seats are allowed on airplanes will continue to be confusing and contradictory. There are many stories about parents who have called ahead to the airlines to confirm that they can bring a particular car seat on an airplane. The airline tells the parent that the seat will work over the phone and that it is okay to bring. When the parent gets to the airport, the airline employees say it is not allowed and takes the seat away. Parents are often forced to fly with an infant on their own lap for a 12-hour turbulent flight, even though they brought a pre-approved seat for the child. Additionally, the use of booster seats is not even allowed on board airplanes even if the booster seat is labeled as certified to be used on airplanes. This is a result of a recent change in FAA guidelines.

Car Seat Challenges and Alternatives

When a car seat gets checked as luggage it often gets really rough treatment. Unless the car seat is in a padded car seat bag, there is a chance that the seat can be damaged and this can affect the integrity of the seat. Carrying the car seat through the airport can be a major hassle as well.

There is another alternative to a car seat that may keep your child properly restrained on the airplane. It is called the CARES harness. This is a harness made out of seatbelt webbing that fits around the airline seat and through the regular airline lap belt and forms a 5-point harness system that keeps your child strapped into the seat and safe. The harness can be carried around the airport in a bag and is a snap to put on once on the airplane. There is only one type of airplane seat that it will not work on because it will not allow the tray table on the back of that seat to function properly. It is best to check to see what type of plane you will be on before your trip. The CARES harness is only approved to be used on airplanes and not in automobiles.

Parents who want to prevent personal injury to their toddler or infant on an airplane face serious challenges because the rules are neither uniform nor mandated by federal government at this time. Traveling with your child requires doing some research and possibly getting tips from friends who have traveled with their kids. Every parent wants to keep their kids safe and should not be hampered in their effort to do so. If your child has been injured or suffered wrongful death in an airline accident as a result of not being properly restrained due to airline rules, you may be eligible for compensation.

Our experienced Atlanta personal injury lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat
Category: Personal Injury

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