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7 best car seats to take on the plane for babies and toddlers

Looking for a lightweight car seat to take on the plane? After in-depth research and parent-led testing, these top cabin-approved car seats have all met airline safety regulations and dimensions for in-flight use, ensuring peace of mind and a safe, comfortable journey for your baby.

By Tammy Jacks | Last updated Feb 15, 2024

Car seats for plane

Considering whether to take your child’s car seat on the plane to your next holiday destination? According to Mumsnetters on our forums, a travel-friendly car seat not only helps to keep your child safe and comfy during a flight – allowing them to sleep for longer if they’ve outgrown the option of having a bassinet - but it also comes in handy for taxi and car rides on the other side of your journey.

Although there are plenty of good-quality baby and toddler car seats on the market (which we've rigorously tried and tested with real parents), not every car seat is approved for use on the plane and would need to be checked in as hold baggage along with your buggy and other heavier travel items if not. 

While airlines may differ slightly in their policies, the general principle is that cabin-approved car seats must align with the airline's criteria for size, weight and safety. For in-flight use, a car seat needs approval from either the TÜV, a widely recognised safety certification in Europe, or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US. Look for the 'Certified for use in aircraft' sticker on car seats with TÜV or FAA approval.

How we tested the best car seats for the plane

  • We began our research by gathering insights from Mumsnet parents on our forums, which has around 8 million monthly users. We then cross-checked our favourite car seat selections against TÜV and FAA lists to ensure they met their rigorous airline standards and were suitable for plane use amongst the most popular airlines (although it’s always a good idea to discuss your chosen car seat with your airline before you fly).

  • We spent hours analysing numerous consumer reviews from retail sites and consulted industry experts, including The UK Civil Aviation Regulations (CAA), and Which? to narrow down our list.

  • Our recommended car seats have undergone independent safety testing and received top safety scores from the German automobile club ADAC. Where possible, we also tested the car seats out themselves with our trusted team of parent testers.

Here are the best car seats to take on a plane.

Best car seats to take on the plane at a glance

Best overall car seat for plane
What we like
  • TÜV-certified for all airlines

  • Good value for money

  • Plenty of padding for a comfortable ride

  • Easily adjustable harness and headrest

What we don't like
  • Reaches the maximum width limit for an aircraft  

  • Small integrated sun canopy

Key specs

Price: £118 | Age range: Birth to 75cm or approx. 12kg | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes | Weight: 4.5kg | Dimensions: 67 x 44 x 56cm | Installation: ISOFIX and three-point harness | Travel system-compatible? Yes | ADAC test: 1.7 Good | Warranty: 2 years | Certification: TÜV-approved

What Mumsnet users say
katiesh · Recommended
The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro is a great car seat.
See Post
Our verdict

Tested by Mumsnet: Read our Maxi-Cosi Pebble review

With safety, reliability and comfort as its top priorities, you can’t go wrong with the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro when travelling with a baby. This rear-facing, Group 0+ car seat is specifically designed for newborns, which means it can be used from birth to 12kg or until your child is 75cm in length. Approved for use on aircraft with TÜV certification, the car seat may be a little wide for some airline seats at 44cm, but its 4.5kg weight makes it simple enough to carry around at the airport and in and out of the plane.

Compliant with the latest i-Size regulations, this car seat offers superior head and neck protection for your child, which is good news in the event of turbulence, and the impact-absorbing side wings on this seat make it supremely comfortable for babies. You’ll find soft padding all around this seat and in comparison to the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus, the one-piece baby-hugg inlay has been upgraded to a two-piece inlay to allow for adjustments and a better overall fit. We found this inlay to be really soft and snug, ideal for keeping your little one warm when the air ventilation is on.  

The Maxi-Cosi Pebble Pro can be secured to the aeroplane seat using the aircraft’s safety belt which gets threaded through the seat’s belt path on the front of the car seat. The three-point harness has a simple stay-open feature to make it easy to get your child in and out of the car seat, and we like the one-touch buckle system which opens and closes with ease. 

Adjusting the harness straps for height or length is also straightforward as you can make them as snug as you like by simply pressing two buttons at the back of the seat which will allow you to move the straps up and down or forwards to lengthen without having to rethread them.

Once you reach your destination, it’s a breeze to fit this car seat in a car or taxi, with or without the ISOFIX base (which is sold separately, unfortunately doubling the price of this car seat). We love the display panel which gives installation feedback both audibly and visibly thanks to a clear green light system. The extra-large sun canopy easily tucks away behind the seat when not in use (on the plane for instance) thus giving you more space.

The Pebble Plus is compatible with Maxi-Cosi and Quinny buggies and can also be used with other brands such as Bugaboo and iCandy, provided you have the appropriate car seat adapters for those pushchairs. When your child reaches the height and weight limit for the Pebble Plus, the Maxi-Cosi Pearl 360 i-Size should be used for children up to the age of four.

Read next: The best travel systems to buy right now

Best budget car seat for plane
What we like
  • Good value for money

  • Has comfortable, machine-washable padding

  • Grows with your child

What we don't like
  • Quite heavy

  • No ISOFIX base

Key specs

Price: £105 | Age range: Birth to four years or around 18kg | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes | Weight: 6.1kg | Dimensions: 49.2 x 42 x 61.6cm | Installation: Three-point seatbelt | Travel system-compatible? Yes | ADAC test: Not tested | Warranty: 2 years | Certification: Meets the ECE R44/04 regulation

What Mumsnet users say
cluckinhell0 · Tried & Tested
EasyJet accepts seats on the plane. Joie Tilt has been used and then it’s a great, safe seat for the hire car at the other end.
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Our verdict

While the Joie Tilt doesn’t have an official TÜV certification like the Joie i-Gemm 3, for instance, it does comply with most airline’s width and weight regulations and meets the European Safety Regulation for car seats (ECE R44/04). However, it’s a good idea to check with your airline before you take this car seat on board.

The Joie Tilt, which falls within the Group 0+/1 car seat category, is made to last, covering your child from birth to four years old (or 105cm) without the need for an upgrade at the one-year mark. 

It’s a good choice for the plane too thanks to the plush and cosy seat cushion inserts (which are also machine-washable - a must for messy eaters), the i-Size side impact cushioning, the height adjustable shoulder harness and the secure five-point harness system which has cushion covers over the harness and buckle to avoid any friction.  

It can be used both rear-facing and forward-facing in a car, although airlines stipulate that car seats must be used in a forward-facing position when secured on the plane. It has four recline positions - one rear facing and three forward facing - although the tilting movement might be a little restricted on the plane as the car seat should be secured tightly to the aeroplane seat. 

One downside is that this car seat is not ISOFIX compatible, so it can only be secured with a seatbelt in the car.

Read next: The best baby carriers, wraps and slings

Best convertible car seat for plane

Doona + Infant Car Seat Nitro

What we like
  • Both TÜV- and FFA-approved

  • Dual use - converts to a stroller

  • Wheels fold compactly

  • Convenient for travel

What we don't like
  • Pricey

  • Heavy for a car seat

  • Low to the ground as a stroller due to short handlebar

Key specs

Price: £339 | Age range: Birth to three years or around 13kg | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes, rear-facing only | Weight: 7.5kg | Dimensions: 60 x 44 x 66cm | Installation: ISOFIX or three-point seatbelt | Travel system-compatible? Yes - it converts into a stroller | ADAC test: 2.4 Good | Warranty: 2 years | Certification: TÜV- and FAA-approved

What Mumsnet users say
Somuchgoo · Tried & Tested
It was amazing! We used it for about 18 months with my first and until two with my second (we don't have large children). They are great for popping in and out of the car, but they also go in toilet cubicles, down the aisles of trains and can be used easily in taxis. With the wheels down it's also a rocker.
See Post
Our verdict

Designed by medical and engineering experts, the Doona + Infant Car Seat and Stroller stands out as one of the safest travel systems on the market. The car seat holds both TÜV and FAA certification, making it a safe and versatile two-in-one travel solution. However, at 44cm wide, it does reach the maximum width limit for the plane, so may not be suitable for all airlines - see our guide below for car seat rules and criteria per airline.

Featuring both an ISOFIX base for the car (sold separately) and a secure belt path, it ensures a safe and comfortable ride for your child. With a simple, adjustable headrest, Velcro shoulder pads, breathable fabric, loads of comfy padding, a secure five-point harness, a near lie-flat position and unique rocking function, the Doona+ prioritises your baby's comfort. 

Another bonus is the three different handlebar positions (forwards, upright and backwards) so it’s out of the way on the plane but ensures manoeuvrability in tight spaces when it converts to a lightweight stroller.

Once you’re ready to leave the aircraft, the quick-release wheels and one-motion operation effortlessly transition it from car seat to stroller in seconds, saving you time in the busy airport and on your journey. On the flip side, the wheels fold and tuck into the back of the seat instantly when you’re ready to install it. Simply push in the red safety lock button while pulling up the grey stroller wheel release.

While pricey, the Doona Padded Travel Bag, sold as a separate accessory, makes it even easier to transport the car seat as the bag doubles up as a backpack and takes minutes to assemble. This car seat is also available in seven bright colours, although you may need to shop around as the Nitro Black is the most popular colour.

Read next: The best 360 spin car seats

Best lie-flat car seat for plane
What we like
  • Lightweight – under 5kg

  • Reclines to a near lie-flat position

  • Wider carry handle

  • Comes with automatic safety lights

What we don't like
  • Buckle can be fiddly

  • ISOFIX base is sold separately for use in the car

Key specs

Price: £199 | Age range: Birth to 15 months | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes | Weight: 4.8kg | Dimensions: 58 x 44 x 67cm | Installation: ISOFIX or three-point seatbelt | Travel system-compatible? Yes | ADAC test: 2.1 Good | Warranty: 2 years | Certification: TÜV-approved

Our verdict

Tested by Mumsnet: Read our full Britax Römer Baby-Safe iSense review

Having won the Red Dot Design Award in 2021, the Britax Römer Baby-Safe iSense is not only packed with plenty of i-Size-compliant safety features such as enhanced side impact protection, an adjustable headrest and five-point harness, it’s also lightweight and durable with a tall seat back, accommodating little ones up to 83cm.  

This car seat is TÜV-approved and offers a distinctive feature – the ability to recline to a near lie-flat position, allowing your baby to lie flatter than in other car seats, promoting the safest, most ergonomic sleeping position, although it may not recline to a full flat position on the plane. The seat's position adjusts automatically as you change the headrest, controlled by a lever at the back of the seat. It also comes with a plush newborn insert that makes the seat safe and comfy with a nifty crotch pad to minimise the risk of buckle friction.

Another unique feature of the Britax Romer Baby-Safe iSense is its automatic safety lights that activate in low-light conditions - a handy feature on the plane, especially on long-haul flights. The two interior ambient lights have three different light settings that can be manually adjusted, allowing you to always see your little one. Additionally, the exterior installation lights help you to install the car seat in the car either day or night without hassle.  

Other features we like are the handy swivel function when used on the ISOFIX base (sold separately or as part of a bundle), the machine-washable seat cover that can be taken off without removing the harness, and the extra-large UP50+ sun canopy that folds down and tucks away easily when not in use.

Although the Baby-Safe i-Size car seat is travel system-compatible and works with any Britax Römer pushchair, it's only compatible with a few other brands including Joolz, Babyzen, Bugaboo and Silver Cross, to name a few.

Read next: The best lie-flat car seats for newborns

Best easy-carry car seat for plane
What we like
  • Has an easy-carry handle

  • Lightweight (just over 4kg)

  • Suitable for taller babies up to 87cm

  • Has extra wide Y-harness straps

What we don't like
  • Base and travel system adaptors not included

  • Headrest is small for upper age limit

Key specs

Price: £170 | Age range: Birth to 2 years | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes | Weight: 4.2kg | Dimensions: 66 x 44 x 39-56.5cm | Installation: ISOFIX or three-point seatbelt | Travel system-compatible? Yes | ADAC test: 1.6 Good | Warranty: 2 years | Certification: TÜV-approved

Our verdict

Weighing in at just over 4kg and built with a wide, sturdy handle, the Cybex Aton M-i-Size is easier to carry than the other heavier car seats on our list. Approved for use on aircraft with TÜV certification, and with one of the best ADAC ratings out of all the cabin-approved car seats on our list, you can rest assured that this one will keep your baby safe and secure both on and off the plane. 

Like most of the other rear-facing car seats we feature here, this car seat can be easily secured on a plane seat by using the lap belt across the front of the seat, threaded through the belt guides. As far as infant car seats go, this one lasts longer than you might expect from a Group 0+ car seat. According to Cybex, you can use it until your child is two years old or weighs 13kg thanks to the 11 adjustable height positions which will accommodate your child's growth.

Additional safety features such as shoulder and head protectors, along with an energy-absorbing shell, offer extra protection in side-impact collisions or turbulence on the plane. It’s also softly padded with extra-wide harness straps to keep your little one secure on a flight or in the car. Plus, it has a great cushioned newborn inlay which can be easily removed, leaving plenty of space in the seat for older babies. 

However, the headrest is a little small and may not be as comfortable for babies closer to the upper height limit. On a positive note, this car seat has one of the largest, UP50+ sun canopies (XXL) we’ve seen, protecting your child from rain, wind or sun when attached to a buggy. 

Additionally, it’s designed to seamlessly integrate with pushchairs from both Cybex and GB brands and it's available in seven bright colours. 

Read next: Can you take a pram on a plane?

Best lightweight car seat for plane
What we like
  • Super lightweight (only 3kg)

  • Great quality

  • Soft Merino wool insert

  • Good safety rating

  • TÜV-certified

What we don't like
  • Pricier than other infant car seats

  • Compatible ISOFIX base  is bulky

Key specs

Price: £209 | Age range: Birth to 15 months or 13kg | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes until 83cm | Weight: 3kg | Dimensions: 69 x 44 x 59.8cm | Installation: ISOFIX or three-point seatbelt | Travel system-compatible? Yes | ADAC test: 1.6 Good | Warranty: 2 years | Certification: TÜV approved

Our verdict

TÜV-certified, the Bugaboo Turtle Air by Nuna is designed to fit most airline seats, but it's advisable to check with the airline you’re travelling with, especially if seats are narrower than 44cm. 

As the lightest car seat on our list at only 3kg, you might assume that the Bugaboo Turtle Air isn’t as safe or robust as the other car seats we’ve featured, but don’t let its light weight fool you. There’s a reason why this rear-facing infant car seat has impressive ADAC safety scores. It’s made with a durable, protective outer shell and Tailor tech™ memory foam in the headrest for shock absorption, plus it’s built with EPP energy-absorbing foam for enhanced side impact protection. 

The ultra-luxe Merino wool inlay is soft and breathable, making it a great choice for sensitive skin. Keep in mind that this car seat only has a three-point rather than a five-point harness, but it’s still cleverly designed to keep your baby secure whilst in the plane or the car.

With easy portability and large UPF50+ sun canopy with an exclusive peek-a-boo window and secured with magnetic clips, this car seat ensures your baby stays comfortably protected in a snug cocoon.

For daily use and to turn the Turtle Air into a spin car seat, you can purchase the Bugaboo 360 ISOFIX base by Nuna. Although it’s as expensive as the car seat itself, the base has a convenient 220-degree swivel rotation, allowing easy strapping of your baby into the seat before adjusting it to the proper travel position. Plus, the one-click true lock installation, safety indicators, shock-absorbing materials and a crumple zone in the stability leg work together to enhance safety by redirecting impact away from your baby.

Read next: The best cabin-approved strollers

Best car seat for long-haul flights
What we like
  • Lightweight

  • The baby-hugg inlay offers extra comfort  

  • Ergonomically-designed handle

What we don't like
  • ISOFIX base sold separately

  • Larger babies might outgrow the seat faster (weight limit is on the low side)

  • Sun canopy is small

Key specs

Price: £89 (was £169) | Age range: Birth to 12 months | i-Size: Yes | Rear-facing: Yes until 75cm | Weight: 3.9kg | Dimensions: ‎67 x 44 x 56cm | Installation: ISOFIX or three-point seatbelt | Travel system-compatible? Yes | ADAC test: 1.7 Good | Warranty: Lifetime guarantee | Certification: TÜV-approved

What Mumsnet users say
jlr1986 · Recommended
I have the Rock and love it! Covers come off to wash in the machine.
See Post
Our verdict

Tested by Mumsnet: Read our full Maxi-Cosi Rock review

Hailed as Maxi-Cosi’s first i-Size-compliant car seat, the Maxi-Cosi Rock is another great rear-facing car seat to take on the plane. Designed for infants from 45 to 75cm tall (approximately birth to 12 months), it’s TÜV-approved for aeroplane use and weighs only 3.9kg. This makes the Maxi-Cosi Rock the second lightest car seat on our list next to the Bugaboo Turtle Air By Nuna, ensuring it’s a portable and convenient travel option that’s easily manoeuvrable with extra luggage in the airport as well as in and out of the car.

In addition to its lighter weight, this car seat stands out for being the most comfortable option for babies on long-haul flights thanks to the new and improved baby-hugg inlay which does exactly as the name suggests and simulates a warm, comforting hug, fitting snugly around your little one’s body. The inlay is made with thicker and heavier, yet breathable, fabrics, and the padded support around the head, neck and shoulders is more substantial than some other newborn inlays we’ve seen on the market. It also offers more padding around the leg area for a better overall fit. We like that the car seat can recline for naps on the go and has an ergonomically-designed carry handle with the ability to fold down at the rear for stabilising the seat when not in use.

Even though it’s affordable, this featherlight car seat doesn’t compromise on safety, and has the same impressive impact-absorbing materials and side impact protection features that you'd come to expect from an i-Size-compliant car seat. Whilst it can be secured to a seat using a safety belt only, the Maxi Cosi Rock can be installed in the car with the FamilyFix3 i-Size base.

Read next: The best pram toys for newborns

Can I take a car seat on a plane?

Yes, you can take a car seat on a plane in the UK. Most airlines allow passengers to use an approved car seat for infants and young children during the flight. However, there are a few points to consider:

  • Different airlines may have specific rules and requirements regarding the use of car seats on planes. It's advisable to check with your airline in advance to understand their policies. See our list of airlines with their respective regulations below.

  • Ensure that your car seat has either TÜV approval or FAA approval (if you’re flying to or within the United States).

  • Be familiar with the installation instructions for your specific car seat. Some airlines may require you to follow certain guidelines for securing the seat in the aircraft.

  • Generally, car seats in the Group 0+ category (for infants from birth to approximately 15 months old) are accepted on planes due to their compact size and lightweight design.

Read next: Maxi-Cosi Nomad Plus foldable travel car seat review

Can you take an ISOFIX base on a plane?

If you have a car seat with an ISOFIX base, you can bring the base on the plane, but it’ll have to be checked in and put in the hold. ISOFIX bases aren't compatible with planes since they're designed to anchor securely to a vehicle's chassis, and planes lack ISOFIX anchor points. When flying, you’ll need to secure the car seat using the seatbelt on the aircraft.

How do I install a car seat on a plane?

Installing a car seat on a plane in the UK typically involves using the aircraft seatbelt to secure the car seat. Here are general steps to install a car seat on a plane:

  • If possible, choose a window seat for installing the car seat. This helps you avoid blocking the path for other passengers in the event of an emergency.

  • Lift both armrests if possible.

  • Place the car seat in the aircraft seat and secure the car seat using the aircraft seat belt. Thread the seatbelt through the designated belt path on the car seat and buckle it securely. Ensure the seatbelt is snug. Press down and back on the car seat as you tighten the seat belt.

  • Then, adjust the harness straps on the car seat to fit your child securely. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper adjustment.

  • Once installed, check the car seat for stability. It should be securely fastened and not wobble.

  • Be sure to pay attention to any specific instructions given by the airline crew regarding the use of car seats during the flight.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also maintains that car seats must be forward-facing on the plane, even if it’s a rear-facing car seat. This generally isn’t an issue because the plane’s belt buckle can always be routed through the seat belt guide on the car seat. Bear in mind that, in infant seats, the buckle will go over your child’s legs, which is normal.   

Can I take a car seat that isn't approved for use on a plane?

While you can take any car seat on holiday and have it checked in the hold, if you’re keen to use the car seat on the plane, it’s best to avoid using one that doesn't have the necessary approval, i.e. isn’t TÜV- or FAA-approved, as it might not meet the required safety standards for air travel, or be the correct weight and size for the aircraft seat.

Do I have to use a car seat on a plane?

No, using a car seat on the plane is a personal choice. However, little ones do need to be secured on the flight. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) states that “Infants under the age of two need to be secured whenever the seat belt sign is on. This can be achieved through the use of a seat belt loop provided by the airline to secure the infant on an adult’s lap, or by using a child restraint device i.e. car type seat, or an alternative provided by the airline.”

What are the benefits of taking a car seat on a plane?

Taking a car seat on a plane can offer several benefits:

  • Safety: Using a car seat on a plane provides an additional layer of protection for your little one during the flight, especially in the event of turbulence.

  • Familiarity and comfort: If you’re taking a trusted car seat on board, your child will already be familiar with it, making it a comfortable and secure space during the journey. This familiarity can contribute to a smoother travel experience.

  • Consistent rest position: Car seats are designed to provide proper support and a comfortable rest position for infants and young children, which can be especially important during long flights.

    However, according to the Lullaby Trust, healthcare professionals specialising in infant care, safety experts, and the majority of car manufacturers advise against keeping babies in a car seat for more than two hours continuously, emphasising the importance of taking breaks.

  • Ease of transport: Cabin-approved car seats are lightweight, easy to use and portable, plus they’re designed for easy installation, making it convenient for you to transport your child safely both in the car and on the plane.

  • Use in transit: While it’s possible to hire a car seat, many parents prefer using their own trusted car seat during taxi rides or transfers at the destination, as this ensures their child's safety during various modes of transportation. By taking your own car seat, you’ll also be sure of its history. 

  • Potential cost savings: Renting a car seat at your destination can be expensive. Bringing your own car seat can be a cost-effective option, especially if you plan to use it during your trip.

These Mumsnetters took their car seats on the plane and this is what they had to say: 

Mumsnetter dramalamma says, “I've done both car seat and none with an under two in own seat. It was a lot easier with a car seat because it's not just about the take-off and landing - if there is any turbulence or any other reason the seatbelt sign is on (including them forgetting to turn it off!) you have to pick your child up and have them on your lap which can be an absolute nightmare when it's a long haul flight and they've just gone to sleep!”

Mumsnetter, Genegenieee agrees and adds, “When we flew long haul with children under two, but they were too big for a bassinet, we booked them a seat and took a car seat in the cabin. Far easier to have them in a harness seat belt than a lap belt during the flight. Mine just used to sleep.”

What are the car seat criteria for the main airlines?

According to Maxi-Cosi manufacturers, any approved child seat should have a maximum width of 44cm, ensuring that it will fit in most aeroplane seats. Here are the specific airline requirements in terms of seat width and restrictions:

  • EasyJet: Car seat should not exceed 44cm and must be used in a forward-facing position.

  • Ryanair: Car seat should not exceed 43cm, must be airline approved and have a five-point harness.

  • TUI: Car seat should not exceed 40.64cm, must have a secure harness and adhere to British Safety standards. It should also be used in a forward-facing position.

  • British Airways: Car seat should not exceed 43cm and must be used in forward-facing position.

  • Air France: Car seat should not exceed 44cm or 42cm if your seat is in the first row of the Economy cabin. It must be secured with the seat belt.  

  • Air Canada: Car seat should not exceed 44cm and should be airline approved. It must have a suitable harness system.

  • Aer Lingus: Car seat should not exceed 43cm and must be secured on the aircraft seat by the normal aircraft lap strap. It must be used in a forward-facing position.

  • Virgin Atlantic: Car seat should not exceed 43cm and must always be secured to the host seat.

  • Emirates: Car seat should not exceed 44cm and must be TÜV- or FAA-approved. It must only be used in a forward-facing position.  

  • Jet2: Car seat should not exceed 42cm and must comply with European Safety Standard requirements of United Nations ECE R 44 (UN/ECE 44).

  • Qantas – car seat should not exceed 43.7cm and must be used in a forward-facing position. It must comply with European Safety Standard requirements of United Nations ECE R 44 (UN/ECE 44). Qantas also states that car seats can't be located in an aisle seat or in an exit row.

For children under the age of two, Jet2 also states that the car seat must:

  • Be securable with a lap strap, not over your child

  • Include manufacturer's instructions stating suitability for air travel with lap strap

  • Have a single release-type harness securing your child’s lap, chest, and shoulders

  • Preferably placed in a window seat

  • Be the sole car seat on the row segment

  • Be forward or rear-facing

How to choose the best car seat for the plane

When choosing a car seat for use on a plane in the UK, there are several factors to consider:

  • Approval for air travel: Firstly, the car seat you pick for the plane needs to be TÜV- or FAA- approved. It’s also important to check your specific airline’s criteria (use our guide above as a start), as their rules and regulations differ slightly. The good news is that all the car seats on this list are approved for use on most popular airlines.

  • Size and weight: Check the dimensions and weight of the car seat to ensure it meets the airline’s requirements. Note that preferences for seat width can vary among airlines. For example, TUI may prefer a narrower seat compared to British Airways. Also consider the weight of the car seat since you'll need to carry it through the airport and onto and off the flight. It's important to choose one that's manageable for you.

  • Comfort for your child: Ensure that the car seat is comfortable for your child, especially if it's a long-haul flight. Look for features such as adequate padding, an adjustable harness and headrest, and the ability to recline as this is the safest and most comfortable position for babies from 0-6 months.

  • Cleaning and maintenance: Choose a car seat with a removable and machine-washable cover for easy cleaning, as travel can be messy!

How much should I spend on a car seat for the plane?

When considering which car seat to get for the plane, keep in mind that prices can range from £80 to over £300. The amount you spend will depend on various factors such as the brand of car seat, the overall quality of the padding and materials, the safety features and duration of use. Most car seats on our list cater to babies from birth to around age four.

Given that car seats are a significant investment, it's essential to choose one that can serve dual purposes – for use on the plane and in your car at home. You’ll also want to ensure that your chosen car seat is compatible with a variety of travel systems and pushchairs to extend its use.

About the author

Tammy Jacks has 15+ years' experience in the publishing industry, enjoying a long and fruitful career as Managing Editor and Health & Beauty Editor for Woman & Home magazine in South Africa. She later went on to become Assistant Editor of the popular South African parenting title Living and Loving, and has written for numerous lifestyle publications including Oprah Mag SA, Health Intelligence, Your Family Magazine, Longevity, and pharmaceutical company Clicks Clubcard Magazine, as well as edited books for popular fitness influencers and health professionals.

Tammy is a distinguished researcher and writer in the field of child safety, with a notable focus on the critical domain of car seats. Her extensive expertise and commitment to child safety, particularly in the context of air travel, have made her a trusted authority in providing comprehensive insights and guidance to parents and caregivers looking for the right car seat for their children. 

As a mum to an eight-year-old, Tammy has personally tried and tested numerous car seats over the years, across all age categories. Her specialised attention to car seats for the plane involves scrutinising what's essential for safe air travel with children.