For some parents (and probably a lot of non-parents, too), the very idea can seem harrowing. Actually, though, a plane trip with a toddler can be surprisingly smooth and pleasant, so long as you make the right preparations. Part of that includes investing in the right gear to keep everyone safe and comfy. First on the list? The proper airplane harness. We found one that worked great, and that we’re happy to recommend—but more on that in a minute.
Can’t You Just Use Your Child’s Car Seat?
Before we get to that, a quick what-not-to-do observation. Some parents decide to simply bring their child’s car seat onto the plane, and that’s fine—just so long as you understand the potential drawbacks.
For one thing, that car seat is big and heavy, and you may not have much desire to lug that thing around the airport. We certainly didn’t.
Two, when your child slides into the car seat, those little legs are going to be jutting straight out—making it all too easy to kick the seat in front of you. This is suboptimal for everyone involved.
Our Recommendation: Cares Kids Fly Safe Airplane Harness
The product we ultimately recommend is called the Cares Kids Fly Safe Airplane Harness—which really has a lot going for it. First and foremost, it’s approved by the FAA—which means that it’s safe, but also that you can avoid getting much flak from people in the airport. (In our experience, everyone in America, Europe, and Asia seems to know and understand what the FAA is; it was only in a few South American countries that we had to explain things to the flight attendants.)
Some other perks:
- It’s incredibly small! You can easily fit it into a handbag.
- It’s very easy to install on the airplane seat, too; once you’re used to it, it will take about 30 seconds.
- Again, it’s safe, which is the most important thing. It actually works just like a five-point car seat harness, only it’s exponentially more compact and lightweight.
- Your child will stay put and not be able to wiggle out; at the same time, your child won’t be able to kick the seat in front of them very well!
Again, the only real issue is that some flight attendants may balk—especially if you’re traveling internationally. We had one or two points of tension about it, and ultimately had to keep our little guy on our laps—but overall, it worked well, and was certainly preferable to hauling around a big, bulky car seat. Also, note that this harness is designed for children over a year old and are at least 22 pounds (when our child was an infant we carried him in our lap and used the lap belt provided by the airline).
For any parents who plan on flying with little ones, we highly recommend looking into some lightweight, portable plane harnesses—and this one is the best we’ve come across.