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Airline Only Allows Forward Facing Car Seats - What To Do With Our 7 Month Old?

Airline Only Allows Forward Facing Car Seats - What To Do With Our 7 Month Old?

Old Dec 8, 15, 9:58 am
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Airline Only Allows Forward Facing Car Seats - What To Do With Our 7 Month Old?

We (me, my wife, 3 year old, 7 month old - 4 seats ticketed) will be traveling to Singapore and back. Our original plan was to use a CARES for the 3 year old and a Cosco Scenera car seat, rear facing, for our 7 month old. We did this when our oldest was 1, and it worked out well.

But as I was double checking the rules on Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air for our flights home (JAL on the way there allows rear facing), they only allow forward facing car seats. I don't know of any forward facing car seats that are rated for 7 month olds. I can't imagine it would be safe or comfortable for them at that age either.

I'm sure we aren't the only family to run into this issue. What have other people done when this comes up? Is it better to use the car seat forward facing, since it's better than the lap belt extender / holding them as a lap infant? Or is the forward facing car seat just too dangerous at that age, even more dangerous than just being held or being in an infant carrier for most of the flight?

Thanks for any insight that people have.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 11:34 am
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Pretty sure you can face those seats forward. Look in the user manual with the car seat. usually the airline seat belt will go behind the padding. On the airline it's fine to face them forwards, just follow the instructions for forward facing. For the most part, the car seat is to keep the children safe during turbulence, and it also makes it easy for them to sleep without you holding them up. I think in the extremely unlikely event of a catastrophic crash, it won't make much difference if the child is rear facing or forward facing.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by roknroll View Post
Pretty sure you can face those seats forward. Look in the user manual with the car seat. usually the airline seat belt will go behind the padding. On the airline it's fine to face them forwards, just follow the instructions for forward facing. For the most part, the car seat is to keep the children safe during turbulence, and it also makes it easy for them to sleep without you holding them up. I think in the extremely unlikely event of a catastrophic crash, it won't make much difference if the child is rear facing or forward facing.
You are right, the seat does forward face, but is forward facing for 22-40 pounds. At 7 months, I expect my son to be about 15-16 pounds, i.e. well outside the range of the seat.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 12:52 pm
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Originally Posted by robe0341 View Post
You are right, the seat does forward face, but is forward facing for 22-40 pounds. At 7 months, I expect my son to be about 15-16 pounds, i.e. well outside the range of the seat.
This doesn't make sense to me.

If he fits in the seat rear facing before that weight, how would he not fit in the same seat forward facing?

Are you reading the automobile guidelines for when to turn it around and assuming that somehow which direction it faces changes the weight range? The forces a child would be subject to in a car crash are not the same as they would be on an aircraft, i.e. very few planes are rear ended, so aircraft safety concerns are not identical to those for an automobile.

In happy ignorance, we never used my son's car seat rear facing on an aircraft and he made a dozen flights in his convertible (rear or front facing) seat before he was 12 months old.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 12:54 pm
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Again, those recommendations/requirements for for cars and based on car collisions. The seat itself and how your child sits in it will be exactly the same whether it is forward or rear facing. The difference would be how forces are distributed in the event of a crash.

On a plane the only thing you're likely to encounter would be some turbulence, and forward/rear facing isn't going to make any difference in terms of safety. Having them in the seat will definitely be safer than in your arms under any circumstances. It will also be more comfortable for the child and yourself.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 3:39 pm
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Originally Posted by roknroll View Post
Again, those recommendations/requirements for for cars and based on car collisions. The seat itself and how your child sits in it will be exactly the same whether it is forward or rear facing. The difference would be how forces are distributed in the event of a crash.
The seat won't be exactly the same forward facing vs rear facing. Rear facing is a much more reclined angle than forward facing. That makes a difference when a child is on the cusp of being able to sit up on their own.

Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
This doesn't make sense to me.

If he fits in the seat rear facing before that weight, how would he not fit in the same seat forward facing?

Are you reading the automobile guidelines for when to turn it around and assuming that somehow which direction it faces changes the weight range?
I understand that he can "fit" in the seat. The first part of the question is, with the more upright position, will a 7 month find it uncomfortable if he is on the verge of sitting on his own at that point?

You say "automobile guidelines" as if the car seat comes with a separate set of guidelines for other usages. Is there another set of car seat guidelines that I missed?
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Old Dec 8, 15, 4:15 pm
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Originally Posted by robe0341 View Post
The seat won't be exactly the same forward facing vs rear facing. Rear facing is a much more reclined angle than forward facing. That makes a difference when a child is on the cusp of being able to sit up on their own.

I understand that he can "fit" in the seat. The first part of the question is, with the more upright position, will a 7 month find it uncomfortable if he is on the verge of sitting on his own at that point?
IME the better a kid can sit on their own, the less reclined they want to be. Mine wanted to sit up and see the world, not recline, as soon as he learned to sit up. By 7 months, most babies can sit up independently.

Originally Posted by robe0341 View Post
You say "automobile guidelines" as if the car seat comes with a separate set of guidelines for other usages. Is there another set of car seat guidelines that I missed?
No, usually the only guidelines that come with the seat are for cars. But it isn't valid to assume that those dictate the only ways in which the seat can be safely used. The physical forces that a child is subject to in an auto are not the same as those on a plane. Somewhere I've seen an info sheet written for air travel. Might have been the American Academy of Pediatrics or a government website on child safety.
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Old Dec 9, 15, 1:43 pm
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hi, I'm an RN in the nicu, and I have a lot of experience in car seat safety. I would not be so set on rear face vs forward, as those recommendations are made for cars. When a car is hit by another car on the ground, the infant has more back/neck support when rear facing. However, the turbulance (or worse- collision?) in an airplane has a totally different force to it coming from a different angle (up down usually) so it is not the same. I would forward face in your infant seat if that is the rule, or get a convertible seat and forward face in that.
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Old Dec 9, 15, 9:27 pm
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Originally Posted by roknroll View Post
The seat itself and how your child sits in it will be exactly the same whether it is forward or rear facing.
That is often but not always true. There have been various European-market carseats where installation in a car did not include the child being in the same position whether the car seat is installed forward- or rear-facing.
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Old Dec 15, 15, 2:12 am
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I have experience with this seat (Cosco Scenera) both forward- and rear-facing, both in cars and on planes.

1. The installation guidelines for cars apply to planes, too. The FAA requires these guidelines to be followed in both vehicle types. So weight limits, belt paths, whether the "kickstand" is up or down, etc. all should be followed in planes just as they are in cars. This means that a 7-month-old should be rear-facing on planes in a Cosco Scenera. (I say should.)

2. The Scenera does fit rear-facing on planes. I've installed it in a wide variety of planes, including commuter jets, just fine.

3. Some US flight attendants get confused when they see any seat other than the bucket-type infant carries installed rear-facing, and there have been reports of passengers being asked to turn convertible-style seats around to forward-facing, even if the installation instructions are clear that it should be installed rear-facing, given the parameters (child size/age, etc). The FAA guidelines are a little ambiguous, and less experienced flight attendants misinterpret them sometimes. This isn't directly relevant here, since Singapore's guidelines, according to your research, prohibit rear-facing carseats outright.

4. All this being said, you could turn the seat around to forward-facing and put your 7-month-old in it. It will not be reclined at the appropriate angle for a child that age -- and the seat does sit pretty upright when forward-facing, so expect his head to flop forward when sleeping. trying to support the head on the sides with rolled up blankets or whatever doesn't work so well. I have tried. Practical experience here. Even rear-facing, there is some head flop in this seat, but you have a better shot at stabilizing it with a blanket at that angle.

5. Check out http://car-seat.org to see if they have any insight.

6. I think you may be stuck forward facing it. But maybe if you're in a bulkhead, you could try rear-facing it in the window seat? The flight attendants may not say anything. If they do, then you could then turn it around. I'm assuming, here, that the reason the airline doesn't allow it is that RF seats can impose on the passenger in front of them, since they will not be able to recline their seat. If you are in a bulkhead seat, this point would be moot.

7. I'm not sure why I'm numbering everything.
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Old Dec 15, 15, 5:06 am
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Originally Posted by swise View Post
1. The installation guidelines for cars apply to planes, too. The FAA requires these guidelines to be followed in both vehicle types. So weight limits, belt paths, whether the "kickstand" is up or down, etc. all should be followed in planes just as they are in cars. This means that a 7-month-old should be rear-facing on planes in a Cosco Scenera. (I say should.)
Can you cite a source for the claim that the FAA requires the guidelines to be followed in both types of vehicles? That's contrary to what I've seen on the subject, and it would be odd for the FAA to make any sort of regulation pertaining to cars.
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Old Dec 15, 15, 12:42 pm
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Scenera is a regular car seat - shouldnt you be better off with basket type for 7 mo old? Those are certainly better for sleeping on such long flight...and much easier to carry..

As for front or rear facing - dont invent problems - just install whichever way fits without obstructing other pax recline etc...
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Old Dec 16, 15, 12:15 am
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Originally Posted by CDTraveler View Post
Can you cite a source for the claim that the FAA requires the guidelines to be followed in both types of vehicles? That's contrary to what I've seen on the subject, and it would be odd for the FAA to make any sort of regulation pertaining to cars.
Sorry, what I was trying to say is that FAA requires car seats to be installed according to a manufacturer's instructions, and with the Scenera, as with most convertibles, the installation process and RF/FF requirements on planes is the same as it is in cars. You use the same belt paths, follow the same weight/size limits, recline requirements for FF and RF, etc. The only real difference is that there's no FF tether option, and there's no shoulder strap feeding through the belt path like one has in cars.
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Old Dec 16, 15, 12:27 am
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Originally Posted by azepine00 View Post
Scenera is a regular car seat - shouldnt you be better off with basket type for 7 mo old? Those are certainly better for sleeping on such long flight...and much easier to carry..

As for front or rear facing - dont invent problems - just install whichever way fits without obstructing other pax recline etc...
I would assume, from the OP's remark that rear-facing car seats are not permitted on Singapore Airlines, that the Scenera would be a better option, since bucket-style seats (in almost all cases) can't forward-face.

In our case, our sons outgrew the largest available (at that time) bucket/infant Carrier seat at 5-6 months. They were both about 22 lbs by that age and reached the height limit for the Graco Snugride 35. Granted, they were not typical; they ate growth charts for breakfast, second breakfast and elevenses. But a lot of babies do grow out of buckets by about 8 months, so I can see the preference for the Scenera for that reason.

Plus, it's soooo lightweight that it's remarkably easy to hang off of a stroller and boogie through the terminal. It's also easier to heft over all the seats to get through the aisle when boarding.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 9:08 am
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As others have noted, your carseat serves a very different purpose in an airplane than in a car. The reason you rear-face in a car is to protect against head/neck and chest compression injuries in a sudden stop. I think (could be wrong, but it seems unlikely) that a plane is never going to have the type of sudden stop that can cause the G-forces that a car could. The main purpose of the car seat on a plane is to protect against bounces in turbulence, and in that case I don't see how it could matter which direction it faces.

We still rear face in the car, but I have no problem front facing on a plane, in part because there's no way our daughter's monstrous car seat could fit rear-facing without limiting recline of the seat in front of us. Also, in flight entertainment!
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