Traveling with a child by air is one of those things that parents like to avoid. It gets complicated at the beginning of the journey when you have to get your child ready. Then you have to organize the items you want to travel with, including snacks, phones, water, and car seats. A car seat is a tricky subject that requires studying before going to the airport. Let’s take a look at how to check in a car seat at the airport to make your travels less stressful.
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Steps and Options You Have When Checking In Car Seat at Airport
There are at least five basic things you can do when checking your car seat at the airport. Everything will smoothly flow when you follow all the steps correctly.
- Preparation for travel – Get your car seat ready for travel. If you have to break it down, do so. Part of the preparation is also finding out your airline’s regulations about traveling with a car seat.
- Check-in your car seat as luggage – It is one of the ways to travel with car seats. It has its advantages and disadvantages. Also, the option is different from airline to airline.
- Check-in at the gate – You have the option to check in your car seat at the gate. You will have to follow your airline’s rules on this. Also, you have an opportunity to take advantage of this one.
- Taking car seats into the aircraft – Your experience with this option depends on the number of passengers on your flight. It requires an open mind.
- Arrival-The things you have to do on arrival, especially on domestic flights, are pretty simple.
Step One: Get Your Seat Ready for Air Travel
The initial steps of preparing a car seat for air travel are essential. You can do things to look into that you have an easy time traveling with a car seat.
a) Find Out How Your Airline Treats Car Seats
You have to call the airline to find out about their regulations on car seats. You can also start by searching “how to check-in a car seat at the airport” on the airline’s website and go from there.
It’s an important step, given that some airlines categorize car seats as luggage. Ensure that you print out any documents about your travel besides the tickets.
If you are lucky, you might find that a car seat checks in as luggage but free. Otherwise, you will have to pay a fee.
Expect that they could also tag the car seat as a fragile item. In that case, you will have to find out measures your airline allows you to take to protect a car seat from damage.
When doing this, it is essential to keep in mind that some airlines don’t pay for damages to luggage. Having information concerning damage coverage ensures that you make a conscious decision when checking in a car seat as luggage.
b) Decide How You Want your car seat
Car seats often come in parts. Therefore this is your chance to decide if you want to take the whole seat or not. For instance, if a car seat has a detachable base, you can either take both or take only the base.
Before deciding to bring the base, keep in mind that it is pretty big. It might therefore present a challenge with all the attention you will have to pay it.
Also, consider how much time it will take you to get to the airport when deciding whether to keep the base or not. There is no debate about convertible seats since you have to take the whole thing with you.
Step Two: Have Your Car Seat Checked In As Luggage
Once you are at the airport, you can have your car seat checked in as luggage. It is a convenient option because it saves you wasting time ensuring it passes the security checks.
Also, you don’t have to haul it around the airport. All you have to do is pick it up at the conveyor belt once you’ve arrived at your destination.
Practice caution with this option because it exposes your car seat to damage. Replacing your child’s favorite car seats could prove difficult and expensive afterward.
The best precaution you can take is to ensure that you do everything to protect its integrity. To save your car seat, you will have to bubble wrap it, put it in a box, apply shipping tape, and label it fragile.
Bubble wrap acts as a shock absorber and protects the seat from scratches. Also if it’s plastic, it means that your car seat remains dry in case of water leaks in the cargo holding area.
Ensure that you include your contact details on the box along with the “fragile” labels. Understand that you will have to follow all the regulations put up by your airline regarding luggage.
When checking your car seat as luggage, it’s essential to keep in mind that there is a possibility of losing it besides damage. The front desk can be accommodating at such times.
Step Three: Check-in At the Gate
The other choice you have is to check-in at the other gate. This option, too, has a good side and a wrong side to it. For instance, you have eyes on your seat throughout the time you are at the airport.
Before heading to the airport, communication with your airline informs you about their gate check-in regulations for car seats. For most airlines, gate check-ins for car seats are only allowed on domestic flights.
Every airline is different about the baby item allowed on a plane. You will have an easier time if you have a car seat for infants than for toddlers.
Since you will be handling your car seat, there is less likelihood that it will get damaged. Also, the fact that the last thing on and first thing off the plane keeps it safe.
There are things that you can do to utilize the opportunity to gate-check your car seat. For instance, you can store extra baby stuff into the car seat. Use it as space for the things that can’t fit in your bags.
Suppose you plan on checking in at the gate; it is best to get to the airport early. Security check-in your car seat could eat into your time. Once you alight, it takes only a few minutes for you to get your car seat.
Step Four: You Can Bring the Cars Seat on the Aircraft
If you decide to take a car seat on the plane for your child to use, you will have to pay for it. This option comes with its own set of advantages.
The most significant advantage is that in under two years, your child will have the chance to sit on the car seat while on the plane. It’s a safer and more comfortable option for your child.
If you are not ready to part with a fee for a passenger seat for your child, you can wait until all other passengers have settled. Check for vacant seats and the go-ahead to set up the car seat.
You have to be open-minded about this maneuver. Sometimes the flight attendants have the most say about where you can set up.
Another advantage of this option is that you enjoy the flight instead of holding a child. Also, you don’t have to worry about a car seat getting damaged.
Most car seats come equipped to handle installations on airplane seats. You can therefore expect to have an easy time setting it up.
Step Five: Arrival
If you went with the option to check in your car seat at the gate or as luggage, then collecting it should be a straightforward affair. Getting your car seat back should be the first thing you do at the end of your flight.
Ensure you get the seat that belongs to you. It’s easy to pick someone else’s, given that most car seats look alike. Labeling ensures that you can easily spot your car seat. Otherwise, if it’s missing, you can report it to the airline.
Once you have picked up your car seat, examine it to check for damage. You can go ahead and report the damage to your airline after going through their regulation again about luggage. Again, it’s better to keep an open mind.
You have at least three options to consider when looking into how to check in a car seat at the airport. Preparing helps you make a sound decision in the most convenient way to travel with your car seat. Frequent travels while handling a car seat enable you to discover what works for you. Remember that it might serve you as an advantage being on good terms with flight attendants on your favorite airline, especially if you travel frequently.