Welcome, Fellow Traveling Parents Looking To Grab a Booster Seat on a Plane!
Boosters can give your 4-year-old kid the perfect lift when you’re running errands around the city. Can they do the same when your family is flying to get to that dream vacation destination?
Airplane booster seats aren’t what you think they are, but they’re still just as useful for kids under 40 pounds. So, you might want to get one before your flight date and get your little one used to it.
That said, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a lot to say about which models are a-okay.
In this post, I’ll go over all the must-know regulations with you. I’ll also cover a quick overview of the carry-on/check-in situation for airplane booster seats on Southwest, Delta, and United.
But first, let’s bust the myth of the plane booster seat.
Show it to me already!
Busting the Airplane Booster Seat Myth
The whole point of a booster seat is to get the shoulder belt restraints to sit on the chest rather than the neck. Meanwhile, most commercial planes have lap-only belt systems. So, the point is moot.
You could take a booster seat with you on the plane and use it later when you land and get in a vehicle. However, you won’t be able to use a typical booster seat during flight (at least during takeoff, landing, and any ground movement).
Notice how I said “typical” seat?
Well, that’s because there are harness-type variations that might just work on a plane. Those have to be FAA-approved, though.
What an Airline-Approved Booster Seat Looks Like
There are quite a few airline-compatible car seats on the market, like the Cosco Scenera NEXT and the Safety 1st Guide 65. You can always identify the approved ones with the FAA label that clearly says that the seat is fit for vehicles and aircrafts.
Some brands market their FAA-approved products as “booster seats.” Take Evenflo’s Chase, for instance.
Odds are, those airplane booster seats are just CRSs (Child Restraint System) with a 5-point harness, which isn’t really a typical booster at all. But whatever gets the job done, right?
Child Restraint System Airplane Regulations
There are a ton of regulations for CRSs, but the gist of it is that an FAA-approved airplane booster seat should be:
- Not backless
- Not wider than the typical aircraft seat (around 15-18”)
- Labeled with FAA approval certificates
- Rear-facing for kids under 20 lbs
- Front-facing for kids between 20-40 lbs
- Never used on an aisle seat (preferably used in the window seat)
Airplane Booster Seat as a Carry-On
So, now you know what “booster” seats are approved, but you might be wondering: do they count toward my carry-on limit?
Well, the answer varies depending on the airline.
Let’s take a look at three of the most common airline companies out there.
Taking a Booster Seat on a Southwest Airplane
If you take a CRS booster onboard a Southwest flight, it’ll count toward your carry-on allowance. That’s unless your kid is ticketed.
Taking a Booster Seat on a Delta Airplane
Delta won’t count a CRS or stroller toward your baggage limit if you choose to check it—no extra fees.
The seat won’t count as a carry-on, either, if you take it on board. So, you can bring along a carry-on bag AND a booster seat (that matches the 22” x 14” x 9” size restrictions).
Taking a Booster Seat on a United Airplane
Like Delta, United Airlines allows you to bring an FAA-approved car seat onboard without counting it as a personal item or carry-on.
However, you won’t be able to take any car seats with you if you’re boarding Polaris business class on a Boeing 767, 777, or 787 aircraft. That’s probably due to the seating angles.
Conclusions on Using a Booster Seat on a Plane
In a nutshell, airplane booster seats are usually just harnessed CRS models that the manufacturer chose to label as a “booster” for marketing reasons.
That doesn’t mean they’re a gimmick, though. An FAA-approved CRS booster can make all the difference in how well-seated your little one will be during the flight.
One final word of advice? Don’t lose that FAA label on the seat—it’ll be a hassle trying to find certification copies that the flight attendants will accept!
Let me know if you still have questions about taking booster seats on a plane.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can you take a booster seat on an airplane?
The regulations/prohibitions for taking a booster seat on an airplane vary according to the airline. If the airline allows you to take it, you’ll still need to check size restrictions and FAA approvals.
Does my child need a booster seat on an airplane?
While older children don’t need a regular booster seat on an airplane, an FAA-approved CRS will come in handy for kids under 40 lbs.
How much does it cost to take a booster seat on a plane?
Most airlines allow passengers traveling with kids to check in booster seats free of charge. The same applies to the carry-on situation.
Can you use a backless booster seat on an airplane?
No, you can’t use a backless booster seat on an airplane during takeoff, landing, or any ground movement. You can put it in the overhead bin as a carry-on, though. In this case, a folding model would be better.
Does a 4-year-old need a car seat on a plane?
Since most 4-year-olds are around 40 pounds, they need a car seat while flying. In this case, you’ll need a front-facing FAA-approved CRS.
Does a 2-year-old need a car seat on a plane?
It’s better to get an FAA-approved car seat for a 2-year-old kid. After all, 2-year-olds are too big to sit on your lap but still too small to fit properly in a plane seat without a CRS.
What’s the best car seat for an airplane?
Some of the best car seats for airplanes are:
Last Updated on April 26, 2023 by Danny Reid