Can You Bring a Carseat on a Plane?

In the world of air travel safety, car seats represent an important milestone for protecting young passengers. Commonly known as child safety seats, these devices are designed to safeguard infants and toddlers during vehicular transport, and their use has been adapted for airplanes to enhance child passenger security. The integration of car seats into air travel has its origins in growing awareness of child safety needs and the adaptation of regulations to extend the protections afforded in cars to the aerial environment.

As early aviation evolved, safety standards primarily focused on adults, with minimal considerations for young travelers. However, as air travel became more accessible and family travel more common, authorities and manufacturers acknowledged the importance of providing dedicated safety measures for children. The idea of bringing a carseat on a plane transitioned from a possibility to a recommendation and, in some jurisdictions, into a requirement. Today, the use of car seats on planes is subject to aviation safety regulations, which vary by country but usually align with the safety standards established by organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States. These regulatory bodies provide certification criteria that car seats must meet in order to be deemed suitable for use on commercial aircraft.

The inclusion of car seats on aircrafts not only serves to shield young flyers in case of turbulence or emergency situations, but it also ensures a familiar restraint system for children, making air travel less stressful for both kids and caregivers. Airlines typically have specific policies in relation to car seats, such as age and size limitations for the children who can use them, as well as installation requirements on board the aircraft. As family travel continues to be a significant sector of the aviation industry, the conversation around car seats on planes remains a critical aspect of aviation safety discourse.

can you bring a carseat on a plane

Table of Contents

Can You Take a Carseat on a Plane?

When traveling with a young child, ensuring their safety is paramount, and this extends to air travel. Yes, you can take a carseat on a plane, and it is often recommended by aviation safety authorities. Most airlines allow carseats and encourage their use, recognizing the added safety they provide to young passengers. A carseat on a plane can help to secure a child during turbulence and in the event of an emergency. Additionally, using a carseat familiar to the child can help them feel more comfortable and settled during the flight. It’s important to check with the specific airline for their policies regarding carseats, including size restrictions and installation guidelines, to ensure a smooth travel experience. In the following section, we will delve deeper into the considerations and steps for taking a carseat on a plane, helping you prepare for a safe and stress-free journey with your little one.

Understanding Carseat Policies on USA Domestic Flights

Traveling with a child within the United States requires parents and guardians to understand the various airline policies regarding the use of car seats. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates these guidelines to ensure child safety. It’s essential to know that most airlines allow children under the age of two to fly for free on a caregiver’s lap, but for increased safety, it’s recommended to purchase a seat and use an approved car seat.

Airline Approval for Carseat Use

  • Check that your car seat is FAA-approved for use on airplanes, which is typically indicated by a sticker on the car seat.
  • Contact the airline before your flight to confirm their specific car seat policy as they may have their size and usage restrictions.

Airlines are mandated by the FAA to allow the use of approved child restraint systems (CRS) during all phases of flight if the child has a ticketed seat and the CRS is properly labeled and approved.

Installation and Placement of Carseats

  • Carseats should be placed in a rear-facing position for infants, following the specific height and weight limits outlined by the car seat manufacturer.
  • Place the car seat in a window seat to avoid blocking the escape path in a row.
  • Follow the installation instructions according to the car seat manual, using either the seat belt or LATCH system, depending on what the aircraft seat is equipped with.

Once boarded, ensure that the car seat does not block other passengers from exiting the row in an emergency. Aisle seats are generally not permitted for car seat installation.

TSA Guidelines for Carseat Screening

When going through airport security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires all car seats to undergo screening. According to the TSA website:

  • Carseats are typically screened by X-ray, and if they don’t fit, they may have to undergo an alternative form of screening.
  • Passengers can carry children in an infant carrier through a metal detector, but the carrier must undergo X-ray screening.

You can review the TSA guidelines for traveling with children and car seats on the TSA website.

Portable Carseats and Airplane Compatibility

Selecting a car seat that is portable, lightweight, and FAA-approved can ease the traveling experience. Many manufacturers design car seats specifically for travel, taking into account the limited space on airplanes.

  • Look for car seats with a narrow base to fit in the average airplane seat, which is typically 16 inches wide.
  • Choose a car seat with easy-to-use installation features that are conducive to quick fitting and removal in the aircraft.

Tips for a Smooth Flight with Carseats

  • Pre-board to give yourself extra time to install the car seat before general boarding begins.
  • Bring along a copy of the airline’s car seat policy in case you need to reference it during boarding or in flight.
  • Remember to pack any additional accessories needed for installing the car seat, such as a seatbelt locking clip if necessary.

Ensuring you are prepared can help create a more comfortable and less stressful flight experience with your child.

Child Safety and Comfort During the Flight

It is important to monitor your child’s comfort and safety throughout the flight when using a car seat:

  • Check that the car seat’s harness is snugly fitted to your child, as you would in a vehicle.
  • Adjust the car seat’s recline angle, if possible, to optimize your child’s sleep comfort, while also adhering to safety regulations.

Remember, the airline crew is trained and available to assist with any questions or help you may need regarding the use of a car seat during the flight.

✔ Pros ✘ Cons
Ensures child’s safety and comfort during the flight. Might have extra costs if additional seat is required.
Familiar seat for the child, reducing travel anxiety. Carrying and installing the carseat can be cumbersome.
May provide better sleep position for child on long flights. Some airlines have restrictions on carseat size and placement.
Could prevent injury during turbulence or in case of emergency. May not be usable on all segments of the trip, depending on aircraft size and regulations.
Often allowed by airlines without additional charge if the child has a booked seat. Space constraints may lead to discomfort for other passengers.

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines

When flying internationally with a car seat, it’s essential to adhere to the guidelines set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). These guidelines ensure the safety and comfort of young passengers while maintaining compliance with aviation safety standards. IATA provides general recommendations for the use of child restraint devices (CRDs) on aircraft. Here are some key points from the IATA guidelines:

  • CRDs should be approved by a government authority and clearly labeled as such.
  • The car seat should be appropriate for the child’s weight and height.
  • It is recommended to install the car seat in a rear-facing position for infants under a certain weight or height, according to the car seat manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Parents should ensure that the car seat fits within the aircraft’s seat dimensions and does not obstruct the aisle or other passengers’ mobility.
  • Advance arrangements with the airline are necessary to accommodate a car seat.

For more detailed information, please refer to the IATA guidelines on child restraint devices.

Country Specific Regulations

When planning to fly internationally with a car seat, it’s crucial to be aware of the specific regulations that apply to the country of departure, transit, and arrival. Each country may have its own set of rules regarding the use of car seats on aircraft, and these can vary significantly. It’s important to check the regulations well in advance of your trip to ensure compliance and to avoid any travel disruptions.

United Kingdom

The UK Civil Aviation Authority provides guidance on traveling with children and the use of car seats on planes. For more information, visit the UK government page on flying with a car seat.


In the European Union, car seats used on aircraft must meet specific EU standards. For detailed regulations, refer to the EU passenger rights page.


Transport Canada provides guidelines for the use of child restraint systems on airplanes. You can find the relevant information on the Transport Canada page.


The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia has specific requirements for car seats used during flight. Visit the CASA website for details.

New Zealand

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand outlines the use of child restraints on aircraft. For guidelines, check the New Zealand CAA page.


Regulations in Asian countries can vary, so it’s important to check with the local civil aviation authority or the airline for specific guidelines.


The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore provides information on traveling with infants and children. More details can be found on the CAAS website.

10 Airline-Specific Regulations for Flying with a Car Seat

Airlines may have their own specific policies regarding the use of car seats on board. It’s important to review these regulations before flying, as they can influence your ability to use a car seat and may have particular requirements for installation and use. Below are the car seat policies for 10 different airlines.

American Airlines

  • Car seats must have a label indicating approval for use on an aircraft.
  • Advance notice to the airline is recommended.
  • Visit the American Airlines page for more details.

Delta Air Lines

  • Car seats should be FAA-approved and have a width that fits the aircraft seat.
  • Delta provides specific guidelines on where car seats can be placed on the aircraft.
  • For more information, see the Delta Air Lines page.

United Airlines

  • United accepts FAA-approved car seats for use on their flights.
  • Car seats may not be used in certain seats due to safety regulations.
  • Check the United Airlines page for further instructions.

Air Canada

  • Car seats must meet Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
  • The airline provides guidelines on the appropriate car seats for different age groups.
  • Visit the Air Canada page for detailed policies.

British Airways

  • British Airways allows car seats that are fully harness type and approved for air travel.
  • Seats must fit within the dimensions of the aircraft seat.
  • For specifics, refer to the British Airways page.


  • Qantas has specific requirements for car seats, including the need for an Australian Standards label.
  • Car seats must be pre-approved by the airline before travel.
  • More details can be found on the Qantas website.


  • Lufthansa permits the use of car seats that conform to certain standards and are approved for air travel.
  • Seats must not exceed specific dimensions.
  • Visit the Lufthansa page for more information.


  • Emirates allows car seats that are approved for air travel and fit within the seat dimensions.
  • They provide guidance on the best seats to use for car seat installation.
  • For further details, see the Emirates website.

Air France

  • Air France accepts car seats that are approved under the UN standard ECE R 44-03 or later.
  • Car seats must be installed in a window seat.
  • Check the Air France page for more information.

Cathay Pacific

  • Cathay Pacific requires car seats to have a label indicating they are approved for use in aircraft.
  • Seats should be secured in a manner that complies with the airline’s safety requirements.
  • Visit the Cathay Pacific page for detailed guidelines.

Packing a Carseat in Carry-On Luggage

If you’re planning to bring a carseat on board in your carry-on luggage, it’s important to check the airline’s policy first. Many airlines allow carseats to be brought on board free of charge, as long as they are FAA-approved for air travel. Here’s how to pack a carseat in your carry-on luggage:

  • Check Airline Compatibility: Ensure the carseat is approved for use on an aircraft and fits within the airline’s size and weight limits for carry-on items.
  • Use a Car Seat Travel Bag: Invest in a padded carseat travel bag. These bags are designed to protect the carseat from scratches, germs, and damage.
  • Secure Loose Parts: Tighten all of the carseat straps and secure any loose parts to prevent them from getting caught or damaged during the flight.
  • Label Your Car Seat: Attach a tag with your contact information in case the carseat gets lost or placed in the hold by the airline.

taking a carseat through airport security

Packing a Carseat in Hold Luggage

Checking in your carseat as hold luggage may be necessary if it’s too large to be considered as a carry-on or if your airline does not permit carseats in the cabin. Follow these steps to ensure that your carseat arrives safely at your destination:

  • Use a Durable Car Seat Bag: A strong, durable carseat bag will protect the carseat from the wear and tear of handling and transit.
  • Pad for Protection: Wrap the carseat in bubble wrap or padded materials to further cushion it from impacts during transport.
  • Secure the Bag: Tie or lock the carseat bag to prevent it from opening and the seat from falling out during handling.
  • Check Airline Requirements: Verify the airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions to avoid additional fees or the need to repack at the airport.
  • Commercial Flights versus Smaller Planes: Keep in mind that smaller, regional planes may have stricter limitations on what can be placed in hold luggage, so always double-check.

Additional Tips for Packing a Carseat

  • Remove Gadgets: Take off any attached toys or gadgets from the carseat to prevent loss or damage.
  • Document Condition: Take photos of your carseat before packing to document its condition in case you need to file a claim for damage.
  • Arrival Inspection: Once at your destination, inspect the carseat thoroughly before using it to ensure there has been no damage during transit.

Remember, children’s safety is of utmost importance. When packing a carseat in your luggage, the goal is to protect the seat’s integrity so it can effectively safeguard your child during car travel upon arrival.

Essential Travel Items Similar to a Car Seat

When traveling with young children, in addition to a car seat, there are several items you might consider bringing on a plane for convenience and safety. A lightweight stroller can be gate-checked or stored in the overhead compartment, ensuring you can navigate airports with ease. A baby carrier is another hands-free option for keeping your child close while boarding or moving through the terminal. For in-flight comfort, a travel pillow and a small blanket can help your child sleep more comfortably. Portable entertainment, such as a tablet loaded with games and movies, along with child-friendly headphones, can keep little ones occupied during long flights. Don’t forget to pack a collapsible travel bottle or sippy cup to help with hydration and ear pressure during takeoff and landing. Lastly, a compact, foldable changing pad is essential for quick diaper changes on the go.

FAQ’s About Can You Bring a Carseat on a Plane?

Traveling with young children often involves bringing along a carseat to ensure their safety during the journey. When flying, parents and guardians typically have numerous questions regarding the policies and logistics of bringing a carseat on an airplane. This section aims to address some of the most common queries to help travelers prepare for their trip and ensure they comply with airline regulations while prioritizing the comfort and safety of their little ones.

Is it allowed to bring a carseat on an airplane?

Yes, most airlines allow you to bring a carseat on an airplane. It’s advisable to check with your specific airline for their policy, including size and weight restrictions, to confirm compatibility with their seats.

Do I need to purchase a separate seat for my child if I’m bringing a carseat?

To use a carseat on an airplane, you typically need to purchase a separate seat for your child. It’s important to book a seat that can accommodate the carseat according to the airline’s guidelines.

Can I use any carseat on an airplane?

Not all carseats are suitable for airborne use. The carseat must be FAA-approved for air travel, which is typically indicated on the carseat with a label stating: “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”

How do I securely install a carseat on an airplane seat?

A carseat can be installed using the airplane seat’s lap belt. Ensure the carseat is installed facing the correct direction according to its instructions and that the lap belt is tightly secured through the carseat’s designated belt path.

Does a carseat count towards my carry-on baggage allowance?

Often, a carseat does not count towards the standard carry-on allowance and can be checked for free, but policies can vary between airlines. Check the specific airline’s baggage policy ahead of time.

Are there any specific airplane seats where I cannot install a carseat?

Yes, carseats should not be installed in emergency exit rows, in seats where they would block another passenger’s access to the aisle, or in some bulkhead seats depending on the airline’s policy.

What should I do with my carseat if my child is not using it during the flight?

If not in use, you should stow the carseat according to the airline’s requirements. This might involve checking it at the gate or securing it in an overhead bin if allowed and space permits.

Can I bring my carseat as checked baggage?

Yes, carseats can typically be checked as baggage. Airlines generally allow parents to check carseats at the ticket counter or gate without additional fees.

What if my carseat gets damaged while being handled as checked baggage?

If you notice damage to your carseat after it’s been checked, report it to the airline immediately before leaving the airport. They may be responsible for replacing or repairing the carseat.

Is it better to rent a carseat at my destination rather than bring one on the plane?

Renting a carseat at the destination can be another option but consider factors like the availability of rental carseats, the cost, and the carseat’s condition and safety standards before deciding.

Packing It All Up

In summary, bringing a carseat on a plane is not only permissible but often recommended for ensuring the safety and comfort of young children during flight. To ensure a hassle-free experience, parents should verify that their car seat is FAA-approved, which is typically indicated by a sticker on the seat itself. It’s essential to consider the size of the carseat to ensure it fits within the airplane’s seats, and most airlines will allow carseats to be used for children sitting in their own paid seats. When planning to bring a carseat on a plane, parents should also familiarize themselves with their specific airline’s policies, which may vary, to avoid any last-minute surprises at the gate or on board.

Practically, it’s advisable to contact the airline ahead of time to reserve a spot for your carseat and to inquire about any specific requirements or boarding procedures. Additionally, checking the carseat at the gate can provide convenience, and some airlines offer protective bags to safeguard the seat when being stored during the flight. Ultimately, preparing and ensuring all guidelines are followed simplifies the process of traveling with a carseat, contributing to a safer and more comfortable journey for both the child and the parents. Always remember to double-check your carseat’s compatibility with aircraft regulations and stay updated with any changes in airline policies to guarantee a smooth travel experience.