Do You a Use Car Seat for Your Baby in Cabs When Traveling?

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One common question that many new traveling parents have to think through is whether or not to bring a car seat for their baby to use in cabs on their travels.  Last night a fellow BoardingArea blogger, and new mommy of a cute son, Angelina from Just Another Points Traveler, asked me that very question on Twitter, and it reminded me that I haven’t really talked about that issue very much here recently.

For infants and the baby crowd, my short answer is yes, you should use an infant car seat on your journey, including in cabs.  I know it is more stuff to lug around and install, but the safest answer is certainly to bring their car seat/infant carrier to use in cabs, Uber, etc., on your travels, just as you would driving them around at home.  In fact, I have heard of cab drivers refusing to transport a family who didn’t have the car seat with them since it was against the local laws, even for cabs.  Though some cities, like New York City, have more lax laws for cabs than private vehicles in terms of car seat usage. 

Travel Light, Even With a Infant Carrier:

The biggest reason that some even consider not bringing the car seat for their baby is likely to reduce the amount of stuff they have to travel with.  The key to not drowning in gear is to be very smart about what type of gear you travel with for your baby.  The combo I recommend for travel with an infant would be their infant car seat/carrier and a stroller frame it snaps into.  I would not bring a second stroller or try to carry the infant carrier without a frame.  The car seat + frame would be your stroller.  You can then use this to push the baby through the airport, thus allowing you to gate check and reduce the amount of handling (or mishandling) of your important goodies.

One type of frame that should work for many infant car seats is this Car Seat Frame but that is by no means the only one out there, so look around and see what would be a good choice for you.

Car seat frame

Use the Infant Carrier/Car Seat on the Plane, If Possible:

Assuming you have gone through the airport with the carrier/car seat, then if you have a seat for your baby on the plane, you can use their rear facing car seat on the plane.  Even if you didn’t reserve a seat for your infant, the airline will still typically let you use one if it is available.  Note that car seats typically have to go next to the window in single aisle aircraft.  Assuming the car seat is approved for air travel (and isn’t too wide for the seats), you can then just install it and have your baby fly as safely and comfortably as possible.

Use a Car Seat Cover if You Gate Check:

In the event you aren’t able to bring your car seat on board, I would have a cover for it to keep it as clean and safe as possible while it is gate checked.  We have used this Car Seat Cover for a couple of years now.  We never used it specifically with an infant carrier, but I imagine most would fit in there since it is quite roomy.

Car seat cover

Install the Car Seat in Cabs:

Then, once you get where you are going, you will be able to use the car seat in cabs without having too much extra gear along for the ride.  I would check your instruction manual to determine whether or not you need to also bring the infant carrier base.  My experience is that many infant carrier also work without the base, but that isn’t necessarily universal so double check that issue before assuming you don’t need the base.  If you do bring it, you can put it in the car seat cover bag.

Consult a Car Seat Expert:

In case it wasn’t already obvious, I don’t claim to be a car seat expert of any kind, but The Car Seat Lady is an expert and she has a whole section devoted to car seats in cabs that I recommend you check out.

With a little extra planning you can have a car seat for your infant to use in cabs without being over-loaded with stuff.

Mommas and Daddies, how do you manage the issue of car seats for infants in cabs when you travel?

 

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  1. I have a related question for you. My wife and I will be traveling with our child in 2 months, he’ll be 10.5 months at the time. He’s already out of his infant seat and in a convertible car seat. What do you recommend for traveling with him? We thought about buying a cheap convertible seat and using that, rather than our nice/expensive Chicco seat. We just don’t trust the airlines gate checking it! Please let me know what you have used, plus any additional tips that could help. Thanks!

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  2. Brian, yes I frequently use the Cosco car seat as it is much cheaper and much lighter than the big car seats we use at home. We honestly just put it in that car seat cover and put it on our backs, but it is probably smarter to use a push frame for that or some attach it to their luggage with something like this:
    http://www.amazon.com/Go-Go-Babyz-Travelmate-Luggage-Orange/dp/B0068IGSHM/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1401979708&sr=8-4&keywords=car+seat+travel+mate
    Hope that helps!

  3. Make sure to check with the specific airline regulations when planning to take a car seat on board. Not all airlines allow rear facing car seats, as they can interfere with the recline on seat in front. When we flew Singapore Airlines recently we had to scrounge up a convertible seat for our son so he could sit forward facing on the plane and rear facing in vehicles at our destination.

  4. David, that is a good point. I will add that the FAA technically states that “If an approved CRS, for which a ticket has been purchased, does not fit in a particular seat on the aircraft, the airline is responsible for accommodating the CRS in another seat in the same class of service.” Though that doesn’t necessarily help you with non US airlines outside of the US.
    http://www.faa.gov/passengers/fly_children/

  5. David,

    Was your flight departing or arriving in the US? If so Singapore has to allow you to use your car seat rear facing as long as you are using it according to the instructions. If they don’t want you to interfere with recline they are required to move you to a seat with a longer pitch. There’s an FAA circular I carry with me when flying in case of misinformed flight attendants.

    • John, yes I have a link to that info above. Won’t help if you are flying Singapore elsewhere in the world, but very true for many flights!

      • Summer, your reply with the link wasn’t there when I started writing my comment. After I clicked submit I saw it. I was writing my comment on my phone, or I would have included the link as well. Thanks for including it, I’m sure a lot of people will find it helpful!

    • John – Nope, not departing or arriving in the US – We flew SQ from NRT-SIN-CHC. They were actually kind of a pain about it at check in at NRT. They had to look up what was allowed, and whether it would fit on the plane, etc. It took us probably 20 mins to get checked in because they were not familiar with how to handle the car seat. On board, the flight attendants were great – they actually installed it in the seat for us.

  6. Great advice, as always, MommyPoints. The stroller frame plus bucket car seat trick has been what I have done almost exclusively for infant travel and it really works for traveling light. I always feel bad for parents lugging their expensive and bulky stroller systems through TSA checkpoints and struggling to fold them on jetbridges in order to gate check. I’m always trying to educate my friends not to be those people. The lighter the better!

  7. We haven’t flown much with our 6 kids, at least not when they were car seat aged. But we’ve done a couple of those things.

    We’ve brought the car seat onto the plane and used that – generally works great like you mentioned.

    Sometimes when the kid was younger and we didn’t buy a separate fare (less than 2 y/o) we brought the car seat with us and they just take it right in the plane boarding area, and then bring it back up when we de-plane. Then we could use it for our rental car.

  8. Helpful article. I agree that checking/brining on board and then installing in cab for ride to hotel makes sense. What you don’t address is what you do the rest of your trip when taking cabs in a city. Can’t imagine cabbing from hotel to restaurant, park, museum and then taking a car seat with me…

    • I’d do one of two things in that situation — either continue to use the bucket carseat/stroller frame combo as my stroller throughout the day. Or, I’d forgo cabs at my destination and use public transit to tour the city with baby, most likely in a carrier like an Ergo or Bjorn. This is how my NYC friends roll when they have to get around the city with their little ones.

        • Yeah, I’ve done both of those things in the past. But my daughter is now too big for infant carseat/frame combo. And there are some cities where public transportation isn’t really a great place to take a baby in an ergo and you don’t want to drive. Like Istanbul, for example. Or a lot of places in India.

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