Flying with kids: all about bringing car seats on board

Flying with kids: all about bringing car seats on board

Bringing a car seat on board a flight for your child to use might seem like a great idea. It gives them somewhere more comfortable to sit, and if the seat has a built in harness, they can be strapped in easier than with the airplane’s lap-belt. However, before you pack your car seat and bring it to the airport, there are some things to consider:

  • Not all airlines will allow you to use car seats on board. I brought a car seat for my son once, when he was just over 2 (meaning he no longer qualified to fly for free on my lap, or a free cot).  One airline happily let us install our car seat with a 5-point harness in his seat. The next airline didn’t even allow the seat in the cabin and we had to check it with the rest of our luggage.
  • Not all car seats are suitable, or approved, for use on board.The seat has to be approved for use on board, and you have to be able to be safely secure it to the airplane seat. The rules and recommendations vary a lot between countries and between airlines.
  • Check with your airline before you fly. It is really important that you check with the airline (or airlines) you will be flying with to check what their policies are, and what seats they accept on board (if any). A child seat can be really practical if you’re allowed to use it, but it is also an extra piece of luggage. If you are allowed to use it, you will still have to lug that big seat with you between flights. And if you’re not able to use it on board, you will be checking an extra piece of luggage.
  • There are alternatives. If your child is younger than 2 years old, they are usually allowed to fly for free (or for a low fee) sitting on your lap for the entire flight. On some longer flights, you can even score a cot or bassinet for your “lap-child” to sleep in. If your child has their own seat, one option is to use an “Approved Child Restraint System” (this is a product and term that is mainly used in the United States).
  • What the Federal Aviation Administration in the US has to say about child safety seats and restraints.
  • Information on child safety seats from the Civil Aviation Authority in Australia.

My recommendation

Don’t bring a special seat for your child unless you are absolutely sure you will be allowed to use it on board. It is a big hassle to bring along a seat, so you want to be sure it will be worth your trouble.

For children that qualify for a cot/bassinet, that is a better option in my opinion. For older kids, who have their own seats, it might be worth the trouble. It might be especially worth the trouble if you can use the seat in cars at your destination. If you’re traveling internationally, make sure the seat you bring is approved for use in the country you’re going to.

Here are links to, and information taken from the websites of several airlines concerning their policies on child seats. Always check with the airline before you fly to make sure what their policy is!


If a seat has been reserved for your child, you may bring your own car/child seat aboard on the condition that it fits between the armrests of the aircraft seat (42 cm/16.5 inches). Only child seats that display no defects and that carry a visible seal of approval awarded by the European Union or an official government agency may be taken aboard.

Officially approved brands:

  • UN Standard ECE R44-03 and 44-04
  • US FMVSS no. 213
  • Canadian CMVSS 213/123.1
  • German TÜV/958-01/2001
  • Types marked approved by Transport Canada
  • Types marked approved by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Types marked approved by Joint Civil Aviation Authority (JAA)

A seat for a second baby, or the use of a car/child seat must be reserved in advance. Please contact KLM Telephone Reservations or your local KLM ticket office for this service.


The airline does not provide child restraint systems. They are the property of the accompanying adults and are their responsibility. By taking a suitable child restraint system on board, the accompanying adult is confirming that:

They are aware of and acknowledge the airline’s General Conditions of Carriage

  • The CRS is one approved by Lufthansa (see table)
  • The CRS is in perfect working order; they are familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions for the system’s use and fitting in an aircraft and they can attach the child restraint system to the passenger seat on their own. At no point will airline staff on the ground or on board be able to check the system and/or help to install it.
  • They have agreed that the CRS must be checked in as hold baggage if it cannot be fitted properly to the passenger seat.

British Airways

You may prefer to use your own car type seat for use by infants with a minimum age of six months to a maximum age of three years.

  • The seat must meet the following standards:
  • The seat must be designed to be secured by means of a normal aircraft single lap strap and face the same direction as the passenger seat on which it is positioned.
  • A purpose-designed children’s car seat must have a 5-point restraining harness.
  • The car seat must not exceed the dimensions of the aircraft seat.
  • The maximum dimensions of the seat must fit into an area of 45cm x 45cm (17.5ins x 17.5ins).

Scandinavian Airlines

When you book a child’s fare ticket for your infant, you may bring aboard a SAS approved car-type baby seat for installation in the adjoining seat. The car seat may be of the aft or forward facing type. No part of the car seat may extend outside the passenger seat. Maximum dimensions: horizontally 65 cm/25 in, height 45 cm/18 in.
All child restraints have labeling that shows whether or not the restraint meets certain safety requirements. The label has a circle surrounding the letter “e” followed by the distinguishing number granting approval, and will indicate the seat’s category and mass group.

Labeling Specifics

If a restraint was manufactured within the U.S. between 1/1/81 and 2/25/85, it needs to have the following labeling to be approved for Delta flights:

  • Conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle standards.

If a restraint was manufactured within the U.S. after 2/25/85, it needs to have the following labeling to be approved for Delta flights:

  • Conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle standards
  • Is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.

If a restraint was manufactured outside the U.S., it needs to have the following labeling to be approved for Delta flights:

  • Has the approval of a foreign government
  • Was manufactured under standards of the United Nations (UN).

We do not permit the following types of car seats:

  • Booster seats-even if they bear labels indicating they meet U.S., UN, or foreign government standards.
  • Vest and harness-type child restraint devices other than the FAA approved CARES restraint device.

Air Canada

Child safety seats accepted for in-flight use:

  • Models manufactured in Canada after January 1, 1981 must bear the National Safety Mark, which indicates the number of the standard(s) to which the restraint device conforms: CMVSS 213 for a child restraint device or 213.1 for an infant restraint device;
  • Models manufactured to United States standards:
  • Models manufactured between January 1, 1981 and February 25, 1985 must bear the following label: “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.”
  • Models manufactured on or after February 26, 1985 must bear the following two labels:
  • “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards” and “THIS RESTRAINT IS CERTIFIED FOR USE IN MOTOR VEHICLES AND AIRCRAFT” (in red lettering).
  • Foreign-built car seats must adhere to Transport Canada regulations.
  • CARES™ child restraint devices: CARES™ child restraint devices are designed for children ages 1 to 4, weighing between 10-20 kg (22-44 lbs), whose height is 100 cm (40 inches) or less and who are capable of sitting upright. They must be used within the limitations specified by the manufacturer (as indicated on the label), and must display the following:
  • Legible CARES™ label with approval standards (FAA approved in accordance with 14 CFR 21.305 (d) and approved for aircraft use only).
  • Part number 4082-1 on label
  • Please note that CARES™ child restraint devices cannot be installed in the Executive First Suite.

Devices not accepted for in-flight use:

  • booster seats* and belly loops,
  • vest or harness type devices,
  • Little Cargo® seats (notwithstanding any claims from manufacturer(s) that they are approved for use in aircraft).

Iceland Air

Passengers traveling with infants may bring on board an approved child seat, provided that there are free seats on the flight in question. Passengers can ensure a seat for a child seat by purchasing the child fare. The use of child seats is allowed during all stages of the flight, including during take-off and landing, provided that:

  • The child seat is designed for attachment to a seat with a 2-point belt (normal seat belts on passenger seats in aircraft). Child seats that are specifically designed for attachment with 3-point belts (normal seatbelts in cars) may not be used.
  • The child seat meets at least one of the following conditions:
  1. The child seat is approved for use in vehicles in accordance with the European Standard ECE R44-03 or later amendments.
  2. The child seat is approved for use in motor vehicles and aircraft in accordance with the US Standard US FMVSS No. 213 and has been manufactured according to this standard as of 26 February 1985. Child seats that meet US requirements must have the following label in red lettering: 1)”This child restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards” and 2)”This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”.
  3. The child seat is approved for use in aircraft in accordance with the German Standard on “Qualification Procedure for Child Restraint Systems in Aircraft” (TUV Doc.:/958-01/2001).
  4. The child seat is approved for use in motor vehicles and aircraft in accordance with the Canadian Standard CMVSS 213/213,1.

Japan Airlines

Japan Airlines will actually lend you a seat free of charge if you’re flying with a child under the age of 3 that has their own seat. Quantities are limited and you can find more information here. You can also bring your own seat:

BUCKET TYPE(Forward/ Rear facing type and Convertible type)Child Seats which satisfy either one of the following standards may be used onboard.(BOOSTER SEAT TYPE Child Seats without a seat back or sides and VEST AND HARNESS TYPE Child Seats with only a seat back but no seating surface or sides cannot be used.)

  • Child seat is set by guardian following maker’s instruction.
  • At the time of fixing the child seat to the installed aircraft seats, even if the child seat is of a suitable type, there may be times that we decide that it is unable to be safely fixed depending on aircraft configuration or installed seat types. In that case we ask your understanding that the child seat may not be used.
  1. Satisfy Japanese standards (JIS, apparatus type with specific standards) and is affixed with the prescribed mark.
  2. Satisfy Western standards (ECE,FMVSS) and is affixed with the prescribed mark.
  3. Seats manufactured under other standards are affixed with the approval mark of the respective government. Child Seats manufactured under United Nations Standard.
  4. The aircraft seat belt buckle (2.5cm thick, 6.5cm wide, 6.5cm long) can be slipped through the hole of the Child Seat belt.
  5. The infant/child can be seated in the Child Seat and does not exceed the weight limitation shown on the Child Seat.

Air France

If traveling on an adult’s lap, infants under 2 years of age fly free of charge on domestic flights within France. On international flights, infants receive a 90% fare reduction. You also have the option of booking a seat for your infant (child fare), where you may place acar seat that conforms to official regulations. Please remember to let us know that you will be traveling with an infant
when you book your trip.

Did you reserve a seat for your infant? For his or her comfort, you can bring a car seat as long as:

  • it is authorized for standard automobile use (a non-standard car seat may be refused by personnel upon check-in or boarding),
  • it does not exceed 41 cm / 16 in. in width,
  • you make sure to install the seat on board as indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions (front or back facing the seatback),
  • it can be held in place by a seat belt.


The safest way for an infant or small child to travel on an aircraft is in a Child Restraint Device such as a car seat. Infants are allowed to be carried on your lap however research has demonstrated it does not provide the protection of a child seat.

A car seat must be pre-approved for use as a child seat at least 24 hours before departure. Approval of car seats cannot be obtained on departure at the airport. You must buy a seat on the plane to ensure the use of a pre-approved car seat or CARES restraint device. To buy a seat on an aircraft for your infant and get pre-approval for the use of a child seat, contact your localQantasOffice.

The Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES) is a pre-approved alternative to car seats on an aircraft. This harness style restraint device is suitable for children aged two to four years, weighing 10-20kg (22-44lb). Find out more about the CARES system.

United Airlines

You may use an approved infant car seat on board the aircraft when you purchase a seat for your child. The seat must be an FAA-approved child safety seat device. Please note the following infant car seat placement restrictions: on one-aisle aircraft, car seats must be placed in window seats, on two-aisle aircraft, car seats must be placed in window seats or the middle seat of a center section. Car seats are not permitted in rear-facing seats on any aircraft.

If manufactured after February 1985, the car seat should also be certified for use in aircraft. You should seat your child in the child safety seat for takeoff, landing and during turbulence.

The FAA has approved the use of a child safety restraint system for travel. The system, named “CARES”, uses an additional belt and shoulder harness that goes around the back of the seat and attaches to the lap belt. Children weighing between 22 and 44lbs may use this device. More information is available at

The following child restraint devices may not be used on board the aircraft: booster seats, belly belts which attach to adult seat belts only, and vests or harnesses which hold the infant to the chest of the adult.
Continental Airlines

Children unable to sit upright with the seat belt fastened must be carried in an FAA approved infant seat if not being held by an adult. Continental does not provide infant seats.The infant seat must be secured in an aircraft seat and cannot be held in an adult’s lap. The infant seat must remain properly secured to the aircraft seat at all times. An infant seat cannot be used in an exit row or in the row immediately before or after an exit row. Passengers traveling with infants may not be seated in exit rows. Due to oxygen mask constraints, only one lap child is allowed per seat section and, on some aircraft, passengers with lap infants may not be seated in certain rows.

Children who are over two years old are required to purchase a ticket and occupy their own seat.


Finnair accepts an age-appropriate child restraint device (an infant seat or a car seat) on all of its scheduled flights for children under two years of age, provided that a seat has been reserved for the child on the flight. If there are vacant seats on a scheduled flight, an infant seat may be accepted on board, even if a seat has not been reserved in advance for the child.

Confirmation must always be obtained from Finnair before bringing an infant seat or a car seat on board. The instructions for use must be taken along, so that the approval labelling can be checked. Finnair does not, however, guarantee the placement of an infant seat or a car seat in the seat reserved. If the safety seat does not fit into the seat or it cannot be safely secured, it will be placed in the overhead locker or the hold of the aircraft.

An infant seat is equipped with a 3 or 5-point harness and will be fastened to the aircraft seat facing backward. Child car seats must be equipped with a 5-point harness and they are always fastened to the aircraft seat facing forward.

The infant seat or the car seat must have one of the following approvals:

  1. The child restraint device has been approved for use in aircraft by a JAA authority, the Federal Aviation Administration or Transport Canada (on the basis of a national technical standard), and marked accordingly.
  2. The child restraint device is approved for use in motor vehicles according to the UN standard ECE R 44, -03 or later series amendments.
  3. The child restraint device is approved for use in motor vehicles and aircraft according to the Canadian CMVSS 213/213.1-standard.
  4. The child restraint device is approved for use in motor vehicles and aircraft according to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard US FMVSS Nr. 213, and was manufactured according to the standard after 25 February, 1985. US-approved child restraint devices manufactured after this date must bear the following labels in red lettering: 1) “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards” and 2) “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft”.
  5. The child restraint device is approved for use in aircraft according to the German “Qualification procedure for child restraint systems for use in aircraft” (TÜV Doc.: TÜV/958-01/2001).

American Airlines

Most restraints that are used in automobiles are acceptable for use in aircraft by an infant or small child. Acceptable restraints manufactured in the United States will bear one or both of the following labels:

  • “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards”

Additionally, the restraint may carry a second label with red lettering which states the following:

  • “This restraint is certified for use in motor vehicles and aircraft.”

Restraints manufactured outside the United States may be accepted provided that they bear either a label showing approval of a non-U.S. government OR a label showing that the seat was manufactured under the standards of the United Nations (U.N.).

U.N. approval is designated by a label with a circle surrounding the letter “E” followed by the distinguishing number of the country which has granted approval, plus an indication of the category and mass group of the child restraint which will be affixed.

Air New Zealand

Children under the age of 2, not occupying a seat and accompanied by an adult, may travel on an infant fare. A child travelling on an infant fare must be held by the accompanying adult. For safety reasons an adult can hold only one infant, and children under the age of 15 may not hold infants.

If you are the only adult travelling with more than one infant you will need to reserve a seat for the additional infant and pay a child’s fare (available for children up to and including 11 years of age). The additional infant must be restrained in an approved infant car seat, which you must provide.

The age of a child that can be restrained in a car seat is up to 4 years, provided the child does not exceed the weight limit for the restraint system of the car seat.

The car seat must have its own inbuilt restraint system and be of a type approved for use in motor vehicles. Please refer to the chart below. It must also be in good, safe working condition and should not exceed the given dimensions.

An alternative to using a car seat inflight is the CARES child restraint system. CARES has been approved for use on Air New Zealand flights by the New Zealand CAA (Civil Aviation Authority).

Virgin Atlantic

While your children enjoy their dedicated inflight entertainment, they’ll be comfy and safe in our seats designed just for them.

The seats are available on every flight, can be used in any cabin and are suitable for new-born babies up to children weighing 20kg (44lb) or measuring 100cm (40”) tall. To ensure you get a child seat, just buy a flight at the child fare – though you should note we’ll need at least 12 hours’ notice to ensure a child seat is available.

Children too large to fit a child seat will need to travel with a full adult fare.

You won’t be able to bring your own booster seat onboard, but if you need special support seating for disabled children, take a look at our information on support seating.

Air China

I can’t find any specific information about Air China’s policies on child seats on their website, so I would definitely recommend that travelers check with the airline before bringing a seat on board.

Cathay Pacific

Subject to restrictions below, a personal infant / child car safety seat can be taken on board if it complies with the following requirements:

  • A separate seat must be purchased for the infant/child using the car safety seat
  • Car safety seat is designed for carrying an infant / child between the age of 6 months and 3 years inclusively, and weighs 18kgs or less
  • Car safety seat must be forward facing
  • An infant / child occupying a child safety seat must be accompanied by a parent / legal guardian or a travel companion at least 18 years of age, occupying an adjacent passenger seat
  • Car safety seat must be in operational condition
  • Car seat must be secured to a passenger seat throughout the flight.

Due to safety requirements, car safety seats may not be used on some of our aircraft passenger seats. Please refer to the table below and call your local reservations office or your travel agent for the aircraft type of your flight.  Specifically designedChildRestraint Seat (CRS) may be offered instead, with prior reservation.

Singapore Airlines

The use of booster seats is not permitted. However, you can use approved car-type child seats and FAA-approved child harness.

Approved car-type child seats may be used for a child under 3 years but not less than 6 months of age. The seat must be forward-facing and can be secured to the aircraft passenger seat by means of the aircraft safety belt. It must also be approved by a foreign airworthiness authority / government standards:

  • United Kingdom (UK) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States of America as meeting the Technical Standard Order TSO-C100b; or seats that have two markings: “This Restraint is Certified for Use in Motor Vehicles and Aircraft” in red lettering and “This seat conforms to all applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS)”
  • European Safety Standard requirements of United Nations ECE Regulation 44 (UN/ECE 44)
  • Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS) No. 213 entitled “Child Restraint Systems” or CMVSS No. 213.1 entitled “Infant Seating and Restraint Systems”
  • Australian/New Zealand design standard AS/NZS 1754 for infant car seats.

Some examples of the labels displayed on child car seat approved under one of the above standards can be found on the right of the page.

FAA-approved child harness can also be used on our flights. However, AmSafe’s Child Aviation Restraint System (CAReS) child harness does not fit our Business Class seats on our A380-800 and A340-500 aircraft as well as the First and Business Class seats on our B777-300ER aircraft. You may wish to contact our Singapore Airlines office for more details.

If you are using a child car seat or a child harness, please note that the manufacturing standards and instructions must be provided to our ground staff and cabin crew for reference. The use of child car seat and child harness on board is subject to all child seat safety requirements. Both cannot be installed on seats at the emergency exit rows as well as the rows immediately before and after it.