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Can Your Car Seat be Used on an Airplane?

Prepare for liftoff with these tips from the Federal Aviation Administration.

When the kids are fussing and you’re desperately digging in the carry-on for the iPad, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your car seat meets airline regulations. In order to make this year’s holiday travel experience as pain-free as possible, before you check in, check out the policies on flying with car seats.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates that if a Child Restraint System (CRS) is used, that it be installed in a forward-facing airplane seat, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. “This includes placing the CRS in the appropriate forward or aft-facing direction as indicated on the label for the size of the child.”

Airlines may have different policies regarding car seats, but they all must adhere to the basic rules that the FAA puts forth. In order to insure that you won’t have any issue with car seats and airlines, the FAA has a few tips before a trip.

  1. Verify that your CRS is approved for use on airlines. Look for a sticker on the CRS that says, “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”
  2. Make sure your CRS is no wider than 16 inches.
  3. Reserve adjoining seats. Many airlines have policies that require a CRS be placed in a window seat, and can never be placed in an exit row.

Finally, it never hurts to check in with your airline’s customer service for their specific policies regarding flying with car seats. Parents can review full FAA guidelines at

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