So how do you protect your baby’s car seat when flying?
Flying with children can be a lot of fun, as long as you plan accordingly and are ready for everything that comes your way! Since you know your child’s schedule, you can always plan your flights around the times that your child normally naps. You can also pack a plethora of snacks to keep those little ones from having a mini meltdown, okay major meltdown, from being hungry.
There is one thing you probably don’t think about too much when it comes to flying with children though, and that is their car seat. You know you need to take it with you, so they can ride in a car when you reach your destination. However, what do you do with it once you arrive at the airport? How do you protect your car seat so it arrives intact to your final destination?
Thankfully, you have a couple options when you are flying with a car seat, and those options include checking it in as a piece of luggage or checking it at the gate. Of course, you may be wondering how to protect the car seat when flying, since checking them means they are going to be tossed around and touching many other items. The germs alone can cause you to have a mini meltdown afterwards!
A car seat travel bag is your best option as it will protect your car seat when flying. You can zip the car seat into the car seat travel bag and send it through with the rest of your checked in luggage. The car seat will then be waiting for you at the baggage claim area when you reach your final destination.
Obviously, that option will work best if you have toddlers or older children using car seats, but what about an infant? You probably are not going to want to carry an infant around the airport before your flight takes off, plus the entire time of your layover, and all the way to the baggage claim area after landing. That’s a lot of carrying and a lot of discomfort and backache for you!
It is usually much easier to carry your infant around in their car seat between flights, as hopefully they will take a little nap when they are in there. Since you will still be flying with the car seat, you are going to need a way to keep it safe and clean when you eventually need to check it in at the gate.
Some car seat travel bags have handy shoulder straps that allow you to carry it like a backpack. These bags make it much easier if you need to leave the car seat inside as you rush from one gate to another or simply decide that you’re okay holding your child for a little while. Those straps are also perfect for when you receive the car seat back at the gate and you want to carry it inside before removing it to put your little one into it.
You are never going to need to worry about how your car seat will fare when flying, because every car seat travel bag will keep it clean, safe, and in one piece.
6 Top Reasons Why You Should Gate Check Your Car Seat:
1. Avoid Damages
We know that sometimes, no matter how great the airline is, issues such as damaged luggage or equipment arise. Arriving at your destination for a week-long vacation with a broken car seat is not a good way to start a trip. Sure, the airline could refund you for the damages, but this requires time and effort to log a complaint and wait to hear back from them. Shopping for a new car seat on the time that you should sightsee or relax should not be part of your itinerary. To minimize this possibility, always go for a car seat gate check bag every time you travel with your child or children.
2. Avoid the Possibility of Losing the Car Seat
What is worse than a damaged car seat? A lost one! Arriving at your destination airport and knowing the airline lost your car seat can be any parent’s nightmare. Losing any property on a flight is terrible and losing a car seat just adds a whole new level of inconvenience. It is not uncommon that luggage is delayed, sent to another flight, or simply lost without a trace. In most cases, it could be sent to a wrong flight and would take a couple of days for you to get it back.
The airlines would normally give you compensation in the form or rebates, flight upgrades, or discounts, and sometimes cash, but then again, as someone traveling with a small child, all you really need is the car seat. Some airlines also have one available, but it may not be the right size for your child, or the material may not be what your child is used to, which could pose another problem. This is just one reason you should buy a car seat gate check bag and gate check your car seat instead of ticket counter check.
3. No Free Seat Situation
If you bought a seat for your child, feel free to bring your car seat on the plane. Some people, even without a ticket for the child, try to bring the car seat on the plane in the hopes that they could get a free seat. If you did not buy a ticket for your child, it is understandable. Plane tickets do not come cheap, especially for long international flights. If you are traveling during the holidays though, getting a free seat to put your car seat on for your child is a shot in the dark. Airports are the busiest during holidays, and flights are always full, especially during the months of December to January. To avoid further inconvenience and not cause other people inconvenience as well, you may want to gate check that car seat for your next trip with the family.
4. Car Seat Requirements
Another reason to gate check your car seat would be the FAA (or similar) requirements. All car seats to be used on the plane have to be FAA approved. The thing is, this could be a little subjective sometimes. There have been reports of parents getting in arguments with cabin crews because they were not allowed to use the car seats on the plane because it is not FAA approved.
They may be wrong, but they could be right. Maybe the parent failed to check if the car seat brand is FAA approved before purchasing, or maybe the cabin crew’s information about the FAA approved car seats is outdated. Whoever is right or wrong, being in this situation could put anyone in a bad mood, fellow passengers included. Avoid the possibility of this situation altogether and just purchase a car seat gate check bag.
5. Weight and Mobility Concerns Especially When Traveling Alone
Are you traveling alone? Carrying the car seat on the plane may not be the best idea all the time. You would already be carrying at least a diaper bag with all the child’s essentials in it, including formula and extra clothes. If your child is a toddler or a little older, you may even be carrying books, toys, and gadgets. Plus, you would also be carrying the child, especially if he/she cannot walk yet or is asleep during boarding time. Your hands would be already full in cases like this, and your mobility will be limited, so it is best to gate check your car seat. Also, carrying the car seat onboard the plane means you need to install it before takeoff and spend more time and effort uninstalling it again. This may not be worth the hassle, especially for short-haul flights within the country. Also, do not forget that the car seat will not be useful on the plane if you did not purchase a ticket for your child and it is a full flight without a single empty seat that you can use for free.
6. Save Cost by Not Renting
If you want to travel light, you can rent a car seat at your destination. This option is not always the best though, since car rental companies always charge a lot for car seat rentals, especially if it is a popular vacation destination. In some cases, the price is expensive, yet the quality is subpar. By gate checking your car seat, you can have this done for free in most airlines.
Traveling with children is fun yet challenging. The challenges in traveling with children come in different forms, such as entertainment needs, tantrums, and accessories. One of these accessories you have to bring when traveling with children is a car seat. It would be extra hassle if you are traveling via plane. One of the topmost concerns of parents is checking in a car seat for the flight. Can you gate check a car seat? The answer is yes, you can. In fact, you probably should.