The summer holidays are here and following two years of pandemic-related restrictions, and irrespective of the problems that airports are experiencing, many families are still looking forward to travelling.
If you're jetting abroad you may be considering whether to bring your baby or child car seat, as sitting on a child car seat can provide a more comfortable flight for young children and it could be handy if you're hiring a car at your destination.
But is it worth it? And what do you need to consider?
Here are the five essentials you need to know before you book your plane ticket and board that flight.
Some child car seats are TUV approved and will have a sticker that says 'Certified For Use in Aircraft', but that's not a mandatory requirement for taking a car seat on a plane.
Typically the car seat must:
Some airlines have their own child car seats you can hire for the duration of the flight if you want to use a car seat but don't want to carry your own, however you must pre-book them in advance.
Not all airlines will allow you to use a child car seat on the plane, even if the seat is approved for use in an aircraft, and some airlines don't allow rear-facing car seats.
It's essential to speak to your airline before you fly, and it's worth confirming the make and model of your car seat too.
Try to email ahead of time and get something in writing so you can show airline staff if queried at the gate.
All major airlines publish the width of the narrowest and widest seats in each class so it's vital to check your car seat is compatible with the aeroplane seat before you fly.
If your car seat doesn't have airline approval or is too big for the airline's restrictions, you may be asked to check it as baggage and won't be able to use it on the flight.
Below are the narrowest seat widths of the economy seats for the most popular airlines, so you can compare at a glance to see if your car seat is suitable.
|Airline||Width of seat|
|Air New Zealand||43.4cm|
Whether your car seat is forward or rear-facing, it's essential that it's placed next to a window, so that in the event of an emergency all passengers can evacuate quickly and easily.
Here's our step-by-step guide to setting up a forward-facing child car seat on an aeroplane seat:
But if your car seat is rearward-facing, it's slightly different. Here's our step-by-step guide to setting up a rear-facing child car seat on an aeroplane seat:
Below are three child car seats from the full list of those that are TUV approved. This means they are compatible with most aeroplane seats.
The rearwards-facing Nuna Pipa Next is an i-Size-approved car seat for infants measuring 40cm to 83cm, which should see your baby through from birth to around 15 to 18 months old. The car seat fits onto the Next isofix base, which you can also use with the . The seat is also compatible with the .
The Joie i-Gemm has been around for a while, but it's still a favourite with parents. It's approved for use with babies measuring 40cm to 85cm, which is newborn to around 15 months old.
It's worth noting that the Joie i-Gemm 2 is now available to buy - we haven't yet tested it - and this may be the version that's sold in most retailers.
The Maxi Cosi Pebble 360 is an updated version of the popular car seat and it went on sale last year. As well as taking it on an aeroplane, you can also fix it to travel system-compatible Maxi Cosi and Quinny pushchairs.
If you use the car seat with the FamilyFix 360 base, you can rotate the seat towards you to make it easier to get your child into the seat.
As well as a car seat, many airlines also allow you to bring a pushchair on a plane.
Some strollers are small enough to be taken into the cabin with you, while larger buggies will need to be checked into the hold.