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Holidays

Holiday Car Seat Rant

26 replies

maretta · 31/07/2004 11:17

DH, DS (13 mo) and I recently went to Portugal for ten days or so.

A month before we went we booked a rental car for a week and ordered a baby car seat ds from a company we thought were reputable - Alamo.

Anyway, the day we went to pick up the car, the baby seat was

filthy

not fitted and without any instructions!!

clearly broken

DH went back to the shop and asked for the seat to be fitted. The assistant clearly did not have a clue, tried to fit the seat and told us it was absolutly fine. DH gave the seat a gentle tap and it fell right across the back seat!! It would have been funny if not so serious.
How dare they suggest I drive my precious ds around in such a death trap.

We told the assistant we weren't taking the car and he proceeded to throw the car seat on the floor in a rage. Car seats are only designed to absorb one impact.

We then spent the next four hours trapsing round Lisbon with a baby looking for a replacement.

We've written to the comapny and told them what we think of them but I'd be really interested to hear other peoples experiences. It might be worth finding out what safety checks various company's have. I've learnt my lesson anyway. Next time I'd take my own seat.

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Berrie · 31/07/2004 11:21

How awful! Did you find a replacement in the end? How many companies did you have to try? I know that this doesn't answer your request but we are due to fly away for a short break soon. We were not going to hire a car. Do taxi firms have car seats or will we have to take ours? Will it cost extra?

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maretta · 31/07/2004 11:42

We did find a relacement but I think we tried six companies. In retrospect it would have been cheaper and less time consuming to take the first car and go down to 'bebe monda' and buy a new seat.

I didn't try using taxis so I'm not sure. In fact I've never used taxis with ds because i've always assumed that they'd be nowhere for ds to sit.

I don't think taking a car seat would cost if it's within your luggage limit. I think you'd have to be careful about protecting it from bumps. I don't know - has anyone out there taken their car seat on a plane??

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mrsflowerpot · 31/07/2004 11:47

Car seats are free to take on planes and usually additional to your luggage allowance ime. They go with the 'fragile and outsize' baggage in most cases. We've taken ours twice to go in hire cars and it's been ideal. We did rent a car with one once and though it was fine, I wasn't as happy as with ours (for a start the car hire staff told us they couldn't fit it as then they'd be liable! so we had to fit it with no instruction and at best guess work).

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Tinker · 31/07/2004 11:50

I've always taken my own, albeit only a booster seat. Hate hiring cars anyway, always 'extras' to pay for when you get there.

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myermay · 31/07/2004 13:24

Message withdrawn

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Berrie · 31/07/2004 15:24

I'm worried now, how would you know they'd not thrown your car seat around like they do on that advert? Would a bus be any safer than a taxi with no seat do you think?

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maretta · 31/07/2004 19:25

I know what you mean Berrie.
I took ds on a bus because I refused to put him in a taxi without a car seat. DH thought I was crazy and said he thought ds would be just as safe in a taxi as sat on my lap in a bus.

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Berrie · 31/07/2004 19:43

I've arranged this trip for our anniversary and it is a surprise. I know it's a bit feeble but I'm finding it hard to make decisions about things like this without being able to discuss it with dh. I looked on the bmibaby website but though they had information about surfboards and golf clubs etc there was no mention at all about pushchairs and other baby equipment. How crap is that? I'll have to ring the airport I suppose.

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maretta · 31/07/2004 20:44

Pushchairs are no bother at all.
They count as part of your checked in luggage but you can keep hold of them until you get to the gate. They usually put them in one of the wardrobes at the front of the cabin - although with our flight we were able to put it in the overhead locker.

We only took our cheap buggy but I'm sure a proper pushchair wouldn't be a problem because they kept going on about how small it was.

It also sounds like carseats are no problem from what Mrs Flowerpot says. I know what you mean about wanting to chat with dh about it though.

Are you off anywhere nice?

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MeanBean · 31/07/2004 20:53

Snap Maretta. I went to Portugal at Easter and got two car seats which were broken. One replacement was found, but we were given a booster seat for my DS, because they only had 3 car seats there! Meant to complain about it when I got home, as I paid the same for the booster as I had for the car seat, and if I'd known I was only going to get a booster, I would have bought one, as it would have been cheaper than hiring it, but as usual life got in the way of complaining. And yes, it was Alamo. They're crap.

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Berrie · 31/07/2004 20:55

Thanks Maretta, Yes I hope so, We're going to Jersey. We live next to the airport here and the BMI flights are quite cheap. I chickened out of booking a foriegn trip on my own with the baby so I'm hoping this will be nice and easy. I've been having a bogus ongoing atgument about who should drive to the unknown destination so it will be a lovely surprise when the taxi turns up... just realised, that will need to have a car seat to ...oh bum!

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toddlerbob · 01/08/2004 07:19

Prams and wheelchairs don't normally count as weight for your luggage. Car seats do.

I took ds on a bus in Wellington because I didn't want to take a car seat. I think it's safer because buses don't crash as often and if they do your baby would be further away from the windscreen.

I'm not sure about a car seat being dropped renders it useless. The Alamo one was clearly broken, but I'm sure they get dropped whilst being put on the shelves in shops etc. all the time - not to mention by sleep deprived parents trying to fit one for the first time.

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SofiaAmes · 01/08/2004 21:06

toddlerbob, it really depends on the airline. I've never had a car seat count towards my luggage allowance.

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whizzz · 02/08/2004 20:18

We were going to take a booster seat to Spain & wondered if DS could sit on it on the plane rather than it being chucked in the hold - is this OK do you think ?? we hired a seat last year & it was a bit mucky but seemed secure enough. It is scary though when you don;t know the history of it & if its been damaged etc. I also think its dreadful that when you book a hire car they always say 'we can't guarantee a suitable car seat' - what are you supposed to do !

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Linnet · 02/08/2004 23:28

Maretta who did you fly with that they put the pushchair in the overhead locker?

The only reason I ask is that we once flew from London to Scotland with British Airways and were told at check in that they would put the pushchair in the wardrobe at the front of the plane. But when we got to the plane they refused to do this and it had to go in the hold. Not a huge problem but the fact that a little girl had gone onto the plane just before us with a dolls pram, yes a dolls pram and it got stored in an empty aisle caused a bit of agro I can tell you. They wouldn't let us take our 1 year dd's pushchair on and it had to go into the hold but they let a dolls pram go on instead.
sorry mini rant over.

So which airline did you fly with, she asks nicely

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LIZS · 05/08/2004 20:19

whizz, we recently travelled by plane with dd on a booster seat although she refused to do so on the return so it went under the seat in front. We saw one full sized Stage 1 car seat being taken on as hand luggage too and put in the overhead locker.

ime it is normal for child seats to be left unfitted and incomplete. We wrestled with two at Gatwick Airport last summer in the height of the heatwave, 2 kids in the parking lot, in full view of the Europcar staff. They are not allowed to fit them due to legal responsibility issues in the event of an accident. We only had those little pictures on the side to go by and had to adjust the shoulder straps for our petite toddler. At Birimingham we've been given boosters without the shoulder adjustment clip. Fortunately they now tend to use the same type so we are getting better at fitting them !!

Oh, and a friend of mine admitted that her daughter peed on the seat they'd hired - wonder how often the covers get cleaned ....

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xoz · 05/08/2004 20:48

Maretta, what a horrible nuisance!!! Car hire companies are really annoying sometimes. We were told by one company that they will not fit the carseat as they will not take the responsibility if there's an accident and it was not properly fitted (This was in the UK incidentally when we first arrived here from Australia). We have hired cars half a dozen times since in various countries in Europe and the seat(s) has/have never been fitted by any company we've dealt with. We've had some slightly dodgy ones but never completely broken.
We've travelled a lot with our 2 kids and never had anyone say anything to us about quantity of luggage either number of items or weight. We only ever travel on scheduled flights though so that may be why (I think that the package ones might be more strict), although it's often with Ryanair and Easyjet (who have been great as they let you get on first if you have small kids). We took a stage 1 car seat to Spain with us and it went with the "oversized" luggage, as has our back carrier (which is an alternative to a buggy)on occasions when we've taken it, without any hassles. Where they put your buggy/pram depends on the type of aircraft IME. Some have space inside the plane, usually the long haul ones (our experience is travelling to Australia), whereas others don't have the space and they will take the buggy from you at the gate and put it in the hold. If you ask the flight attendants they can often make sure that you get the buggy back at the gate, rather than at baggage reclaim, but you may have to wait for a little bit at the gate. As far as carseats etc, I've never found them to be available for taxis, so dd1 (now 3.5) sits in the regular seatbelt, with the sash part under her arm, and dd2 (now 22months) sits on my lap. I always sit in the back and behind a seat, not in the middle. TBH we find that wherever possible public transport is a much better option, the kids can have our full attention and it costs a lot less too.

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Jasmum · 09/08/2004 14:40

Sorry to catch on to this late, but I'm going to Portugal with DD whos's 2 next motnh & I can't decide whether to take my car seat. We're booked with Europcar & I've jsut called them they can't guarantee what kind of seat I'll get but it's only suitable for 2 & under! Over 2 there's nothing...I think after reading this thread & their response I'll have to take my own. But, what kind fo cover should I sue for it? My sister lives in the USA & she has a nylon bag thing specifically for car seats but I can't seem to find them here.

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Twinkie · 09/08/2004 14:51

If you fly BA they let you take them outside of your allowance - we took DDs to Italy last week. They put it in the hold on the way out but we took it on as hand luggage on the way back - check with the airline either way.

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LIZS · 09/08/2004 18:51

Jasmum,

Depending which airport you use you may be able to get it shrink wrapped at check in. Otherwise pad out with bubble wrap and parcel tape or put in a cardboard box. If they will let you carry it on board as hand luggage it should be fine anyway.

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mckenzie · 09/08/2004 19:00

we had a horrible experience on our first ever holiday with DS 1. I checked thoroughly which car hire company could guarantee us a car seat for a 3 month old and only one, Budget, came back and said yes they could. I had this on a recored telephone conversation and slo in writting from the UK booking office before we went. Arriving at the airport though (local airport in Spain) Budget use a Spanish sister company and the guy there knew nothing about our request, had only second stage car seats and really could not have given a s..t about our predicament.

Needless to say we caused havoc with Budget when we got home but that wasn't the point, it ruined our holiday as it meant we were stuck at our villa for 10 days with no mode of transport other than our feet!

We always now take a car seat with us, packaged in it's original box, covered in 'Fragile' and 'Please handle with care' stickers and we've never had it included in our allowance.

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KateandtheGirls · 09/08/2004 20:10

I've always taken my daughter's car seat on board the plane with us for her to sit in, but when we flew on BMIBaby recently they wouldn't let us take it on board. (I guess the seats are smaller than on, say, British Airways.) So it had to be checked and put in the hold.

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braid · 02/09/2004 14:29

Glad to find this trail. I've just had the dreadful car seat experience with my 14 mnth old in Belfast. Fortunately family had a seat we could use but Alamo staff were clear that the policy was not to fit or instruct customers on how to fit car seat. I don't see how car hire companies can get away with this. They are charging people for safety equipment which is anything but safe. My conclusion is that I will always take my own car seat but I also think car hire firms should be prevented from offering seats because they are death traps.

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Pook · 02/09/2004 15:52

We had the same trouble with Alamo, as did friends of ours, in France. Car seat filthy, smelt (yuk) and no help fitting.
Generally had a rough time with them. Told car unleaded, turned out to be diesel. Car siezed up after being filled with unleaded. Taken to horrible garage with 11month old, kept there for 5 hours (on an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere) without being offered a seat, drink, anything. Thank god we'd jsut been food shopping. And then the mechanic managed to set fire to our car when the pump he was using to drain the tank sparked and set fire to the petrol tank, petrol on floor and our wheels. They made us use payphone to call Alamo, who themselves made us pay for repairs. Nightmare!!!! Anyway - rant over!

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scotlou · 02/09/2004 16:10

In defence of Alamo, we hired 2 car seats with Easyautos who in turn use Alamo at Boston airport. When we got there we were presented with 2 brand new seats. OK - no instructions, but they were easy to fit.
Having said that, next time I go to US I think we'll take our own as we could use it on the aircraft and would save us the USD 5 per day they charge for the car seat hire.

(By the way - anyone looking for a carhire firm - I recommend Easyautos as we used them last year and booked again for our trip this year to USA (at a discounted rate since we'd used them before) but had to cancel at very short notice. Full refund arrived in post within a week of us cancelling.)

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