A Great Question – Flying Forward Facing

This week on Ask Me I got a great question in from Nikol. I wanted to share her question and my answer with you.

Cool site! I found your Hitchin a Ride post back in 2011 when we first started flying! We ended up rigging up a system with an old luggage cart since we prefer backpacks to rolling luggage, but I had a few questions about your experience with flying with the Britax! I have heard that FF puts kids in prime position for seat kicking, what is your experience on US cross-country flights? Specifically the Boeing 737-900? Our little guy will be turning 2 on the trip and is 50% percentile on height. In the past, we have used a cheap/lightweight seat which was small enough to rear face and still allow everyone to recline, but I recently took a good look at the strap system and began to wonder if it would actually hold up in a car crash at our destination. Any ideas? I have looked into the CARES system, but this is a red eye flight so I’d light to have a carseat for sleeping!

Hi Nikol! Thanks for writing in. Front (forward) facing DOES put kids in the perfect position for feet kicking. It is an unfortunate truth. If your little one can still fit rear facing for this flight, I would definitely use that option. Plus it is safer according to http://www.thecarseatlady.com. CARES is an excellent option for kids above 2. I have had my middle child sleep while strapped into a CARES. I also strapped on a travel pillow to keep her head in a somewhat comfortable position. But it isn’t the most comfortable. One of the ways to help with the seat kicking is to take off their shoes and put on nice cushiony socks, or slippers. This won’t stop the kicking, but it does lighten the blow to the person in the chair in front of them. I also try my best to distract them with something so they won’t kick the seat in front of them, and if you are on a red eye, hopefully most of your little one’s time will be spent sleeping. If you think it is going to be really difficult for the person in front of them why not bring a small gift like some candy and politely introduce yourself, “My name is Nikol and my child is sitting behind you. I am going to do my best to make sure you have a comfortable flight, and my child doesn’t kick your seat. I just wanted to to know that I am thinking about you.” You might even make a new best friend that way :) .
Make sure that your airline allows whatever type of car seat you are planning on using because airline insurance companies have started to get picky about that kind of stuff (totally unfortunate). There aren’t many more options for a two year old besides a car seat or the CARES harness. If you are planning on buying a new Britax, I would go with the Diplomat or the Roundabout 50 because the last flight I took my Marathon on I had to argue with the flight attendant (on Austrian Airlines) for 20 minutes about using the seat during take off and landing, and finally the pilot got involved, who agreed a 5-point airplane approved seat was safer than a 1-point infant in lap belt. The Marathon was not on their list, apparently. Of course all this can be cleared up by calling your airline ahead of time. Make sure it is a 5-point system, no matter what they say. That is the standard when flying domestically or internationally.
I have been on the Boeing 737 with a car seat and it fit fine. If you can reserve bulkhead seating ahead of time (call the airline, they usually reserve these seats for people with small children) then you won’t even need to worry about someone sitting in front of you. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Hope you have a great trip!!

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