Car Seat Choice Advice (Three Options)

Old Mar 3, 16, 11:49 pm
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Car Seat Choice Advice (Three Options)

Hi,

We're new to the forums and are hoping people might be able to help with a car seat issue. We’ve searched the forums and have found lots of great advice, but we couldn’t quite find what we needed to!

Our daughter is about to outgrow her Britax Regent and we want to replace it with either the Britax Pinnacle or Frontier, or the Diono Rainier. While it’s obviously a car seat first and foremost, we’d also like to use it on the plane.

For flying, would anyone recommend any of these and if so, for what reasons? We’re totally ok with travelling with big and heavy car seats and as all these are heavy, size and weight isn’t something we’re concerned about. While any help at all would be appreciated, we’re thinking about the following:

1) How well the car seat fits the plane seats. Many of the threads we’ve read mention different types of seats so would this be an issue? When we fly we tend to go United, Delta, or American.

2) How well the seat installs using the aircraft seatbelt. One thread we found led us to this blog post, which shows the buckle position might be an issue (though not with the Frontier from reading the post!)

3) How the seat would work with the tray table. A few messages mention some seats but we haven’t been able to find out about this for the three seats we’re considering (though the Rainier is similar to the Radian which people have mentioned).

4) How the seat would work with viewing the video screens on long haul flights. We assume this is pretty much the same issue as above.

5) If the seat causes any issues for people sitting beside it. Side wings, armrests, etc. (we're ok with any issues, just thinking about passengers other than us).

We’re leaning towards the Pinnacle as this would be best for our car, but we would definitely consider the Frontier if it works well on a plane. From reading the forums the Diono Radian seems popular and though we’re looking at the Rainier, it seems a similar design to the Radian – if people think it’s much better than the Pinnacle or Frontier for whatever reason, then we would consider buying it specifically for when we travel and need to fly.

We’ve done the “car” side of the research, but posted here to get “plane” research advice. Thanks very much for any help at all – we appreciate it!
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Old Mar 8, 16, 2:18 am
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I keep our kids' car seats in our car and have separate seats for them for air travel. Their "airplane seats", as they call them, are Evenflo Sureride seats. They are extremely lightweight and one nests in the other, so this makes it easy to bring both.

The Cosco Scenera is another great seat for air travel, but it is outgrown sooner.

I haven't ever picked up the Britax seats you mentioned, but I'm sure they're fairly heavy, and the Diono seats are known for being some of the heaviest.

As for installs, I suspect that won't be an issue. The narrowest airliner seats are about 17". I can tell you we haven't ever had issues with the Sceneras or the Surerides.

#5 should not be an issue, unless you are on a widebody and the child seat is placed in the center position. Otherwise, it'll be up against the window with a parent next to the child, so no unknown passengers.
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Old Mar 9, 16, 1:49 pm
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Originally Posted by swise View Post
I keep our kids' car seats in our car and have separate seats for them for air travel. Their "airplane seats", as they call them, are Evenflo Sureride seats. They are extremely lightweight and one nests in the other, so this makes it easy to bring both.

The Cosco Scenera is another great seat for air travel, but it is outgrown sooner.
Personally, like Swise, I would recommend spending a relatively small amount of money to have a dedicated "flying" car seat. You will appreciate the difference between a 7lb seat and a 27lb seat!

We own other Britax (Boulevard) and Diono Radian seats, and if I had to pick one for flying, I would definitely go with the Diono. Very slim (it can fit 3 across in many cars) and very low-profile, so the kid can get in and out easily by themselves, and can typically put the tray table down all the way while sitting in the seat.
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Old Mar 19, 16, 12:53 am
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Hi again,

Thank you very much for the help and sorry for the delay - we’ve just moved house so things have been crazy.

Thanks for the suggestions of the Evenflo Sureride and the Cosco Scenera however she’s over the weight limits for both seats.

Also, thanks for the advice about the lightweight seats – we’re not too concerned about the weight of the seat as we’re okay with carrying it (and if we really need to, we’ll buy one of the wheeled carry carts).

It definitely sounds like a dedicated “travel/flying seat” is the best option and thanks for suggesting the Radian. Unfortunately this isn’t an option for us as she’s 79lbs now and the weight limit of the Radian is 80lbs harnessed. However, the Rainier appears the same size – have you used the Rainier, or just the Radian? Also you mentioned the low-profile allows the tray table to come all the way down – are we understanding correctly that this is therefore not true with the Britax seats (Frontier or Pinnacle or any other seat)?

Sorry to ask more questions – we hugely appreciate any help!

Thanks very much again.
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Old Mar 19, 16, 2:38 pm
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Why do you need carseat for flying to begin with?
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Old Mar 19, 16, 5:44 pm
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We’d like to have the car seat for flying for a number of reasons. Firstly, she’s very small for her age (3rd percentile for weight, 2nd for height) and using a car seat will be much safer for her in the event of any turbulence, rough flights, etc.

Second, a car seat will be much more comfortable for her than the actual airplane seat (which is especially important if and when she chooses to sleep). I don’t think we’ve ever made a single flight where she hasn’t complained about how uncomfortable it was!

Also, as we need the car seat for when we rent a car at whatever destination we’re visiting (or traveling in family and friends cars), we have to take it with us. Given the general mistreatment of luggage we really don’t want to have to check the seat into the hold as we’ll have no clue if someone’s throwing it around or carelessly damaging it.

We’ll be flying much more from now on so having a seat for her is very important. When we looked at the options with her she preferred the Pinnacle and Frontier over the Rainier, but said she was okay with all three. Given the above advice, we’re looking into getting a specific “flying/travel seat” and if we do, then the aspects of using the seat for flying will be more important for us – the only thing she insists on is being able to see the TV screen!

We really appreciate any advice at all – thanks again.
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Old Mar 19, 16, 6:49 pm
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Your child is 79lbs? How old is she?

Is there a specific reason that she needs a car seat on the airplane?
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Old Mar 19, 16, 8:15 pm
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Originally Posted by Anna Phor View Post
Your child is 79lbs? How old is she?

Is there a specific reason that she needs a car seat on the airplane?
Thanks for the reply - I hope this message appears at the correct point in the thread as I’m posting this after my previous reply to azepine00 (that message is awaiting moderation at the time of writing)!!

She’s 79lbs and just turned 13. We’re looking at the Pinnacle, the Frontier, and the Rainier as they harness to 90lbs (10lbs more than her Regent). While we preferred the Pinnacle and the Frontier for our car, we also liked the Rainier a lot and given the help above, we’re certainly considering it as a possible dedicated “flying/travel” seat so to speak.

Our reasons for having the car seat on the airplane are in my previous reply, but in case this message appears before that one, here they are (I hope it’s ok to repeat this – I apologize if this is a double post!):

The main reason for using the car seat is that she’s so small for her age (she doesn’t yet fit in seatbelts in any car she’s been in) and having the seat will be much safer if there is turbulence or if it’s a rough flight.

Also, she’ll be much more comfortable in the car seat than in the airplane seat – particularly if she decides she wants to sleep as the sides of the car seat will be better than the airplane seat (we’ve never had a flight where she hasn’t said how uncomfortable she was in the airplane seats!).

Add to that we’re always going to travel with a seat as we need one for the car we will get at our destination. Given the way checked bags tend to be treated, we will not be checking the seat, so having it with us will also mean we can make sure it doesn’t get damaged.

Thanks again for any suggestions – we really appreciate it.

(I apologize if this counts as a double post!)
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Old Mar 21, 16, 8:13 am
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My 10 year old is about 65 lbs and we don't use the carseat in the plane. We do use boosters in the car.

I will say that she will not be able to lower the tray table. Even when our kids were younger and in a similar carseat to what you're looking at, the try table would hit our girls' knees and not go down all the way. We basically ended up using books as "trays" for them to draw on, and used my wife's and my trays for their snacks/drinks. The design and size may have changed, but I'd be prepared for the tray to not be usable.

I second getting a lighter carseat, if possible. I lugged around 2 very heavy carseats during a connecting flight and through the airport before/after flights and it is definitely a workout. Saving 10+lbs per carseat would've made a huge difference
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Old Mar 21, 16, 9:12 am
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Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post

I second getting a lighter carseat, if possible. I lugged around 2 very heavy carseats during a connecting flight and through the airport before/after flights and it is definitely a workout. Saving 10+lbs per carseat would've made a huge difference
Indeed, or get wheels of some sort to somehow transport the car seats in the terminal and elsewhere. A foldable luggage cart or straps to attach it to a wheeled cabin bag may help big time.
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Old Mar 22, 16, 1:26 am
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Have you considered using a Ride Safer Travel Vest for the car? It will position the seat belt lower. You'd need to verify they height/weight limits for it, but that may be another option. It can pack up small(ish) in a backpack or in luggage.

Another option is coming out at the end of this month. It's called the MiFold. I have one on order. This product also brings the seatbelt down to safely fit on a smaller person/child.

Both of these options wouldn't address the discomfort she experiences in an airplane seat. But airplane seats are just not all that comfortable for anyone. Maybe packing a throw blanket or a small pillow (inflatable, perhaps?) might help make things more comfy.

I'm saying this as someone who rear-faced my oldest child until Age 5.5... A 13-year-old's bones have ossified enough that they are not at the same risk of injury as a younger child's might be in an accident, and so the protection afforded in a full child restraint device is not quite as beneficial or necessary as it is for younger kids. The seat belt does need to be properly positioned, though. And there are lots of options to achieve this without the need for a full CRS.
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Old Mar 22, 16, 4:02 pm
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1. Any seat that is labeled FAA approved will work well. They are great as they are safe for the child and you have it for the car when you arrive.
2. There is a "harness" that the flight attendents have for sale which is easy to travel with.
3. No issues with the person behind. Is for the person in front at times as their seat wont' recline.
GOOD FOR YOU
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Old Mar 22, 16, 4:03 pm
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Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post
My 10 year old is about 65 lbs and we don't use the carseat in the plane. We do use boosters in the car.

e
boosters are not allowed in most planes
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Old Mar 22, 16, 8:07 pm
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Originally Posted by BeatCal View Post
1. Any seat that is labeled FAA approved will work well. They are great as they are safe for the child and you have it for the car when you arrive.
2. There is a "harness" that the flight attendents have for sale which is easy to travel with.
3. No issues with the person behind. Is for the person in front at times as their seat wont' recline.
GOOD FOR YOU
2. Are you talking about the CARES aviation restraint? I have never heard of flight attendants having this available for sale. I'm pretty confident that is not the case. Also, the CARES restraint works for kids up between 22 and 44 lbs. The kid in question is 79 lbs.

3. The seat in front will only not recline if the child restraint is placed in the rear-facing orientation. The upper weight limit for rear-facing depends on the car seat, but the maximum is 50 lbs (Clek Foonf and a couple of others). Only some car seats will fit rear-facing (Cosco Scenera, Combi Coccoro, most infant bucket seats), and the upper weight limit on these compatible seats is generally less than 40 lbs.
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Old Mar 22, 16, 10:32 pm
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Thank you very much everyone - we really appreciate all the help and feedback.

Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post
I will say that she will not be able to lower the tray table. Even when our kids were younger and in a similar carseat to what you're looking at, the try table would hit our girls' knees and not go down all the way. We basically ended up using books as "trays" for them to draw on, and used my wife's and my trays for their snacks/drinks. The design and size may have changed, but I'd be prepared for the tray to not be usable.
Thanks for letting us know about using the tray table. The issue for us is going to be the meals – she’s a real bookworm so we’re sure she’ll be happy reading and listening to music, or watching a movie (provided the seat wouldn’t put her too high up to see the screen) between the meals. Has anyone ever used something like those portable laptop trays? We’re thinking she could use something like this:

http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/stor...ack/1040212104

It obviously wouldn’t be an ideal substitute, but might this work perhaps?

Originally Posted by gobluetwo View Post
I second getting a lighter carseat, if possible. I lugged around 2 very heavy carseats during a connecting flight and through the airport before/after flights and it is definitely a workout. Saving 10+lbs per carseat would've made a huge difference
Originally Posted by GUWonder View Post
Indeed, or get wheels of some sort to somehow transport the car seats in the terminal and elsewhere. A foldable luggage cart or straps to attach it to a wheeled cabin bag may help big time.
Thanks for the advice – while we’re happy to carry the seat with us, we’ll definitely get one of the wheeled carts if need be.

Originally Posted by swise View Post
Have you considered using a Ride Safer Travel Vest for the car? It will position the seat belt lower. You'd need to verify they height/weight limits for it, but that may be another option. It can pack up small(ish) in a backpack or in luggage.

Another option is coming out at the end of this month. It's called the MiFold. I have one on order. This product also brings the seatbelt down to safely fit on a smaller person/child.

Both of these options wouldn't address the discomfort she experiences in an airplane seat. But airplane seats are just not all that comfortable for anyone. Maybe packing a throw blanket or a small pillow (inflatable, perhaps?) might help make things more comfy.

I'm saying this as someone who rear-faced my oldest child until Age 5.5... A 13-year-old's bones have ossified enough that they are not at the same risk of injury as a younger child's might be in an accident, and so the protection afforded in a full child restraint device is not quite as beneficial or necessary as it is for younger kids. The seat belt does need to be properly positioned, though. And there are lots of options to achieve this without the need for a full CRS.
Thanks very much for the suggestion of the Ride Safer Travel Vest but unfortunately it has an 80lb weight limit so isn’t an option for us.

And thanks too for the advice about seats and the level of protection. We’re set on keeping her in a harnessed seat for a few reasons – firstly because of your point about seats being used properly. Though her small size is vitally important, we’ve found this has actually meant she can’t use a booster seat properly yet. She’s not immature (far from it), but when we tried a few booster seats assuming they would help the situation, she always ended up forgetfully shifting about and always said she didn’t like them.

Secondly – we know that the cushioning and the sides of a car seat will be comfortable for her when we’re flying as well as driving. We have used a throw and one of those inflatable pillows and they definitely improved things, but given we can’t do this in the car, and that the car seat on the airplane would achieve the same thing or better, it seems logical to us that a car seat is the best option. Basically if she’s comfortable, she’s safe – and we know the Pinnacle, the Frontier, or the Rainier, we’ll get us to that point for both the car and for flying and, barring a very unlikely growth spurt, will last her for a while.

Our decision now is basically between deciding whether the Rainier is worth buying as a travel seat even though it might not be quite as good in the car, or whether to get the Pinnacle or the Frontier, even though they’re great for the car, but perhaps not as good as the Rainier for flying. General opinion seems to be the Rainier would just edge the Pinnacle and Frontier for flying but any input at all would be hugely appreciated.

Any tips or tricks about how to get around the tray table (and possible TV screen issue), or anything else would be great.

Thank you so much again to everyone – we’re really grateful for the help.
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