In an article posted in Consumerist earlier this month, I read about an unfortunate incident on US Airways when a mom—flying solo with her 1-year-old and 3-year-old toddlers and both of their car seats—got kicked off of their flight when one of her children would not stop crying during the safety demonstration. The outcome is, of course, upsetting and raises a lot of questions in itself. However, I think there is one critical lesson we all need to take away from this cautionary tale of flying with toddlers.
Let’s back up to the beginning: This brave mom was allowed to preboard the airplane (hooray!) with her two toddlers and two car seats. She had wisely selected bulkhead row seats, where she probably knew her children would not be able to kick a forward-passenger’s seat in case they got antsy, and she had brought onboard car seats that actually fit within the fixed arm rests of the bulkhead seats. She even had successfully installed both car seats and had her children safely strapped in—without crying.
It wasn’t until 30 minutes after they’d boarded, after the other passengers had boarded the aircraft, that it all started to go terribly wrong. That’s when a flight attendant informed her that children were not allowed to sit in bulkhead seats on that particular aircraft and they would all have to move.
The reason? This “particular aircraft” was equipped with exploding seatbelts on the bulkhead row. You know, for safety. I’ll leave it to others to debate the value of airbags popping out from a lap belt in case of a plane crash, but what I hope you will remember is…
If you want to fly with children on the bulkhead row of an airplane, whether:
- in a car seat,
- in a CARES flight safety harness,
- on your lap,
- in an airplane bassinet,
- or simply in their own airplane seats with a lap belt,
you should CALL YOUR AIRLINE’s reservation number well in advance to ask if they can confirm that your airplane will OR won’t have airbag safety belts at those seating locations.
In some cases, they may not be able to give you a firm answer in advance—in which case you may choose to play it safe and request other seating assignments where you can be sure a child is allowed to sit, and a car seat (if wanted) will be allowed.
For detailed tips and advice on flying with toddlers and car seats, using airplane bassinets for infants, and more, see part 5 of Travels with Baby. More tips and advice online in the related links below (and on the Flying with Babies and Toddlers advice page).
How about you?
Have you ever been relocated on a plane when flying with children, or because of your child’s car seat? Have you encountered the airbag-equipped seat belts on an airplane? Please leave a note below!
More posts and pages about flying with children:
- What are YOUR rights when flying with a car seat?
- Will your child's car seat be allowed on the airplane?
- Review of CARES flight safety harness
- Flying with babies and toddlers advice index
- Ask Shelly: Tips for helping a baby sleep on an airplane – and stay that way?
- Ask Shelly: Best place to stop on a family road trip from San Francisco to southern California?
- Pack This! Brain Quest for travel with toddlers and preschoolers
- Roundup: Yosemite Family Vacation Tips
- When can kids safely fly without car seats on airplanes?
- Ten tips for planning a great vacation with Grandparents
- Kauai with Kids: Tips for a good family day trip to Waimea Canyon–even with a toddler in tow
- Flying with a toddler? Beware of airplanes with airbags.
- Will your child need a “letter of consent” or other documents for international travel? (sample letter included)
- Photo Fave: Have I mentioned traveling with me is exhausting?
- Travels with Baby needs your vote – again!
- In case of car sickness: Ten helpful things to have on your roadtrip with kids
- Shelly Rivoli on Ask Shelly: Tips for helping a baby sleep on an airplane – and stay that way?
- Catherine on Ask Shelly: Tips for helping a baby sleep on an airplane – and stay that way?
- Michelle on Roundup: Yosemite Family Vacation Tips
- Shelly Rivoli on Ask Shelly: Best place to stop on a family road trip from San Francisco to southern California?
- Katie on Ask Shelly: Best place to stop on a family road trip from San Francisco to southern California?
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