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Car seat small enough to fit 43cm airline seat - any advice?

(14 Posts)
mazzymc Wed 30-Mar-05 17:01:00

We are travelling to the USA in May and want to book a seat for ds (16 months) and use a car seat in the plane seat to restrain him as he is very wriggly!
The plane would be a DC10 and NW airlines have said that any car seat must be no bigger than 43cm (16") wide. I can't seem to find any car seat that would be that narrow.
Also, the airline said that there has to be a sticker on the car seat saying "FAA approved" before they'll let you use it. UK car seats do not have this sticker and I don't really want to buy a USA car seat just for our trip !
Has anyone had any experience with this - it seems so frustrating.

californiagirl Wed 30-Mar-05 20:49:33

The airline is wrong about the label. The FAA says:

Current operating rules in part 91, 121, 125, and 135 require that child restraint systems used on aircraft bear 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, OR must bear either a label showing approval of a foreign government or a label showing that the seat was manufactured under the standards of the United Nations.

As for the width, it has to fit in the seat, and they say 16", but we travel with a Britax Roundabout, which is theoretically 18", and have never had an issue (although it's a royal pain when the arms don't lift). They won't measure it at the airport, and if they ask you, look blank and say you have No Idea but it seems quite narrow to you, and its always worked for friends of yours. Unless you have a really immense seat, it'll be fine (many people travel with 19" Marathons without problems).

When in doubt, print out pages 7-9 of the FAA's official instructions to airlines and threaten them with it.

nappybaglady Wed 30-Mar-05 20:49:43

I'm flying to Us with Virgin in May. They don't allow your own car seat but provide an infant care seat for this age of child so I've booked one of those.

We're actually going on quite a long trip. the other airlines we're using all seem to have different policies

Air Canada - any seat with British kite mark is OK

Air NZ - width 43cm, height 65cm

Singapore Air - Any with British Kite mark

I think that this website mentioned Nw airlines -

Hope it helps.

nappybaglady Wed 30-Mar-05 20:54:42

Thanks Cal- girl, I've just printed those pages. They'll be travelling with us.

californiagirl Wed 30-Mar-05 21:24:17

I'm afraid they don't do you any good, nappybaglady! If you're going Virgin, Air Canada, Singapore, and Air New Zealand, you need the UK, Canada, Singapore, and New Zealand rules. In the UK it's up to the airline. They may allow carseats for infants over 6 months, but may make up their own rules as to which ones. The Canadian rules look a lot like the US ones:

the Canadian regulations just says it has to be labelled, basically, and
\lint{\the clarification}
only clarifies that for US ones (which have to say they're approved for aviation use) and Canadian ones (which are all OK).

The New Zealand regulations say (part 91.207)

(d) Paragraphs (a)(1), (2), and (3) do not apply to a child under 4 years of age if the child— (1) is held by an adult who is occupying a seat or berth, and the child is secured by a safety belt attached to the adult’s safety belt; or (2) occupies a seat equipped with a child restraint system, if the child does not exceed the specified weight limit for that system and is accompanied by a parent, guardian, or by an attendant designated by the child’s parent or guardian to attend to the safety of the child during the flight.

So theoretically they could let you use any old child restraint system. (The exception bit just means the baby doesn't have
to be in an adult seat with an adult seat belt).

You're on your own with the rules for Singapore...

eidsvold Wed 30-Mar-05 23:25:59

nappy bag lady - just for you info - they don;t even check - when we took dd1's car seat on board singapore airlines - the only thing they couldn't do was seat us where we had been allocated a seat as it was an emergency exit and so dd had to go on a window seat.. otherwise - no one even looked twice at the seat.

californiagirl Wed 30-Mar-05 23:59:47

We've only had one airline (the hated Qantas) actually check labels, and they had no idea what they were looking for. They checked on two different flights, and the second time, we showed them the bit that made them happy the first time and they said, no, that wouldn't do, and we just told them they'd accepted it last time and it would jolly well have to do. Eventually they decided it would do, although they said we really should have had it pre-approved (over the phone! Go figure!!)

Nobody has ever measured the seat and discovered it is "too wide".

mazzymc Thu 31-Mar-05 15:56:48

Thanks californiagirl !
BTW I've checked both US and UK car seat manufacturers and there doesn't even seem to be a car seat on the market that is 16" or less, so why the advice always quotes 16" I don't know.

We have got a Britax First Class seat and we were planning on using that - the last thing we want is for us to get to the plane and find out it doesn't fit the airline seat. According to Britax it our seat is 45cm but we measure it at about 43cm which apparently is the width of the DC10 airline seats. I hope it is alright.

If we get as far as the aircraft and find the seat doesn't fit or that they won't accept it, what happens then? Would they stow it in the cabin or just chuck it in the hold?

Is it better to bring our own car seat to the US anyway, for the hire car, or should we rely on the hire car company?

It's funny - before I had a baby I don't ever remember seeing a child car seat on an airline, or maybe I just wasn't looking...

californiagirl Thu 31-Mar-05 19:27:24

There are a few seats in the US that are 16", but not many. Certainly our Britax Roundabout is more than that and it works just fine.

If it doesn't fit they gate-check it, and put it in the hold, unless by some miracle there's space for it in the overhead luggage compartment. If it fits, and it's certified for air travel by any major government -- UK, EU, whatever -- and you have purchased a seat, a US airline MUST accept it. Of course, that won't do you much good if they're stubborn, but if you just pre-board and install the seat, it's really more trouble than it's worth to them to try to throw you off again. Even Qantas has always caved rather than delay a flight to argue with a family with a baby. Honestly, most of the time nobody makes any fuss at all, and they'll probably just glance at the big letters that say "Britax" and figure it must be OK.

We always bring our own seat rather than hiring one, mostly so as to have it on the airline, but also so as to avoid having to use an unfamiliar one from a hire company. I know people who have had bad experiences with ones from hire companies and people who've had great ones.

allatsea Thu 31-Mar-05 20:07:57

I've got a maxi cosi priori car seat - does anyone know whether or not it will fit in an 18" seat (on an Airbus A320?

mazzymc Thu 31-Mar-05 20:16:37

Thanks v much for the advice. One more question - if I use my car seat in a hire car in the US, would there be any problem in the event of a crash (Insurance-wise) because the car seat was not a US model, and hadn't been approved for that car?? Don't wanna get sued

californiagirl Fri 01-Apr-05 01:25:58

I'm not sure who could sue you for what even if you did have a problem with the car seat -- injuring your own baby does not generally let other people sue you. And it's hard to see how the car seat could injure anybody else. As long as the car seat is installed according to manufacturer's instructions, I don't see any issue with it anyway, but of course I Am Not A Lawyer. They don't approve car seats for individual cars anyway.

According to, the Cosi Maxi Priori is 19" wide. I don't know anybody who's had a problem with a Roundabout (which is 18"), but I have heard of people having problems with a Marathon (which is 19.5") Still and all, the problems with the Marathon are rare. I'd request a seat where the arms lift, it helps a bunch.

LIZS Fri 01-Apr-05 08:33:26

But aren't regulations in US slightly different for car seats ie, rearward facing until at least a year old. Can't see that anyone would sue you (unless you actually break a law) but it might limit any claim for injury you made.

californiagirl Fri 01-Apr-05 19:30:47

Regulations for carseats are different in every state. I don't know of any that require rear-facing, however. California, for instance, requires a child to be in a carseat in the back seat until 6 years or 60 pounds, but as long as the carseat is installed according to the manufacturer's requirements, it can be forward facing or rear-facing. Good luck on finding one where the manufacturer doesn't tell you to rear-face until over 1 year and 20 pounds, but all the law says is that you have to install it correctly.

This looks like a good reference to US carseat laws:

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