Holding your child in your lap on an aircraft may save the cost of an additional seat. But it will not protect your child from the powerful physical forces that can be unleashed by severe air turbulence, emergency landings, and survivable crashes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) strongly recommends child restraint systems for all children riding on aircraft.
Car safety seats can often also be used on aircraft. When purchasing your car safety seat, look for a tag that states the seat is "approved for use in motor vehicles and aircraft." Here are some tips for installing car seats in aircraft:
- On check-in, tell the airline that you will require pre-boarding, to give you time to properly install the seat.
- When placing the safety seat on the airplane seat, face it the same way you do in your car.
- To set the seat properly, make room by reclining the aircraft's seat. Once the safety seat is placed, pulling the seat back up will secure it more tightly.
- If the aircraft seat doesn't seem wide enough for your safety seat, raising one or both of the armrests should allow enough room.
- Anchor the safety seat with the seat belt. If your child's is a forward-facing seat, you'll need to do one more thing: When attaching the seat belt to the safety seat, twist the latch plate backwards one turn. This keeps the belt from slipping or coming loose and also makes it easier to unbuckle the belt later.