When you pack a car seat for checked baggage, you should ensure that you have the item in a box or bag.
Even a cardboard box can prevent a lot of damage to the seat.
If you don’t want to bring your chair into the cabin with you, you can always pack your car seat for checked baggage.
Just take the item to the ticket counter, and they will send it to the luggage hold.
But, also remember to make sure you pack your device correctly before taking it to baggage check to prevent scratches and other damage.
How to Pack a Car Seat for Checked Baggage
Bringing car seats as checked baggage is relatively easy.
You just need to make sure that your child’s car seat does not receive damage during travel and that it makes it to the correct destination.
Tips for How to Pack a Car Seat for Checked Baggage
When checking a child’s protective seat into checked baggage, you need some sort of box or bag to pack it.
When you pack car seats, one good idea is to use the original box that it was in when you bought it.
Or, if you no longer have the box or feel that it’s too bulky for travel, you can use a car chair bag.
Manufacturers have designed these bags specifically for when people need to check a car seat.
And many bags have backpack straps or shoulder straps to make them easier to carry.
They also tend to use thick padding for maximum protection.
You can either buy your car seat bag ahead of your trip or ask the airport if they have one.
Oftentimes, you can purchase a car seat bag inside one of the airport stores if you haven’t got one in advance.
But, if you don’t like either of these options, most airlines will give you a heavy-duty plastic bag for your car seat.
Overall, any of the above options work, and you typically don’t need any extra padding.
However, you should write “fragile” somewhere on the box or bag to alert baggage attendants to the important item inside.
Finally, make sure that the airline puts a luggage tag on your seat to prevent loss.
You Can Sometimes Use the Seat as Extra Packing Space
Although you have to open the duffel bag or whatever else you have your seat in for the airline to see, they often don’t mind a few extra items tucked into the extra space inside.
But, just make sure that you only pack lightweight child care items around your seat.
Otherwise, the airline may make you pay.
Yet, you should always check the official airline regulations before you pack a car seat bag or box with other items to ensure they won’t charge you.
Can I Bring a Car Seat Free of Charge?
Usually, a car seat does not count as a checked bag, meaning that the seat can travel free of charge.
In fact, every US airline allows parents to check their child’s car seat for free.
Airlines don’t typically charge for car seats because they consider them essential baby items.
However, the rules may be different if you travel with certain international airlines, which may make you pay.
What Type of Car Seat Should I Take in Checked Luggage?
Although you can take any kind of car seat into checked luggage, a lightweight car seat is your best option.
Lightweight seats are the best for air travel because they are easy to move around and don’t put too much strain on the person carrying them.
Are There Different Rules for Certain Car Seats?
In the US, airlines do not have different rules for certain types of car seats.
Whether you have an infant car seat, a child car seat, a rear-facing seat, or a convertible car seat, the airline doesn’t differentiate.
Can I Gate-Check a Car Seat?
Yes, you can gate-check a car seat.
And honestly, gate checking may be the better option.
If you gate-check your car seat, there is less chance of it getting damaged, dirty, or accumulating germs because fewer people will touch it.
Also, when you gate-check an item, there is a reduced likelihood of it getting lost or stolen.
So, gate checking may be better than checking it in at the check-in desk.
But, still, remember to have a car seat travel bag wrapped around your seat to keep your car seat clean.
Additionally, you should know that checking a car seat with a gate agent means the car seat will still go through baggage claim.
Therefore, there is nevertheless the risk of getting back a damaged car seat.
Finally, make sure that your car seat gets a gate check tag so that there isn’t an issue returning it to you.
How Do I Prevent My Expensive Car Seat From Getting Damaged?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to ensure that baggage handlers won’t damage your expensive car seat when you check it.
Even if you check it at the gate, the belt path on the baggage carousel can still damage car seats.
But, many car seats are sturdy, so the risk of damage is relatively small.
Yet, if you are worried about your chair, you can add bubble wrap inside the box or bag you packed it in to get the most protection.
You can also learn about the car seat check-in process at different airlines to determine which one is the most careful with checked luggage.
What Do I Do if My Car Seat Gets Damaged?
Although heavy-duty plastic bags should be enough to protect your chair, there is still a risk of damage.
If you find your chair is damaged, you should immediately bring it to the damaged baggage claim office.
You may even be able to report the damaged car restraint to your travel insurance.
What if I Have a Layover?
If you are traveling on the same ticket, the airline should automatically put your checked items on the next flight.
But, if your flights are on different tickets, you will need to pick up your checked bags and re-check them to ensure they make it to their final destination.
Can I Bring a Car Seat On Board the Plane’s Cabin?
Yes, you can bring a car seat on board the plane’s cabin.
Neither security, flight attendants, nor a gate agent should have an issue with a car chair on the plane.
However, you have to have an FAA-approved car seat, or a flight attendant may not allow your child to use it on the aircraft.
FAA-approved car seats usually have a sticker on the side that says that the FAA has approved the item for use in airplanes.
If there isn’t a marker on the chair, though, you should carry manufacturer documentation with you to prove to the airline attendant that the FAA has approved it.
Is Using a Car Seat on a Plane Safer?
According to the FAA, children of car restraint age, height, and weight should sit in a safety chair instead of the regular airline seat.
The agency says that a lap infant has more risk of harm than a child in a safety device.
Bringing a Car Seat for a Lap Child
If your child is supposed to be sitting in your lap during the flight, you can still bring your child restraint system in case there is an empty seat next to you on the flight.
Most airlines will let you bring a restraint system onboard and place your child in an extra seat if one is available.
Otherwise, you can just gate-check the safety restraint and keep the child on your lap as planned.
Can You Get a Car Seat for a Rental Car?
Most of the time, you can rent a child safety seat from a rental car company.
For example, Hertz offers car seats for children of all sizes.
But, many parents prefer to bring their own car seat to ensure they are using a top-quality device.
Ultimately, child seats tend to be pretty sturdy, so you mainly just need to protect them from scratches.
But, if you have a particularly expensive restraint, you may want to use extra cushioning by adding more padding around it.
Table of Contents
- How to Pack a Car Seat for Checked Baggage
- Can I Bring a Car Seat Free of Charge?
- What Type of Car Seat Should I Take in Checked Luggage?
- Are There Different Rules for Certain Car Seats?
- Can I Gate-Check a Car Seat?
- How Do I Prevent My Expensive Car Seat From Getting Damaged?
- What Do I Do if My Car Seat Gets Damaged?
- What if I Have a Layover?
- Can I Bring a Car Seat On Board the Plane’s Cabin?
- Bringing a Car Seat for a Lap Child
- Can You Get a Car Seat for a Rental Car?
- Bottom Line