I'm trying to figure out exactly what carryons I can bring, what I can gate check for both kids, and what I will have to pay to check.
My 6 yo has special needs so we will be bringing TWO strollers on this trip, though I really only need one at the airport.
I also have TWO carseats. The 6yo's is not airline compliant. I've toyed with getting a backless booster if that will make gate-checking and/or using it on the plane possible and easier.
Will they let you gate check a stroller AND a car seat for a 6 yo with a paid seat? Will he still get to bring his own carryon and personal item?
Will they let you gate check a stroller AND car seat for a lap baby?
The lap baby will need a diaper bag with food and diapers. Will this count as MY personal item since she doesn't have a seat? Or can I bring my own personal item as well? And what about a carryon? One for each of us, or just one for me?
Sep 8, 11, 1:11 am
Each airline is different. Don't check any seats at the counter. Bring them both to the gate and they wont count against your luggage allowance. This will also give you the option of bringing the younger child's car seat on board if they have an extra seat for it. Not only will you be sure to have your car seat at your destination but you and your child will have a more comfortable and safer ride. Sounds like the older child's car seat would be hard to replace anyway. Compensation wont be offered if lost or broken, which happens a lot...
Most airlines allow an extra item for lap babies, presumably, the diaper bag so no, you'll still get your own bag too. Some foreign airlines even have a baggage allowance for lap babies so check into that, if it applies.
Your older son is a full-fledged passenger so gets the full check-in and carry-on item limits as an adult would, even if the ticket is discounted (a bit, which is rare these days!)
Actually, your son's car seat might still be compliant, if you're flying a U.S. company. Did you know that the FAA makes exceptions for special needs children?
You might have to dig but it's in this FAA document;
You might want to "booster train" your 6 year old before leaving, if you choose to go that route. Make sure he sits in it well and doesn't wiggle out (common with lots of kids).
Some parents fit the back part of the booster in the suitcase and then bring the bottom part as a carry-on.
Your older child's stroller also might fall into the category of handicapped mobility devices, which are protected by law so look into this, if you are flying a U.S. company. It might not only be exempted but its treatment guaranteed (which isn't the case with normal car seats).
Contact whatever organization deals with your son's special needs as they might be more informed about the specific situation.
On a personal note, as many here will confirm, when you fly with multiple children and their devices, the airlines often let the odd item "slide". Don't point it out, be nice at check-in and by all means, don't ask! (because the nice agent who was about to give you a break realizes his supervisor is in earshot lol!)
Sep 8, 11, 5:30 am
You might want to ask specific questions pertaining to your son's situation on the Disability Board. They might be able to give you more detailed instructions.
By all means, ask for assistance if you feel it would help, and your right! On a technicality, the airport employee might have to assist your son directly, not just help all of you in general. You may want to prepare your son accordingly.
Your son might be very capable but please use worst-case scenario when answering any questions. Remember that when flying, your son might be tired, worn out and/or conditions might not be ideal, like outside air stairs or extra long distances.
Sep 8, 11, 11:01 am
Airlines don't allow the use of a regular booster seat on a plane.
Sep 8, 11, 11:08 am
We are flying to orlando, most likely on us airways or continental.
My son has autism, a hidden disability. After reading the FAA document, it says I can request an exemption for a non-approved carseat, but it specifically states "physical diabilities." It also says backless boosters are not allowed to be used during takeoff and landing. So bringing a booster would only give me the benefit of having a smaller carseat to lug and gatecheck (he uses a britax regent currently).
As for the baby's carseat, the document also says children should be restrained in the car seats at all times during the flight. She loathes the car seat, so even if there are open seats available, it seems like I should just gatecheck it so we don't have to listen to a screaming baby in a carseat for 4 hours. :rolleyes:
The main exception to all of this would be in the event of a crash, both children would obviously be safer straped into their carseats. I have a ergo-type baby carrier that I can wear on the front, but from what I read in the FAA document, they would not let me wear the baby? I'm confused about that whole section.
So I guess it's a matter of safety vs. convience. But what's the fatality rate in the event of a crash anyway? Is a carseat really going to make a significant difference? :(
There was also no mention of strollers...
Sep 8, 11, 1:38 pm
As for the baby's carseat, the document also says children should be restrained in the car seats at all times during the flight
As long as the seat belt sign is on and for take-off and landing. Just like other passengers, she can be out of it when the seat belt sign is off. Mine were very wiggly and spent more of their waking time in my arms and they really hated being strapped down. But boy, was it good to be able to put the baby down when he or she fell asleep! It gave my arms a break and on 11 1/2 hour flights, I wanted to sleep too!
I have a ergo-type baby carrier that I can wear on the front, but from what I read in the FAA document, they would not let me wear the baby?
If it's a U.S. company, you're not allowed to have the baby attached to you in any way. This is to keep the child from being crushed by your body in forward impact if say, the plane slid off the runway. Some foreign companies use "belly belts" that attach to your seat belt but these are banned in the U.S. and Canada. You don't have to even remove the baby from the Ergo, for example if she falls asleep. Just detach it from you for those phases of the flight. When that seat belt sign goes off, you can use your Ergo again.
Is a carseat really going to make a significant difference?
Yes. There was a crash a few year's ago where the only survivor was a baby in a car seat (small plane). Since more people are surviving plane crashes these days, than those getting killed, it's a good idea. The reality is that there is little chance of even being in a plane crash at all. The safety record is so good that lap babies continue to be allowed. What is much more common is a car seat broken or lost by being checked as luggage.
The only reason the Regent wasn't FAA approved was that they thought it was too big and heavy. Basically, Britax wrote me and said that since it's for older kids, they didn't even go through the hoops to get approval since few would bring one on board anyway. So there's nothing that prevents the seat from being used on board IYSWIM. For example, infant bucket seats in Europe need a shoulder strap for installation so they can't be used in aircraft. There is no... shall we say "design inhibition"?? that makes the Regent not useful on an airplane.
About the strollers, find out your airlines' policy. Also find out if your son's "stroller" is not counted as a medical device, which would exempt it from any restrictions. I assume that it's not a standard model.
In your case, you might find it easier to pull the baby's car seat on a metal luggage cart, pile the carry-on's on there, wear the baby in the Ergo and push your son in his stroller. Check the baby's stroller as luggage. Bring the bottom booster seat as a carry-on just so that you have it right away on arrival (if you opt out of bringing the regent).
A CARES harness might be a good option for your son if he'll use the booster on your trip. Dig around their site because I know I read that the FAA has exempted the size limit for special needs children. Confirm that with them, perhaps by contacting them directly. Having the extra restraint is helpful for many children.
See question on special needs children;
I understand that the airlines consider autism to be a "disability" but again, confirm that. I do know that the airlines do like to know about any "impairment" (for lack of a better word) that could hinder an emergency evacuation. That was the criteria when I flew. I'm sure you've already been through the definition game...
One mother told me that if she can't get a bulkhead seat for her son with autism spectrum disorder, she puts her husband in the seat in front. Her son tends to kick and move around a lot so this way, they don't disturb a stranger in the row in front.
Luckily it's a nice, short flight. Also, Orlando flights are infamously filled with children. Much better than if you were flying with a bunch of businesspeople!
I have a cousin with autism who has been to Hawaii (from California) with her parents. She's very sensitive to noise but she did great and had a good time. You know your son's triggers so hopefully with some planning and a little luck, it'll work well for you too!