Some car seats have been approved for air travel (click here for details; they must be no wider than 16" and must have a special label, etc.). But as any weary plane-traveling mom can attest--these seats are cumbersome.
Savvy traveling moms rely on the CARES device. CARES: Child Aviation Restraint System works with the plane's seat belt to keep your child safe and secure. The sample I was sent weighed about a pound and fits into my handbag--try that with a car seat! The instructions are simple. Slip the red belt over/around the seat and the bottom of the restraint works with the airplane's seat belt (if you are confused there is a DVD manual included).
The device won the 2008 Good Housekeeping "Good Buys Award"--cool, but I am more impressed with the founder's story. Grandmom Louise Stoll thought this design up after seeing her daughter struggle with two babies on an airplane. This enterprising granny patented her design and took her idea to AmSafe Aviation, the Phoenix based company that manufactures most of the airplane seat belts in the world and had years of experience working with the FAA.
Between AmSafe'sknowledge and Louise's dedication, CARES garnered FAA approval. CARES
is the first and only alternative to a car seat permitted on planes. The certification gives parents the right to use CARES on all US airlines for all phases of flight: taxiing, take off, turbulence and landing.
For me CARES passes all the safety tests and my own test--my 4 y.o. prefers it to the car seat--meaning she will willingly get buckled in for a safe and tantrum free landing. The only downside: This system isn't nap friendly. Something about the car seat always makes my kids sleepy. But I will gladly trade the hassle of lugging a car seat all over the nation for a brief hour of serenity in flight.
CARES provided no cash payment for this review.
Check out Rockin Mama's review of Travel with Me.