Flying with children safe
Have your and your children’s passport with you or any kind of identification (birth certificate or other ID). It is advisable to regularly check passports for expiration dates. Remember that some countries require not just a valid passport to visit, but one that is good for the next 3 or 6 months.
Be aware, that airlines often have their own policies which might be stricter than their own governments’ laws.
If you are not flying with the other parent, you might need to have a permission letter, this gives the other parent permission to travel alone with the child. If you are flying with someone else’s children, even if related to you, please make sure you have both power of attorney (in case of emergencies) and a permission letter from the parents. Find out if any of these letters need to be notarized and/or have a time limits.
Travelling with baby
Usually a child without a seat (“lap baby”) is allowed under age 2.
Some of the sites wont let you book a child under two in his or her own seat, automatically making them “lap” babies. Luckily, more and more airlines now give a “on lap”/”own seat” option for under 2’s.
Check all connections yourself, especially on the net. The consolidation sites are especially dangerous for this, like Expedia and Opodo. Make sure any stopover is reasonable and there isn’t some nasty surprise, like having to change airports or leaving the next day.
Remember that a ‘direct’ and a ‘non-stop’ aren’t always the same thing. Always double check that the same flight number doesn’t stop and even change air crafts. With a “direct” flight, it can. Often these terms get confused and people think they’re the same, sometimes not realizing until they arrive at the airport.
Bring your own car seat with you for both comfort and security for you, your child and those seated around you. Flying with a car seat is actually the best way to fly safely with a baby.
In a car seat, the aircraft could turn upside down and it can still hold your child. There was a small aircraft accident in Canada where the only survivor was a three-year old girl strapped into a car seat, also another small plane crash where the only fatality was a lap baby. The evidence is there.
And a child in a car seat is less likely to disturb others. They are calmer and settled in their own, familiar seat. Rear-facing seats have the added advantage for the person in front who wont be kicked. You can face your child and any toys dropped are less likely to end up on the floor. The drawbacks are that the person in front may not be able to recline, causing complaints.
You are not required to keep your child strapped in for the entire flight but for the two, most-critical stages; take-off and landing, your child is safe.
There is also the risk of a toddler jumping up and running around during taxi. If you can’t control your toddler during this crucial phase of the flight, the whole family can be off-loaded for “non-cooperation with crew member instructions”.
Be informed at the airline and airports you travel with and be careful of the weight and height limits they might have.
Please note that if a car seat is FAA approved, it does not automatically mean that the seat will fit on all aircraft seats. If you are worried that it will or won’t fit, measure the bottom, or at the widest point, and call the airline.
Booster seats (including car seats that convert to boosters that are no longer used with the integrated harness) are never FAA approved. They basically only position the shoulder strap, which airplane seats lack.
There is only one item that can replace a car seat, the CARES Child Avialtion restraint System .
This is a very useful item in certain cases, such as if you don’t need or have a car seat waiting at your destination,
Your child has to have a separate seat to use this product.
A big plus with this item is that it is approved by quite a few air authorities.
Be aware that that it is only a small age group that can use it. Your child has to be at least 1 year old and weigh between 22 and 44lbs.
No other similar item is approved for flying. Be careful of mismarketing with other products.
The CARES harnesses have fewer placement restrictions than car seats. They can go in aisles and placed in the middle seat at window rows. You can have a CARES harness between another passenger and the aisle.
If you need a stroller transporting your child(ren) through the airport to the plane, bring the stroller you need for the entire trip, not specifically for the flight. Most airlines accept any stroller. Before leaving, remove all “extras” on your stroller like cup holders, toys and even the sunshade. When you leave the stroller, attach the straps and fold it yourself.
Beside the official and safety issues, be prepared of course for food and drink, dressing (air conditioning can be freezing for many hours) and some entertainment for the kids.
Have a safe and relaxed trip!